My system specs are as follows:
CPU: AMD Athlon64 X2 Dual-Core 4800+ 2MB Total L2 Cache
Memory: 2GB Dual-Channel DDR400
Screen: WUXGA 1920x1200
Hard Drive 1: 100GB 7200RPM SATA
Hard Drive 2: 100GB 7200RPM SATA
GPU: nVidia GeForce Go 7800GTX 256MB
Optical Drive 1: 8x DVD+-RW/32x CD-RW
Optical Drive 2: DVD/CD-RW
Options: TV-Tuner, 802.11g Wifi + Bluetooth
Accessories (also reviewed): Logitech G5 2000dpi Gaming Laser Mouse, Vantec Lapcool4, Corsair 2GB Flash Voyager
The specs for the machine I compare to most, my old Sager 4780, are as follows:
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz 512KB L2 Cache 800MHz FSB
Memory: 1GB Dual-Channel DDR400
Screen: WXGA+ 1440x900
Hard Drive 1: 60GB 7200RPM PATA
GPU: ATI Radeon Mobility 9600 128MB
Optical Drive1 : 2x DVD-R/16x CD-RW
The comparison to the 4780 is in no way a competition between the two. The 9750 is obviously a much more powerful machine by far. I use the comparison as a point of reference for myself and those who have had hardware of the simlar kind looking to upgrade.
I'm also not going to go into the benchmarks for this system. There is already a thread on this located here: http://www.notebookforums.com/showthread.php?t=122828
The package arrived, and as I've seen from other posts, came in a very nicely packed box. The laptop was suspended from the cardboard, and very secure in the foam surrounding. The case was parallel to the laptop, making it a surprisingly small package for all the contents contained. All the peripherals were packed into the case, making only two main items packed in the bag. This in my opinion was very nicely organized and executed.
After removing the laptop from the bag, the first thing I noticed was the size and weight. Being the owner of a 10 lb 4780 for two years, I thought it wouldn't be too much difference (2 lbs?) seeing how they are both 17" laptops with desktop level hardware. I was shocked. It seemed to be a LOT heavier. Granted, I have two HDD's and two optical drives, so I attributed a lot of the weight gain to that. There is a big difference in size also. The 9750 is not only a lot thicker, but it is also physically bigger than the 17" 4780. It would not fit into the bag that I used for my 4780, and the 4780 had a *little* bit of breathing room too.
I don't see the size as a downside, I don't need an ultra-portable rig, and this one already smelled like performance. The chassis, case, and hinge assembly seem very sturdy and well built. The word solid comes to mind when thinking about the way this machine feels. The clear glossy screen is a big change for me. I have never used a glossy LCD, but my first impression was "beautiful". The glossy screen shines (no pun intended) even more when you're actually displaying images on it. It took some time for me to get used to looking into the blackness of my desktop only to see my own reflection.
The outside of the case on top of the LCD, is a very shiny metallic type surface. It looks amazing, but noticed right away it is very prone to finger prints. The rest of the case is textured, so it feels better than the smooth 4780 under hand.
CPU: When I had a functioning operating system installed, I noticed that it was running at 1GHz per core. I was puzzled why this was happening. I thought it was scaling down, but didn't know why. I made sure the back was elevated and check bios settings. It stayed at 1GHz per core. Finally after researching on these forums, I found the solution which was to set the power options to "Always On". Instantly, the cores clocked up to 2.4GHz and I noticed a very large boost in performance. So far, in every application I have used that is CPU intensive, this processor has been amazing. It's even more amazing in multi-threaded applications. I am currently running Gentoo Linux 2006.0 in native AMD64 mode. Compiling applications on this processor has been shocking to me. The speed and efficiency in which they operate has really tickled me. For the first time, I can alt-tab out of any game with virtually no hesitation. When running single threaded applications, there is no comparison with the P4 3.0GHz that I had in the 4780. It is probably two times faster than the P4 I was using. Simply put, this X2 is a great product from AMD that is the best of all worlds. True 64 bit computing, dual-cores, and great design make the X2 line of processors the best buy available IMO.
Memory: I contribute the increase from 1GB in the 4780 to 2GB in the 9750 for a much better response from the system. Again, the alt-tabbing addiction is added to when you have more memory. It simply does not hesitate.
Screen & GPU: The resolution of the screen was something I had to get used to. I have always preferred larger resolutions (larger meaning numbers). I have never used anything above 1600x1200 though. The 4780 was 1440x900. So when I first saw the 1920x1200 after installing the GPU drivers, I was amazed. There is so much room to put things on the desktop. You can easily run two windows side by side and they would be basically full size in a 1024x768 screen each. It is a bit harder to see small print, but that is something that you get used to. The benefits of having the large resolution far outweigh the negatives IMO. Clearer pictures, less jaggies when gaming, and a great color depth make this screen a winner. To top it off, I have 0 dead or stuck pixels to date (knock on wood).
