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Gear Eye: the Sager 3790 laptop

Peter Rojas
09.29.04
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Sager 3790
Engadget pal Nick Bicanic liked his new Sager 3790 laptop so much that he threw together this review/rumination for us about the PC and how why he ended up buying it:


I love laptops.

I've been a "laptop-only" professional since oh about 1996, when I owned an Olivetti Echos P120S. Interestingly, the S designation meant that it was the TFT model—back then you had a choice of buying "active" matrix or passive screens; it seems amazing to think about now. What made my quest a little out of the ordinary was that I always insisted on using laptops for tasks they were quite specifically not designed for – such running heavy duty multimedia apps on it like Premiere, Photoshop etc. I was quite stubborn in this regard and edited my first short film in its entirety on the trusty old Olivetti (this was all before the fancy days of FireWire and USB 2.0, mind you).

With that in mind, I've always been on a quest for the fastest machine I could afford (like anyone, really). After the Olivetti I went with an IBM Thinkpad T21 (like many others I imagine, the T series represents the pinnacle of PC laptop engineering). I then moved to the Winbook J4, which had phenomenal sound and was very quick; the Pentium M had been officially released, but I stuck to my guns and only bought "desktop replacements" with screaming-fast CPUs).


And then came the Alienware.

This seems a somewhat inevitable point in a laptop commando?s career arc since they look cool as hell and are just as fast. In September 2003 I bought a 3.2GHz, 1680x1050 screaming demon, which amazingly, is still up there amongst the fastest laptops today. And I got great use out of it, but something started bothering me.

It was heavy. And the batteries didn?t last. And it was so noisy that I had to turn it off when I was watching TV in the same room. At first none of this mattered because it was Alienware?it was the Lamborghini Diablo of laptops?but after a while it just got too annoying. So I decided that for the first time in about 8 years that I would downgrade. I would get something lighter and quieter, something that that was essentially more of a laptop than a briefcase with a screen.

Sager 3790
Enter the Sager 3790.

I discovered Sager while investigating Voodoo, a Canadian company that targets laptops and desktops at overclockers and hardcore gamers. They do the custom colors and graphics thing, but they charge a pretty penny for the privilege.

The Sager 3790 is the same exact machine as the Voodoo PC m380, just that Voodoo will charge you $1000 or so more depending on the configuration. I got mine from PCTorque.com, which I strongly recommend.

Let?s talk about this toy though. Yes, it is a Centrino. I got the 2.0 GHz model (hey, I couldn?t downgrade too far), but as you probably know, because of different efficiency levels of the Pentium M and the Pentium 4, MHz cannot be compared one for one. The machine came loaded up with 2 GB RAM and a 7200 RPM internal hard drive, and of course, the requisite array of ports (USB 2.0, firewire, S-video etc). The most impressive part, however, is definitely the bright, high-contrast 1920x1200 resolution LCD screen.

That?s the same resolution as a 23-inch Apple Cinema display, and it?s completely amazing. I know you can get a Dell with the resolution screen, but they?re rather ugly. This thing is thin and light (at least for its class), and has a nice long battery life, claims Dell can nary make.

Plus it?s quiet. You really cannot hear it. The processor flips between 600 MHz and 2.00 GHz as necessary, and the fan noise is almost entirely absent. Sometimes when doing lots of rendering it will kick in, but it never stays on long. Compare this with the Alienware, which not only had a very loud fan on the machine itself, but the power supply (yes the brick) had its own fan which was also noticeably loud.

Is it as powerful as the Alienware I had was? For CPU intensive applications, well, of course not, but it can easily handle all the day?s games and virtually any applications you?ll throw at it. I am still using it for video editing, and while I have to wait a touch longer to render, I can at least hear myself think while I am waiting. This definitely gets my vote as the laptop of the year to own.


All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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