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Review: Voodoo PC Envy m:855 laptop

by Tarinder Sandhu on 1 March 2004, 00:00

Tags: VoodooPC (NYSE:HPQ)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qawo

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Introduction

Voodoo PC Envy m:855 review

With respect to performance, laptop or notebook PCs have always played a very second fiddle to their desktop counterparts. It's easy to see why. The strain of running a powerful desktop system has been enough to ensure that responsible system integrators use a quality 300w+ power supply. Intel's newest Pentium 4 processor, codenamed Prescott, is reckoned to have a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 103w. Meaty graphics cards eat another substantial chunk of wattage. System RAM, believe it or not, can consume 40w on its very own. Fast PCs now double up as room heaters. That's just the way it is, unfortunately.

Laptops designers have to balance the market need for power and battery longevity. There's currently no viable miracle fuel that will provide the kind of power required to emulate the performance of true high-end systems. Designers are also acutely aware of the spatial limitations imposed by standard laptops chassis. It now appears that designers have increasingly sought to position laptops into two distinct groups. There's the so-called thin-and-light crowd, with sexy 2kg machines often outfitted with Centrino technology. Based primarily on portability, their aim is to provide the mobile professional with adequate performance for 2D work, excellent battery life, and, often, wireless connectivity. The sheer size and style often leaves a geeks frothing at the mouth. If hardware could be considered sexy, a few thin-and-light laptops would have their very own Pirelli calendar.

On the other side of the spectrum are what's popularly referred to as desktop replacement. These larger laptops often sacrifice pure style and weight for features and performance. Recent advances in mobile CPU and graphics technology has allowed designers to produce stunningly powerful machines who's specification would put many a user's main box to shame. Clock throttling and clever power management has been implemented to maximise battery life, too. So, if you're after a seriously meaty laptop with all the performance trimmings, the choice isn't as restricted as you may think. We were offered the chance to test a true desktop replacement laptop from the folks at VoodooPC. It promised to challenge my long-held notion that laptops and performance are two mutually exclusive terms. I was in for a surprise.