Despite our criticisms of the hernia-inducing qualities of the latest in high-performance laptop, such as Acer's Aspire 9800, there remains a role for the tolerably large laptop. Evesham's Quest Nemesis is unashamedly a desktop replacement, not a 'mobile computing solution' that you'll whip out on the train after meetings.
The desktop replacement market has divided opinion throughout the industry: some people don't see the point in paying a premium for a machine that pushes obsolescence the minute it's plugged into the mains, when the same money can buy a desktop unit that's fast and upgradeable.
But many people either enjoy the limited portability of desktop replacements, or cannot spare the space that a desktop PC claims. Compact machines are fine as media centres, but are generally unable to house enough power for the latest in gaming.
This is precisely where the Quest Nemesis comes in. Within its relatively small confines lies a PC that can chew up all the latest games, and does so while grinning from speaker to speaker.
You'll find a pair of SLI-enabled GeForce Go 7900GS GPUs sitting inside that simple chassis. The small amount of RAM shared between these two chips (256MB) goes some way towards pulling down the Nemesis' benchmarking scores, but the setup remains impressive.
The AMD Turion 64 CPU beating at the heart of the beast keeps it ticking over nicely and never rises to the cyclonic, deafening howl of the old Athlon mobile chips, even after a sustained period of gaming. Obviously a dual-core chip would have been a bonus, but for the price it would have probably cost you at least one of the graphics chips.
The SYSmark 2004 score of 169 is nothing to write home about, although it is credible - but it's obviously the 3D realm that the Nemesis most cheerily inhabits. A score of 9,718 in 3D Mark 05 is quite brilliant, and the 3D Mark 06 score of 5,085 is almost as good.
This is especially strong when you consider the SLI-equipped Rock Xtreme SLML44 laptop (reviewed in issue 244) comes up short behind the Nemesis in 05 and beats it by only 400-odd points in 06 - despite this 19in model costing £850 more.
It also glides through a variety of games, with FEAR a prime example of the machine's prowess. Running on maximum settings, with 4x antialiasing and 8x anisotropic filtering, all running a shade under the screen's native resolution at 1,400x1,050, the Nemesis consistently throws ample polygons around at 59fps.
With the emphasis on SLI, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this notebook was purely a gaming platform, with nothing else up top. Not so: as a desktop replacement system, it has to perform all the functions that you'd expect from an upright PC.
As such, it comes with a built-in card reader, Bluetooth capability, dual-layer DVD-RW drive, TV-out, and an ExpressCard slot, plus a 1.3-megapixel webcam built into the lid. The twin RAIDconfi gured 80GB hard drives offer reasonable storage, and the inclusion of Windows XP Media Center Edition adds to a well-rounded package.
The lack of an onboard TV tuner is a disappointment, though, particularly as the Nemesis is designed to sit on your desk and fulfil all your multimedia needs. Unfortunately, that isn't where the disappointment ends: the audio on the machine is particularly poor, especially when reading from the DVD drive.
Watching Brighton Rock on the 1,680x1,050 17in WSXGA screen is a joy. Listening to it, however, is a lesson in mechanical interference hell: Richard Attenborough's menacing tones become scratchy and intermittent, with static right from the off.
Despite the relative lightness of the machine at just over 4kg - at least a couple of kilos lighter than its main SLI rivals - you aren't going to be playing Oblivion on the move. The battery life of one hour and 17 minutes is pretty shameful: as a result, the Quest Nemesis is only going to be carried from plug socket to plug socket.
That said, you cannot fault the value of this machine. Some cuts have been made, notably the slightly stingy provision of 1GB of DDR333, but ultimately this is a powerful notebook that's going to be playing the latest games for just long enough to justify its pricing. David James