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Mobility 9000

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Introduction

We’ve heard a lot about ATI’s new notebook chipset – the Mobility Radeon 9000. ATI gave me the chance to have fun for a weekend with a Mobility Radeon 9000 equipped notebook, and this is my hands-on-report.

The Hardware

The notebook that ATI lent me was from Medion (www.medion.com). Before ATI mentioned them on their press conference, I hadn’t heard about them, but I have now understood that they are a well-known brand in Germany. They have websites for several other countries too, but so far I’ve only noticed that they talk about the notebooks on their German website.

This isn’t a review of their notebook, so I will only briefly talk about the hardware before moving to the interesting stuff (aka benchmarks).

The laptop uses a 2.4 GHz P4 with 256 MB memory. It has a nice 14” screen which produces nice bright colors. This notebook came equipped with a nice CDRW drive and 2 defective USB ports (review units .. they apparently have to endure a lot of beating).

The drivers used were those supplied with the laptop and were dated 25 September. I think they are the same that now can be found on Medion’s German website. At the time of my testing, no drivers were present there at all.

‘Because first impressions last …’

It’s a corny slogan, but it has some truth in it. First impression last a long time. My first impression with the Mobility Radeon 9000 powered graphics was good. The colors that the LCD produced were bright and clear. Unfortunately, the laptop only allowed me to use a resolution up to 1024×768, which is a bit of a waste on a large 14” screen, but at that resolution everything looked great. Hooking up the laptop to my 19” monitor also went without a problem. The images produced were crisp and clear, even at higher resolutions.

Benchmarks

For normal office, use most laptops are fast enough. Thus, it isn’t a surprise that the Mobility Radeon 9000 has no problems with Office apps, Photoshop or Dreamweaver MX.

However – who would buy a Mobility Radeon 9000 based notebook for this? Nah, it’s the games that count. Admit it – haven’t you secretly wanted to install Q3A or Warcraft 3 so you could have some fun during those boring meetings or during lunch hour? Well I have. In fact – we used to play Half Life after work, and even that old game had problems with the older ATI based notebooks that we have at work.

The Mobility Radeon 9000 is a true DX8.1 chip and is based on the Radeon 9000 desktop chip. While this means you cannot expect 9700 speeds, you should be able to expect kick-ass performance for a notebook.

To see if this was true, I tried various games and benchmarks on the notebook.

3DMark2001SE
At the press event, ATI showed a slide saying that a Mobility Radeon 9000 should get around 7500 3DMarks. My own run produced a score of …. 7350 3DMarks.  This might not be in the league of the Ti4x00’s and the 9700, but remember that this is a notebook!

Castle Wolfenstein
I used the checkpoint benchmark when benching the game. Other settings were set to max.

1024×768: 95 fps

Warcraft 3
I played several games against the computer at 1024×768, and the game played beautifully. 

NOLF2 beta (was already on the notebook)
This was just one little level, so I cannot vouch for the whole game, but at 1024×768, the level did run perfectly smooth.

Conclusion

I wish I would have had a bit more time to run more benchmarks and play more games on the notebook, but so far I am very impressed. Notebooks are finally becoming viable for some serious gaming.  

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