Start with the display itself, beaming in at 1920 x 1200 pixels. Add a Pentium 4, a gigabyte of RAM, and ATI's Radeon 9700 graphics package, and you're ready to blast whole battalions of 3-D baddies into submission. The speakers are boosted by a subwoofer, and thanks to all the included software, the 9100 is just the ticket for anyone editing video or overhauling photos.

Battery life is slender, but you'll have this jewel plugged in most of the time. Just one word of advice: Don't keep dinner waiting while you get lost in Battlefield Vietnam or Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow.



Apple PowerBook G4 17-inch
$2,500, www.apple.com
Macs may always attract a relatively small minority of buyers, but that doesn't mean they should be ignored - and nobody's ignoring the elegant PowerBooks. In fact, numerous players on the PC side of the aisle have swiped a trick or two from these gorgeous notebooks. One of the most eye-catching is the large but still sleek-looking 17-inch model, whose 6.9 pounds also makes it one of the lighter desktop replacement units on the market.

If you're a frequent flyer, you've probably seen PowerBooks draw envious glances for their incredible screen brightness and the illuminated characters on the keyboard. No red-eye squinting here. The AirPort Extreme wireless networking is also ready for 802.11g, one of the newer, faster flavors of Wi-Fi. Among many nice touches, here's a cool one: An external battery gauge lets you check the power level without booting up.



Gateway M675X
$1,900, www.gateway.com
This model is billed as a "desktop replacement," and boy, is it. It's a hefty 8.8 pounds, for starters, so it's most comfortable in your home office, but it's also dense with features you'd expect from a desktop machine. The keyboard is full-size. The 17.1-inch wide-format screen means you won't have to compromise display-wise. Likewise in the speed department, thanks to a Pentium 4 processor and gigabit Ethernet.