Rock Pegasus Review Part 2

by Reads (12,879)

Benchmarks

All benchmarks were taken when running off mains power

Super pi

Super pi is a program which forces a computer’s processor to calculate the value of pi to a certain number of decimal places. This can be anywhere from 16 thousand to 32 million decimal places. All results were performed with standard factory configuration (anti virus on etc…).

Number of decimal places calculated Time taken

1 million

2 million

4 million

8 million

8 million, while playing an mp3

0m 25s

1m 02s

2m 26s

5m 29s

5m 29s

The benefit of dual cores: even when playing a mp3 in media player at the same time, performance doesn’t take a hit at all.

Notebook Time (2 million decimal places)

Rock Pegasus 665-T72 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo)

Alienware Area 51 M5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo)

Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo)

Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo)

Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo)

Sony VAIO FE590 (2.0GHz Core Duo)

Sony VAIO SZ2 (2.16GHz Core Duo

1m 02s

0m 56s

1m 16s

1m 15s

1m 24s

1m 13s

1m 14s

With the exception of the vastly more expensive and higher clocked Core 2 Duo Alienware, the Rock Pegasus 665-T72 beats all of its equally clocked Core Duo rivals easily.

3D Mark 05 and 06

3D Mark pushes the graphics performance of a computer to the limit to give it a score, higher means better. Again, this was done with factory spec with no performance tuning.

Benchmark Score

3D Mark 05

3D Mark 05, with fanless running activated

3D Mark 06

3D Mark 06, with fanless running activated

3,526 3D Marks

835 3D Marks

1,914 3D Marks

471 3D Marks

Overall very good scores. The fanless running scores are typically low as everything clocks down to prevent the fans from being required to kick in. this will reduce 3D performance dramatically, but still provides more than enough performance for typical office tasks.

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Score

Rock Pegasus 665-T72 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia Go 7600)

Alienware Area 51 M5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia Go 7600)

Acer TravelMate 8204 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI Mobility X1600)

Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI Mobility X1600)

Sony VAIO FE590 (2.0GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400)

Sony VAIO SZ2 (2.16GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400)

3,526 3D Marks

3542 3D Marks

4236 3D Marks

2866 3D Marks

1714 3D Marks

1851 3D Marks

The Rock is almost identical to the expensive, higher clocked Alienware machine, and is only comprehensively beaten by the (still more expensive) Acer 8204. Once again it’s a very good showing by the Rock.

HD Tune

HD Tune is an application which tests the performance of your hard drive.

Test Results

Maximum transfer speed

Minimum transfer speed

Average transfer speed

Access time

Burst rate

CPU usage

46.2 Mb/s

26.0 Mb/s

38.1 Mb/s

15.2 ms

92.7 MB/s

3.5%

These are very good results for a notebook hard drive, boosted by the 7200RPM spin speed. Incidentally, they also happen to be very similar to the aforementioned alienware machine.

Far Cry

I was able to play Far Cry with high settings easily at a 1280 x 800 resolution for about an hour with no frame rate drops at all. The notebook did get warm, but not hot, with the exception of the underside. The fans were on most of the time, but were not noticeable over the sound of my music and game effects.

To see what difference it would make, I tried the same test, with the same quality settings, but in fanless running mode. The image quality was about the same, but it was very jerky with a lower frame rate. Its hardly surprising really as everything is running slower to produce less heat and not require fan cooling. I don’t expect many people would want to play Far Cry in a silent lecture hall anyway.

Heat and Noise

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CPU, GPU and RAM on the left, HDD on the right and battery at the  back

At idle, or when doing simple office tasks and web browsing the notebook is very quiet. Occasionally the fan will kick in, but only for a few seconds and then it will reduce down to a fairly quiet hum. When you start doing something demanding, like gaming, then the fans kick in quite heavily and stay on, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

There is a button above the keyboard to activate ‘silent running’ which will prevent the fan from coming on by clocking the CPU down to about 1GHz. Even at 1GHz though, there is enough performance to handle web browsing and office documents easily. This option is brilliant if you want to use the notebook in a lecture hall or library.

Apparently the notebook has a Sony optical drive and a Seagate hard drive. I’m not sure about the hard drive, but it does have a Sony optical drive. Both are very quiet and produce little heat. The optical drive will write onto just about everything, except for DVD RAM. When writing there is a fan like noise and that’s all you here. Occasionally you will here a click or bleep at the start of reading a new disc but that’s it; it’s never a sustained noise. Performance is also good as it wrote a CD in 5m 30s.

