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3D Gaming Notebooks: Fantasy or Reality? Part I

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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June 13, 2006 10:22:06 AM

If you believe the graphics card and notebook platform vendors, nearly every notebook available today is suitable for PC gaming. We look at four very different notebook systems to see whether this is pure hype or hard truth.
June 13, 2006 11:51:17 AM

Small note regarding the Asus download site.
They are currently adding many more download servers because of their bad performance.
So it should soon be better :) 

Btw. you can use the Omega drivers which support all notebook GPUs.
June 13, 2006 12:06:50 PM

Widescreen is 16:9 not 16:10...
Related resources
June 13, 2006 12:22:13 PM

Widescreen notebook resolutions are most certainly 16:10. I am currently running 1920x1200. 1920/1200=1.6.
June 13, 2006 3:38:52 PM

Personal experience with the Alienware Aurora m7700:

I recently purchased this system with the upgraded display (1920x1200) and I can honestly say that this is one of the fastest, most capable notebooks on the market today...if you can call it a notebook.

My configuration:
Athlon 64 X2 4800+
2GB RAM
2x80gb 7200RPM HDD (RAID 0)
GeForce Go 7800GTX

I normally play World of Warcraft, Oblivion, Space Cowboy and CS:S on it. All these games are played at max resolution (unfortunately, Space Cowboy caps at 1600x1200 and gets squished) with max settings and it runs beautifully. When I get home today I can provide some benchmark numbers on these titles, if wanted.

The only cons about the system are the sheer weight of the laptop and the power brick (more like a cinderblock) together and the absence of battery life...although with a system like this, it is expected.
June 13, 2006 5:42:41 PM

Nice in-depth comparison. Good work! :D 
I hope there will be some benchmarks in part 2! 8)
June 13, 2006 5:45:28 PM

My Asus Z71V is a 16:10 as well. Also, does anyone know what game they are using for their comparison of 4:3 to 16:10? As long as its not one of those subscription based MMORPGs I may just have to get it. :D 

-mcg
June 13, 2006 5:51:58 PM

I wish they would actually review a gaming notebook you can afford like Killer Notebooks.
June 13, 2006 5:52:16 PM

Hmm... it ate my post... if a duplicate shows up I apologize.
My Asus Z71V is also 16:10. Does anyone know what game they are using for the 4:3 and 16:10 comparison? It looks like a sci-fi of some sort and also looks like it might be cool. As long as its not one of those subscription based MMORPGs I might just have to get it :D 

-mcg
June 13, 2006 6:03:10 PM

It's neither fair nor correct to say that you *have* to sit through either stretched or interpolated graphics on a wide screen notebook - many/all notebooks offer different ways of viewing the resolution, whether it is fit to screen, *true size/centered*, or maintain aspect ratio. With the Centered option the image is the real size on the lcd, not the native resolution of the screen necessarily, and displays the image perfectly, albeit at best slightly smaller/with black bars: but black bars are still not image degradation or stretching.
June 13, 2006 7:49:28 PM

i agree. i looked at your site and you have some good stuff. any chance you could get one of your notebooks with a TV tuner? or would it be easier to buy an external one later.
June 13, 2006 8:48:31 PM

On page 30 http://www.mobilityguru.com/2006/06/13/3d_gaming_notebo...

Those two screenshots are from a game I don't recognize, can someone enlighten me?

Also, at some point, can you guys review the gaming capabilities of notebooks with cards like the radeon mobile m200, so that when my friends buy computers and wonder why they can't play oblivion properly, I can point them at the review and say "don't buy crappy video cards and expect to play games!"

I look forward to the rest of the article.
June 13, 2006 9:22:48 PM

i was also wondering what the game was
June 13, 2006 10:02:53 PM

Quote:
SLI notebooks are still scarce both for purchase and testing.


Somebody at THG is evidently still in their winter hibernation - WAKE UP!!! 8O

Hypersonic, Sager, Eurocom, Alienware and Clevo all sell and have available SLI notebooks, and they have been available for quite a while.

