Evesham Quest Nemesis review
We’re used to approaching desktop- replacement notebooks with a certain amount of suspicion. The temptation for integrators is to locate the fastest and often hottest-running components around, and then throw them into a huge chassis with seemingly little thought for comfort. The Evesham Quest Nemesis is a little different from the norm, in that its chassis is a relatively slender 42mm high and boasts a mobile processor – in this case a single-cored AMD Turion. Remarkably, though, there’s also a pair of Nvidia 7900 GS graphics cards inside, making this as much of a gaming thoroughbred as any laptop we’ve seen.
In terms of architecture, the AMD Turion ML-44 CPU couldn’t be much more different from the FX-60 that powers the outgoing A-List desktop replacement, the Evesham A620. The main difference is the sheer power consumption: while the FX-60 belts out 110W of heat, the ML-44 delivers just 35W – almost a third. It isn’t all good news, though, as the ML-44 inevitably makes a number of compromises compared to the FX-60. It’s single-cored, for a start, and has half the Level 1 cache. The clock speed of 2.4GHz is encouraging, but the final benchmark score of 0.94 compares to 1.25 from the A620 and is a little way behind what you’ll get from a high-end desktop machine.
That’s far from the case in terms of 3D power: thanks to SLI technology, the Nemesis has, theoretically at least, the greatest amount of gaming power we’ve ever seen in a notebook. It’s early days for the drivers, though, as both our Call of Duty 2 and Far Cry tests produced a variety of glitches. Take a look at the 3D graph below. Both Nvidia and Evesham have assured us that the problems will be solved soon, however, and running our benchmarks produced respectable average scores of 30fps in Far Cry and 34fps in Call of Duty 2 with our high settings, and 41fps in Far Cry and 38fps in Call of Duty 2 at 1,440 x 900.
The GPUs themselves are connected to a slightly tweaked version of Nvidia’s Nforce4 SLI chipset. Both units are MXM-packaged, and so, in theory at least, can be removed and upgraded. In reality, MXM chips are nearly impossible to find, and even if you could buy one the cooling components of the Nemesis are so precisely designed that adding a potentially hotter component would be inviting trouble.
Nvidia’s MediaShield RAID controller is also present, and the Nemesis comes with a pair of 100GB hard disks, in our case striped for speed, although you can specify a different RAID configuration at the time of ordering. The 160GB total capacity is practical for a system that comes with Windows Media Center Edition 2005, although the lack of either a remote control or an integrated TV tuner is a slight shame.
The 17in widescreen panel’s 1,680 x 1,050 resolution means most modern games will run smoothly unless at their highest settings. The results of our technical tests were slightly disappointing, though. Although the glossy screen produces life-like and accurate colours, contrast in both dark and light areas proved a problem, so you’ll start losing detail in the extremes of images. It isn’t a huge issue, but we wouldn’t rely on it for anything colour critical.
We’ve no other major complaints; it’s heavy at 4.27kg, and the keyboard is recessed a little too far towards the TFT, but it’s otherwise fine. The keyboard is solid, and in spite of the single mouse-button fascia we had no problem with it. The extra width of the keyboard allows space for a proper number pad, which is yet another advantage for those looking to entirely ditch their desktop PC. The 1.3-megapixel webcam at the top of the bezel is another welcome feature. Battery life is inevitably lacklustre: 1hr 15mins under light use and 49mins under intensive use.