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  • mbishof - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    I know it's probably not as sleek or thin, but then neither is the ASUS N56VZ that you suggested for the "technology addict" or "gamer." I want a laptop that acts as mobile workstation by day and gaming laptop by night. What do you think of the lenovo Y580? Right now they have a model with a 1080p screen for under $1k . Pop in a 128GB msata SSD for an additional $150 or so and it seems like that's quite a compelling choice. I'd love to see an in depth review of that machine. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    Honestly, it's extremely similar to the ASUS N56VZ but with a couple minor differences. First is that the ASUS appears to get slightly better battery life, which is related to the second aspect: the Y580 comes with a GTX 660M GPU. It's only a slight clock speed increase from the GT 650M, and I'm not sure I'd call the 660M worthy of the GTX branding, but it's still faster.

    The keyboard on the Y580 looks nearly identical to the ASUS layout, they both come with Blu-ray, and most of the specs are about the same elsewhere. It's really just a preference for the LCD (ASUS has a matte 1080p display whereas the Lenovo is glossy), plus the ASUS is cheaper, and lastly ASUS isn't afraid to send us review units so I've actually had hands-on time with the N56VZ. I should also mention that Lenovo uses a 5400RPM HDD with a 32GB SSD cache, where ASUS uses a 7200RPM HDD with no cache. If you're going to replace the HDD with an SSD, there's not much point in having the 32GB mSATA SSD hanging around IMO (or as you note, you could look for an mSATA SSD).
  • mbishof - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    Unfortunately my retailers of choice do not offer a N56VZ in the US with a 7200RPM hard drive. Also, the N56VZ uses a GT650 with DDR3 memory which a trustworthy site has informed me will not perform as well as the DDR5 version (although they did point out the boost in clock frequency will compensate the slower memory somewhat). Lenovo does offer a variant of the Y580 with a 500GB 7200RPM drive and no mSATA SSD so my plan is to just do a fresh install on a 128GB mSATA that I pick up from crucial. Sounds like a driver installation nightmare waiting to happen but who knows, it could work. Reply
  • sigmatau - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    I'm not sure I'd buy a Lenovo after I found a survey they did about matte vs glossy displays.... 6 years ago. I guess it didn't matter that 86% of the participants voted for matte and spitted on glossy. They removed the survey from their forums... probably from shame.

    I mean who cares what the customer wants.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    One problem with that Ars article is this line: "There are some advantages to having a glossy screen: in particular, outdoor visibility is greatly increased." WTF? Outdoor visibility is increased by glossy? Where are they using such screens "outdoors"? Because all I get on glossy screens outside is a nice reflection of my face. :-\ Reply
  • Dribble - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    It should never throttle on a brand new laptop - if it gets that hot then the cooling is insufficient. This means inconsistent performance, noisy cooling as the fan is maxed out, and the cpu/gpu dying young due to being run so hot all the time.

    Remember that laptop is new, the fan is clean, it's as good as it will get. Use it for a few months and the cooling system will have dust in it and be significantly less efficient - the laptop will be continuously throttling. Sure you can clean it out, but most people don't want to have to clean out the fans every month to keep their machine usable.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    I'm not sure how you consider about three pages worth of discussion on throttling and a conclusion that says "gamers and enthusiasts should probably look elsewhere because of the throttling issues" as being accepting. There are many people who would only occasionally game, and if you want a nice looking notebook with a good display and keyboard there aren't that many options. Certainly the Series 7 looks nicer than the ASUS and Lenovo laptops mentioned elsewhere, with a better keyboard layout as well. For everyday use, I'd take the Samsung over the other two, but I'd do it knowing that gaming/graphics are going to have thermal issues at times. That means you're spending about $250 on hardware you won't use much, but people have done worse things. Reply
  • bennyg - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    I would think the issue is more longevity rather than performance.

    Remember, most people don't even think to blow out fans/grilles with air, let alone pull the thing apart and clean it properly. Add dust to something that can't cool itself properly to start with = problems.

