Introducing the CyberPower Xplorer X6-9100

As a matter of course we tend to spend a lot of time focusing on the gaming potential of the hardware we review. Boutique desktops get a lot of love, and it's always interesting to see just how much power you can pack in a portable solution. Yet many users simply don't game, but they still need a powerful machine for other tasks like video or photo editing. In the world of Intel's first-generation Core i7 line, that meant getting a notebook with a battery eating graphics card you just didn't need. Sandy Bridge changes all that with integrated graphics suitable enough for most tasks, and today, CyberPower has offered us a notebook targeted to a slightly different segment than usual: the IGP-powered, 1080p and quad-core-wielding Xplorer X6-9100.

CyberPower is gearing the Xplorer X6-9100 specifically at content creators, people who need processing power and are primarily concerned with business applications, but they still want an inexpensive option. While I personally lament the lack of NVIDIA graphics hardware for accelerating the Mercury Playback Engine in Adobe Premiere CS5 (and now 5.5), I recognize that I'm in the minority. For many users, especially budding photographers, an inexpensive quad-core notebook with a 1080p screen is going to be a great find. This is how our review unit is specced:

CyberPower Xplorer X6-9100 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-2630QM
(4x2GHz + HTT, 2.9GHz Turbo, 32nm, 6MB L3, 45W)
Chipset Intel HM65
Memory 2x4GB DDR3-1333 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics Intel HD 3000 Graphics (Sandy Bridge)
12 EUs, 650-1100MHz Core
Display 15.6" LED Glossy 16:9 1920x1080
(AU Optronics B156HW01 V5 Panel)
Hard Drive(s) Intel 510 120GB SATA 6Gbps SSD
Optical Drive DVD+/-RW Combo Drive
Networking Atheros AR8151 Gigabit Ethernet
Atheros AR9002WB-1NG 802.11n Wireless
Bluetooth 3.0+EDR
Audio Conexant Cx20585 HD audio
Stereo speakers
Headphone and microphone jacks
Battery 6-Cell, 10.8V, 48Wh battery
Front Side Indicator lights
SD/MS/MMC reader
Left Side AC adapter jack
Ethernet jack
VGA
Exhaust vent
HDMI
2x USB 3.0
Right Side Headphone jack
Microphone jack
Optical drive
Kensington lock
Back Side -
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 14.96" x 10.31" x 1.07"-1.34" (WxDxH)
Weight ~6 lbs
Extras Webcam
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo)
USB 3.0
Bluetooth
Warranty 1-year limited warranty
Pricing Starting at $719
As configured $1,069

CyberPower is aiming the Xplorer X6-9100 at users who need high performance without gaming horsepower, and our review unit was configured to prove a point: that you can get a lot of power and even a good SSD in a notebook in the neighborhood of $1000.

The configuration starts with Intel's Core i7-2630QM; it's the bottom rung quad-core in the mobile Sandy Bridge lineup but still a formidable contender. Boasting a 2GHz stock speed (in line with last generation's extreme i7-920XM), the i7-2630QM sweetens the deal by offering Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.9GHz on a single core and a still respectable 2.6GHz on all four. That's not as high in pure clock speed as what the i7-940XM could manage, but there are many other benefits, chief among them being power requirements at moderate loads. The only feature cuts made to the 2630QM as opposed to the higher-end 2720QM and its kin are a reduced GPU clock (maxing out at 1100MHz) and no hardware support for virtualization or AES-NI. This notebook is also running off of that integrated GPU, so you do get access to Intel's Quick Sync encoding technology.

Our other major talking point is the recently launched Intel 510 series SSD at 120GB. It's admittedly an expensive upgrade and the capacity isn't ideal for all users, but if you're only doing photo or sound work it should be adequate. The 510 also comes equipped with SATA 6Gbps support that the Xplorer X6-9100 makes full use of.

Everything else is reasonably uneventful. The standard webcam, stereo speakers, gigabit ethernet, and wireless-n networking are all accounted for, but at least CyberPower generously provided 8GB of DDR3 for this review. Given how inexpensive memory is, it becomes awfully difficult to justify going with 4GB anymore. If you don't need that much memory that may be one thing, but photography buffs are going to want the extra real estate.

The Inevitable Return of Too Much Gloss
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  • Hrel - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    I can just see Dustin. Gets a new laptop in to review, starts getting excited. Grabs a knife, opens the box, pulls off the packaging, pauses... *swears, throws things, swears some more. Shakes fists at the sky "Damn you glossy plastic". Lol, that's the impression I get.

    Anyway, I saw this a while ago and was hoping to see review for it; nice work. It really is a great option for people who don't need GPU power. You can get the price down around 600-700 bucks and it's still a much better than anything else I've ever seen. Largely due to the 1080p screen.

