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ACER Travelmate 8104 Sneak Peek

by Nick Haywood on 16 February 2005, 00:00

Tags: Acer (TPE:2353)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa7l

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ACER Travelmate 8104 First look - Spy Shots

ACER Travelmate 8104 First Look - Spy Shots


We looked at ATI's Mobility Radeon X700 Launch in January. On paper, it looks very promising. Today, we managed to get a look at an Acer notebook making use of this new mobile graphics technology...

Travelmate 8104 Front View
Now if you frequent LAN parties, one thing notable by its absence is the laptop PC. Take a wander round and everyone is on an uber-nutter-turbo rig with windows and cool-bloo lighting… not a waif like lappy in sight. The rather obvious reason for this is the laptop’s lack of ‘oomph’ when it comes to gaming requirements... throw in desperately short battery life times and they become less than desirable for a 12 hour HL2 frag-fest at acceptable framerates. Yes, the lappy may well be far more portable, making it perfect for business purposes, but it’s next to useless for a quick office LAN of Far Cry while the boss is in a meeting.

Nice and thin
All that was true until now, as ACER have come to the aid of all those with weak backs and packaged some serious hardware into a space so small, it even makes the TARDIS look oversized.

Is that HAL?
Each of the series is built around Intel Centrino technology and complemented by ATI's MOBILITY RADEON X700 graphics, so you know there’s plenty of power from the CPU which isn’t going to be bottlenecked at the GPU… Now I’ve written that, I’ve just realized this thing has more bang under the bonnet than my desktop machine! And weighing in at just over 2.8kg, I’m not going to worry about popping a hernia shifting it around.

The guts
Looking closer, the specs on this baby are pretty impressive. ATI have replaced the powerful Mobility Radeon 9700 GPUs with their PCI-E X700… something to make the desktop and mini-server box boys a tad jealous. Sure, they might have X850s, but can they leg it for the last bus? Didn’t think so. Other specs for this version you see here include a 2Ghz CPU, 1Gb dual DDR, 15” WSXGA screen, 100Gb HDD, tri-mode Wifi with 802.11a/b/g support and a dual layer DVD burner.

Spec panel
Now, battery life has always been a huge bug-bear for laptops. They drain the juice from your battery faster than a tramp can finish half a can of Special Brew. With that in mind, ACER have developed something called ‘ePowerManagement’. This nifty bit of software gives you complete control of your laptops power usage… and then tells you how long you can use it for with the set-up you have. The ‘power gaming on the move’ pre-set will let you blow chunks for just under two and half hours… and it takes only as long as that to fully re-charge the battery for more frag fun!

ePowerManagement
So you’ve heard all about the specs and the thinking behind it, but how does it REALLY work? Well, this is still very new, so for the moment let’s satisfy ourselves with ATI's reckonings. Ready? Doom 3, 1024x768, quality HIGH… 40 frames per second! Not bad, not bad at all… those same chaps are saying HL2 will knock in at roughly 80fps and Far Cry at 48fps… top end games at nicely playable frame rates.

Top view
So with specs like that you’d expect to pay a princely sum, but all of that is available for a rather impressively low £1,299 plus VAT. If I wasn’t jealous before, I am now… given the slim-line styling of this thing, it’s perfectly feasible for it to slip down the side of the sofa… so surely I can keep it? After all, they’re so cheap, they wouldn’t miss one, huh?

So you want figures?


HEXUS has managed to source some preliminary benchmarks that should give us an indication of what performance levels the Travelmate 8104, combined with the Mobility X700 can provide. The below tests were run at 1024x768 resolution and 32bpp.

Test Result
3DMark052,248 points
3DMark035,709 points
Farcry v 1.3 - Research61 FPS
Farcry v 1.3 - Regulator28 FPS
Half-life 2 AT_Canal0885 FPS
Doom3 High Quality41 FPS

As we already mentioned, the system isn't exactly going to take on an X850 or 6800 Ultra in the performance department, however the benchmark results above do suggest that you'll get ample eye candy and decent framerates thanks to the Mobility Radeon X700 GPU.

If 1024x768 isn't quite enough for you, then you'll be pleased to learn that Half-Life 2 looks to run at around 30FPS when in 1280x1024 resolution and with 4XAA + 8XAF. Gordon will be pleased!

We hope to get hold of a sample soon so that we can bring you a full HEXUS suite of benchmarks and closer scrutiny of the system. Watch this space.