PC Nextday Zoostorm 52-4601 review
While Acer, Advent and MSI go all out for the lowest possible price, PC Nextday takes full advantage of our £499 exc VAT price limit and uses the extra room in the budget for a Core 2 Duo and an ATi Mobility Radeon X1600.
It means that the Zoostorm is the only one to boast a dual-core CPU, and this in turn makes it a lot more responsive. In our 2D application benchmarks, the 1GB of 667MHz DDR2 memory also helped it to an Overall score of 1.01.
The Radeon X1600 benefits from a generous 256MB of RAM, and this helped it to run Far Cry at 25fps at 1,024 x 768. As ever, if you turn down the detail settings, you’ll get truly playable frame rates.
Your extra cash only buys a faster CPU and graphics card, though. The 80GB hard disk, dual-layer DVD writer and the range of ports are all par for the course in this group. For example, there’s 10/100 Ethernet, four USB ports, an ExpressCard/54 slot and a V.92 modem. 802.11a support isn’t a major advantage, and neither is infrared; the only real bonus is the DVI-I output, plus mini-FireWire.
The 15.4in TFT is indistinguishable from the others in this price bracket – brightness, viewing angles and resolution are similar across all four machines.
There are compromises at this price, of course, and one is the battery life. The standard six-cell battery lasted only two hours under light use, and 1hr 11mins with heavy use. PC Nextday doesn’t charge the earth for replacements, though, with a nine-cell battery costing only £43.
The other shortfall is the heat produced by the internals. The fans don’t kick in until they absolutely have to, which makes for a quiet laptop, but you won’t want to use the Zoostorm on your lap for long.
A single year of RTB warranty is to be expected, but if you’re looking for an affordable dual-core notebook with gaming potential, the Zoostorm 52-4601 is worth a look.