My old 4780 had the ATI Radeon Mobility 9600 128MB GPU in it. For it's time, it was a cutting edge mobile GPU. It played all the games of the day with no problems at all. As soon as Half-life2, Doom3, and FarCry came out, I realized this GPU was at the end of it's life. It simply would not play the games at an acceptable resolution/quality/performance. Seeing the 7800GTX in action, blew my mind away. I was able to play most games at 1920x1200 natively with very good FPS with all quality settings set to max (AA,AF,HDR, etc). I consider good FPS to be above 40. The only game that I had to not use the native resolution is Flight Simulator 2004 with all settings set to max (including visibility and dynamic scenery) only in large populated cities. Instead I use a 1600x1200 window with two black bars on the side and everything seems fine, even in a place like NYC. BF2 (which would barely run on the 4780) runs perfectly at the max resolution of 1600x1200. If only they would support widescreen resolutions!
HDD: Having dual HDD's in a laptop is very nice. They are desktop level performance HDD's and the performance I have seen in loading files backs that claim up.
Optical Drives: Having dual optical drives in a laptop is unheard of. I had a DVD-R writer in my 4780, and quickly realized the limitations of having -R only. My 9750 has the DVD-+R which has already been handy, and having the second DVD reader theoretically enables me to do DVD to DVD writing. I haven't had the chance to play with this, but just having two drives is a big plus for this machine. They are quite a bit faster than my old ones too adding icing to the cake.
Options: The TV-Tuner is almost identical to the one I had in the 4780. It works, but that's about the extent of it. If you're looking for a high-quality, highly-versatile TV tuner then this is probably not for you. If you want to be able to just watch TV on your laptop, it works. I wish the remote controls worked with other media programs, such as Windows Media Player, or Winamp. Then it would be really handy.
The built-in webcam is however quite a bit better than the one in my 4780. Not only is the resolution a lot higher, but the quality of the picture, color depth, and responsiveness are much better than on the 4780. I don't use it much, but it's a nice little addition for bragging rights. ;D
The 802.11g wireless adapter I have been pleasantly surprised by. I read a lot of reviews of people having problems with this component. Other than a little weak signal issues, it performs flawlessly. I haven't had any disconnections when using it for hours at a time at home. The Bluetooth component works, but I have no Bluetooth devices to try out. Thus, I disabled Bluetooth with the FN+F12 key (I think that's the one).
MISC: The keyboard is virtually the same exact keyboard that I had in the 4780. Having a full size 10-Key number pad is a must have after using the 4780. There is only one difference in the keyboard that I have seen, and it's a HUGE one. The FN and CTRL keys are the correct way. It was so annoying to have the FN key be the furthest outside key. When playing FPS games, CTRL is most often your duck key. It took a long time to get used to having the FN key on the outside. Now that I have the 9750, it's the way it should be, and it took a week or so to get used to having it the right way. I don't have much to say about the touchpad. I never use it. I hate them with a passion. As far as touchpads go though, it's alright.
The power light, informational lights, and front panel lights are all very nice. Too often, you see LED's only partially lighting an indicator. These LED's, whether it be placement or power I'm not sure, but they fully light all indicators and look very nice. They are all the same color giving a sense of uniformity. I haven't tried the front audio dj system when not using power, but I have powered it on and it spins up the CD's to see if there is an audio CD in it. After getting an iPod, I have a strange predicament though. I don't have any audio cd's anymore. They've pretty much been all converted to MP3 and lost.
I do have one rather large beef with the 9750 thus far. The sound device that is built into the motherboard is unacceptable for a machine of this caliber and price. I have the latest Realtek drivers installed, have tried multiple operating systems, and the sound through the headphones sounds like it's playing through a tin can. The bass is literally non-existant. The sound through the speakers however sounds much more full than through any device on the headphones output, although it isn't as loud as I would have liked (and not as loud as the 4780). It's obvious that the sound was specifially designed for the 5 built-in speakers, and not for the headphones. I used the same headphones on the 4780 (also a Realtek device), and had very good output through the headphones jack. For $3800 it should have at least a device that sounds decent through all outputs.
Windows XP Professional SP2 32bit: This operating system serves as my "anything that doesn't run correctly under 64bit" OS. It is tried and true as far as Windows OS's go, and I can fall back on it for the things that 64bit won't allow me to do. A good example of this is the TV-Tuner. There are no 64bit drivers for this device, so anytime I want to use that I boot into XP 32bit. XP 32bit is much faster than on the 4780, but that's a given taking into consideration the hardware difference.
