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SLI & Centrino 2: Gaming Laptops Battle

Introduction

Roundups of any sort are always tricky. Matching apples to apples is rarely possible, and the brand loyalists are always quick to defend their build of choice. So we made this roundup easy. We reached out to some of the most prolific names in gaming notebooks and asked them to send us their best and brightest example of a gaming machine. Price be damned, we wanted to see some stunning performance numbers.

Four vendors—Alienware, ASUS, Eurocom, and Killer Notebooks—responded to our call. The other big names you might expect to see in a cage match like this all came up with reasons to pass. Dell preferred to have Alienware represent its best efforts (R.I.P. XPS?). VoodooPC’s Envy is armed with Intel’s GMA X3100 integrated graphics core and is not suitable for gaming in any capacity. Falcon Northwest wanted to wait for new graphics adapters, and though they became available toward the tail end of our testing, the show had to go on. And OCZ’s Hypersonic brand didn’t have anything available at retail. Nevertheless, we still managed to round up a motley crew of performance-oriented systems at a number of different price points.

The first, Alienware’s m17x, got out of the gate before anyone else with Nvidia’s new GeForce 9800M GT graphics adapters—in SLI, thanks to a bridge chip mated to Intel’s PM965 chipset. It also boasts 1 TB of storage, a Core 2 Extreme CPU, and perhaps the classiest chassis design we’ve ever seen. Last month we took a look at Alienware’s smaller m15x. While that notebook was a solid piece of kit, the Area-51 m17x is decidedly more tenacious in its approach to mobile performance.

Next up, ASUS’ G71 represents the first Centrino 2 laptop design to land in our labs. Its hardware manifesto is significantly more mainstream than the configuration that Alienware sent in. However, there’s something to be said for a fully modern notebook with the latest power-saving technology. We expect the G71 to serve up a better balance between price, performance, and battery life.

Eurocom’s exotically-named Montebello is the third offering in our line of potent portables. Smaller than the other three contenders with a 15.4” LCD, it effectively hides Intel’s fastest dual-core mobile processor, the latest Centrino 2 platform, and an Nvidia GeForce 9800M GT graphics card inside a fairly pedestrian shell. This one’s probably the biggest surprise in the bunch.

Finally, Killer Notebooks submitted its own weapon of mass destruction, the Odachi. Laden with a 3 GHz desktop processor, two of the fastest mobile GeForces in SLI, three 7,200 RPM hard drives striped together, and 4 GB of DDR2 memory, it’s the gun in this knife fight. But you do give up some aesthetic appeal in favor of all that muscle.

Read on as we introduce the hardware in each notebook, get hands-on with look and feel, and benchmark each machine in our standard suite of tests.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • kitsilencer
    From a money point of view, it's never going to make sense buying a gaming laptop. Scaled down performance and inability to upgrade are issues.

    But it sure as hell feels good having one ^___^
    Reply
  • Hey, that aint green...
    Reply
  • neiroatopelcc
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-notebook-roundup,2023-6.html
    "shipped the system with a 64-bit copy of Vista Ultimate (Alienware included x32 Home Premium)."
    Reply
  • ap90033
    4 Grand? Are you guys nuts? I would say that right there would rule out about 90% of us normal gmaers..

    Besides the gaming scores looked weak imo..

    I personally thought it was a better idea to go get a Gateway P7811FX with a single Geforce 9800GTS. It plays Call of Duty at 1920x1200 max settings around 50FPS. AND it cost me ONLY $1249 (Plus Best Buy let me pick any game I wanted for FREE!)
    Reply
  • jas39
    what about www.xtremenotebooks.com?
    Reply
  • agree with kitsilencer, gaming laptop is never practical.

    even with a beast graphics card, you'd be pretty hard to get more than 2 hours of shitty performance.

    get a gaming desktop and perhaps an EEE or iPhone for travelling. my iPhone has 20+ games and enough media (don't forget TV connector for watching films in hotels) to keep me busy for more than one week away from my gaming rig.
    Reply
  • ap90033
    oops cant spell "gamers" lol
    Reply
  • ap90033
    Not true my "Gmaing Laptop" is great at LAN Parties and I play it for 6-8 Hours straight there...

    I think maybe you had a bad experience with a laptop that claimed to be a "gaming" laptop. I bought one before like that and it have an 8600M Geforce and it Sucked bad... If you get a good laptop with say a 9800gts or so you would be suprised...
    Reply
  • GlItCh017
    ap900334 Grand? Are you guys nuts? I would say that right there would rule out about 90% of us normal gmaers..99.90%
    Reply
  • ap90033
    PS gaming laptops hold value much better than desktops. I had one I paid 1250 for, had it for a year, then sold it for $1100 and bought the newer "upgraded" model that just came out for $1250. I got an Upgraded CPU (From Core 2 1.67 GHZ to Core 2 Centrino 2 2.26 GHZ), Memory (from 3 Gigs DDR2 667MHZ to 4 Gigs DDR3 1066MHZ), Hard Drive (faster), Video Card (from 8800gts to 9800GTS), Screen (from 1440x800 to 1920x1200) and OS (From 32 bit to 64 bit). Not bad upgrade for $150 or so!
    Reply