Intel wants you to buy thinner, lighter laptops in the form of Ultrabooks, but what if you don't want that in a notebook? What if you want something beefy, weight and battery life be damned?
For years, boutique laptop vendors have sold "portables" with desktop processors stuffed inside. (I use the term "portables" since the size that these desktop replacements take is usually not well-suited to mobility.) With the recent release of Intel's new top-end desktop CPUs, the so-called Sandy Bridge-E chips, it was only a matter of time before they wound up in gaming laptops.
In the last two days, AVADirect and Maingear have released new systems that crammed the fastest desktop chips inside. Both the AVADirect Clevo P270WM (pictured above) and Maingear Titan 17 offer either the Core i7-3960X processor, or the slightly less powerful Core i7-3930K. You can also squeeze in a pair of Nvidia GeForce GTX 580M graphics card in SLI configuration (or Quadro 5010M graphics if you want to use it as a workstation). There's also support for up to 32GB of RAM and up to three hard or solid state drives, all tucked into a chassis that includes a 17.3-inch LED-backlit screen.
Obviously, you're paying mucho dinero for the privilege of heaving around a 12-pound monster. AVADirect's model starts at $3,133.74 for the i7-3930K, 8GB of RAM, a single GTX 580M card, and 750GB hard drive. For $3,499, the Titan 17 offers similar specs, though it subs in a 500GB hard drive, swaps the generic Wi-Fi card for a Bigfoot Networks Killer Wireless-N adapter, and throws in free copies of Batman Arkham City and Jagged Alliance: Back in Action.