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on gaming notebooks in this article, we should also mention that all but one of the notebooks use NVIDIA's now "outdated" 8800M GPUs.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.