The world has long been used to seeing desktop performance and graphics capabilities increase at incredibly high rates. We have also borne witness to the fact that integrated and mobile graphics have lagged desktop performance by a significant amount. While integrated graphics still trail modular graphics performance by at least a generation in features (and closer to 2 generations in performance), summer '04 sees the introduction of a mobile graphics part from ATI that will change the face of notebook graphics as we know it.

The ATI Mobility Radeon 9800 GPU marks the first time bleeding edge desktop technology has pushed its way into the mobile market only one quarter after its desktop R420 counterpart. In fact, the MR9800 debuts even before we see reasonable availability of the X800 line, but that's a whole other article.

We've been able to get our hands on a Dell XPS system equipped with the new MR9800 GPU. As this part marks the new face of desktop replacement graphics, the MR9800 will be pitted against our desktop GPUs in this exploration. We haven't included any other notebook graphics in this review both because we didn't have a module readily available to drop into the XPS for comparison purposes and there simply isn't anything out there that performs comparable to this part in the notebook space. Traditional notebook graphics are targeted at low power first and everything else second, which isn't what is needed or wanted in the DTR space (which often times uses desktop parts rather than mobile parts).

The future will see more mobile GPU reviews using the same game suite as our desktop GPU reviews. For now, let's move on to the MR9800 and take a peak under the hood.

Good Things in Small Packages


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  • TrogdorJW - Thursday, August 19, 2004 - link

    What are teh actual specifications of the MR9800 as configured in the Dell XPS laptop? I assume it had 256 MB of RAM with a 256-bit bus, but what was the clockspeed of the RAM and the GPU core? I'm betting lower clocked RAM is a major reason that the MR9800 sometimes falters in performance. Reply

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