Heck, you even sent your editor Patrick Schmid to Monterey Park to take a look at a SLI notebook from iBuyPower:

TG Daily Video: Ibuypower launches 19" SLI notebook

Come on guys, I mean, is it really that difficult to get your act together? Do I have to personally buy one and take it to your office? :evil: 

Also, in your comparison, you did not include the Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV650. This is also a pretty impressive notebook worth taking a look.

I hope to see some nice benchmarks soon.

EDIT: I should correct myself - for about $200 more than what the Toshiba costs, you can get an Alienware Aurora m9700 with SLI.

Question remains - Can a dual Go 7900 GS compete with a single Go 7900 GTX 512MB solution like the Dell M1710.
June 14, 2006 2:12:23 AM

arg it ate my post too! i want to know what game that is as well :) 
June 14, 2006 2:27:09 PM

It would be unfair to the widescreen systems not to point out how great they are when they are used with games that *support* widescreen like Serious Sam II (impressively forward looking) and HL2. In fact I played HL2 through the first time on my notebook rather than on my much more powerful desktop machine because I liked that wider field of view so much.
June 14, 2006 2:28:35 PM

It would be unfair to the widescreen systems not to point out how great they are when they are used with games that *support* widescreen like Serious Sam II (impressively forward looking) and HL2. In fact I played HL2 through the first time on my notebook rather than on my much more powerful desktop machine because I liked that wider field of view so much.
June 14, 2006 6:10:08 PM

It annoyingly ate my post too. I stated that it's not correct to say that you have to deal with stretched screens on a widescreen laptop - I have a 14" widescreen laptop (and previously a 17" laptop), and most if not all laptops have a feature to disable stretching, and do a centered display at the true resolution/size on the laptop (so that 1024x768 is not stretched to 1280x800). Yes, you have to deal with a slightly smaller viewing area, but it is not *THAT* crucial to lose 1-1.5 inches of game/movie/whatever on either side. The article needs to be edited to mention this, because you can have circles and not ellipses for planets on widescreen laptops,

Oh, and while I can appreciate reviewing other notebooks, it would be nice to NOT mention your own company to promote business KillerNotebooks - Yours is not the only affordable company out there! If your company is worthwhile enough, other people will mention it, which is a more true sign of quality.
June 14, 2006 6:16:15 PM

It annoyingly ate my post too. I stated that it's not correct to say that you have to deal with stretched screens on a widescreen laptop - I have a 14" widescreen laptop (and previously a 17" laptop), and most if not all laptops have a feature to disable stretching, and do a centered display at the true resolution/size on the laptop (so that 1024x768 is not stretched to 1280x800). Yes, you have to deal with a slightly smaller viewing area, but it is not *THAT* crucial to lose 1-1.5 inches of game/movie/whatever on either side. The article needs to be edited to mention this, because you can have circles and not ellipses for planets on widescreen laptops,

Oh, and while I can appreciate reviewing other notebooks, it would be nice to NOT mention your own company to promote business KillerNotebooks - Yours is not the only affordable company out there! If your company is worthwhile enough, other people will mention it, which is a more true sign of quality.
June 14, 2006 6:19:08 PM

It annoyingly ate my post too. I stated that it's not correct to say that you have to deal with stretched screens on a widescreen laptop - I have a 14" widescreen laptop (and previously a 17" laptop), and most if not all laptops have a feature to disable stretching, and do a centered display at the true resolution/size on the laptop (so that 1024x768 is not stretched to 1280x800). Yes, you have to deal with a slightly smaller viewing area, but it is not *THAT* crucial to lose 1-1.5 inches of game/movie/whatever on either side. The article needs to be edited to mention this, because you can have circles and not ellipses for planets on widescreen laptops,

