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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  • jabber - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    Yeah its like a Sports car manufacturer building a half decent sports car chassis and then sticking a standard 4 cylinder 2000cc engine in it.

    I think something got missed in the design spec memo to the suppliers.

    Another $20 on the panel choice could have worked wonders.
    Reply
  • GullLars - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    This is more like a sports car company taking a VolksWagen Beatle chassis and replacing everything with Bugatti Veyron parts. Sure it may go 0-60 in 3 seconds and have ~1000hp, but you can outrun it in an original Mazda R7 due to handling and aerodynamics, and it will just look ridiculous.

    I'd say $50 more on the panel rather than $20. Screen and battery are not things you cheap out on if you want a good laptop, and at >$700 saving $20-50 on a panel for the types of workloads this is meant for is pointless.
    Reply
  • GullLars - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    DOH! I meant Mazda RX-8... Reply
  • Iketh - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    that comment would apply to the rx-7 too, figured that's what you were going for Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    ..."shortcomings aren't CyberPower's fault any more than the Clevo notebooks we've reviewed are the fault of AVADirect or Eurocom."

    Actually, *IT* is CyberPowers, AVADirect, etc fault. The problems with that product in this review and other low-end garbage is that the "boutiques" / "Mom & Pop" stores CHOOSE to sell sub-standard garbage.

    Then its up to the customer to either buy a quality, but perhaps somewhat slower $800 notebook that will last 3~5 years or $800 for one that is faster, but may last 6~12 months, have a crappy finish and other issues as noted in the review.

    Back in the 90s - there used to be THOUSANDS of PC shops all over the USA, there was a point when Dell and Gateway were no different than any other hole-inthe-wall PC shop. But Dell decided to act like a bigger company and do bigger company things. When you buy better quality parts, you get a better computer, happier customers, less tech support calls, etc.

    Back in the mid-90s, I managed a PC shop with 2~4 techs. As I gained experienced, I started to moved the company into using standards. Quality cases with decent PSUs (which costs like $5 more), better motherboards (we stopped selling PCCHips / ECS crap) - rather than typical small shops which buy whatever cheap junk is available - RIGHT NOW!

    I work as a consultant today. Doing networks, building and maintain some systems for a few business. I don't build or sell my client anything *I* wouldn't want for myself, PERIOD.
    I have desktops that have lived 5~8 years, still. I sell my clients Custom Ordered Thinkpads - which don't come preloaded with crapware (HPaq / Acer / Gateway).

    I would never sell such crap to my customer, and it is within CyberPower's ability to say "nope, we are not going to sell this to our customer, this is why and do you have anything else?" Companies like Clevo make about 50 different notebook chassis at any given time. Just as much as you rejected the X6-9100, so can CyberPower.

    A similar spec ThinkPad T520 (15.6”) is $1980… but you’d get a top end keyboard, no gloss anywhere on the notebook – not even the screen itself. But I can’t spend $2000 on a notebook. I wouldn’t blink to buy a slower T520 with the i5 CPU, 1080 LED anti-glare screen, 4GB RAM and 500GB HD for $1170. I don’t see how they can sell that for under $1100 with that SSD.

    But here’s the thing… Lenovo (makers of ThinkPad) sells an ideaPad with a 14” screen, 750GB HD (no SSD), same CPU for $850… easy enough to add your own $250 SSD.

    There are choices… thank God.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    I think part of the problem, though, is that Clevo, MSI, Compal, and Pegatron just...don't have very compelling ODM notebooks for the boutiques to sell. So it's either this stuff or nothing at all. They do the best they can with what they have, but oftentimes it's just not compelling compared to the kinds of stuff the Dells and HPs of the world can do. Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    BTW - Your review of the product was fair and your opinions on the product are valid, to me.

    But sorry, I don't agree with you on the point of what "boutiques" stores can buy. Clevo offers 32 different 14/15" notebooks alone. Of course they may only be using 4 different mother boards for all those body types. Its still up to Clevo to choose to offer good or bad keyboards and sell the computer based on its costs. Flipping through their website, they do have a few different keyboard styles.

    Now, I know I'm using Clevo as an example, even thou THEY DID NOT build the reviewed notebook. (I don't have time to get into this anymore than I already am) and when it comes to NO-NAME brand notebooks, Clevo is better than many others out there.

