The Gaming Experience
There are a few things to consider when gaming other than performance. So we are going to depart from the tradition and not benchmark a plethora of games. If you'd like to see how this notebook performs in a variety of gaming scenarios, we suggest taking a look at this article. Marco tested the GeForce 6800 Go GPU found in the Gen 2 a few months back. Instead, we will focus on the other important things here. After all, you only need a few graphs to get a feel for how well a game runs on a particular system. There are other things that cannot be expressed in graphs, but they are just as important, like:
- orientation of external mouse (left side for lefties and right side for righties)
- orientation of headphones
- visual experience: the display (brightness, viewing angle, contrast, vividness) and the rest
- audio quality and experience
- combination of an external mouse and keyboard
Orientation of external mouse (left side for lefties and right side for righties) - For left handed people, an external mouse will come in conflict with popping CD/DVDs in and out. It will also partially come in conflict with any USB device or the cable you plug in on the 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 on the left side of the notebook.
Left to Right: Left handed, Right handed
For right handed people, an external mouse will partially come in conflict with the Firewire cable should you use a Firewire device. Additionally, if you are popping a PCMCIA device in or out, you probably will have to move the mouse a little more to the right for spacing purposes. A SD card is small enough that it won't cause any problems should you be right handed and need to use the SD card reader.
Orientation of headphones - Whether you are left or right handed, the choice of using headphones will require you to deal with a trailing cable from the right side. Make sure you get headphones where the cable comes from the right earphone or earbud. Otherwise, you will deal with the cross over from a trailing audio cable from the right side of the notebook to your left earphone or earbud. Once this happens, the only way to avoid the problem is to wear your headphones backwards, which generally is uncomfortable.
Visual Experience: The Display(brightness, viewing angle, contrast, vividness) and the rest - At its highest setting (8), which is the setting you should be gaming at, the display has a pretty wide viewing angle. Its wide enough so that the person next to you will be able to see what is going on perfectly fine.
Left to Right: Doom 3, Republic Commando
For gaming, the colors are bright and crisp. Darker games were less visually appealing than those using brighter colors. Our example is that you will feel much more integrated with games like Star Wars Republic Commando over Doom 3.
The only problem we had was with the LEDs from the speakers. Because they tilt up, the light can be somewhat annoying after a while. This becomes a possible problem when you are gaming in dark titles like Doom 3 in a dark room. What happens is that the dramatic effect of any dark scene is minimalized because of the bright LED light (colors can be changed in the BIOS). The heatsink LEDs don't pose that much of a problem as they are out of the way and harder to view directly. Fortunately, you can turn these LEDs off in the system BIOS.
Audio quality and Experience - The audio experience is great. As we mentioned the highest we can go without too much distortion is about 65%. You can probably jump to 80% if you are gaming because your hands irrevocably cover and muffle the speakers. This lessens your ability to distinguish the quality difference.
If you are using an external mouse, a left handed person will hear audio louder on the left side, as you will need one hand away from normal keyboard posture to be poised to track and click the external mouse. A right handed person, thus, will hear audio louder on the right side. Either way, you probably won't need to surpass the 35% volume barrier, even if you are using a external mouse.
Combination of an External Mouse and Keyboard - Far too many people don't consider the feel that you will need for gaming. For the enthusiast and hardcore gamer, an unnatural feel can lead to those few lost seconds needed to cap the enemy rounding that corner; leaving you dead with a lower kill score.
For the right handed person, there is a overall nature feel between working between your external mouse and A, W, S, and D keys, which are the critical keys for most games. You will have a tendency to use the external mouse close to the right side of the notebook if you want to view the display dead center. Otherwise, you will be slightly off center to the right.
For the left handed person, using the A, W, S, and D keys generally gives a cramped feel, because of the proximately of both hands. Additionally, it will leave you viewing the display off center to the left. If you reassign the keys to something like I, J, K, and L, you will get a much better feel for gaming. You will also have a tendency to use the external mouse close to the right side of the notebook if you want to view the display dead center, due to the large display size.
The height of the notebook isn't too high, which definitely helps gamers. Any higher and I believe the feel for having one hand raised high for striking keys and one lower for mouse tracking/clicking would be unnatural.