Back in late October, we had the chance to head out to NVIDIA's headquarters to see some demonstrations of their upcoming products. Most of those products officially launched in November, though many ended up being slightly delayed from the initial release schedule. Others have been "available" since mid-November, but actually getting one for testing has been difficult. The GeForce 8800M GTS/GTX graphics chips fall into the latter category, with various notebook enthusiast companies only now beginning to ship systems.

WidowPC contacted us just before Christmas and gave us the chance to do an exclusive first review of their latest gaming notebook, the Sting 517D2. Needless to say, we jumped at the opportunity to review their notebook, since we have been trying - unsuccessfully - to get an 8800M laptop for testing and benchmarking in-house since we first heard about it in October. They asked us what sort of system we would like to review, and we took the opportunity to go through their online configurator and put together the type of gaming notebook that we would want to use. While the final price tag is definitely not for the faint of heart, when you look at what you get the package is extremely attractive.

We started out by choosing the second fastest Core 2 Duo processor, the T7500. Running at 2.2GHz, it's plenty fast for gaming, as even with the 8800M GPUs most games are still going to be graphics-bound. You could also opt for the 2.0GHz T7300 to shave another $100 from the price, or you could upgrade to 2.4GHz - though we find it difficult to justify spending $$275 more to go from the T7500 to the T7700. WidowPC didn't offer the 8800M GTS, but that's fine as we would rather stick with the extra shader processing power of the GTX anyway. Other than the CPU and graphics, the next most important component is memory - not necessarily in terms of getting faster or slower memory, but in terms of quantity. We asked WidowPC if they could install Vista 64-bit with 4GB of memory, to create a gaming notebook that's truly ready for future requirements. They said that wasn't a problem, so we had them load up the memory and ship out our first 64-bit enabled review notebook.

The remaining components are typical. While WidowPC does offer Mtron's ultra-fast (and ultra-expensive) SSD as an option, we figured there was no need to spend over $1000 on 32GB of storage. Instead, we opted to grab the largest 7200RPM drive on tap, a 200GB Seagate 7200.2 Momentus ST9200420AS unit. Somewhat surprising to us is that WidowPC did not have Blu-ray or HD-DVD as an upgrade option for the optical drive, so we stuck with the standard DVD+/-RW. We selected a 1920x1200 ClearView Super Bright LCD as an upgrade, though 1680x1050 might be better in terms of gaming as the demands aren't quite as high. We left all of the other options at their default values. The final price as configured comes to $3400, including a standard 1-year warranty. As we recently discussed, however, when you're spending this much money on a mobile computer, we would definitely pay extra for an extended warranty. $200 will get you an extra year of coverage, or $400 will provide a 3-year warranty.

Here's a detailed breakdown of the laptop WidowPC shipped us. They got everything put together and shipped out in the midst of the holiday season so that we could bring you this review. The package arrived from FedEx on Christmas Eve morning, so naturally we wrapped it up and stuck it under the tree to for "unwrapping" the following morning. [Ed: What can we say? The chance to find a shiny new gaming laptop under the tree from Santa was too good to pass up!]

WidowPC Sting 517D2 System Configuration Options
Processor Core 2 Duo T7100, T7300, T7500, T7700
Chipset Intel PM965 + ICH8-ME
FSB Speed 667 MHz
Memory Speed DDR2-667, DDR2-800
Memory Slots (2) x SO-DIMM, up to 4GB RAM
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTX 512MB
Dual-Link DVI supported
Display 17" WSXGA+ (1680x1050)
17" WSXGA+ ClearView (1680x1050)
17" WUXGA ClearView (1920x1200)
Expansion Slots 1 x ExpressCard/54
Hard Drives 1 x 2.5" HDD bay
40GB-250GB 5400RPM
80GB-200GB 7200RPM
Mtron 32GB SSD
Optical Drive CD-RW/DVD Combo
DVDR SuperMulti
Networking/Communications Integrated 10/100/1000 Ethernet and V.90 56K Modem
Intel 4965AGN (802.11A/B/G/N) Wi-Fi
Bluetooth v2.0
Audio Realtek HD Audio with Stereo Speakers
Left Ports HD DVD Optical Drive
Kensington Lock
Right Ports 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
2 x USB
1 x mini-FireWire
1 x ExpressCard/54
Flash reader (SD, MS/Pro, MMC, xD)
Front Ports Line-out, Mic, Headphone, S/PDIF Out
(Supports 5.1 speakers)
Back Ports DVI-D (Dual-Link)
2 x USB
1 x COM
Power adapter
Keyboard 102 Key QWERTY (US) with 10 Key Pad
Extras 1.3MP Webcam
3 quick access buttons
Fingerprint scanner
Operating System Windows Vista - 32-bit or 64-bit
System Overview
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  • stassas - Tuesday, January 8, 2008 - link

    I just cannot believe there are manufacturers of FullHD notebooks not puting HDMI port to their products. Same thing for Dell 1730, I just hope Alienware will not make that mistake.

    Can you believe that HP do not have Gigabit internet port in their top HDX?

    I am happy to spend tons of cash on my gaming/multimedia desktop replacement notebook but I want all standard stuff I could easily pack into my desktop. The only comprimise I can accept is slight performance difference.
  • fabarati - Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - link

    This has Dual-link DVI instead, meaning you can drive a WQXGA screen att full resolution. There are few laptops who can.
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, January 8, 2008 - link

    Depends what display you plan to connect the laptop to. As this doesn't have a Blu-Ray/HD-DVD drive, it is probably more likely to be connected to a true monitor than a TV, and monitors are more likely to have DVI than HDMI. Plus, adapters are cheap.
  • Yahoo - Monday, January 7, 2008 - link

    Hahaha, I love the add in about the cake being a lie. Portal was fun :)
  • Foxy1 - Monday, January 7, 2008 - link

    I’m at CES this week. During one of the many presentations, I seated myself behind the cutest guy in the room (as I figured he would be more enjoyable to watch than the presentation). After much eavesdropping, I was able to determine that it was none other than Jarred Walton of Anandtech (the author of this article). I’m happily involved with my own cutie; otherwise I would have made my move. With no wedding ring in site, I’d say he is fair game. A tall, dark, handsome geek, what more could we ask for?

  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 7, 2008 - link

    I'd take you up on the offer, but I too have a new lover. She's short, dark, about 17" wide, and she has this cute spider tattoo. The orange pin-striping seals the deal. What's better, she lets me play computer games like The Witcher and doesn't get jealous (well, not very) when I look at other women. I'd marry her, but the courts are claiming she doesn't have a soul. I keep arguing that there's more soul in some computers than in women - the only souls they have come from the hearts they rip out of their boyfriends.

    (One silly post deserves another, I suppose. Back to your regularly scheduled comments.)
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, July 28, 2008 - link

    Best two comments I've seen so far. Congratulations, that 'ell teach the hotties that their nerd desires might wind them up with more than they can handle. Outside the box !
  • eye smite - Monday, January 7, 2008 - link

    It's interesting to see how much the advancements are accelerating in technology. I have an x700pro 256 card in this system. I'll be sticking with it for a while yet. hehe
  • Gholam - Monday, January 7, 2008 - link

    Just for the reference, who is it this time? Clevo again?
  • fabarati - Monday, January 7, 2008 - link

    Yes it is. It's a Clevo M570RU. Used by many other resellers. So you can get the same Laptop, save the Spider logo, for much cheaper.

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