Windows XP Professional x64 SP1: I was really leary of trying x64 at first. I thought it was just going to be another incomplete Microsoft product seeing how relatively new 64 bit technology is. Once I installed it, all that changed. Using the stock drivers from the Sager website for x64, I was able to accomplish about 15-20 FPS better in the HL2 stress test. Using Internet Explorer 64-bit was a huge increase in speed over the 32 bit counterpart. I wish Firefox had a native 64 bit release for this operating system. That truly is the only catch to 64bit. There aren't a lot of (windows) software out there that natively runs on the 64 bit OS. It's not a negative, because it runs *most* 32 bit programs as good or better than a 32bit equivalent. This catch will only get smaller and smaller in time as 64bit becomes more mainstream.
Windows Vista Beta 2 Build 5308: I literally knew nothing about Vista going into the install, so I had no idea what to expect. I knew it needed really beefy hardware, and it took about 800MB of mem when sitting idle, but other than that it was a discovery for me. To my surprise, I actually kind of like it. Well, let me clarify, I like the concept of it. It's visually very nice looking, and has some good features for most computer users. I'm not going to go into detail what features Vista has. If you want those, go search for a review on Vista. Vista itself is pretty buggy as I fully expected though. I have had many crashes in almost every program I have used, Explorer crashes, driver problems, and many blue screens of death. It also seems to add a lot of 'features' that really only ristrict what the user can do in the name of security. Overall I think that with a LOT of work, this has the potential to be a pretty good operating system (with the understanding that it's Microsoft).
Gentoo Linux 2006.0 AMD64: With the help of the Gentoo Handbook, and the Gentoo 9750 Wiki, I have successfully installed Gentoo on my machine. It is complete with bootsplash, framebuffer, kde, gnome, nVidia 3D acceleration, and most programs working that I need. There are still a few devices to be installed, but everything is going swimmingly and would strongly recommend Gentoo if you have had experience with Linux in the past.
Logitech G5 2000DPI Laser Mouse: Having been a MX500 and MX700 owner in the past and really liking the design of these mice, the next logical step was the G5. I chose to get the wired version due to the difference in weight, and the difference in response when playing FPS games. It is almost identical to hold to the MX500, and feels even a bit smoother under the hand. The action of the mouse against the surface is much different though. The material they use to coat the feet of the mouse is actually very literally slick. It glides with ease when moving it on most hard surfaces. I rarely use the 2000DPI setting, but even on the lowest 400DPI setting, the mouse seems far more responsive than the MX500 that I had grown to love so much. The custom weight system I found to be very useful. I thought the MX700 was WAY to heavy due to the batteries, and the MX500 was just a tad to light. With the custom weight system, I made it exactly what I wanted it to be. My hand, wrist, and frags scores are thanking me for buying this mouse.
Corsair 2GB Flash Voyager: After reading many reviews about flash drives, I decided to go with the Flash Voyager due to the 10 year warranty, and some of the torture tests I had read about it going through. When I recieved it, it was much smaller than it looked on the website. That was a bonus. Overall this is an excllent product and I would highly recommend getting one if you are in the market. The only little squabble I have with this, is the way the rubber outside picks up dust and lint in your pocket. It's a minor downside to the updside the rubber surrounding gives you when talking about dropping on it or stepping on it. Not to mention that the rubber surrounding makes this device water resistant.
Vantec LapCool 4: Coolers are a very good thing for laptops. This cooler has been benchmarked to show a change in temperature around 10 degrees. That 10 degrees saves a lot of wear and tear on your hardware, and can help prolong the life of your laptop. The LapCool 4 also serves as a USB Hub, and on one model, a memory card reader. It's small and easy to pack up, it holds all it's own cables. My experience thus far is it really does an excellent job of getting those precious degrees down. I have only run into one problem, and it was my fault, not the devices'. If you have the laptop sitting on the LapCool 4, and the LapCool 4 isn't turned on, your machine will overheat very quickly. My machine actually shut down preventatively due to this fact. I touched the right back corner near the exaust and it was VERY hot to the touch. Literally 5 seconds after turning on the LapCool 4, not only was this area not hot, it was actually cool to the touch.
PCTorque.com: After buying the 4780 from a different reseller I won't mention, I will never stray from PCTorque. The process of ordering, sending the wire transfer, and getting updates about my purchase was effortless. I had to call them once, and was quickly answered to by Luke. He answered any questions I had and the whole process was perfect. PCTorque also maintains this forum without banners or much advertising of any kind. PCTorque is a shining example of how business should be conducted.
In conclusion, the 9750 is a great machine. I am VERY happy with my purchase, despite the audio problems. I will get an Audigy PCMCIA card and be done with it. If you're looking for absolutely the best overall laptop out there right now, this is it.