Gaming Laptop Roundup

by Jarred Walton on August 29, 2008 5:00 AM EST


In our recent mobile buyers guide, we mentioned that we had a roundup of laptops we were working on. As work progressed, we decided it would be better if we separated the roundup into two parts. This first part covers the high-end gaming notebooks that we've received for review in the past several months, including additional coverage of the Gateway P-7811 FX.

In an ideal world, we would have all of the testing complete by the time any of these notebooks were available for purchase. That's easier said than done, but unlike desktop computers notebook components don't change quite as frequently. We do get new things like Intel's Centrino 2 platform, but those tend to provide more incremental performance rather than revolutionary upgrades.

Given that we are focusing on gaming notebooks in this article, we should also mention that all but one of the notebooks use NVIDIA's now "outdated" 8800M GPUs. We expect to see updated models for most of the vendors using 9800M in place of 8800M, but despite the 1000 point increase in model number, 9800M appears to consist mostly of refined silicon that offers better clock speeds. Since the GPU clock speed is only 20% higher (600 MHz versus 500 MHz), there shouldn't be more than 20% difference in performance, and often the difference should be less than 10%.

Again, our recent mobile buyers guide covers many of the items that we think are important when you're looking at a new laptop - whether it be a high-end model, a midrange unit, or even an entry-level system. All of the vendors we are discussing today offer at least some amount of customization, although in the case of Gateway the customization comes in terms of different models. Depending on what components and upgrades you select, you can easily improve performance or reduce costs - whichever you feel is the more important factor. We will look at this important area as part of this review, as well as the more traditional areas like performance, features, battery life, and build quality.

Alienware m15x – Overview
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  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 1, 2008 - link

    We reviewed that">six months ago. Dell hasn't updated it to support the 9800M (yet?), but otherwise it would be very comparable in performance to the Sager unit. The Sager is still a bit faster because of the desktop CPU, and it consumes a bit more power and is a bit heavier. The Dell is also more expensive because of the cost of mobile CPUs, so if you want i.e. an X9000, it's over 3X the cost of an E9500. Since both weigh a lot and cost a lot, you might as well get the fractionally larger Sager/Clevo.
  • cheetah2k - Monday, September 1, 2008 - link

    I understand you reviewed the 1730 6+months ago (and I bought one based on that review with the extreme CPU and SLi 8800GTX's) however some of us would like to see how it still stacks up to the competition, and being a "round-up" and all, I think it makes sense to include it, even if its just for old time sake.

  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 2, 2008 - link

    I did mention the laptop, and there are a few games where we tested on both laptops. However, we don't generally get to hang onto $5000 laptops for a long time, so I can't just go back and retest the M1730. In terms of performance, the Sager is going to be slightly faster on the CPU, but overall gaming performance is a tie. If I were to pick between the two now, I would probably go with the Sager for the high-end, because price is a bit cheaper for the same level of performance. Plus you can run quad-core if you want (though that's not really useful for games). I'd be much more likely to go with the Gateway units for the price, but obviously the Dell and Sager are over twice as fast in most games.
  • SniperWulf - Friday, August 29, 2008 - link

    While I agree with you on the astetics of the P series, its price/performance ratio and upgradability are unmatched at the moment. A few months back, I picked up a 6860FX and have been nothing but pleased with it. I've replaced the CPU with a used X7800 ES, and swapped the hard drives for 2x Hitachi 200GBs in a Raid 0 array.

    I didn't do it all at the same time of course, but thats the beauty of it. Whenever you need a lil bit more horsepower, all you have to do is just shop around for parts
  • Kardax - Friday, August 29, 2008 - link

    I took a chance and got a P-7811 a couple weeks ago. Its stability has been rock-solid, even after hours of intense load.

    My only complaint would be that the keyboard has a Bluetooth enable/disable option, but there's apparently no Bluetooth hardware inside...
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 29, 2008 - link

    Hi guys,

    I'm *sure* there are typos in the article (or errors in speech recognition). I've spent most of the past two days trying to finish all the writing and graphs, so go easy on me while I get some sleep. In the meantime, if you want to point out errors, reply to this post and we'll (eventually) correct them. Hopefully, none of the issues "ruin" the article for you or make it "unreadable". ;-)

    Good night,
    Jarred Walton
    Senior Editor

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