Want to upgrade your gaming laptop?

Why, it's every poor fragger's dream...

If you're a dedicated PC gamer, the chances are that you occasionally find yourself lusting after a top-end laptop - one capable not only of running 3D Mark 2003, but eclipsing 90 per cent of desktop machines while it's at it. Of course until recently, gaming on a laptop has been a bit of a joke, but with the advent of multi-gigahertz laptop processors, GeForce 2 Go, ATI Radeon Mobility chips and improved TFTs, it's become more of a reality. Maybe you'd only have to rob one bank and not two.

So in this age of potentially portable powerhouses, the question of value has shifted to upgradeability. Traditionally laptops have been limited to new hard disks, the odd RAM upgrade and a few PCMCIA cards and USB devices. Apart from one crazed ATI developer at last year's ECTS who told us drunkenly about his ripping office laptops up on planes and swapping GeForce chips for Radeons (we're surprised he wasn't shot by a Sky Marshal), we haven't met anybody capable of giving their laptop a proper upgrade. And we still haven't. But we've read about them on the internet.

VoodooPC are the fellows: a dedicated bunch of US-based gaming PC manufacturers - rather like Alienware - who have announced a new "Gamebook" called the Voodoo Envy M460. At the heart of the M460 throbs an ATI Radeon 9600, and packing it in are things like a 2.6GHz P4-M processor, 512MB of memory and a 60GB hard disk, with a 15-inch SXGA+ display slammed shut on top. However the most interesting factor is the possibility of future graphics upgrades - for a fee and the cost of a new part, VoodooPC will apparently let you send your laptop back to be upgraded in the future, drastically increasing the machine's lifespan. To think, Dell won't even look at my poor old crash-prone Inspiron.

Obviously this isn't of much direct use to most of you, but it is a sign of things to come. With the performance PC and particularly notebook market ramping up considerably, surely it's only a matter of time before this sort of service is a given. Then, just maybe, it'll be worth buying a portable Half-Life 2 rig...

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