Malibal Nine X7200

What can you say about a laptop that ships with a 300W power supply and weighs more than 14 pounds? The Malibal Nine X7200 is an exercise in extremes: it's big, heavy, and gets loud under heavy use, but it's very, very fast on games and offers a stunningly gorgeous 17-inch, full 1080p display.

The X7200 won't win any awards for its industrial design. It's clunky looking, and awkward in some respects. For example, the included Blu-ray drive is mounted beneath an overhang, which makes it difficult to access. On the other hand, Malibal managed to cram what's essentially a high end desktop PC into a relatively mobile chassis.

Built into this monster is an Intel Core i7 980X desktop processor. This is no anemic laptop quad core CPU, but a full 6-core, 32nm desktop CPU. Toss in 12GB of RAM, two 80GB SSDs in RAID 0 mode and a pair of Nvidia GTX 480M mobile DirectX 11 GPUs, and you have performance that rivals most desktop gaming rigs.

You also get to pay for the privilege. As tested, the X7200 costs a shade north of $5,300. You can buy a pretty hefty gaming rig with the 980X for quite a bit less than that - but you won't be able to easily move it around.

The Malibal Nine X7200 offers a wealth of ports: two USB 3.0 ports on the left side, three USB 2.0 ports on the right. Two audio outputs (one for headphones) and a microphone jack are also housed on the right side. Filling out the left side are DVI, HDMI, FireWire and eSATA connectors. The Malibal doesn't include a flash memory card reader, but with so many USB ports, that's not a big lack.

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The built-in speakers sound mediocre at best - tinny, lacking bass, and not particularly accurate. You'll really want to use headphones for a more robust audio experience. Actually, you'll want to use headphones for just about any audio experience - when running under heavy load, the system fans spin up to high speeds and the overall system noise gets quite loud.

The display offers excellent color reproduction and superb video playback. I was particularly impressed by the relative lack of motion smearing - it's present, but not nearly as bad as many laptops, even other desktop replacement units. The viewing angles, however, are quite limited. Blu-ray movie playback with several movies (including Kick-Ass and Serenity) look very nice, indeed. Games also look quite good.

Performance all around is excellent. The WorldBench 6 score is a thunderous 155, the highest we've yet seen on any laptop PC. I also ran some additional gaming tests. The aging 3DMark Vantage benchmark pumped out a score well over 17,000. More impressive are actual gaming tests. Far Cry 2 managed 88 frames per second in the long ranch scene, which hammers 3D graphics playback. The Far Cry 2 action scene, which emulates frantic run-and-gun action posted 58 frames per second. Just Cause 2, with 4x anti-aliasing turned on and everything cranked up, hit 39 frames per second - that's very good, indeed.

So if you want a gaming rig that's semi-portable, particularly if you have the cash to afford it, the Malibal X7200 may be the right ticket. If you're willing to sacrifice some features - go with a rotating hard drive, an Intel Core i7 950 quad core CPU and 6GB of RAM - you can save yourself over $1,500 and still have a robust gaming experience - thought I'd recommend sticking with the dual GTX 480Ms.

This story, "Malibal Nine X7200" was originally published by PCWorld.

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