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Desktop Graphics Ambitions: ATi Mobile Radeon 9800

Conclusion: Genius Or Insanity?

There's a fine line between genius and insanity - and I found this to be the case with the Mobility Radeon 9800, or the notebook that was built with it.

Admittedly, with its new mobile flagship, which has eight pixel pipelines, four vertex shaders and a 256 bit memory interface, ATI manages to make technology history and once again claim the performance crown. It's also true that with this high-end graphics chip, the 3D performance gap between a desktop PC and a similarly equipped notebook narrows even more than with its predecessor, the MR9700. And yes, when compared to a notebook with the Mobility Radeon 9800, a desktop PC equipped with a mainstream graphics card less than a year old, such as the ATI Radeon 9600XT, clearly ends up with the shorter end of the stick.

But at what cost? Engineers at Dell - please forgive me for the following comment: Are you willing to lug around a nearly 9.5lbs/4.5kg notebook, plus the power supply, which weighs more than 2.2lbs/1kg? Sorry - I, for one, am not. Why not make the battery optional and integrate the power supply into the device instead, à la "Desknote"? ECS Elitegroup has already shown us how it's done. This way, at least the small community of mobile gaming enthusiasts could be freed from this 700g heavy burden and left for themselves to decide if they prefer to spend their money on this relatively useless battery or on a handcart for transporting the notebook from point A to point B.

Don't get me wrong: I too find it fascinating to see the kind of 3D performance and 3D rendering quality that is offered by systems of the Dell Inspiron XPS (2600 Dollar) or Dell Inspiron 9100 (2400 Euro) caliber. And naturally, I'm all for technical progress, because that's what drives the industry forward and creates jobs.

However, I can't really get excited about a transportable notebook system that is still categorized as a "notebook," merely on the basis of its form factor. The small but worthy community of "mobile gaming enthusiasts," for which this device was ultimately designed, might very well view this in another light.

But be that as it may. Schlep-top systems based on the Mobility Radeon 9800 let you blast away your foes with the speed and detail that was only possible with stationary desktop PCs up till now.