    Or am I just old-fashioned in wondering what the product's use will be like in 1 or 2 years' time. All I'm supposed to consider is looks and price and maybe a few spec tags like "i7" and "8gb ram". Ugh I hate 'consumers'.
  • MadMan007 - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    The temperature graphs have MHz for the vertical axis instead of degrees. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    Ugh... I hate it when I do things like that. These are all manually created charts as well (for the clocks/temps), so I have to go into Excel, edit the chart, then take a screen capture, paste into Photoshop, crop, save, and upload the result to our CMS engine. What a pain! Anyway, the charts are all fixed now (I hope!) Reply
  • Darkstone - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    You can ctrl-c ctrl-v a chart from excel into mspaint ;). Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    You get an extra 1px border around the graph doing that, which isn't terrible I suppose. (As a side note, older versions of Photoshop/Office *sucked* if you tried the Copy/Paste trick, which is why I got in the habit of doing the screenshot, paste, crop). I still need to upload and put it into the CMS, though, which is honestly the more painful part. Reply
  • MadMan007 - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    No problemo, it's a great review and details like the 'real speeds' as affected by thermals are very important. Seems like we are moving toward form over function in the pursuit of thinness. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    The LCD page has a gallery for the Lenovo M92 desktop pc. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    Weird. I guess there was a glitch in the gallery engine, because I know I created the LCD gallery! Dustin must have done his gallery at the same time and somehow it overwrote my LCD images. :-( Anyway, thanks for the heads up; the gallery has been recreated. Reply
  • nerd1 - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    In the article you suggests retina MBP is way better in cooling, but it actually is not. Some german benchmark sites (including notebookcheck) reports exactly same throttling issue when they load CPU and GPU at the same time. (GPU running fine but CPU throttles down to 1.2Ghz, AND core temp exceeding 100 degree Celcius)

    Practically it is perfectly fine as most 3D games are bottlenecked by GPU performance, but you should update your article. I think thin laptops just cannot cool enough.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    I guess I didn't make that entirely clear; I mention the $2100 rMBP as an example of a more expensive laptop (with a better display and materials) that still has potential thermal issues. I've updated the paragraph to better reflect my intention. Pretty much you can't get thin, fast, quiet, and affordable -- and in many cases, you can't even get three of those items without a bit of compromise. Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    I can't find much reference to it throttling online , and Anandtechs own review points out how much better it is than the old models at that.

    I'm curious how the non-retina current 15" model is.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    The fact that performance drops by 5% running just a game over time suggests there's at least some throttling taking place. Push the CPU to 100% while playing a game (e.g. by running Cinebench on three of the CPU cores) and we should see a greater drop. I'm going to ping Anand and see if he can run that stress test, just to confirm/deny the potential for throttling. Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    I appreciate that, a quick article on whether both new Macbooks throttle would be interesting. Seems like a wider problem than I expected.

    I wonder of a small drop like 5% could just be lack of thermal headroom to turbo to the highest frequencies?
  • creed3020 - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    "Dell XPS 15 results in yellow"

    The yellow bars show the Aver V3 and not the Dell. The Dell laptop has the standard ark blue colour.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    Fixed, thanks. Reply
  • npaladin2000 - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    I own a 15 inch version of the previous generation, these are excellent machines, but yes, an enthusiast will not be satisfied with it as-is. I ended up throwing in a 512 Gb SSD and an Intel A/B/G WiFi card. Getting into these is NOT easy, so I'm not looking forward to any equipment failures, but these things are solid, compact, quiet, with a good layout, blowing all the exhaust to the BACK, as it should be. And I have to say the keyboard is the best one short of a Thinkpad that I've ever used.

    Never knock sleek and thin, particularly if you have to travel with the thing. I went from an Asus N53SV to this, the Asus was a real pain anywhere except at home on my desk, and on the occasional hotel desk (took up a lot of room there). The Series7, even the 17 inch, is a much more desirable travel companion.

    Samsung just needs to make service easier somehow.
  • knekker - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    Right now i am just waiting for a 17inch laptop with ips panel, that actually offers nvidia 680m in it, instead of those insanely overpriced quadro graphic cards. along with the Maximus technology.

    Zzzz Zzzz
  • aravenwood - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    I have an Alienware M17x R3. I bought primarily for the keyboard (best in class, in my opinion) and the screen secondarily, for the build quality tertiary. How does the Samsung stack up against the M17x R3 keyboard? All the keyboards I used before the Alienware caused pain in my fingers after five minutes of use programming. The two sore points for me are where I interact most with the machine - the keyboard (fingers/wrist/hand) and the screen (eyes). Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    Dustin did the M17x reviews, so I'm not sure personally how they compare. The Alienware is more of a traditional style key shape as opposed to chiclet, though, so I could definitely understand people preferring Alienware's keyboard. Interestingly, it's also missing the "context key" -- am I like the only person that uses that key? Also, anyone know if it's possible to remap something like right Alt to the context key? Might make me happier.

