ASI's IQ17-D2: Is Mobility Radeon HD 3870 X2 Still Fast Enough?

The launch of the Radeon HD 5800-series desktop parts puts the Mobility Radeon HD 3870 X2 three generations behind, yet cancellations of Asus' ill-fated Radeon HD 4870 X2-based W90VP notebook models may have once again put it at the top of AMD’s mobile graphics portfolio. It’s not like the competition has gotten tougher, since Nvidia's GeForce GTX 200M-series offerings are re-branded two generation-old desktop parts. And while we expect AMD to eventually put its newfound 2D energy efficiency to good use in a notebook GPU, we don’t like to hold our breath waiting for product announcements (an editor once popped a blood vessel doing this).

This was the harsh climate buyers faced a few months ago when Nvidia launched an efficiency-enhanced version of its desktop 8800 GTS 512 as a 1GB model named GTX 280M. The article that claimed high praise for its brutal honesty was equally panned for its lack of comparison to Mobility 4870 X2—a solution that, as ATI's mobile product page indicates, no longer technically exists. Several editors continued scouring the industry for anyone willing to pony up with ATI’s most powerful mobile graphics solution, and a multitude of requests were finally answered by an unlikely source when white-box supplier ASI stepped up to the plate.

Available with dual Mobility Radeon HD 3870 graphics cards for around $1,300, the only “catch” to the ASI IQ17 gaming notebook is that buyers must be willing to either install their own Socket P mobile CPU, DDR3 memory, and hard drives or source their system through one of ASI's reseller partners.

That values the hardware of our as-delivered test system to around $2,480, complete with a Core 2 Extreme X9100 CPU, two Toshiba MK3254GSY 320GB hard drives, and two Crucial CT25664BC1067 DDR3-1066 memory modules. If you have someone else order the same parts and add the operating system, expect to pay around $2,800-$3,000, including installation fees.

ASI IQ17-D2 Configuration Options
CPUIntel Core 2 Duo/Quad/Extreme (Socket P Mobile) FSB-800/1066
ChipsetIntel PM45-ICH9M-Enhanced
RAMUp to 4GB DDR3-1066 or DDR3-800
GraphicsATI Mobility Radeon HD 3870 X2
Display17" WUXGA (1920x1200)
HDDUp to two 2.5” (9.5mm thick) SATA 3.0 Gb/s HDD, RAID 0/1
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
Wired LANIntegrated Gigabit LAN
Wireless LANIntel WiFi Link 5300 802.11n
BluetoothInternal Bluetooth Module
OpticalH-L Data GSA-T50N 8x DVD±R, 6x DVD±RW, 5x DVD-RAM
Media ReaderMulti-format flash card interface
Webcam2.0 Megapixel
USB 2.0 Three ports (1-rear, 2-right)
IEEE-13941 x FireWire 400 (right-side)
eSATA1 x eSATA 3.0 Gb/s (rear)
Audio I/OHeadphone, Microphone, Digital Optical Out (right-side)
Video Out1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI (rear)
Battery12-cell 14.8V 6600mAh
WeightNotebook 10.0 lbs (filled), Power Adapter 2.8 lbs, Total 12.8 pounds
WarrantyOne-year parts and labor
SupportOne-year online and telephone
Total PriceApproximately $1,300 w/o CPU, RAM, HDD
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