Top 5 gaming notebooks

Posted by Pocketeer | 5:09 AM | | 2 comments »

What are the two most important things for first-person shooters (also commonly known as FPS games)? Great gameplay and immersive environments. Though the former is entirely the domain of the game design team, hot-blooded gamers want, nay, need the latest and most powerful hardware. After all, how else can we run the newest gaming titles with mind-numbing frames per second at near-impossible resolutions?

However, immersive graphics comes at a price. For the hardcore gamers, only dual-GPU laptops like the Dell XPS M1730 and ASUS G70 will do. Those on a smaller budget can still opt for single-GPU notebooks which can handle almost any game but at a more modest frame rate. The return of Gateway to Asia was great news for gamers on a budget. For less than S$3,000 (US$2,208.76), you can get a top-of-the-line 1GB Nvidia GeForce 9800M GTS graphics card with a performance that trumps other single-GPU gaming notebooks out there. We take a look at the latest mobile gaming machines with high-end GPUs you'll want to get for your next frag fest.

1. ASUS G70 (Core 2 Duo T9500 Processor 2.6GHz, 4GB RAM)

First take

Gamers rejoice. There is another desktop replacement other than the Dell XPS M1730 to come equipped with dual graphics cards. Those on a budget will still probably go for the latter as it has a much lower starting price at S$3,299 (US$2,428.90) compared with the S$4,998 (US$3,679.79) G70. However, ASUS' latest gaming rig combines powerful performance with gamer-friendly features to give it a serious edge over its competitors.

Graphics card: Dual Nvidia Geforce 8700M GT

2. Gateway P7804G (Core 2 Duo P8600 Processor 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM)

CNET Asia rating: 7.9 out of 10
The good: Attractive understated design; great gaming performance; inexpensive.
The bad: No Blu-ray drive option; no subwoofer; only three USB ports.
The bottom line: One of the most affordable gaming rigs in town, the Gateway P7804G offers an excellent gaming experience with a nice, understated design.
Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce 9800M GTS

3. Dell XPS M1730 (Core 2 Extreme T7700 Processor 2.4GHz, 2GB RAM)

CNET Asia rating: 8.4 out of 10
The good: Excellent gaming performance; inexpensive for a high-end dual graphics card system; options for Intel Core 2 Extreme processor and Blu-ray drive; backlit keyboard; GamePanel LCD as a secondary data display; high-resolution 1,920x1,200 panel.
The bad: Barely portable; no HDMI or VGA output; no subwoofer; lacks TV tuner; noisy, particularly when running full load.
The bottom line: Where most desktops replacements tend to target power users or entertainment seekers, the Dell XPS M1730 makes no bones about being a gaming machine. At under S$4,000 (US$2,945.01) for the base configuration with dual graphics cards, it offers great value for the gaming community.
Graphics card: Dual Nvidia Geforce 8700M GT with 512MB discrete memory

4. Toshiba Qosmio X300 (Core 2 Duo T9400 Processor 2.53GHz, 4GB RAM)

CNET Asia rating: 8.3 out of 10
The good: Good graphics and audio performance; cool fiery design; dual harddisk bays; sleep-and-charge USB and eSATA/USB combo ports.
The bad: Glossy keyboard picks up fingerprints; no TV tuner; lacks Blu-ray optical drive; display not full-HD.
The bottom line: Doing more than just putting in a high-end graphics card, the Qosmio X300 adds an excellent sound system and other features to the mix.

Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce 9700M GTS

5. ASUS G50 (Core 2 Duo T9400 Processor 2.53GHz, 4GB RAM)

CNET Asia rating: 7.8 out of 10
The good: Eye-catching design; generous storage; excellent graphics performance for a midsized laptop; ExpressGate software; discrete numeric pad.
The bad: No full-HD panel option; poor battery life; no subwoofer.
The bottom line: With its attention-grabbing design and fast graphics performance, the ASUS G50 is a tough competitor to other midsized gaming machines in the market.

Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce 9700M GT

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Who needs battery life when you have 12GB of RAM, 1TB of HDD a 1GB GeForce GTX 260M (or two if you prefer), a Blu-ray Drive and a 17″ screen? That is the question that Asus is asking at the moment and I must admit, I like the way they think. [Tom's Hardware via Gizmodo]

Shop Asus laptop at

Well, it looks like Apple has finally figured out how to make “a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk.” Why? A new report from the Chinese-language Commercial Times is said to contain info regarding an upcoming Apple netbook. It cites companies WinTek and Quanta, besides Apple, as among those involved in the making of an Apple netbook. If this report is to be believed, then we will be seeing a touchscreen-equipped little notebook from Apple by the second half of this year. There isn’t really a definite release date for the product, but that is when it’s expected to start shipping. No word on any specs or pricing, either, but that should come once Apple finally announces the thing. Unless someone else leaks all the info ahead of them, that is.

Digitimes Via Electronic Pulp

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So, can a $299 mini desktop really find a place in your jaded heart? Based on a recent review by HotHardware, the answer is a resounding "yes." In terms of general performance, the box delivered more potency than critics expected, and the hardware within was able to provide a "a fluid experience in all but the full 1080p digital video playback test." Of note, it didn't have any trouble churning through a 720p clip, so there's still hope for folks obsessed with flipping through HD trailers for hours on end. Furthermore, the unit was found to be remarkably energy efficient, with only "a slightly heavier draw than an Eee PC 900." Of course, we wouldn't expect this to replace your Alienware or anything, but for the most average of tasks, the B202 should be adequate enough. Hit the read link for the full rundown.

