Cyberpower uses generic designs and fits the latest components, offering good value for money. However, while the Novatech X1 Pro uses a recent chassis, Cyberpower's Xplorer X7-Xtreme S1 features a design that's around two years old and looks boxy and cheap in 2009.

As with its rivals, the 17- inch screen is fantastic when watching films and playing games, with pin-sharp high-definition (HD) images on offer from the 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution. Colours aren't quite as vivid as they could be, however.

Nvidia's range-topping GeForce GTX 280M GPU handles the graphics, although, in this case, it's a single card rather than the two sported by the Alienware and Novatech. As such, it can't match the best around when it comes to high-end gaming power.

That said, we had no trouble playing the latest games – it just meant that settings had to be toned down slightly in more demanding titles. This is the first laptop we've seen to use Intel's cutting-edge Core i7 processor, and the results are frankly astonishing.

With the ability to change its clock speed, this processor is a lot more adaptable than previous Intel chips – running at lower speeds when power isn't required and upping the ante when serious performance is needed. It's also a quad-core chip, offering excellent multi-tasking abilities.

Cyberpower explorer x7-xtreme s1

Windows 7

Backed by 6144MB of memory and running a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium, this is a seriously fast laptop during daily use, running applications with ease. We found no sign of lag, even when running several demanding tasks.

The keyboard is quite poor, however, and is lacking in support. The board itself flexes and the keys rattle noisily during use.

Costs have also been cut in the rest of the chassis design, which uses low-grade plastics that bend under pressure, and it lacks the premium feel expected of a machine costing this much.

There's no Blu-ray drive, unlike the other laptops at this price point, although you do get an integrated TV tuner.

A comprehensive selection of ports include eSATA and HDMI. There are also four USB ports, although they're all clustered too closely together on the right-hand side of the chassis, restricting usefulness somewhat.

The Xplorer X7-Xtreme S1 is a capable machine, with the Core i7 processor offering amazing power.

The dated chassis and single GPU make it difficult to recommend over its rivals, however, and if you're seeking a Core i7 machine, you may prefer to wait for it to appear in a more modern chassis.

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