Introduction

We've been able to take a quick look at ATI's new high end mobile graphics part, formerly code-named M28 Pro. The Mobility Radeon X800 XT is essentially another speed boost in mobile graphics. This time around, we see an increase in the number of pipelines from 12 in the MR X800 to 16. Aside from the 33% increase in the number of pixel pipes, this part is essentially the same as previous Mobility Radeon parts based on R420 hardware. For more information, please see our initial look at the MR X800.

This marks quite an occasion: on a hardware level, both NVIDIA and ATI mobile parts are just as powerful as their highest end desktop parts. The deciding factor in performance will be total power allocated to the graphics card in any given notebook. The only thing separating the ultra high end in the mobile and desktop worlds is now clock speed. This is indeed a landmark event, and with the push towards modular designs with AXIOM and MXM, we hope to see this paradigm hold. Hopefully, the upcoming generation of graphics cards will see an even faster move into the mobile space. But we must say that we aren't disappointed with what we see right now.

Yes, the market for the ultra high end in the mobile space isn't huge, but it's important to provide the option for those who want it. Even more useful is the fact that budget and mid-range mobile graphics based on the absolute latest technology is available because of the push in the high end. Now more notebook users can buy a product for business without worrying that any graphically intensive program will bring it to its knees. Top that off with a slice of notebooks outselling desktops last month (as per research done by Current Analysis), and the future is looking bright for mobile computing.

Workstation graphics parts have even made their way into notebooks. And the ones that we've seen are lighter than the Alienware box that we tested for this review. This has to be the heaviest, hottest-to-the-touch notebook that we have ever tested.

In addition, gamers who plan on using notebooks like this Alienware system will need to invest in a high quality sound system. The fan noise generated by the system rivaled even the loudest desktop systems that we've tested. It was startling to realize that, while holding a conversation with someone a few feet away from me, I had been shouting over the system to the point of discomfort.

The system stats are quite impressive. The Alienware Area-51M 7700 is a 3.8GHz Pentium 4 system with 1GB of RAM and a 1680x1050 panel. The featured part is, of course, the ATI Mobility Radeon X800 XT. The core and memory clock speeds of the MR X800 XT are 480MHz and 550MHz respectively.

Performance Overview
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  • Hatglance - Monday, June 06, 2005 - link

    I haven't had the fan noise problem at all. My Area 51m 7700 is totally quiet. But, I'm running 'only' a 3GHz P4 and GeForce 6800 non-Ultra. This configuration uses a 180 watt power supply vs. 220 watts for the same machine with the 6800 Ultra.

    Hopefully your preproduction (I assume) machine won't be typical.

    Heat is a little bit anoying. I'm left handed and the hotest outflow is a few inches from my mouse hand. Lefties get screwed once again!

    These AMD lovers sound like some friends of mine who tell me how great their Athlon's are as they once again reformat their hard drive.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Monday, June 06, 2005 - link

    Over the past year notebook prices have fallen 17% and desktop systems 4% (from the same company that showed notebooks outselling desktops last month) ...

    So prices should get closer over time, but building a notebook just costs more than building a desktop.
    Reply
  • Shadowmage - Monday, June 06, 2005 - link

    I can get a Dell Inpsiron 9300 with a 6800 go for ~$1200 with coupon. Reply
  • yacoub - Monday, June 06, 2005 - link

    Well considering I'd spend $1500 max to build a new desktop/SFF (have an LCD already, but say that's a $400 value), and I'd spend maybe $2100 max on a laptop, it looks like the reasonable premium for me is around 10% ($1900 vs $2100) and that's assuming equal performance.

    Considering most people who need a laptop for business use, have one provided by their employer or buy one that is spec'd for business use not gaming, and they will own a desktop or SFF system at home for gaming, the OMG HIGH END gaming laptop is already targeting a much smaller market of gamers who wouldn't mind the extra portability for their main gaming rig. (And let's be honest here - no one's gaming on the move. The battery life alone makes sure of that.)

    They will HAVE to drop their outrageous prices if they expect to sell any reasonable amount of them (or they can continue to overprice them in order to try to turn a profit on limited sales - and by doing so sacrifice future growth for smaller immediate returns).

    It becomes a strategic sales issue where it comes down to whether or not they want to think longterm. They will have to price them competitively now so they increase their future customer base and reap greater profits later. If they continue to be short-sighted, they will never achieve the growth they could with proper pricing.
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Monday, June 06, 2005 - link

    There always gonna be a price premium for that extraq mobility right? Reply
  • yacoub - Monday, June 06, 2005 - link

    So will laptops always have a bogus 35-55% price premium on them or, if they become more popular, will the pricing start to fall in line with desktops?

    I can build a desktop sans monitor for say $1500 that's essentially top-of-the-line. Throw in a stereotypical Dell LCD for, what, $400. $2k at most.

    Laptop with similar specs/performance (and a smaller display at that)? $3500-4000.

    Ugh.
    Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Monday, June 06, 2005 - link

    Rock are going to be selling this machine with the A64 X2 or FX-55 in the UK:

    http://www.rockdirect.com

    Their forums:
    http://www.rockforum.com
    Reply
  • msanto - Monday, June 06, 2005 - link

    Found this by accident (searching for something else). In a D900T chassis (Sager, i.e.), A64 + X800 XT! This is a UK company, though, and of course it's not for sale yet.

    http://www.digitmag.co.uk/news/index.cfm?NewsID=49...
    Reply
  • yacoub - Monday, June 06, 2005 - link

    http://www.alienware.com/Configurator_Pages/area-5... then load it up with the specs as tested. aka Too Much. =P Reply
  • Azsen - Monday, June 06, 2005 - link

    How much do these cost and where cam ypu get one custom made with this chip? Reply

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