With a strong reputation in the UK for its gaming laptops, Rock continues to offer impressive single-GPU systems alongside its high-performance SLI-powered Xtreme SL. Holding its own against the competition is the Rock Xtreme CTX (£1820 inc. VAT).
The dimensions of 398 x 272 x 58mm and 4.3kg weight restrict the Rock to limited travel. However, a depth of just 40mm at the front allows for a comfortable grip and adds to its usability on the move. Battery life is less impressive, but acceptable, at just 109 minutes under test.
The trade-off is its outstanding gaming ability, matched only by the similarly specified Dell XPS. Powered by Intel's 2.16GHz Core Duo T2600 processor, the Rock carries 1024MB of DDR2 memory, a 7200rpm hard drive and nVidia's GeForce Go 7900 GTX graphics card.
This was clearly demonstrated in testing, where the Rock scored 17,681 points from 3DMark 2003 tests. This level of power is ideal for all modern gaming.
Less impressive and far more surprising, considering the pedigree of the components, was how poorly the Rock performed day-to-day tasks, with a score of just 184 points from MobileMark tests.
The problem is likely a motherboard issue but it is one that should be remedied quickly, since many users will rightly demand better performance from a laptop with this price and specification.
Getting the CTX back on track is its well-designed usability and high-resolution 17-inch Super-TFT screen. With a wide keyboard and accompanying number pad, usability of the Rock is comfortable and intuitive. Equally, the 1920 x 1200 pixel WUXGA resolution of the screen keeps images sharp and ideal for gaming.
A 1.3-megapixel camera is fitted above the screen for instant messaging and gaming use. Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11a/ b/g networks can also be confi gured for LAN parties. However, the Rock runs Windows XP Home edition by default and loses the multimedia benefits of its Media Centre powered peers.
Although a well-designed and powerful gaming system, the Rock Xtreme CTX is restricted to its core purpose and provides little other than gaming ability. If used strictly for gaming, it's highly recommended, but for broader use, there are better choices. Alex Bentley, Michael Browne