    In general, I prefer the size and weight of the Samsung to the M17x, and I think Samsung has a better display (matte for one). Alienware obviously has more GPU performance and better cooling, as it doesn't have as much difficulty with throttling under maximum load (AFAIK -- correct me if I'm wrong). Cost is also clearly in favor of Samsung, but if you play games I'd say it's an easy choice to go with Alienware. For those that just want a good keyboard, it's a personal opinion thing so you'd probably have to try both laptops out if possible. I still want to play with an MSI GT7 series with the Cherry MX switches (I think that's the one, right?) just to see how it feels.
  • durinbug - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    I have the 15" version, love it for the most part. The one thing that really bugs me is the trackpad. I constantly have issues with it misinterpreting a quick lift of the finger and move back to center as a left click, as when scrolling or going from one side of the screen to the other, something I haven't encountered with any other trackpad I've used. It also often doesn't manage a tap-to-doubleclick, instead selecting and then dragging things. Yes, I could push harder for the physical button click, but that just isn't very intuitive - and the pressure required often results in inadvertent movement of the cursor anyway.

    (I was also annoyed because they gave me inaccurate information about the hard drive; I was looking at two similar-but-slightly-different model numbers at two different retailers, one advertising 750 GB 7,200 RPM hard drive, the other advertising 1 TB HD. Contacted Samsung to find out how fast the 1 TB drive was, as the retailer couldn't tell me, and was assured that it was also 7,200 RPM after a very long wait for him to look up information. Turns out it's not, it is a slower 5,400 RPM drive. I'd have preferred less space w/ a faster drive, but oh well - some day I'll stick a large SSD in. Only after getting it did it occur to me to look at HDs offered separately, and it turned out no one was selling 7,200 RPM 1 TB laptop drives - should have clued me in).
  • abrowne1993 - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Anand said you'd be handling the UX31A review, Jarred. Any idea when that'll be out? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Next up on my hot list. :-) Short story: it's the best 13.3" Ultrabook, but it's still an Ultrabook. Keyboard key travel is better than any other UB I've used/tested, and the IPS display is obviously the huge selling point. Build quality is good as well. Only real issue is the price, battery life is decent but not exceptional, and you're still getting basically Ultrabook levels of performance -- fine for most apps, but not for serious number crunching or gaming. Reply
  • abrowne1993 - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Thanks, good to know! I've got a desktop for gaming and other heavy usage, so performance isn't too much of an issue. Build quality, portability, and that wonderful screen were my main interests. Reply
  • lbell - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    It seems to be a PERFECT laptop if the user replaces the HDD with a SSD, plugs a gaming mouse and uses it in ACed room. Reply
  • nerd1 - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    I think the biggest drawback of this laptop is the lack of secondary HDD bay. Many laptops now provide mSATA slot where user can easily put 128GB boot drive (and they cost as low as $100 nowadays too) while keeping ~1TB data drive. With a single 2.5" bay such setup is not possible. Small SSD cache is just a gimmick and generally not comparable to true SSDs. And they should provide slower 35W CPU option as well - which should help overheating a bit.

    Anyway I think this laptop is actually one of the best 17" laptops out there for general public, and one good replacement for 17" MBP which is now discontinued.
  • .Hg. - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Hi Jarred,

    thanks a lot for your review. Since we cannot trust specification sheets anymore when we choose a laptop, the work of good reviewers is essential.

    If manufactures decide that performances don't really matter, we will gladly spend more on the monitor and less on the CPU/GPU, or we will buy tablets instead of notebooks.

    I hope you'll improve your testing methodology about the impact of the cooling system on the performances, because if when a laptop "falis" the stress test, it "doesn't really matter", then the stress test doesn't really matter itself.

    I'd like to suggest testing an heavy CPU load with the GPU turned on but idling. This is the Adobe Premiere Video export scenario or generic cpu load using an external monitor. My XPS15 throttled badly with the A04 bios after 2 min during this test, because the heat from the CPU triggered the GPU temperature threshold. Manufacturers should find a clever way to balance TDP than temperature thresholds.

