A Great (But Late) Start
ASI’s IQ17-D2 is a recent model, but its graphics cards certainly showed their age. Here’s a quick look at the final tally.
Once again we see how a power-hungry Core i7 desktop processor gives the D900F an “unfair advantage” over traditional mobile designs. But should notebook buyers really hop on that boat? A look back at the Panther Review shows how most of its added weight goes into CPU cooling, and the total cooling package even exceeds that required for ASI’s dual-graphics card design. Both notebooks fall far behind MSI’s GT725 in portability, but the GT725’s lighter cooler had overheating problems of its own. Almost incredibly, the IQ17-D2 presented no problems whatsoever throughout our testing.
But something’s obviously missing, and that something is a pair of modern graphics modules. Was the IQ17 really designed for 3870s or is this the fall-back product that they were forced to use when manufacturers like Asus found out that Radeon HD 4870’s really aren’t suitable for notebooks?
As we look forward to new mobile graphics modules that take advantage of ATI’s newfound performance and efficiency, we can honestly say that the IQ17-D2’s design appears almost perfect for such updates. It’s unfortunate that Intel’s mobile Core i7 processors will be available before any such graphics modules are launched, as this means the IQ17-D2 might serve as an excellent chassis for the completely new architecture.
Now for the answer to the original question: Is Mobility Radeon 3870 X2 still the best? From our tests, it appears that it’s about equal to a single Mobility 4850 in gaming prowess, though less efficient overall. The next-generation of 40nm GPUs from AMD and Nvidia can't come soon enough. We're downright spoiled on the desktop, now that we've seen the Radeon HD 5800- and 5700-series cards. It's only a matter of time before that same technology emerges for gamers on the go. But again, we're not holding our breath.
Editor's Note: Moments before press time, ASI let us know that it was willing to give Tom’s Hardware readers access to a $200 instant rebate on the IQ17. If you’re interested, please follow this link.