Introduction & The Platform
In May of this year, we had the chance to evaluate ATi's Mobility Radeon 9700. When our evaluation was complete, we came away impressed. And we weren't alone. The ATi Mobility Radeon 9700 has been almost universally praised by the press, and declared the fastest mobile 3D gaming GPU of its generation. Then, only a few short months later, ATi announced that they'd be upping the ante yet again. On July 27, 2004 ATi released information regarding their next-gen Mobility Radeon 9800. The Mobility Radeon 9800 would be an 8-pixel pipeline DX9 mobile GPU, that had the essentially the same feature-set as ATi's flagship desktop GPU, the X800. With double the number of pixel pipelines of the Mobility Radeon 9700, and sporting more features, the Mobility Radeon 9800 piqued the interest of many gamers in the market for a gaming notebook.
We've already outlined the main features of the Mobility Radeon 9800 in our coverage of the initial announcement, and today we bring you a hands-on evaluation of ATi's latest mobile GPU using a Dell Inspiron XPS notebook. If you were waiting to a buy a notebook until they were powerful enough to run today's latest games at high-resolutions, with playable framerates, you better have your credit card handy...
To test the Mobility Radeon 9800, ATi shipped us a Dell Inspiron XPS "desktop-replacement" notebook that was powered by some top-notch components. The LCD had a super-high native resolution of 1920x1200, and at the heart of the system was a 3.2GHz Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition CPU and the Mobility Radeon 9800 GPU clocked at 350MHz (2.8GPixels/s). And Complimenting the MR9800 was 256MB of DDR RAM clocked at 300MHz (600MHz DDR). It also had 512MB of DDR RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a built-in 802.11 network controller, and a DVD burner. If you take a look at the images above, you'll also notice that the XPS has both a track-point and touch-pad for controlling your mouse cursor, it has two available PCMCIA expansion slots, and the rear of the unit had a nice assortment of connectors including 5 USB ports, an RJ-45 Ethernet jack, and an RJ-11 modem jack. The XPS also had S-Video, analog DB15, and DVI video outputs. The one problem with a powerhouse like this is its weight. This baby weighed in at almost 14lbs. Not something you'll want to carry around on the daily grind. For the occasional LAN Party though, it's perfect.