Notebook PCs seen making inroads with gamers

Notebooks are starting to make inroads in the gaming market, thanks to more powerful mobile processors and graphics chips.

Desktop computers have long been the preferred systems of gamers, but that is starting to change thanks to the introduction of more powerful mobile processors and mobile graphics chips.

"For a long time, we've been trying to convince gamers to use notebooks to game, either when they're actually doing tournaments or travelling," said Wesley DeKlotz, Intel's Asia-Pacific mobile marketing manager. "We've never been very successful at doing that when we were offering them Pentium M notebooks."

Gamers have tended to prefer desktops because they typically offer higher-performance components and the ability to easily customize and upgrade components. But notebook computers are closing the gap, thanks in part to the roll-out of powerful dual-core mobile processors.

"When we came around and started offering [gamers] dual-core notebooks and said, 'Hey, try these out,' the response has just been overwhelming," DeKlotz said. Professional gamers haven't yet replaced their main desktop gaming systems with notebooks, but the latest laptops are "good enough" and are making inroads as practice machines, he said.

The latest boost in notebook performance came with last week's introduction of Intel's Core 2 Duo mobile processor, previously known by the code name Merom. The chip is the third processor based on Intel's new Core microarchitecture, and joins server and desktop variants known as Woodcrest and Conroe, respectively.

At the high-end of the Core 2 Duo lineup, the 2.33GHz T7600 chip has 4M bytes of cache and offers a 139-percent increase in floating-point performance over the fastest single-core Pentium M processor, DeKlotz said. "Not only are you getting higher performance, but you're getting that higher performance at overall lower power consumption," he said.

The introduction of dual-core chips like the Core 2 Duo, as well as the expected introduction of Nvidia Corp.'s SLI graphics system, which uses twin graphics cards, will mean more high-performance systems from vendors such as Dell and Clevo.

"Clevo has done some really innovative work," DeKlotz said, noting the Taiwanese hardware maker uses large screens, lots of I/O (input/output) ports, and high-quality sound systems in its gaming notebooks. "They are targeting very high-end users," he said.

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