    Lets compare Clevo's W243HVQ - A typical modern i5 notebook. Going to the website, they have a basic list of drivers and a rather generic manual - perhaps swapping out 8~10 pages per model. Looking at the construction shows me a typical mid-low range notebook.

    A customer buying an XYZ "brand" notebook - that is built from Clevo is dependent on XYZ for support and proper setup. Clevo/etc may just send a basic NO-OS unit or without drives & RAM. When XYZ goes out of business, most customers don't know who Clevo is and will have a hard time getting the unit supported, if still under "warranty". They are full dependent on Clevo to have up-to-date and working drivers for their products.

    Head over to lenovo. Check out their ThinkPad support - they have drivers and detailed manuals on ALL ThinkPads - even those which should be long dead. There is excellent detailed information on drivers for XP~Windows7 available to my R61 ThinkPad (about 4 years old). There are service manuals online - showing me exploded views of my unit, naming every single part used and how they fit together.

    When someone spends $1000+ on a notebook, it better be well supported - they are not quite "throw-aways" like the typical $300~400 junk from Walmart.

    So why would someone spend $1000+ on a no-name notebook, with a horrible screen and keyboard? In many markets, especially 3rd world - Clevo and the others do much better.

    A person on a budget, should get the best quality they can afford. A $600~700 quality Dell or Thinkpad would make more sense than a $1100+ fast cheap computer. And as we know, a $600 with a $200 SSD will feel a lot faster than a $1000 notebook with a HD. So its best to spend money for the parts that matter.

    A PRO who needs the performance, wouldn't stand for the sub-standard X6-9100. They make enough money for a Mac, ThinkPad, Dell, etc. For typical users, a Core2 class CPU from intel or AMD is more than enough to handle everyday tasks. Fusion is even more so because of how it GPU works - the previews from this site makes me drool and I hope they put such AMDs into a ThinkPad T series. So for today, most people will do fine with $500~600 basic notebook. Mine is a bottom end Core2 tech at 1.6Ghz. But it runs Windows7 with 2GB pretty good. Not as snappy as the T510 Core-i5 in one of my offices (drool).

    When I was looking to buy a notebook 4 years ago, I was about to drop $700 for an IdeaPad with a 2.2Ghz Core2, GF8600GT, 4GB RAM, Vista, Cam. And I was going to spend $120 for XP to replace Vista (lenovo has XP drivers - which is why I was going for IdeaPads)
    Then I spotted the ThinkPad R61. $500, with a much slower CPU, 1GB RAM, non-gaming intel GPU, no cam. But it had XP, killer keyboard and matte screen - so it was worth it and saved me money.

    People on a budget should stick with $500-600 and get something good and well supported, simple as that. Do a search on no-name notebooks and there are lots of people having support problems.
    Reply
  • GullLars - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    Just because it hasn't been said yet, i feel compelled to state that the product number indicate this computer's power level is... OVER 9000!
    They should have reserved it for gamers, more of them would find it amusing.
    BTW, why X6? Sixth generation Xplorer? It's not a hexacore system.
    Reply
  • stanwood - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    I always appreciate Anandtech's strong technical content. But I don't play games. There are other demanding applications for computers: photo editing in RAW, video editing, video ripping/transcoding/playback. If you could paint a clear picture of where to spend my money optimizing for one or more of those (rather than video games) that would be great. This review is a good step in that direction. Please keep it up! Reply
  • QChronoD - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    Anand et al,
    Are you guys planning on doing a general buyers guide for notebook this summer? I remember that you did one back before Christmas, but lots of people (kids/parents) usually buy one in the later summer in time for going back to school. I realize that you can't compare every model available, but it'd be nice to see a few options listed for the different markets.
    - ultraportable
    - bargin basic
    - portable but gamable
    - mobile workstation (w/o super graphics)
    - kitchen sink (and cement block)

    I'm looking to replace my 4 yr old Fujitsu tablet with something faster & lighter if possible. I don't need anything super powerful, but a dual core 1.2GHz P-M just isn't cutting it these days. Only game I'll probably play on it is Minecraft, can the SNB IGP handle the game well? How about with HD textures?

    Keep up the awesome reviews.
    QCD
    Reply

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