For better or for worse, most of the notebook manufacturers seem to be most interested in sending us their top-end gaming laptops for review. We hope to have a roundup of several "normal" laptops in the near future -- you know, laptops that weigh less than five pounds and hopefully get over three hours of battery life. In the meantime, we do have several monster notebooks to review, starting with the ASUS W90Vp-A1.

ASUS has a couple variants of the W90Vp; the A1 version we're looking at today is essentially identical to the X2 version, except for the fact that it has dual 320GB hard drives. Considering the difference in price, you might want to pick up the X2 if you can find it and add a second hard drive yourself. As for the rest of the components, this is one behemoth of a "laptop".

Several companies are now shipping 18.4" notebook chassis, generally loaded with high-end components. In the case of the W90Vp, you get a quad-core Q9000 processor, dual 320GB 7200 RPM hard drives, and 6GB (3x2GB) of DDR2-800 memory running at DDR2-667. The LCD is a high quality 1080p display, and although it uses standard CCFL backlighting it looks better than the vast majority of laptop displays we've used.

Obviously, the stars of the show are the dual ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards in CrossFire. (Note that there are two GPUs on separate PCBs; this is not a mobile variant of the 4870X2.) This is the first high-end gaming laptop we've reviewed in a very long time that utilizes an ATI graphics solution, and as such we are very interested to see how it performs. On the desktop, NVIDIA still holds the crown for the fastest GPUs, but ATI is managing to compete very well in terms of overall price and performance. One of the main ideas in ATI's current GPU lineup is the use of multiple reasonably sized GPUs instead of a single monolithic GPU core.

What's interesting is that NVIDIA is sort of following that same approach for notebooks; the current top-end GTX 200M NVIDIA solutions do not stem from the desktop GT 200 series but instead build upon an enhanced G92M core. The new core is a 55nm part instead of 65nm, with up to 128 SPs. That should give it a similar die size relative to ATI's Mobility HD 4870 -- perhaps even slightly smaller. The desktop 9800M GTX+ has 754 million transistors, which should be relatively close to the GTX 280M. Needless to say, that's a far cry from the 1.4 billion transistors utilized in the desktop GTX 280! How will the GTX 280M compared to the Mobility HD 4870? Unfortunately, we can't conclusively answer that question yet, but we should have NVIDIA's competing solution in-house for testing soon. In the meantime, we do have an (aging) 8800M GTX SLI solution, with updated drivers. That brings us to the next topic.

NVIDIA Achieves Holy Grail of Drivers
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  • tynopik - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    the charts are a COMPLETE DISASTER

    the first few, I'm still not sure what they're trying to say

    the FRAPS charts are better, but:

    1: thousandth's of a frame per second? talk about unnecessary precision
    2. NO CONSISTENCY. different tests were run for each game, it's bizarre

    we have:
    - W90Vp OCed / W90Vp 1080p OCed / W90Vp (new drivers? who knows?)
    - OCed New Driver / OCed Init Driver / Initial Driver
    - OCed New w/o CCC / OCed New Driver / OCed Init Driver / Initial Driver

    3. The HD (1920x1080) benchmarks suddenly switch over to 1680x1050 with Mass Effect

    - even though you have 2 charts for 1680x1050 results (one on the 1080p page and one on Standard gaming page), the results don't match (for instance on the 1080p page it says the Q6600 had 51.674 fps in Mass Effect while on the standard page it says 53.375)

    I can tell it took a lot of time to run all these benchmarks on all these different platforms, but you have to FINISH!
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    The 1080p Mass Effect listed as 1680x1050 is merely a typo. I'll correct the labeling of the initial charts - I didn't subtract the 100%, but it makes for an easier chart since there aren't negative values. The earlier poster is correct that it's a ratio, so 100% means equal performance.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    FWIW, I initially "finished" at 5:30AM. I have now edited the graphs, added a bit more commentary, and inserted a page analyzing the overclocking results of the W90Vp. Enjoy!
  • strikeback03 - Monday, June 1, 2009 - link

    One more - last page first paragraph under the photo, I'm guessing you said "ear splitting" but Dragon has 'your spreading" there for the description of the volume levels.
  • Jackattak - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    LOL poor Jarred... ;) Get some rest, mate!

    Thanks for the article. Was nice to see benches on a system like this. Why anyone would lug around a 17er I have no clue, though. I think the 15.4" form factor is the perfect balance of size/weight/performance.

    I just wish more manufacturers offered higher-end GPUs or at least gave more options for end user installable discrete GPUs (would love to slap a 8800M GT 512 in my XPS1530).
  • The0ne - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    I have a loaded vostro 17" with wuxga and it's very nice. However, lugging it around with me on oversea business trips can become tiresome. This thing is almost 12lbs O.o I can't imagine having this at all even if I wanted the specs.

    Most people don't realize those extra small lbs will drag you down sooner than you ever can realize :)
  • The0ne - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    Oh, and this comming from a guy that's actually in shape and built lol
  • Golgatha - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    "ATI's Mobile Driver Program -- or Lack Thereof"

    Seriously, if they want to sell a multi-thousand dollar laptop, they better have drivers available the same day as the desktop GPUs. I can't imagine anyone buying a gaming laptop with anything but nVidia GPUs inside it.

    BTW, I have 4870 1GB cards in Crossfire on my desktop, so this isn't a post to just bash ATI. However, they do need to get with their industry partners and correct this issue fast.
  • Zoomer - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    Don't know what the fuss is about, I recall installing up to date ATi drivers on my 9600 mobility and possibly even the Rage 3D (can't really that well, unfortunately).

    *Requires mobility modder or inf editing.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 30, 2009 - link

    The ATI Catalyst drivers on their website "install" without apparent issue, but they don't actually update the drivers - just the CCC. In the past, ATI may have provided drivers that would work with all of their chipsets, but that's not the case with modern GPUs as far as I can tell. Certainly, it's a problem with HD 4870 CrossFire.

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