Desktop computers have long been the preferred systems of gamers, but that's 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 customise 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 was just 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 line-up, the 2.33GHz T7600 chip has 4MB 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 such as the Core 2 Duo, as well as the expected introduction of nVidia SLI (scaleable link interface) 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 that 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.