Oh, and while I can appreciate reviewing other notebooks, it would be nice to NOT mention your own company to promote business KillerNotebooks - Yours is not the only affordable company out there! If your company is worthwhile enough, other people will mention it, which is a more true sign of quality.
June 14, 2006 6:20:05 PM

It annoyingly ate my post too. I stated that it's not correct to say that you have to deal with stretched screens on a widescreen laptop - I have a 14" widescreen laptop (and previously a 17" laptop), and most if not all laptops have a feature to disable stretching, and do a centered display at the true resolution/size on the laptop (so that 1024x768 is not stretched to 1280x800). Yes, you have to deal with a slightly smaller viewing area, but it is not *THAT* crucial to lose 1-1.5 inches of game/movie/whatever on either side. The article needs to be edited to mention this, because you can have circles and not ellipses for planets on widescreen laptops,

Oh, and while I can appreciate reviewing other notebooks, it would be nice to NOT mention your own company to promote business KillerNotebooks - Yours is not the only affordable company out there! If your company is worthwhile enough, other people will mention it, which is a more true sign of quality.
June 14, 2006 7:09:29 PM

It annoyingly ate my post too. I stated that it's not correct to say that you have to deal with stretched screens on a widescreen laptop - I have a 14" widescreen laptop (and previously a 17" laptop), and most if not all laptops have a feature to disable stretching, and do a centered display at the true resolution/size on the laptop (so that 1024x768 is not stretched to 1280x800). Yes, you have to deal with a slightly smaller viewing area, but it is not *THAT* crucial to lose 1-1.5 inches of game/movie/whatever on either side. The article needs to be edited to mention this, because you can have circles and not ellipses for planets on widescreen laptops,

Oh, and while I can appreciate reviewing other notebooks, it would be nice to NOT mention your own company to promote business KillerNotebooks - Yours is not the only affordable company out there! If your company is worthwhile enough, other people will mention it, which is a more true sign of quality.
June 14, 2006 7:23:18 PM

I'd like to add that all notebooks currently on the market can play many older pc games very well.

For example, Half Life came out in late 1998. Every notebook made since 2004 can probably play HL very verry well, even if the notebook uses an integrated graphics technology with shared memory.

I tried playing all the HL titles on my HP Pavillion dv1000 of late 2004, and these pc games run fabulously. It gave me a whole new gaming experience with the original HL when I went on a business trip for a couple weeks.

Before going on the trip, I copied all the HL titles on to the dv1000's hard drive, and played the titles from there.
June 14, 2006 7:23:58 PM

I'd like to add that all notebooks currently on the market can play many older pc games very well.

For example, Half Life came out in late 1998. Every notebook made since 2004 can probably play HL very verry well, even if the notebook uses an integrated graphics technology with shared memory.

I tried playing all the HL titles on my HP Pavillion dv1000 of late 2004, and these pc games run fabulously. It gave me a whole new gaming experience with the original HL when I went on a business trip for a couple weeks.

Before going on the trip, I copied all the HL titles on to the dv1000's hard drive, and played the titles from there.
June 14, 2006 10:12:37 PM

Quote:
SLI notebooks are still scarce both for purchase and testing.


Question remains - Can a dual Go 7900 GS compete with a single Go 7900 GTX 512MB solution like the Dell M1710.

wrong the question is what game was that pictured on the last page of the article!
June 14, 2006 10:15:12 PM

is there a reason why these forums are gimped? why is it you have to double post to have your first post show up?
June 14, 2006 10:16:47 PM

wth! this is the 3rd post and it still isn't showing my prev 2

ps anybody know what the game on the last page was?
June 15, 2006 11:51:48 AM

Well, I didn't read the whole article, but they didnt really mention how gamers can get very high resolution screens (1920x1200) for a much smaller amount of money to upgrade than to buy a 1920x1200 screen in real life.

