Twin graphics processors make Rock's latest a gaming powerhouse. But is it worth the cost?
More like a temporary structure than a portable computer, Rock's enormous Xtreme 840 is to the humble laptop as a mobile classroom is to a tent. Yes, you can theoretically pick both up and explore the world with them, but when it comes to hiking around Europe only one of them is really practicable.
It's huge. A massive, glossy slab of a machine, with brightly lit touch-sensitive controls across the top of the keyboard and a glowing Rock logo in the lid.
The Xtreme 840 is definitely well built; not elegant, but solidly designed. There's not as much attention to detail as you'd get on, say, an Alienware M17, but that's because the chassis itself is an off-the-shelf Clevo affair, which has cropped up in similarly sized models from Rock rivals like Eurocom and Novatech.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does seem odd that no-one who's build a laptop into this case has enabled the eight gaming macro buttons on the left side of the keyboard. They're there, and they look nice, but we've yet to discover how to actually use them. Shame.
The bulk of the Xtreme 840 is down to the excellent 18.4in widescreen, which is bright and evenly lit, as well as sharp and colourful.
Because of the size, there's room to squeeze in not one, but two of the fastest mobile graphics processors currently available: the GeForce GTX280M. That gives it incredible gaming performance – more than enough to run an game at the native 1080p resolution.
It's worth bearing in mind that if both graphics chips are turned on, though, this is quite a noisy machine, and the battery life goes from tolerable to bugger all.
Complementing the GPUs is an Intel Core 2 quad-core CPU, making it one of the most powerful all-round notebooks available. It also pushes the price up to almost £3,000.
The good news is that you can opt for a slightly lower specced model, which comes armed with a cheaper processor but the same graphics cards, and knock a third off of the price. You'll sacrifice half of the terabyte of hard drive space for choosing the lower-cost laptop, but it still comes with a Blu-ray drive and some reasonably good speakers, too.
Updates on their way
If you do customise the components into something affordable, there's very little not to like about the 840. The glossy mousepad is hideous: it's both sticky to use and fitted flush with the chassis, so you can't tell when your finger has run off the end without looking down.
Given that this is likely to spend most of its life in one place, though, the chances are that you'll use a normal desktop mouse with it anyway and just turn the trackpad off.
The only thing that really should make you think twice about shelling out for the Xtreme 840 is that Intel's latest mobile processors based on the Core i5 and i7 CPUs should be arriving soon, which may well boast similar performance for a lower price. Until then, though, this is definitely one to consider.
Rock Xtreme 840 SLI X9100 review
As long as you don't mind that it's barely more portable than Big Ben, this an excellent gaming laptop for a reasonable price