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Rock Xtreme 680 review

3D gaming laptop turns the depth up to 11
Thu Feb 24 2011, 16:34
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Product Rock Xtreme 680
Website http://www.rockdirect.com
Specifications Intel Core i7-740QM 2.93GHz CPU with 6MB L3 cache, 3GB DDR3 RAM, Nvidia Geforce GTX285M GPU with 1GB RAM, 500GB SATA hard disk, Blu-ray drive, 15.6-inch 1366x768 3D Vision screen, Ethernet, WiFi, multi-card reader, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Price £1,428


THE ROCK XTREME 680 3D is a weighty beast coming in at 3.3kg with a thick base that contains the number crunching power to display 3D games in DirectX10. The laptop comes in a matte black finish with some silver trim.

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As can be seen in this blurro-vision video from The INQUIRER, the Xtreme 680's Intel Core i7-740QM 2.93GHz CPU with 6MB L3 cache and 3GB DDR3 RAM makes short work of Far Cry 2 in DirectX10 without any problems. But more RAM is on offer with customers able to buy up to 8GB.

But let's state the obvious, this laptop is not only going to be heavy on your lap it is also going to be heavy on your pocket with a whopping price tag of around £1,428, depending on your configuration. It is not a small investment and is a big price for the big gamers out there that want 3D with them wherever they go.

The Xtreme comes with a stereoscopic player for those with 3D movies ready to play. It also comes with a pair of active shutter glasses and a transmitter. The transmitter sends signals to the glasses to synchronise their shutter action that sees each lense alternate in being opaque or clear. It's that alternating on, off action that presents the brain with two slightly different images that create the impression of depth.

The video demo shows a car race in Monaco and this reviewer has watched a lot of 3D video thanks to the launch of so many 3D tellies last year. With that experience it can be said that the Xtreme 680's playback is crisp, clear and fluid. Sometimes with 3D there can be jarring where the picture and the active shutter glasses don't synchronise but we didn't experience that.

Setting up the Nvidia 3D Vision system that the laptop uses was straight-forward involving some tests that allow the user to find out if they can actually see 3D, as a small percentage of the population can't. The only drawback to using 3D is that the display of 3D content has to be set to full screen, it doesn't work if it is anything less. The highest resolution 3D content was displayable at was 1366x760, not quite the highest display setting of 1366x768, which would seem to be counter-intuitive for a 3D display.

It's a shame the laptop did not come with an HD 1080p capable screen as its processing power would no doubt be capable of supporting one.

Another key part of using the 3D capabilities is a small wheel on the back of the transmitter. It sets the level of depth the 3D image will have. Its default is the deepest setting but that can initially be hard on the eyes so scrolling the wheel to get the depth down to the minimum and then slowly increasing it to a comfortable level is the best approach.

Playing Far Cry 2 the keyboard controls were the standard 'WSDA' along with 'R' for reload and 'C' for crouch. The keyboard buttons look as though they are almost flush with the case and only need the slightest touch to activate. As a journalist, used to more substantial keys, typing was not as comfortable as we would have liked. But as this is primarily a gaming machine, writing a book is unlikely to be one of its uses.

Unsurprisingly with the processing power it has, applications run quickly and having many open at once made no difference to the performance.

One feature of the laptop that did keep us guessing for a few minutes was where the on button was. It is to be found on the end of the right hand screen hinge.

The keyboard, which is easier to find, has a touchpad and one niggle is the need to manually deactivate the touchpad when the mouse is installed. Any inadvertent touching of the pad by one arm or hand while the other operated the mouse resulted in the cursor jumping across the screen.

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The mouse plugs into a USB 2.0 port, of which there are four. The other ports it has are a 7-in-1 card reader, an express card slot, mini Firewire, HDMI, DVI-I, headphone and microphone sockets.

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Oddly the Blu-ray drive does not say Blu-ray on it, it just has the DVD logo, but checking the hardware in Windows Control Panel confirmed it is Blu-ray Disc compatible. It has a small button and like any optical drive is opened with a slight amount of pressure on it.

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Battery life was disappointing, only lasting around 90 minutes for gameplay, and however mobile you might want your gaming to be you are not going to want to be too far from a plug socket. The Intel Core i7-740QM chip consumes the battery voraciously.

In Short
This machine is so powerful that nothing appears to slow it down. It is as mobile as your nearest plug socket is but delivers good 3D movies and gaming at the highest resolution the screen is capable of supporting. µ

The Good
Even on the highest terrain detail settings with DirectX10 the 3D worked perfectly and the game play was smooth. The 3D video playback was also faultless.

The Bad
Having to switch off the touch panel because it didn't do that automatically with a mouse plugged in was a pain, and it's only an option for those with deep pockets.

The Ugly
Battery life.

Bartender's Score
7/10

beer7

 

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