At this point, it's pretty hard to figure out which netbook is better than another, but if you've been keyed in on Acer's version for whatever reason, Laptop has a review sure to pique your interest. The Aspire One was praised just as soon as it left the box for its classy styling and super portable design. After getting down to business, however, reviewers felt that the typing experience was only "decent" and the touchpad was "cramped" -- two things we actually would expect from a device of this stature. Nevertheless, the port selection was tolerable, the performance was passable and the battery life left a bit to be desired. As you can tell, this one seemed perfectly average on the whole, though it was deemed a "pretty good bargain" at $379. Huzzah?

Lenovo's gone official with details on its Ideapad S10 ultra-portable notebook: it'll come with Windows XP pre-installed, measure 9.8 x 7.2 inches, weigh just 2.4-pounds in its lightest configuration, and pack in a LED back-lit 10-inch screen. Powered by Intel Atom N270 and 945 GSE express chipset, the diminutive PC also has some advanced heat-dissipation tech so that your lap and wrists won't get overheated. Interestingly Lenovo notes that "In some countries there will be 9-inch versions," different colors and "Linux preloads"... but doesn't say if those systems will hit the US eventually. Initially then, the S10 will cost you either $399 for a 512MB memory, 80GB HDD model or $450 for a 1GB, 160GB HDD model, and comes in black red or white. Press release info below.

• Integrated 1.3M Camera
• 2 stereo speakers
• Multi-touch Pad & near full size Keyboard (85% full size)
• Integrated Wireless 802.11 b/g,10/100 Ethernet, Bluetooth
• Express card slot for WWAN expansion
• Up to 2-GB Memory
• 4in1 Multi-card Reader
• Form factor: 250.2 x 183 x 22-27.5mm, lightest configuration of 1.1 kg
• Large Panel 10.2” wide, LED backlight 1024x600 WSVGA
• Intel Integrated Graphics GMA 950
• Intel N270 CPU 1.6 GHz & Intel 945GSE Chipset
• Large HDD capacity 160G 9.5mm 2.5” SATA HDD (5400 rpm)
• Battery up to 3 hours with 3-cell battery, and up to 6 hours with 6-cell battery

The S10 also comes with a dedicated Lenovo graphical UI for best energy management options so you can optimize its battery life, and a "one-touch" rescue data recovery system. With Lenovo's might behind it, does it sound like an Eee PC killer? What do you think, chaps? [Lenovo]

Asus has been cranking out new versions of the Eee PC faster than a Kansas twister, all thanks to the growing herd of Eee-mitators out there. Still, with everyone and their grandmother now hot for these little dwarfbooks, the company's continued claim to the mini laptop throne is tenuous at best — even with those 23 existing and soon-to-be-released Eee PC configurations.

Behold, the new Eee Box! Like the rest of the Eee bloodline, these varicolored desktop boxes are small, cheap and adorable. Unlike Eee PCs, they're in a league of their own…at least for the time being.

In essence, Asus simply did what Apple has been doing for years: using notebook innards to assemble small-form factor desktop devices (think AppleTV or Mac Mini). Only Asus is doing it on the low end. Indeed, the unit's specs are more or less identical to the latest Eee PC 901 — save for the beefier 80 or 160-GB hard drives you can choose between.

What's really interesting about the new Eee Box, however, is how these components actually end up working better in a desktop setting. Much of what hampered Eee PCs — those small, cramped keyboards and tiny screens — are not an issue here. And at $270 or $300, it's hard to find anything out there that offers as much for as little.

Sure, you can configure some craptastic Dell rig that'll be more powerful, but you'll also give up form factor and pay a good $100 more for all the fixins.

Intel's 1.6 GHz Atom processor, up to 2 GBs of memory, four USB ports, an SD card slot, 802.11n and Bluetooth are plenty for the Eee Box to hit that elusive "good enough" mark with aplomb. Once again, you'll get your choice of running either Linux or Windows XP. And, borrowing another page from Apple's playbook, you'll also get the Michael Jackson "Black or White" color options.

Then there's the size. Living up to its Eee heritage, this box makes its few competitors look downright pudgy. While it does have a slightly larger overall footprint, it's much trimmer than the Mac Mini. The Eee Box even makes Asus's own Nova P22 mini PC look like it was viciously beaten with the fat stick. Not only will this elegant 8.5 x 7 x 1-inch box fit anywhere, but you also have the choice of mounting it directly to the back of any extra monitor you happen to have one lying around.

To be clear, the Eee Box is not for sweaty frag fests or heavy duty HD video decoding. But if you have hankering for a killer kitchen PC or just an uber cheap second or third home PC that runs Linux or XP, it simply can't be beat. Let the Eee Box knock-offs commence! —Bryan Gardiner

Small, lightweight and cuter than bowl full of kittens. More than enough processing power for everyday computing. Cheaper than an ounce of Da Kine bud. The option of running Splashtop for pre-boot access to Skype, web browsing and IM clients.

Where's the optical drive? No HDMI output, which actually doesn't matter much because there's also no hardware decode acceleration. By itself, the Atom processor can barely handle 720p H.264 streams, dashing our hopes of this being the ultimate home streaming box.

$300 as tested