    Cyberpowerpc has an MSI laptop on their website with a 1080p screen and the GTX460M in it. That's the laptop I'd really like to see a review on. I'm going to buy a laptop this summer and frankly the only thing that stopped me from impulse buying that MSI laptop the moment I saw it was the 48Whr battery. Made me think "hm, I better wait till I've read the anandtech review".

    I'm not sure if it's the same model MSI you gave away or not, but it has 2hdd bays so those who were so inclined could have an SSD and mechanical disk without sacrificing an optical drive.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    I was hoping that screen would be at least a little better than that. Oh well, it's at least one step in the right direction. At least we got 1080p, maybe 2012 will bring 500:1 minimum contrast ratio? I do wish. Still, best laptop for people who don't about gaming I've found. Nicely configured for 650, very fair.

    Personally, I've had too many bad experiences with Dell to ever buy a laptop from them again. Also, my next laptop will have a GTX460 in it. My main issue with Dell is the restrictions they put on their upgrades. If I upgrade the GPU, I shouldn't be forced to upgrade any other component. And their website sure as hell shouldn't be lieing to me, telling me it causes a compatibility issue. (they claimed I couldn't put a dual core i5 with their gpu upgrade, I think at the time it was up to the 425 or 435M.)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    If you're talking about this one (http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/Xplorer_X6-9500... I'm pretty sure that's the same chassis as the MSI GT680R that we gave away. I previewed performance around the time of the Cougar Point bug, and we have a fixed version in for review that I'll be posting shortly.

    Long story short: same performance as other GTX 460M laptops, not the greatest build quality in the world, and the 1080p LCD is about the same as the Pegatron laptop in this review. Also, the battery is NOT 48Wh (hint: no 9-cell battery is that small; the unit I have has an 87Wh battery). So it's a fair amount of power for the price, but I'd go with a Clevo P151HM (or P150HM), or perhaps an ASUS G53SW. You lose the dual HDD bays on both of those, I think, but for sure the Clevo models have much better LCDs.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    Yeah, I was very suspicious about that battery size. It's really good to hear these reviews are coming. I am surprised to hear you'd prefer the Clevo... you guys all seem to REALLY hate that keyboard. On that point, is it just the 10 key or is the whole thing bad?

    I was looking at that Asus too. Last time Asus had a good 15.6" laptop though the 1080p screen was below/at average. Where compal/clevo/dell units had nice 1080p screens.

    Have you heard/seen anything from Compal with Sandy bridge and GTX460 in 15.6" 1080p flavors? They seem oddly absent from the laptop market all of a sudden.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, May 05, 2011 - link

    Nothing from Compal yet, at least not that I've heard about. They do seem to be a bit behind with most launches, though Pegatron isn't exactly a brand known for being cutting edge (i.e. witness the aesthetics in this review).

    As far as best gaming laptop in a 15.6" form factor, it's a question of compromise. MSI and ASUS seem to have lesser 1080p LCDs, and none of them get the keyboard *right* (MSI is probably closest with the layout, though), so you have to decide what's most important. The MSI touchpad is really bad, with a 2008 aesthetic on the build quality. ASUS looks good overall, but without testing the LCD I can't make a final call. Clevo has a poor keyboard layout, with a pointless 10-key, but I can still type on the rest of the keyboard "okay" and they have one of the best LCDs right now in my opinion. Pricing on the Clevo is also quite good, which is probably a deciding factor.
    Reply
  • StrangerGuy - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    I'm sure that glossy palmrest is gonna like turn off at least 50% of potential buyers away regardless of specs.

    Anyway, 1080p is squeezing too many pixels for a 15.4" screen IMO. But then nobody does 1600 x 900 on laptops anymore...
    Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    Uh... Lenovo ThinkPads have optional 1600x900 screens for their 15.6" models.

    ThinkPad L series: L520 2620M CPU / 4GB RAM / HD / 1600x900 non-glare screen is about $1070, give or take on your options. But the T-series T520 is a much better notebook, same config but with an i5 = $970 (But $1160 with Q2620)

    One of my clients has a slightly older T-510 with the 1600x900 screen and it looks very nice!
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    I actually like the pixel density on my 15.6" display. I wish it was 16x10, but other than that I like it. Reply
  • Belard - Thursday, May 05, 2011 - link

    Personally - with my eye-sight... I'd go for the 1920x1080 15.6" screen... But since I find 15.6" screen 16:9 notebooks so wide and add more than another 1lb of weight, I'd most likely go with a 14" screen @ 1600x900. Reply
  • JMS3072 - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    Unfortunately, the target audience (photographers/videographers) are going to want a decent LCD, making this a no-go. Reply

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