The wrist rests get warm with prolonged use, but never gets hot. The keyboard and other parts stay cool. The underside will get hot when gaming and warm the rest of the time. If you use the notebook on a hard, flat surface you’ll find it’ll stay quite cool, but put it on a bed and temperatures will start to climb and the fan will get louder as there is a vent underneath that will be blocked.

Upgradeability

A large panel on the left underneath the notebook houses the CPU, GPU, RAM and wireless mini PCI card. The fan and heat sink are here too. The hard disc drive resides under its own little panel on the bottom right. The RAM and HDD are easily upgradeable like most notebooks, but interestingly so is the mini PCI wireless card. This makes it possible to improve the wireless capability of the notebook when new standards are produced.

If you upgrade anything yourself, you will not void the warranty unless a fault can be attributed to a faulty upgrade. Rock, however, will carry out upgrades themselves, and these upgrades will be covered under warranty no matter what.

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A row of buttons above the keyboard for power, shortcuts and a ‘fanless running’ option

Keyboard and Touchpad

 

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The keyboard and touch pad

The keyboard on the whole is pretty good and one of the better ones I’ve used. There is little to no flex or bowing on the letter keys and only a small amount on the top right and left where the function keys are. Each key is large, well spaced and individually mounted. The keys may feel slightly loose to some, but I haven’t found that a problem. They reward a firm and positive typing action as they are fairly stiffly sprung, although this may improve with use. I personally like a strong, well sprung keyboard as I can be quite an aggressive typist. They also have quite a nice rubbery stop, so ‘clickety’ noises.

The function key is where the ctrl key would normally be which is a little annoying at first. I like the large left shift key, as many sacrifice this for a large caps lock key, which annoys me as I hardly ever use caps lock. The full size return key is much appreciated, as are the dedicated, full size pg up and pg down keys along with the dedicated home and end keys. The directional keys are slightly separate from the main board, which I didn’t like at first, but is useful when using them as there is space around them to rest your fingers. They are also slightly thinner than the letter keys.

The function key operations are labelled in light blue which shows up very well on the black keys. You can also activate number lock and turn part of the keyboard into a regular number pad.

The only real quirk of the keyboard is that it has quite a small space bar, about for letter keys long as opposed to 5 or 6. I don’t really mind as I always hit it in roughly the middle and have yet to miss. It also registers a space wherever you press it so it doesn’t matter if you keep getting the extreme ends of it. I tend to think a large space bar is a waste of keyboard space so I’m happy to have it.

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Touchpad and buttons, notice the button just below the keyboard to disable the touchpad

I typically hate touchpads and have consequently already started using an external Kensington optical mouse. However, this one is by the best I’ve used.

The synaptics touchpad features a scrolling strip on the right side for vertical scrolling and a strip at the bottom for horizontal scrolling. It is very easy to find and use and a brilliant idea as scrolling with a touchpad used to give you carpel tunnel syndrome. I’ve seen it implemented on many notebooks to varying degrees of success, but this one works well. The strange thing is that the vertical scroll function is labelled on the touchpad, while the horizontal one isn’t. The touchpad also features a ‘tapping’ function, where a tap or double tap on the pad will register as a mouse click, or double click. I find this very useful as it means you can navigate around windows or a word document without moving you hands from the touchpad surface. You can also drag items by double tapping, but holding your finger down on the second tap. It sounds a bit strange, but works fairly well.

The mouse buttons are large and are ridges so you can find them easily without looking for them. They have quite a firm click, which I like as it makes them seem strong and reliable. Best of all though, above the touchpad is another button. This button disables the touchpad and mouse buttons if you wish to use an external mouse of if you just want to use the keyboard without accidentally registering a click or move the curser. Its brilliant as you can turn it on or off whenever you please (it glows green when activated). Some notebooks make you go hunting in the bios to do such an operation, which may require a restart; this is far better.

Input and Output Ports

Just about all the ports you’d want are here (labelled from left to right).

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Right side: Express card (34/54), USB 2.0, mini Firewire, Card reader, RJ45 ethernet, S-Video, DVI out.

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Left side: USB 2.0 (x2), Optical drive (DL DVD+-RW), Mic in, S/PDIF out, Volume dial.

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Front: Very small mic, Lid catch, Wireless switch.

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Back: Heat exhaust vent, Lock slot, Battery (6 cell), RJ11 modem, Power adapter socket.

The USB slots represent the best and worst properties of the ports. There is a single USB slot in the middle of the right side, which is the perfect place to connect an external mouse for a right handed user like myself. A very good design choice. However, there are only two other USB slots, both of which are right next to each other on the other side, which means one USB device may block both slots. I have about 6 USB devices so I’m seriously short of slots. I could get a USB hub, but I’ll manage as I never need to connect more than 3 things at one time.

