Using the words gaming and notebook in the same sentence has always been a bit of a contradiction. Whereas true notebooks are all about portability and low power consumption, gaming requires as much grunt as you can give it. So although the last few years have seen some very capable gaming portables at last, such as Dell’s Inspiron XPS Gen2 or Rock’s SLI notebook, calling them notebooks is a trifle misleading. Fitting these gaming monsters in a laptop bag often requires a degree in engineering, and you wouldn’t want to be carrying an extra 4kg around for long periods anyway.
Rock’s Xtreme CTX fits squarely into this category as well. It’s sleek and good-looking, but with an Intel Centrino Core Duo processor and ATi Mobility Radeon X1800XT graphics inside, plus a 17in widescreen panel, it’s also a decidedly hefty beast. If you’re looking for the power of a desktop, though – including gaming ability – in a package you can carry around a bit more easily, it could be just the ticket.
The chassis is exactly the same as the Xtreme CT that we reviewed a few months ago, so we won't spend hours going over it here.
2.16GHz Intel Core Duo T2600 processor
1GB Corsair 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
ATi Mobility Radeon X1800XT graphics
17in WUXGA X-Glass TFT (1,920 x 1,200)
100GB Hitachi 7,200rpm hard disk
Sony DW-Q58A dual-layer DVD-RW
Gigabit LAN, 802.11a/b/g Intel Pro Wireless, Bluetooth
Realtek HD 7.1 audio
Windows XP Home, Roxio, Works v8, Bullguard
Three-year collect-and-return warranty
The CTX we looked at was near the top of the range. There’s a basic system with a T2400 Core Duo processor for £1,526.33, and a cheaper 1,650 x 1,050 WUXGA screen, which might be better suited to 1,280 x 1,024 gaming anyway. Since upgrading notebook memory can be a pain, starting off with the full 2GB (an extra £125) would be a good upgrade if you can afford it, and it could considerably improve your gaming.
If you’re planning to use this system as a true desktop replacement in your study or dorm room, there’s a £79 internal digital TV tuner option as well. Then you could watch TV on this notebook as well, although unfortunately Windows XP MCE isn’t one of the operating system options.