    Also, please keep in mind that a CPU at 1.2GHz has a lot of impact on the gaming experience, much more than average fps shows, and that a GPU continuously throttling between 800 and 200 mhz has higher average fps than a GPU fixed a 400 Mhz, but it gives a lot worse gaming experience.
  • nerd1 - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    No, CPU power rarely affects gaming experience, as most of the games are now developed multi-platform and ivy bridge@1.2Ghz is still WAY better than any console out there. On the other hand, GPU power directly affects framerate. Reply
  • .Hg. - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    It does, I experienced an awful control lag with Assassin Creed II and Prince of Persia.

    Games that are not properly multi-threaded will suffer the low frequency. Ivy Bridge can't do miracles.

    And games that are properly multi-thread will show much greater power absorption even at low frequency because of the higher load, and if the cooling system is not good, the system will try to reduce the GPU frequency.
  • nerd1 - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    No, I don't think such an ancient game can load CPU to maximum. It ran fine with core 2 duo processor, which has much lower power-per-clock than new ivy bridge processor. The only cpu-consuming task I can imaging for computer game is heavy physics simulation, which is done with GPU now. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    It's not that the stress test doesn't matter at all, but I would say it's not a make or break situation for most people. Obviously (I would think, but maybe not?), a laptop that runs cooler right now should hold up better over the long term than a laptop that is hitting thermal limits right from the start. The XPS 15 is horrible when it comes to throttling; the Samsung is only throttling under extreme loads -- in a rather warm 80-85F environment, I might add (curse my lack of AC).

    If you happen to live in a place like AZ and take your laptop outside where it's 105F, and then you put a 100% load on the GPU and CPU, I'm not sure any laptop would cope with that sort of testing without throttling. It's the way things are supposed to work. The real question -- and it's a question that's difficult to answer -- is how much a laptop can handle before it starts to throttle. That's what the stress test is there to help evaluate.

    If you need a notebook that can run both CPU and GPU at 100% simultaneously in a 70F AC regulated environment, that's fine. In that case, the Series 7 falls short, but it's still a lot closer than the XPS 15. If you're a typical user that plays games, on the other hand, then that's the metric you should look at, keeping in mind that certain titles will likely stress the CPU/GPU more than others.
  • nerd1 - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    I think the only laptop that can withstand full load for a long time is thick gaming laptops. Reply
  • seapeople - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Jared has it right here, the only way to really fail a stress test is for the computer to overheat and brick itself. Everything is a gray area.

    If the Samsung did so poorly that it throttled instantly to ultra poor performance levels the moment a game was started *cough Dell cough* then it would deserve a thrashing, but it handled high performance gaming with only limited throttling issues, so therefore deserves better than a unilateral no vote.

    Besides, if the computer throttles during gaming too much to suit you, then you can reduce the settings/CPU speed to suit. You would lose performance, sure, but we're still talking about something that would destroy ultrabooks or entry level graphics cards.
  • gandralf - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    My company has bough four samsungs (expensive, supposed high end series 9 ultrabook). Three of them had problems. Terrible built, mega fragile. Reply
  • nerd1 - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - link

    Exactly WHAT problems? I own 13" MBA and my friend has series 9 2011 model and I think s9 is better in almost all aspects. Reply
  • bennyg - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    Where are the comparison with the 95% AUO 1080p TN screens used in Clevo's high end gaming laptops
    B156HW01 v4, v7
    and the ones used in 17"

    Very ironic how AUO and Chimei are responsible for so many cheap crappy low res screens now they're the only ones turning out top notch high res TNs!
  • rwei - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link


    (2) Clickpads with NO BUTTONS AT ALL!!!

    Gonna be some good-@$$ rants coming up in the near future. Bet you're loving Synaptics today.
  • jsa - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - link

    My 2004 Dell Inspiron 8600 just can't keep up with some fairly basic tasks, so I've been following reviews here (and elsewhere to supplement--wish there were more here!) for the past few months to try to decide on a new machine. The Asus N56V is currently my top contender after being disappointed with the findings in the last couple of reviews.

    One thing I haven't gotten straight in my head is whether there is some benefit to having the discrete GPU for a nongamer (or occasional gamer at most) such as myself. I understand there may be some battery life disadvantages to having it; are there also some benefits I might reap? Perhaps the whole question is moot as I haven't really seen any interesting options for use as a main computer (not quite ready to relegate the optical drive to my secondary machine), that are limited to integrated graphics.