Also, they did mention how the incentive by ATI and nVidia to release drivers that would allow people to use the second card in SLi for physics instead. Why not just have Ageia manufacture a PC card or ExpressCard (w/e) that incorporates the PhysX chip, possibly using sys RAM to run? I got 2 GB in my system and most of that is just standing there, plus, if Creative could make a Audigy 2 Notebook card, so could Ageia (theoretically). Right?
June 15, 2006 12:10:22 PM

Part II - Conclusion: Why can't you get hold of a Dell XPS M1710? You managed to review it at the beginning of May,

http://tomshardware.co.uk/2006/05/02/m1710_image_overvi...

...and I've had one since mid-May.

I expect there will be a follow up comparison?

It's been faithfully running Oblivion on full settings at 1920x1200. Just need to wait for nVidia to release a new driver for it (the Dell shipped with a pre-release driver not available on their website).

- 4rkon
June 15, 2006 3:46:51 PM

Why didn't they review true gaming notebooks like Falcon Northwest's or the Dell XPS along with the Alienware?
June 15, 2006 4:49:46 PM

I am starting to get disappointed a little with the articles that have been done as of late. I'm not sure if the Alienware had a 7800GTX or a 7900GTX because it kept flip flopping in the article. It would be nice if the article could be reviewed better.
June 15, 2006 6:25:04 PM

and if they provided the names of games used in pictures
June 15, 2006 7:14:42 PM

Give me a break. You would have to be the biggest loser in the world to buy or even want a 'gaming' laptop. Complete waste of time and money. Nobody NEEDS to game while they are away from their pc and with a battery life of 1 to 2 hours, why even bother? I just completely wasted my (actually my employer's) time skimming through this article. My x850 would rape the 7800 in that Alienware POS.
June 15, 2006 7:15:46 PM

Give me a break. You would have to be the biggest loser in the world to buy or even want a 'gaming' laptop. Complete waste of time and money. Nobody NEEDS to game while they are away from their pc and with a battery life of 1 to 2 hours, why even bother? I just completely wasted my (actually my employer's) time skimming through this article. My x850 would rape the 7800 in that Alienware POS. Who cares about non-discernable shadows and shading effects?
June 15, 2006 8:21:11 PM

Mr WRXRated you are of course (wrongly) supposing that everyone has both a PC and a laptop.

There are two groups of normal people who want gaming laptops:
1 Those who only have one computer, but still wish to game, again, you aren't looking for the absolute best performance, but acceptably good. Would your x850 (or my X800) destroy a notebook 7900 or x1900? Well... kinda, but not really, our cards don't support SM 3.0, so its not really a fair comparision, anything which does support SM 3 is going to perform better, and look better, on the gaming notebook. Would a desktop 7800 or x1800 outperform their laptop counterparts? of course.

2 People who go to lan parties etc... Do I go to LAN parties you ask? Well no, I don't. LAN parties come to my house. its much easier to set up, for people who have laptops. They need one power outlet, and a WPA passphrase and they're off to the races. Desktops need several power connectors, still consume 7 or 8 x the power of the gaming notebook, much larger footprints, setup time etc... (that or people use my extra machines which they need to configure their way).

The 3rd group I don't count as normal people, in the sense that normal people do not write software for a living. Those of us who do graphics research or software for a living (esspecially in academia) don't want to lug a 35 kilo computer back and forth from work everyday.

Are gaming notebooks for everyone? no of course not, but then desktops aren't for everyone either. Rather clearly there are some people in the THG readership who found something interesting in this article.

Which still hasn't answered our question of what game that is on page 30? I'm wondering if it's an old screenshot from something like descent 3. I dunno.
June 15, 2006 9:30:21 PM

Yah, it seems that we do have to post twice before a message will take on these forums.

My first message, which was rather long, failed to make it the first time.

I'm not going to go through the effort to write the same thing twice just to put up one message. It ain't worth it.

