There are a number of processor and memory options for the m5700, but our review sample shipped with the top of the line Pentium M 770 CPU and 1GB of fast DDR2 memory running at 533MHz. The m5700 is one of few laptops that can use two hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration. This increases disk transfer rates and can dramatically improve performance in many applications. Our test sample came with a single 80GB hard drive running at a fairly average 5,400rpm, but a faster 7,200rpm version is available for an extra £46.
Graphics are handled by an Nvidia Geforce Go 6800 -- a very capable adaptor that was king of the hill until it was superseded by the Go 7800 GTX. This makes a good accompaniment to the notebook's imposing 17-inch screen. The display is great for watching DVD movies, but it has some trouble reproducing near-white or near-black tones -- which are hard to distinguish from solid white and black. As a result, the m5700 isn't ideal for editing digital pictures. The standard m5700 screen has a native resolution of 1,440x900 pixels, but if you're a serious gamer we'd recommend spending an extra £76 for the WideUXGA version that can display up to 1,920x1,200 pixels -- the fast graphics card will go to waste otherwise.
The m5700 has four USB ports -- many laptops have three or less. These are evenly spaced, so you shouldn't have much trouble connecting several devices side by side. We were disappointed at the lack of a full-size (6-pin)FireWire port. There's an unpowered mini (4-pin) FireWire port that can accept most FireWire devices via an adaptor, but this isn't included in the box. Wireless 802.11g Wi-Fi access is a standard feature, and there's a gigabit Ethernet port providing network speeds of up to 1,000Mbps (most PCs only go as fast as 100Mbps). You'll also find a 4-in-1 memory card reader that accepts SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick and MMC cards, and an SPDIF audio jack that lets you to pump sound through a 7.1-channel speaker system. Our test sample came with an 8-speed dual-layer DVD drive, but this proved incredibly noisy when installing applications.
The basic software package with the m5700 is miserly. Our test sample only had Microsoft Windows XP Professional and a copy of Battlefield 2. You can add various versions of Microsoft Works or Office should you want to do some real work on it. The laptop comes with a standard 1-year collect and return warranty with 24-hour phone support.
The m5700 offers strong performance. We tested it using Sysmark 2004, and it returned a fairly healthy score of 166. This makes it around one and a half times quicker than desktop PCs using a 2GHz Pentium 4 processor and 512MB of Ram. As a result, it's more than up to the task of handling everyday productivity applications or more strenuous tasks such as video editing.
Its graphics performance is also very strong. The Geforce Go 6800 graphics card helped it clock up 3,733 in 3DMark 2005 and it ran Far Cry at 68.5 frames per second (FPS) using the default image settings. We've seen slightly better scores from laptops using almost identical specifications, but the m5700 definitely holds its own as a gaming machine. Serious gamers should note the fact that we saw some slight 'tearing' while playing games. This is a sign that the graphics card's frame rate is greater than the screen's refresh rate -- but it's a common issue on many TFT panels and most users won't even notice it.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide