MV Ixius review
When the term ‘desktop replacement’ is applied to a notebook, we expect it to be big, but that’s an understatement when it comes to the behemoth that is the MV Ixius. It weighs in at a massive 5.58kg and measures 398 x 300 x 57mm (WDH), complete with its 17.1in screen. Think B52 bomber and you’ll get the idea: gigantic, powerful and intimidating.
That power is supplied by an Intel Pentium 4 560 with the range’s highest clock speed of 3.6GHz. The chip has Hyper-Threading, 1MB of L2 cache and an 800MHz front side bus. MV has thrown in 1GB of memory, with 256MB of PC4300 DDR2 SDRAM in each of the four memory slots. This is all fixed to a Clevo D900T motherboard along with an Intel 915G chipset.
Performance isn’t quite as stunning as you might expect. The 2D overall score of 1.57 is short of what we’d expect from this setup in a desktop, and also fell behind the Dell Inspiron 9200 with its 2GHz Pentium M. The only area where the Ixius was faster – and even then only by 10 per cent – was video encoding. That said, if your chosen apps use Hyper-Threading then the Ixius should prove faster than the Dell. The Pentium 4 certainly wasn’t designed for mobile use though, with the Ixius lasting 1 hour, 13 minutes under light use.
But it’s in 3D that the Ixius really impresses. MV is on nVidia’s list of official launch partners for its 256MB GeForce Go 6800 – a mobile card based on the desktop GeForce 6800 GPU with 12 pipelines and support for DirectX 9c and Shader Model 3. Test results are astonishing for a notebook. Running at 1,280 x 1,024 pixels with 32-bit colour, our Halo tests returned 49fps (frames per second) and Unreal Tournament 2004 achieved 60fps. Running Far Cry at 1,280 x 1,024 with 4x anti-aliasing and 8x anisotropic filtering produced 45fps, and Doom 3 at the same resolution with high-quality textures managed a very playable 45fps. With a PCI Express interface, owners can upgrade to another card in the future, and MV says it won’t invalidate the warranty – providing no damage is caused during the upgrade.
With this amount of power on tap from desktop components, a notebook usually sounds like a jet plane as its fans work overtime. That’s not the case here; the Ixius is nearly silent in normal running, rising to a restrained murmur when working hard. Hot air is gently pushed out through large grilles at the back and left side, and a further four grilles underneath attest to the volume of air it circulates.
You’ll also find another grille on the underside. It’s a sub woofer to add bass to the four stereo speakers mounted elsewhere – one either side of the keyboard and two across the front. Unfortunately, sound quality is disappointingly mushy as it booms and echoes inside the boxy case. Thanks to a 3.5mm S/PDIF output though, you can also extract the Intel High Definition Audio and send it to external audio equipment.
You won’t need to bypass the screen, however, since the 17.1in widescreen display will provide everything you need for working, gaming and watching films. The plastic bezel creaks when opening and closing the screen, but the hinges have to grip tightly to hold up the heavy display. Resolution is a standard 1,440 x 900 pixels, and protection behind the panel is about average; it should be up to occasional travel – if you’re up to lifting it. There’s even a 0.3-megapixel webcam set into the bezel.
Matching the giant screen for size, the base section is wide enough to take a full keyboard and numeric keypad and still have room for two speakers. We can’t complain about the key action, which is firm with a good amount of travel. The only problem is that the whole board is set well back on the machine. Not only is it a stretch to reach, but a watch strap will scuff the surface of the palm rest. It also gets a touch warm after a while. Still, the layout is excellent, and it’s generally a pleasure to use.