Sorry, I'm wrong. this message took on the first try.
June 15, 2006 9:30:41 PM

whatever the game is it looks freakn sweet
June 15, 2006 10:39:14 PM

I would say that there is a fourth group as well:

4. Those who travel either on business or pleasure that like to relax playing some games on their laptop.

I include myself in that category. I play multiplayer FPS games on my PC at home, but when I'm on vacation, I like to play the single-player versions of software for fun. I'd like to get a gaming laptop for this reason, but they are too expensive for me. I have a laptop that can run certain games, but titles like COD2, Quake 4, or even COD1 etc. just overpower my 1.8 GHz Athlon laptop.
June 16, 2006 12:53:22 AM

Quote:
Also, they did mention how the incentive by ATI and nVidia to release drivers that would allow people to use the second card in SLi for physics instead. Why not just have Ageia manufacture a PC card or ExpressCard (w/e) that incorporates the PhysX chip, possibly using sys RAM to run? I got 2 GB in my system and most of that is just standing there, plus, if Creative could make a Audigy 2 Notebook card, so could Ageia (theoretically). Right?


what im more worried about is the compatibility issues this will result in, if nvidia/ati are going to have their graphics cards doing physics work, and you have a physx card will there be any priority in what card will do the graphics? would you be able to specify the physx card as the primary physics device with the second sli card being secondary? i believe this would be a much more useful solution as it would allow for the second card to focus more on rendering if the physx card is able to handle the amount of physics going on, while still being able to backup if the physics gets heavy

but more likely nvidia will go one way, ati another and ageia will be sitting in the middle with nothing to do
June 16, 2006 3:38:27 AM

*cough* what sci-fi game *cough*
June 16, 2006 4:30:53 AM

This doesn't make sense.
My Acer 5502 has a x700 video card and it plays Oblivion well.
I paid only $1000 for it and it smokes that 5672 you had.
Who will want a 5672 for any reason ??

The Ferrari 4000 should be a better choice for this article.
June 16, 2006 5:42:04 AM

enewmen the x700 series cards are SM2.0 cards, and so like those of us with x300-x850 series desktops we don't have support for all the latest graphics goodies (specifically High Dynamic range). The X800's and I think x700s are faster than their x1600 ish counterparts (and x 1300s and Nvidia 7300's) but because they don't support the newer features no one bothers to review them anymore. I agree it makes buying decisions harder, but I think if you're buying a gaming notebook now (which seems a peculiar time to invest a huge chunk of cash on a gaming system), most reviewers and vendors would prefer to push the SM 3.0 stuff.

One of the challenges a lot of my friends have is they bought notebooks in the last 18 months with ATI 9000/9200 ish cards in them, which is absurd, they're useless (I remember looking at one machine two years to the day after SWG was released, that cost 2500 bucks or so, and it wouldn't have run SWG, sad, so sad). They're both slow AND out of date, at least the x1600&x1300 stuff is just slow ish.

Now I'm interested to see what happens come next year as ATI transitions to a new unified shader architecture while Nvidia does not (but adds similar functionality through adding a geometry shader to the collection of pixel and vertex shaders), which will throw this whole equation on its head, and then some. But that's for another day.
June 16, 2006 6:14:22 AM

Thanks for the reply.
Points taken.
Please don't remind of those 32 meg Ati 9000 cards CompUSA is still selling.
Yes, I know the x700 is "only" sm 2.0 -good enough for Aero :wink:
I think I need to wait a LONG TIME before anything like a X1900XT / X2900 for notebooks come out.
I actually thought about the x1400 for notebooks to get the HDR, etc. But those cards have only 4 pipes! I can't stand Oblivion with HDR and only 3 fps.

Anyway, the notebook I really want needs a 17"+ 1900x1200 screen and upgradable videocards in some kind of mini-PCIe. That also doesn't seem to exist. I also want a UMPC - The Sony VAIO UX Micro PC might have what I need. (I'll wait a year on this)
I am also very intersted in the unified shaders when that finally comes. The next big thing (after the unified shaders) might be real-time ray-tracing which might eleminate the need for shaders completely. (correct me if I am wrong) Thanks!
June 16, 2006 10:07:35 AM

It is a tough choice when you are looking for something particular and are forced to make compromises.

