Notebook Holiday 2009 Buyer’s Guide: Gaming

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Gaming notebooks are high-performance desktop replacement notebooks powerful enough to handle the latest and greatest 3D games or your entire high-definition video library. These notebooks are portable enough to carry around in a backpack from time to time, but heavy enough to make it cumbersome to do so on a daily basis. These computers tend to offer faster performance than mainstream multimedia notebooks, and all of the gaming notebooks in our list are configured with at least one high-performance dedicated graphics card (sometimes two). Some of these notebooks can be large enough to fill up a small desk, truly replacing your full-size desktop and monitor. Display sizes range from 15 inches and up, with prices that start around $1,500 and can easily exceed $3,000.

Less Than $2,000

ASUS N90


The ASUS N90SV-A2 is an 18.4″ multimedia gaming notebook designed for people who might not need the power of an extreme performance gaming notebook, or don’t have the budget for one. Offering dual hard drives, NVIDIA Geforce GT 130M graphics, optional Blu-ray playing capabilities, and a FullHD 1080P display the N90 is perfect for someone who wants a true multimedia hub for their dorm room or office. Although the N90 might not have the best gaming performance on the market, it can play most current 3D games at around 30 frames per second at 1080P resolution.

OUR REVIEW | USER OPINIONS | WHERE TO BUY

Gateway P-7805u FX


The Gateway P-7805u FX is a 17-inch gaming notebook for users who want the performance to play the latest games, but dont want to empty their wallets in the process. Priced at $1,299 our review unit of the FX offered an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor and NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS dedicated graphics with 1GB of video memory. Overall for the price it is hard to pass up this notebook if you are in the market for a gaming rig below $1,500.

OUR REVIEW | USER OPINIONS | WHERE TO BUY

ASUS G51VX


The ASUS G51-series is a 15.6″ gaming notebook offering dual hard drive bays, NVIDIA GTX 260M graphics, and an optional quad-core processor. To enhance the multimedia experience this notebook offers a 1080P 16:9 display, a backlit Chiclet-style keyboard, and Altec Lansing speakers. Overall build quality is good and gaming performance is quite solid … providing excellent frame rates in games at 1080P resolution with high detail settings.

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ASUS G51J


No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. We mentioned ASUS’ G51 series TWICE in our holiday buying guide. The G51J is the latest 15-inch gaming notebook from ASUS, sporting the new Intel Core i7 mobile processor and Windows 7 operating system. This notebook shares a lot of features with the previous G51VX, with only a hardware refresh to support the Core i7 processor. Games like Left 4 Dead stayed between 68 and 73 frames per second while playing at full 1080P resolution. Overall, users who are interested in purchasing this notebook should look at one item; the price. With specifications improving or staying equal, ASUS dropped the price $200, from $1,699 to $1,499.

OUR REVIEW | USER OPINIONS | WHERE TO BUY

 

$2,000 and more

Alienware M17x


The M17x is Alienware’s flagship gaming notebook. It features a stealthy design, aluminum chassis, and a customizable lighting system. The M17x starts at a modest $1,799, but seriously powerful configurations such as the decked-out test machine we reviewed cost more than $4,500!

The M17x is without a doubt a superb gaming notebook, leading the desktop replacement market in build quality and design. The M17x has an effective cooling system that kept it cool during our testing, and we liked the AlienFX lighting system and different case color options. The switchable graphics are handy and equates to good battery life for a gaming notebook (2 hours and 15 minutes). Our biggest issue with this machine is the subpar screen, which is out of place on a machine of this caliber. Other than the screen we found it difficult to fault the M17x and give it our recommendation.

OUR REVIEW | USER OPINIONS | WHERE TO BUY

Clevo M980NU


The Clevo M980NU is an 18.4-inch gaming notebook packed with an Intel quad-core processor and dual NVIDIA GTX 280M graphics cards. Currently starting at around $2,000, this rig can be configured with up to three hard drives supporting internal RAID to offer fast boot drives and high capacity additional storage.

The Clevo M980NU is a gaming powerhouse, especially when packed with dual NVIDIA GTX 280m graphics cards and a QX9300 quad-core processor. Even though our test configuration cost well over $4,000, thrifty users can scale down the processor and storage configurations to get a much more affordable notebook. This notebook runs neck and neck with the Alienware m17x in 3D performance, and exceeds the Alienware in overall performance thanks to the storage system. Users looking for the largest possible screen will also enjoy the 18.4″ LCD, offering vibrant colors and above average viewing angles. Overall, if you can put up with the short battery life and noisy cooling fans, it is a great high performance gaming system.

OUR REVIEW

Keep in mind that this list doesn’t include every gaming notebook currently available on the market. This section of our buyer’s guide merely highlights some of the recent gaming laptops we’ve reviewed that our editors think deserve your attention. Be sure to take a look at the other reviews published on NotebookReview.com.

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