The notebook also benefits from an Express Card 34/54 slot which will accommodate both Express Card sizes. It doesn’t have a PC card slot, but express cards offer far better band width and will eventually replace the old PC card standard. It comes with a plastic blank in there so dust wont get in while you’re not using it. The blank, clicks in and out of place nicely, not like the old pc cards which had those little lever/buttons which were just waiting to break.

I’ve yet to use the card reader, so I can’t really comment on it, but it does seem like a useful addition as I will probably be buying MP3 players and digital cameras in the future. Apparently it supports MMC, SD, MS, MS Pro but doesn’t support XD. The notebook features a DVI output which many seem to favour, although DVI to VGA adapters are very easy to get hold of. There is a mini firewire port, which is good if you have a digital camcorder. The network gigabit Ethernet slot is on the right side which is bit strange, as most would like to connect the lead to the back like the modem port. Thankfully there are no ports at the front which can be annoying as the unsightly wires get in the way otherwise.

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Small built in microphone

There is a tiny little microphone built into the left wrist rest. I’ve only use it briefly with the integrated windows sound recorder and results were as expected… pretty poor. It picked up my voice but I wouldn’t use it for anything important. There is a mic in port though so you could easily attach a good quality mic.

Wireless

The wireless capabilities are from a pretty typical Intel Centrino standard mini PCI card. It supports the 802.11 a, b and g standards. It is upgradeable though so you should be fairly future proof. From my house in the outskirts of a small midlands town I can pick up 3 wifi sources which is better than I was expecting.

Unfortunately there is no built-in Bluetooth available, but you can configure the notebook to come with a Bluetooth USB module. The module is very small, smaller than most USB memory sticks and works very well with my mobile phone.

Battery

The battery life is pretty poor, but with good reason. With heavy use it’ll only last about an hour or hour and a half if you’re lucky. On low, office use it’ll last about 2 hours, maybe a little bit longer. It is only a 6 cell though, whereas other powerful notebooks like the Acer Travelmate 8204 have 9 cell batteries. With a 9 cell (available for 116) it will easily manage 3 hours, and probably more. It’s a very reasonable  priced upgrade and consequently worth it, unfortunately they didn’t have any in stock due to a lack of supply when I ordered, so I will keep checking back periodically on their website to order one. Bearing in mind how much Dell, Apple and Sony charge for batteries I don’t mind waiting.

The supplied battery says ‘Made by Panasonic’ on it so I doubt it will explode like some Sony batteries have done in recent weeks.

Operating System and Software

When configuring the notebook you can choose between Windows XP SP2 Home, Media Centre or Professional. XP Pro costs an extra 58 while media centre is a no cost alternative. I personally don’t like XP and will upgrade to Vista once it’s out and fully patched. Therefore I just went for the home edition as I’m not too keen on the Media Centre stuff.

You can also configure other software. You can choose to have a package consisting of Roxio, Bull Guard, Works, Word and an Office Trial installed or you can have no other software except for the OS and drivers. The latter will have absolutely no bloatware and is what most should go for. I went for the other package, which was also bloatware free except for the office trial which was easily uninstalled. I went for the software package as I didn’t have any up to date security software (Bull Guard) and I also wanted the Roxio software for burning discs. Both work well, and strangely for windows, I’ve yet to have a single program crash so everything appears to be very stable.

The notebook comes with a recovery partition on the hard drive which takes up about 3Gb. Brilliantly though, Rock give you a recovery disc as well so you could get rid of the partition if you want. You also have the comfort of a manufacturer disc and not one you had to make yourself. Rock also supply you with a drivers disc as well so a clean install should be made that bit easier as you have all the drivers on a disc. Finally if you choose to have works and a Bluetooth module, you’ll get the software installed on the computer but you’ll also get a works disc and a disc with the Bluetooth software. I wish all notebook manufacturers would give you all of the software discs free of charge.

Accessories/others

You will be given a standard, basic, nylon bag free of charge with all Rock notebooks, which is useful if you’re on a budget, but I’d get something better. I went for a Pakuma Choroka K2 ( 35). I like the messenger style of bag as I can always see it as it’s not behind my back. It also doesn’t end up in people’s faces while I’m on the train which is a big problem for me with backpacks on the London underground trains. The Pakuma bags are brilliant with the best quality materials, manufacture, zips and buckles so they come with a lifetime warranty. The notebook ‘cocoon’ which protects you’re notebook is very well designed and accommodates the computer very tightly with plenty of high density memory foam. The K2 is designed for 15.4” notebooks, while the K1 will accommodate 17” notebooks. For more info on the entire range look at www.pakuma.com; they have both backpacks and messenger bags.

