Wow, I thought the MSI was huge. This thing dwarfs it. It weighs a huge 6Kg and I almost broke my back lifting it up onto my desk. It's 439 x 299 x 44 mm. Huge! My initial thought was, "How do I turn this thing on!?"
When I got over my brain-fart and figured out that the power button's nestled comfortably into the hinge, I hit it and the whole machine lit up with shiny shiny blue lights every. The machine is black all over with pretty blue LED displays and touch sensitive buttons. No backlighting for the keyboard though, unfortunately.
It's pure Star Trek geekery to behold, making the first boot-up a satisfying reward for the six hours it took you to forklift it onto your desk. The machine booted up reasonably quickly, though not as swift as the MSI.
The high definition, 18.4 inch, 1920x1080 pixel display is bright, beautiful and crystal clear. I couldn't wait to go HD-crazy. It's surrounded by a glossy black case, which is blindingly shiny. If you've got filthy fingers, you'll know. I dare not approach the review machine without a pair of medical gloves on.
Stuff wot it has
The Rock XTREME 840SLI is full of mighty, mighty power. It's got an Intel Core 2 Extreme X9100 processor and for graphics it runs with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M SLI. This is backed up by a maximum 4GB of DDR3, 1066 MHz RAM. Blimey. Your connectivity includes a Blu-ray drive, HDMI video outputs, four USBs all in all, a TV tuner port and a fingerprint reader.
This review machine "only" had 460GB of storage space, but you can choose up to 750GB SSDRAID drives if you fancy.
The keyboard wins over the MSI machine with a more standard layout, boasting an additional 8 gaming macro keys to the left of your main keyboard. However, its touchpad is a real failing point. As it is not buried in the chassis, the only thing letting you know it's there is a single blue LED square. While this is really cool to look at, it means if you're not careful, simply dragging your palm over it accidentally while typing or gaming can become a real pain, screwing up your shots or just plain getting in the way.
It's got a sweet Bison webcam built in too, which takes high quality photos.
Stuff wot it does
I'll start with my main gripe. Sound on this machine unfortunately is a real let-down. It's fine for a bit of casual gaming but no fun for watching a film unless you're real close up. With such stunning visual quality on hand, it's a shame that Rock didn't think to boost the sound.
After tinkering with volume and being thoroughly disappointed, I plugged in my standard Creative I-Trigue speakers and all was well with the world again. More on that stunning visual quality, though: The high def, 18 inch screen is a real beauty for gaming or for watching a Blu-ray film. It's superb.
Running Crysis was a pleasure, and the machine handled frame rates better than the MSI. Mass Effect 2 looked and ran gorgeously too. Generally performance was perfect all around, except for one niggling and major problem. Occasionally when the machine struggled, it would lag for about 4 seconds and make a horrible, glitched repeating sound. It resolves itself in the end but really takes away from any sense of immersion. Strangely, it wasn't just when the machine was running high-performance games such as the above, but also when navigating around Windows 7 and running, say, Chrome and Spotify at the same time. It almost got away with the Spotify glitch, as I was listening to jungle and could barely tell.
The Xtreme 840SLI managed to keep very cool no matter what demanding tasks I laid on. Its base remained completely cool and didn't feel dangerously close to overheating once, which was very impressive considering.
The Rock Xtreme 840SLI looks cool as all hell and will get geeks salivating at both its specs and appearance. While the games ran well, strangely multitasking in Windows 7 caused the above mentioned lagging issue far too often.
It's a great machine for playing games on and again, is better off as a desktop replacement than for carrying around. Its weight means instead of being a laptop, it is essentially a portable desktop. I could not imagine lugging this thing around and didn't even try. And besides, battery life as you'd expect, is pretty low.