Reviews / Pegasus 665 - Custom PC-
» Custom PC says 70%
Rock takes a shot at the sub-£1,000 gaming laptop title
Despite valiant but inadequate attempts by MSI and Fujitsu Siemens, we·ve yet to see a budget gaming laptop that doesn·t effectively keel over and die when asked to play any game more graphically demanding than Football Manager. We don·t think you should have to spend upwards of £1,400 to enjoy a good gaming experience on a laptop and, with Rock·s reputation for building fast, desirable mobile systems, we hoped that it would prove us right with the £999 Pegasus 665.
Compared with Rock·s all-conquering silver CTX series, the styling of the Pegasus is much more reserved -everything is either black or dark grey. That said, given the tacky styling of many gaming systems - both PCs and laptops - perhaps the Pegasus· plain design is as refreshing as it is uninspiring.
The Pegasus has a 15.4in screen, which keeps down its dimensions, and trims its weight to a modest 3.1kg, making it more practical to carry around than bulky 17in laptops. The widescreen panel has a native resolution of 1,280 x 800 and a glossy, X-glass-style coating designed to boost colour depth and contrast. It looks good but it also means that the almost mirror-perfect reflection of your room may distract you when you·re trying to watch downloaded clips of ·The Mighty Boosh·.
Under the hood of the Pegasus is an Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU invested with a healthy 4MB of Level 2 cache and two cores running at 2GHz. It·s the same CPU found inside the Asus G1, so we knew it would be a solid performer in our Media Benchmarks. Our review sample had two 512MB sticks of DDR2, which is the cheapest option available on Rock·s website; 1GB of RAM in total is a good compromise between price and performance and, with the laptop·s relatively low-resolution display, it should be fine for most games. Having said that, since the Pegasus sports Windows Vista Home Premium as standard, it would benefit from 2GB of RAM. For £30 more, Rock will install a single 1GB stick (which will take up one of the two RAM slots), or you can go the whole hog to begin with and buy 2GB for an extra £85.
This is the first laptop we·ve seen to sport Nvidia·s GeForce Go 7600 graphics card. It has only eight pixel pipelines, four fewer than the Go 7700 found inside the G1, so it isn·t the most powerful GPU on the planet, but then again, it only has a modest-resolution display to power. The card has half the amount of on-board GDDR3 memory of the 512MB Go 7700 as well; once again, however, 256MB of RAM won·t be the limiting factor when gaming at the resolutions allowed by the 1,280 x 800 panel. The card·s GPU runs at 450MHz, while the memory runs at 350MHz (700MHz effective).
As it·s a Centrino machine, the Pegasus has an 802.11b/g wireless LAN adaptor for browsing the Internet in Starbucks, although if you want to download photos from your Bluetooth camera phone at the same time, the Bluetooth adaptor will cost you £23.50 extra. As usual, there·s a Gigabit Ethernet port and a socket for a 56k modem.
The number of USB connections is disappointing - just one on the right-hand side and two on the left hand side, so an external USB hub may be in order.
When speccing the Pegasus, you can choose either a 5,400rpm 120GB hard disk or a faster 7,200rpm 100GB hard disk. Our review sample had the latter, a Seagate Momentus 7200.1. A dual-layer Sony DVD burner completes the line-up. Rock supports the Pegasus with a three-year warranty, so the machine is covered for a decent length of time.
In Need for Speed: Carbon, it was more practical to list how many seconds per frame the Pegasus achieved, rather than frames per second. Using a separate screen to provide our standard test resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 with 2 x AA and AF enabled, Need for Speed: Carbon·s caked-on shader effects caused the game to crawl along at a depressing frame rate. At the screen·s native resolution of 1,280 x 800, the frame rate increases, but the game wasn·t playable until we dropped the detail levels. Even more worrying was the laptop·s tendency to slow down after a couple of minutes of play; this was possibly due to a cooling problem, which we sorted out using the Gigabyte laptop base featured in this month·s Custom Kit section and a large fan. That said, the Pegasus never became loud, so we had doubts about whether the fan was powerful enough to cool the system, or if the heatsinks were properly attached.
We found it a lot easier to obtain a playable frame rate in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., although we still had to take a hatchet to the options menu. Turning off dynamic lighting, dropping the resolution to 1,024 x 768 and lowering the graphics settings to medium provided a smooth frame rate and a fun experience. However, as you·d expect, the game·s blasted nuclear wastelands weren·t anywhere near as dramatic as they are on stronger systems. Ultimately, we concluded that Nvidia·s GeForce Go 7600, unlike the 7700, isn·t strong enough to play modern, graphically demanding games.
The Asus G1 has already shown us what the T7200 mobile Core 2 Duo can do, so it was no surprise that the Pegasus returned decent results in our Media Benchmarks. The G1 has double the memory of the Pegasus, and it·s this extra 1GB that proved to be the deciding factor between the two machines in the image editing test. The G1 scored 1.34, while the Pegasus clocked up a score of 1.23 - not a bad result, since it·s still 23 per cent faster than the reference PC. Extra memory makes a world of difference with large JPEGs. In video editing, as you·d expect from two machines that use the same CPU, the scores were similar. In the multitasking test, the Pegasus fared better than the Asus, with the former scoring 1.49 compared to the 1.42 of the Asus, thanks to its faster hard disk. The Pegasus achieved an overall score of 1.31, which is identical to the score of the Asus.
Games such as Need for Speed: Carbon are pretty much out of the league of all but the toughest 7-series graphics cards, so the Pegasus, with only a 256MB GeForce Go 7600, never stood much of a chance. However, we didn·t expect to have to lower the settings quite so drastically to obtain a playable frame rate. Coupled with the cooling issues, this means that the Pegasus 665 fails to please, and it·s worth stretching your budget for either the G1 or one of Rock·s pricier offerings.
Good Points: 15.4in Screen not too big, low price
Bad Points: GeForce Go 7600 isn’t powerful enough for modern games