Completing our pair of Merom-based laptops this month (click here for our review of the Hi-Grade UltiNote D6000-2102) is Rock's Xtreme CTX Pro.

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There are several models in the Merom family. We know of five currently, but expect more to surface soon. The T7400 is angled towards the higher end of the collection, and it's also the version that both Rock and Hi-Grade have opted for in their latest models.

In fact, looking at the respective specifications of the Rock and the Hi-Grade, you could be forgiven for wondering why the price difference between the two laptops is more than £300 – either Hi-Grade is shooting itself in the foot or Rock is charging over the odds.

It's true that the Rock's screen is bigger and can stretch to a higher resolution, while the graphics card offers better frame rates in our graphics tests. But we're not entirely sure this is worth the extra cash.

The Xtreme CTX Pro scored 111 in our WorldBench 5 processing-speed suite, two points behind the Hi-Grade – but a difference like this wouldn't be noticed by your average user. The Rock is certainly a good-looking system, and its games performance was blistering. Framerates of nearly 150fps (frames per second) in both Doom3 and Halo at a resolution of 1,024x768, dropping to around 130fps at a resolution of 1,280x1,024, are absolutely staggering.

The other specifications are industry-standard for the desktop-replacement market, from 1GB of DDR RAM and a 100GB hard drive to 802.11a, b and g wireless facilities. You get Bluetooth too. The warranty is generous at three years, even if it doesn't include onsite cover.

Rock Xtreme CTX Pro: Specs

  • 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 processor
  • Windows XP Home
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 100GB hard drive
  • 17in 1,680x1,050 TFT display
  • 256MB nVidia GeForce Go 7900 GTX graphics card
  • 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 802.11a/b/g
  • Bluetooth
  • 3-year collect-and-return warranty
  • 365x280x35mm
  • 3.5kg
  • 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 processor
  • Windows XP Home
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 100GB hard drive
  • 17in 1,680x1,050 TFT display
  • 256MB nVidia GeForce Go 7900 GTX graphics card
  • 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 802.11a/b/g
  • Bluetooth
  • 3-year collect-and-return warranty
  • 365x280x35mm
  • 3.5kg

OUR VERDICT

To be fair, if we hadn't seen the Hi-Grade we wouldn't question the high price of the Rock. But we have, and so it's difficult to recommend something this expensive when a near equivalent exists at a much lower price.

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