Reviews / Xtreme CTX Pro - Custom PCNovember 2006
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Core 2 Duo Conquers the Laptop World
There are many advantages to owning a laptop, such as fragging the generic-looking aliens of Prey on the train on the way to work and playing World of Warcraft in bed. However, these luxuries have a high price tag, especially as laptops are notoriously limited when it comes to future upgrades. Fortunately, IT firms are becoming quicker at squeezing the latest desktop technology into the gaming laptops, and the mobile version of Core 2 Duo, codenamed Merom, is now here. In terms of architecture, mobile Core 2 Duo CPU’s have all the new features and design tweaks of their desktop siblings as well as some power-saving tricks
Apart from it·s new mobile Core 2 CPU, the Xtreme CTX PRO sticks with a tried-and-tested gaming laptop formula. There·s a 512MB GeForce Go 7900GTX graphics card, along with 1GB of DDR2RAM, a 100GB 7,200rpm hard drive and a speedy 8x dual-layer DVD re-writer. All of these components are contained within the rock·s usual wedge-shaped chassis. The CTX PRO·s energy-efficient CPU means that it·s not noticeably quieter than previous CT·s and CTX·s, which could be seriously unpleasent. That said, it can still whine, and it isn·t as impressively placid as the Dell XPS M1710.
The chassis includes a 17in widescreen display and, for our review sample, rock sensibly opted for the 1,680 x 1,050 panel, although you can choose a higher resolution 1,920 x 1,200 panel when ordering. This is better than HD videos and apps that need lots of desktop space, but running 3Dgames at this resolution is a tough task. Games still look great at a lower resolution, and it·s less demanding quotient of pixels will give the graphics card a longer lifespan, delaying the dreaded day that you have to step away from the screen·s native resolution.
The rock ripped through our benchmarks with the authority of a desktop system. For comparison, it·s interesting to look at the results of the original CTX . This laptop had the same RAM and hard disk, plus a 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo T7600 of this CTX PRO. In the image editing test, the CTXPRO was 7per cent faster, which isn·t a huge increase, especially when you take into account the CTX PRO·s faster CPU. However, the CTX PRO obliterated the original CTX in DVD encoding, achieving a great score of 1.40 compared with the CTX·s 1.05. This shows how much better Core 2 Duo is at media encoding compared with Core Duo. The CTX PRO was also significantly quicker in the multitasking challenge, scoring 1.57 compared to1.24 of the CTX. Overall, the CTX PRO is 22 per cent quicker than the CTX, which has a CPU that·s clocked only 8 per cent faster. The Core 2 Duo architecture offers excellent performance.
It was more difficult to compare CTX·s scores to those of previous gaming laptops, as they tended to be fitted with 1,920 x 1,200 panels. The CTX PRO is an accomplished gamer, though, and all three of our benchmark games were playable at 1,680 x 1,050 with low AA and high AF.
The CTX PRO refines the formula of the rock Xtreme CTX. Intel·s mobile chips have been better than their desktop counterparts for a long time, so the difference between the mobile version of the Core 2 Duo and Core Duo isn·t as titanic as it was between the desktop Core 2 Duo and Pentium 4. That said, the mobile Core 2 Duo is faster than its predecessor, with a sizeable advantage in media encoding. With Evesham using the same chassis and offering similar specs, as shown by the Voyager C720DC you·d be well advised to check out each company·s website for the latest deals to suit your budget. However, while the CTX PRO·s price is high, it·s competitive and you·ll be hard-pressed to find a better gaming laptop at the moment.