The Alienware model reviewed here had a 7800GTX 256MB. WidowPC has the same unit with a 7900GTX 512MB version, which should provide somewhat better performance.

A dual core FX-60 paired with a 7900GTX 512MB is going to be your best choice for a gaming laptop at the moment.

You cannot get a SLI laptop with TWO 7900GTX 512MB cards right now. Your choices are to go with two 7900GS, 7800GTX or 7900GTX cards with 256MB each.

To make it even more crazy, you need to choose between units that have either a 17 inch 1900x1200 or a humongous 19 inch 1680x1050 display.

Likewise, choosing one means you will either get to enjoy two hard drives in RAID 0 with double capacity or end up with only a single 7200RPM unit.

Each vendor seems to be doing their own thing as none of them offer exactly the same configuration options.

When the Clevo units came out they were the first and only laptops to have dual hard drives, dual burners, offer the top of the line video cards and the highest resolution 17 inch screens.

That was almost two years ago.

It seems like it's time for the designers/manufacturers to bring to market a new platform that offered full versatility and that would allow ALL configuration options. Let me have top end SLI graphics, dual core AMD or Intel CPU and RAID 0 in my laptop if that is what I want.
June 16, 2006 3:29:44 PM

Barry Gerber from MobilityGuru here. Thanks for all your comments. I've asked the authors where they got that planet image for the wide screen normal screen comparison. I'll let you know when I do. Couple of other things:

1. You don't have to post a message more than once to get them posted, as you can see if you look at the multiple posts in this thread. Wait a bit before assuming posting didn't work. If you click the Preview button after finishing a message, be sure to click the submit button after previewing.

2. Those who are disappointed about the lack of SLi notebooks and say they are available and we even looked at one. (a) comparative reviews have to start long before a review is published, so SLi notebooks weren't available when work on this review started; (b) early on vendors show new notebooks in prototype form; except for HP, which has the resources to produce reliable prototypes, vendors are generally unwilling to release their prototype models (c) high-end CPU and graphics components are expensive, vendors often start out selling, not giving evaluation units; (d) try ordering an SLi unit and let me know when the vendor says it will be delivered.
June 16, 2006 9:27:36 PM

Points taken!

Regarding lead times, Hypersonic will ship a CUSTOMIZED Aviator AX9 SLI laptop in approx 8 to 12 days.

Need one sooner?

A call to WidowPC revealed that they will assemble a unit and have it on my doorstep in 4 days flat! That's a Friday order with Tuesday delivery. Apparently I live right near their assembly location!
June 17, 2006 3:52:46 PM

bgerber... you had posted a thread, "Are gaming notebook vendors scared of mobility guru?"

I had replied back, "Where do I send it?"

I didn't hear back. I would like to send in some machines for your review... please advise.

As to teh post above that, "No one needs a gaming notebook." I heard a statement once that rang true to me when I thought about it. "Need", is a communist word. We need very little, but America is pretty much all about what you want. What someone wants drives innovation and research, wanting in a sense, makes up a big part of capitalism.

Like the person above said, "Not everyone has a desktop and a laptop", school, on the road jobs like sales, and a big part of my business which is Military. We have a lot of guys who don't have the capability of having a desktop that need a gaming laptop.

As far as an x850 defeating the Executioner's 7900 GTX, that's just simply not gonna happen.

June 20, 2006 2:14:50 AM

so is anybody cool enough to know what that game was?
June 20, 2006 3:09:55 AM

frollo

i think that game is Darkstar One, Single Player game only..
Check that game at this site..link

edit: yes its Darkstar One..

check this screenshot



with this one from page 30..



same HUD..

sorry with my bad grammar.. English not my first language..
June 20, 2006 6:16:49 PM

thank you very much you are the man!!!!
!