Naturally though, and to our great regret, all this processing and pixel-pushing power doesn’t come without drawbacks and where there is the benefit of undisputed and raw graphics potential, there is a tradeoff when it comes to versatility.
That’s right – just because I’m not longer arguing that gaming laptops as a whole are flawed by their weight and size doesn’t mean I can’t argue it against this one specifically.
Let me tell you that two graphics cards and three hard drives are going to be considered weighty and cumbersome at the best of times, so finding a way to cram them into a shell measuring 397 x 298 x 60mm (W x D x H) was never going to be an easy prospect to reach. It’d be easier to try and disguise an elephant as a worker ant.
In fact the Kobalt Comanche SLI, which weighs in at a geek-breaking 5.4kg (including the battery) is almost twice the weight of the last gaming laptop we reviewed, the Alienware Area-51 m15x
It’s obvious from the design that Kobalt has realised this and has tried to capitalise on the unavoidable size and weight of this Shoggoth
-sized machine though, incorporating as many features as you might possibly need. The laptop is prohibitively heavy to start with after all, so what’s the harm in laying on some more features?
Thus, the Kobalt Comanche SLI has pretty much you could ever conceive of using – Bluetooth, a 2.0 megapixel webcam, a 7-in-1 card reader, four USB ports, S-Video outputs for TV and HDTV displays and an Express Card 54 slot as well.
there’s the other stuff – a CATV input jack, a wireless N adapter, Ethernet port and RJ-11 Modem port and the usual headphone, line-in and microphone jacks. And DVI out. And Firewire. And then there are the extra options, like the chance to have two operating systems in a dual boot config.
All in all then it’s a veritable juggernaut of connectivity and processing potential. Indeed, about the only downside to all this is the fact that the glossy paint job has in some cases obscured the labelling of the ports and made the details hard to read.
There’s more when you open the Comanche SLI up too and in raising the lid you’ll be immediately introduced to a near-full size keyboard with two user configurable macro buttons on the left of the chassis.
There are a few problems with the inner Comanche SLI though, which definitely detract a little from the usability of the machine. For starters, the power button is a bit fiddly and you’ll have to hit it harder than a red-headed stepchild if you want to actually turn the blighter on.
Then there’s the inputs and while the keyboard is a delight to use and was as easy to type on as any other keyboard we’ve ever used, with no clacks or rubberiness, the trackpad is a tad too small for comfort and the scroll-section does take up a disproportionate amount of space. That or the whole pad is too far to the left as we found that we kept scrolling by accident no matter what precautions we took.
Of course, it’s easy to shrug off some of these issues and it’s very likely that if you are considering using a gaming laptop as your PC of choice then you’ll quickly decide to use a separate keyboard and mouse – and the Kobalt does come with a big bag to carry such things in.
However, just because you can use something else for the task doesn’t mean that the included tools should be forgive their foibles and let off the hook, no matter how fiddly it is to use a touchpad for gaming. Speaking of which, let’s take a look at the gaming performance of the machine.