Luckily for me Rock made a mistake and gave me a two Pakuma Bags instead of one, which meant I got a 35 bag for free! I think this is because I picked up the notebook in person, so instead of just giving me the box with the bag inside, they also gave me one in a bag as well.

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Two Pakuma bags!                                         Bag and notebook

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Inside, plenty of space for folders and other bits        Another flap covers the notebook cocoon

The bag is probably the best I’ve seen. The quality is excellent with good buckles and zips. All the stitching and materials seem very strong. It also looks like it will survive a rain storm too. It’s a good size too, as it will easily accommodate a notebook computer and a couple of folders. There are also lots of internal pockets for all of your other bits and pieces; some of are zipped and others I mesh. There’s also small clip inside one of the pockets for your keys.

It comes with an extra strap at the back called a ‘cycle strap’ which you can use around your waist to prevent the bag from swinging forward when your on a bike. Its’s detachable so you can take it off completely if you prefer. The main strap is wide and easily adjustable with a big buckle to lock it in place.

The notebook’s power brick is about average in terms of size and weight and not too much of a chore to carry around. You can also have a digital USB TV tuner if you like, I chose not to due to the poor digital TV reception available with portable aerials and instead bought a hybrid digital/analogue USB TV tuner.

Customer Service and Support

This is the main reason I chose Rock over some of the other companies. Each and every Rock notebook comes with a 3 year collect and return warranty as standard… free of charge. This means that if you have a problem with the notebook, it will be collected, fixed and tested and returned to you for free. You also get lifetime phone support which is charged at national rate, not international rate. You’ll also be put through to an English tech person in England, and not sent to a call centre in India where they don’t really seem to know what they’re talking about. All of this is available on mainland Britain. I think if you live further away, they’ll cover the first 20 of the carriage costs. The warranty is also insurance-backed so if something was to happen to Rock, e.g. Bankruptcy (unlikely), then there will still be provision for your warranty to be honoured. This all provides good peace of mind.

Rock provide a really good personal service. The same person was on hand to show me the notebook the first time I arrived, to place my order with and send me emails to let me know how my order was progressing. He was also the one that gave me the notebook when I went to collect it. That same person is also on the forum answering people’s questions.

This brings me on to the next best part about the Rock experience. The Rock forum is brilliant. There is plenty of kind, helpful and genuinely useful advice. Its all very friendly and well spirited. There are many Rock and non-Rock users on there all able to help and tell you about there machines and experiences. Most importantly though senior members of Rock regularly contribute and answer any questions. You can also send them messages if you have any problems. Check out the forum: www.rockforum.co.uk

Conclusion

Overall I’m very happy with my Rock Pegasus 665-T72. I got an amazing specification, a solid warranty and strong customer support, all for a low price. What’s more, with the forum and the warranty, I shouldn’t have to worry about any problems which may occur down the line. It would have been nice to get a small and sexy little carbon fibre or aluminium machine, but they tend to be all style and no substance whereas this is the complete opposite and all the better for it. I would easily recommend it to someone who wants either a gaming, media or powerful work machine, yet doesn’t want to lug around a big and heavy 17” notebook. The specification will easily handle demanding packages and the screens will provide you with a productive desktop or stunning media experience. The only real weakness is the poor standard battery life, lack of a 4th USB port and some flexible bits of plastic.

Pros:

  • Great standard warranty and customer service
  • Software discs supplied
  • Stunning performance and power
  • Very good price
  • Fanless running option
  • Subtle, tidy looks
  • Free bag
  • Strong, firm, keyboard and very good touchpad
  • Great screen resolution, brightness and horizontal viewing angles

Cons:

  • Underside can get a bit hot
  • Would like another USB 2.0 port and Bluetooth built in
  • Poor standard battery life, although upgradeable
  • Would prefer a more compact and lighter chassis (like Sony Vaio SZ)
  • Poor quality speakers
  • Some flex, particularly in lid

All the prices I have used are in pounds sterling ( ) and include VAT as I ordered from and live in England. US dollar rates are hard to tell we are always charged more in England due tax etc… Either way it works out to be about 600 (33%) cheaper than an Alienware Area 51 M5550 with the same specification and chassis. The rock even comes with a better bag and higher resolution screen. The only difference other than that is the Alienware machine is silver with an elaborate lid design.

<< View Page 1: Introduction, Why Purchased, Packaging, Processor and Performance


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