You Know It's a Clevo

It's actually difficult to really break down the Clevo B5130M in terms of its appearance because I'm pretty sure no other manufacturer, not even Lenovo with their ThinkPads, has this kind of uniformity across all of their notebooks. Don't believe me? Compare the B5130M to the other Clevo units we've reviewed.

Starting from the top, there's the smooth, black matte plastic lid. Once again, the lid and screen offer an amount of flex that's a little alarming though nowhere near as bad as the W870CU's. Hinges are fairly stable, though, so the screen is unlikely to wobble much when the notebook is in use. When we move inside, we find the single instance of glossy plastic on the entire notebook.

Vivek echoed my sentiments in his review of the ASUS UL80Jt, and once again Clevo makes the same ridiculous mistake. This entire notebook is black matte plastic, except for the screen bezel, which is glossy. Seriously, Clevo? We're going to keep putting glossy plastic in the one place it's most likely to pick up fingerprints? I do think Clevo should be commended for generally avoiding glossy plastics on their notebooks (though most vendors have begun to follow suit), but this is the absolute worst place to use them, barring the keyboard (really Toshiba, why'd you think that was a good idea?)

The problem with the black matte plastic that Clevo uses is that it tends to feel cheap instead of rigid, and while a candy shell is terrific for Skittles it makes for a lousy notebook housing. As a result, the B5130M can actually be flexed a little bit. This isn't a dealbreaker and we've seen worse-built notebooks (unfortunately, almost always built by Clevo), but it continues to be a problem that plagues Clevo specifically.

Oh, and the keyboard. Jarred has expressed a kind of dislike of Clevo's keyboard layout with sentiments similar to my feelings for Acer and their nightmarish island-style keyboard, and he does have a point. It's another problem that could be easily remedied and is made all the more frustrating because the keyboard itself is fairly comfortable to type on, but here it is: the dedicated 10-key is bar none the worst implementation we've ever seen. The whole point of a 10-key is that you should be able to touch-type it, but you can't because it's so squished. There's room on this notebook to stretch the keyboard coast-to-coast, but Clevo continues to squish the 10-key to the point of impracticality, and it brings casualties with it: document navigation keys are entirely Fn+arrow based (although at least this is marginally logical).

The touchpad isn't a big winner either. It's adequate and not the worst I've used, but the mouse buttons feel very loose and prone to popping off even though they're recessed.

Popping the bottom panel off reveals the B5130M's delicious insides, but strangely Clevo attaches the fan to the panel instead of the inside of the notebook. First, the bad news: no MXM on the GeForce GT 425M. You're stuck with it. That said, the inside is spacious and has a free mini-PCIe slot, and the processor is at least upgradeable.

Introducing the Clevo B5130M Application Performance: the i7-640M vs. the i7-720QM
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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Yeah, the base AVADirect model has OS, 500GB HDD, but only 2GB RAM. Setting up equivalent specs XoticPC comes out ahead on this one (though that may always change). In the past, I've compared the two companies and AVADirect always came out ahead, but that's not always the case. Also note that XoticPC appears to charge a bit more on some upgrades, but then AVADirect charges a bit more on others. Not sure on shipping costs or any other factors, but go with whoever gives the better price. :-) Reply
  • gomakeit - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Since the laptop as configured is $1200 which is mightily close to the Asus G53J that sports a GT460M, I'm wondering what're your thoughts when comparing the two. Is the G53's LCD better than G51 (which was pretty lousy)? I hope you'd do a review on the G53 at some point! Reply
  • gomakeit - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Of course I meant the non-3D version of the G53 (Newegg prices it at $1450). Reply
  • Rasterman - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I got my G53 from Amazon last week for 1299 shipped, I have no idea why you would get this Clevo when the G53 exists. Reply
  • Meegulthwarp - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I was looking for a new laptop to replace my ageing Clevo M860TU (w/ 9600M GT) and this looked like the perfect replacement but I've come away sad. I was really expecting better battery life from this, my biggest complaint with my M860TU is the 2 hour battery life. I was hoping they would improve battery life after 2 years worth of die shrinks and architectural changes. Also the performance numbers don't seem to be much higher than what I'm getting right now not to mention they are 5 - 10 degrees hotter than mine on both idle and load. Can't justify another £1000 purchase just yet it seems. Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I wouldn't think you'd be able to justify that purchase until Sandy Bridge. But on the battery life note you can always get an external battery. I got an external Energizer battery, works for all laptops and mp3 players and phones and just about everything. Sure it ads a little bulk but if you carry your laptop around in a bag anyway it's not a problem. And it ads about 6 hours of intensive web surfing to my Dell Studio 1535, on top of the 3 hours I already get.

    On an aside I agree, I was really expecting better battery life from this. But when you look at load battery life it's comparable to similar systems; I think 3+ hours gaming is pretty darn good. There is an interesting Compal unit over at Cyberpower.com that uses the HD5650 and offers several options. Without OS and with a good CPU you can get it for like 800 bucks, 1080p and all. My friend got one and he plays Civ 5 on it for over 4 hours without needing to plug in. Gaming battery life, I think that's incredible.
    Reply
  • TareX - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I'm impressed by the benchmarks... I'd like to see how it would compare to the Hp Envy 15, which supposedly has a much better GPU (sans Optimus though) Reply
  • SteelCity1981 - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    No doubt that the 640UM is more suited for today's programs then the 720QM as of now. fast speed Dual Core over slower speed Quad Cores are still a lot more favorable with many programs out there, because there are still a lot of programs out there that don't take advantage of Quad Cores yet. But when more and more programs become Quad threaded, the 720QM going to have the advantage every time over the 640UM Dual Core and has more and more programs support Hyperthreading the performance gap will just get wider between the 720QM and 640UM due to the fact that the 720QM has double the amount of Hyperthreading virtual cores then the 640UM does. Reply
  • PlasmaBomb - Wednesday, November 24, 2010 - link

    You mean i7 640M - The 640UM is an entirely different processor which runs at 1.2 GHz and Turbos up to 2.26 GHz Reply
  • SteelCity1981 - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    Yeah, i mean the 640m not 640UM. Reply

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