Rock – Xtreme SL Pro review

powerful laptop with 20-inch screen and SLI graphics
Photo of Rock – Xtreme SL Pro
£2,499

As the name suggests, Rock’s Xtreme range of laptops is designed to boldly go where no other machines have gone before and has thus garnered a reputation for being cool and cutting-edge as a result.

The latest top of the range model takes over from the 19-inch Xtreme SL by once more pushing the boundaries of what can be squeezed into this format. For a start, the screen is now a 20-inch, widescreen, TFT, WSXGA+ display with a resolution of 1680 x 1050 and it uses Rock’s X-Glass technology which produces sharp and vivid colours when gaming.

Yet, curiously for a monster machine that weighs in at 6.9kg, it’s also slim considering all the hardware that’s been packed in. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that this is intended to be constantly on the move, despite the inclusion of a custom designed backpack. There are two classes of customer who are principally going to benefit from owning this laptop: the business person or professional who needs to travel to distant offices (in the car preferably!) and needs a large screen for presentations or design work, and the serious gamer who demands kick-ass visuals and can’t be parted from Warhammer for more than a few minutes.

Out go the two Nvidia GeForce Go 7800 GTX 256MB graphics cards of the Xtreme SL, to be replaced by two GeForce Go 7950 GTX 512MB cards in an SLI configuration. The processor is a 2GHz AMD Turion X2 TL-60 and you can have a maximum of two 160GB (5400rpm) SATA hard drives in an optional RAID configuration and up to 2.8GB of high performance DDR2 667MHz RAM.

There will be few owners of the SL Pro who are not going to be pretty ecstatic about the speed and performance. Other standard features include an 8x Dual Layer DVD writer, a 4-in-1 card reader, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a 1.3-megapixel webcam. 5.1 surround sound is also supported, with four strategically-placed speakers and a subwoofer providing a depth and volume rarely heard from a laptop.

Five USB 2.0 ports mean you should never run short of inputs for all your peripheral needs or backups, and another pleasant surprise is the DVI port so you can hook up external monitors. A separate TV card can be purchased and there’s a Firewire port plus an in-built Web-cam in the lid.

On the grumble side, the fairly considerable touch pad (who needs one when you’re playing games anyway?) distances you from the keyboard. The latter, although mostly full-size, features a tiny delete button that’s as far away from typing fingers as ever.

The two other negatives are the non-existent battery life (around half an hour) and the speed at which the surface heats up, despite all the cooling aids built into the base. But if you can stand the heat, then this is one of the quietest laptops available and it’s unlikely you’re going to be resting it on your knees…

Company: Rock

Contact: 08709 909090


Verdict
Rock once more pushes at the barriers with this 20-inch monster which delivers awesome power and graphics but is clearly not designed to be mobile or battery dependent.