    One thing that seems important to me is having good sound, as I'd like to move around the house and, if I'm going to stay put for a while, listen to music from the notebook without dealing with external speakers; another is a high resolution display, because I like to fit a lot on that screen. The main other contenders seem to be the Series 7 reviewed here, which has a much nicer case and maybe better sound and keyboard, but not as good a screen, much more expensive, and some disappointments in the review; the HP Pavilion dv6, which also seems to have better sound than the N56V, but seems like it may have quality control issues (as well as a glossy screen); the Lenovo Y580, which I don't know much about, but doesn't seem quite as appealing as the N56V; and the Sony Vaio S 15", which generally seems like a good machine, but doesn't seem to have very good sound at all.

    Apologies if this isn't appropriate as a comment.
  • infoilrator - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    The greatest difficulty is to extend performance, size, cost, and battery life.
    With speakers more sound is easier with larger speakers. Some of the USB plug ins do pretty well. Being small, light, and power efficient is a contradiction. Piezo tweeters can be loud and efficent if you sacrifice bass. There are dome speakers thar do better, these get expensive fast. Cone speakers are a possible answer, require space and magnets.
    Possibly someone makes cordless USB headphones for you, a possible answer.

    Every laptop is a marketing/price compromise.

    Recently SSD prices have dropped. Please remember lead time in choosing components for mass production. You can have "just in time delivery" but prices and choices can reflect over a year back. Or more. Contracts have to e signed so assembly lines are not idle for want of parts

    If prices of HDDs and SSDs continue to fall expect this first to appear with smaller producers.
  • infoilrator - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    Around the house maybe a wireless connection to an existing sound system? Reply
  • jsa - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    Thanks for all your insights. I don't have an existing sound system, but it may be worth getting rid of the "good sound" requirement, since I won't get great sound, anyway. Then I can either implement a wireless system of some kind or check out USB speakers. (Cordless USB headphones are a pretty interesting option, but don't work when my girlfriend is over.)

    That opens up my options, and in particular makes the Vaio S 15.5" a more attractive choice.

    As someone who wouldn't be playing games much (if ever), is there a strong benefit to losing the dedicated GPU, or is it pretty much a draw?
  • jemccloskey - Sunday, October 21, 2012 - link

    Sorry if I'm posting and this thread is already dead. I have a Samsung Series 7 17" - NP700Z7C-S01US and I am unable to frame rates even close to those mentioned in the benchmark results. I get frame rates between 8-12 @ 1366x768 on Batman Arkham City, Battlefield 3, Fallout: New Vegas. DX11 on and off etc..

    This is with drivers ranging from 296.87 through all betas and the current released version 306.97. In addition, I have tried every configuration and I have specified to use the nVidia discrete graphics: via context menu, Physx config, and 3D Settings. However, I am unable to pass the 12 fps threshhold. In addition I have installed, the latest BIOS update, Windows7(64bit ultimate and pro) 3 different times, and used Nivdia Optimus GPU Tools state viewer, GPU-Z and Throttlestop 500a.

    Just to sum things up: I get better fps average results from using the Intel IGP HD Graphics 4000. And I'm not confusing the nvidia with the intel when profiling. Verified harware ID's, throughput and bandwidth via 3 different utilities.

    I have played with all power management issues etc...In any case, I'm totally confused as to how to achieve the frame rates mentioned in your benchmarks. I must be doing something wrong. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thank you,
  • FlavioJuan - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I have bought this great Computer a week ago.

    The GOOD ones
    It has a good design is lightweight (4 a 17" Laptop)
    Aluminum design is also great looking
    Battery last almost the 6 promoted hours,
    Bright is OK
    Multi touch pad works fine.
    Sound is also OK.
    Great Battery life extender feature in BIOS.

    The BAD ones

    For this kind of “high range” computer, I really do not understand why max RAM was designed up to 8Gb.

    Battery is not removable (not even a switch to turn it off).

    Boot from Pen drive not available in BIOS boot options.

    No Blue ray reader.

    No button to eject discs from reader, you can eject disc only from windows. (Not even an eject hole) so if you don’t have Windows running… there is no way to take a disc out.

    A lot of Samsung proprietary software must be loaded to get this machine full working,

    Several features are software dependent, like for example, keyboard backlight, controlled by Fn + F9 F10, so u have to wait till complete windows + driver properly loaded, to have this feature available.

    If you are on a non-dark environment then every time you wish the keyboard backlight ON, you will receive a warning telling you that you can just turn in ON only in dark environment.
    (In the other hand I tried to disable Light sensor from control Panel >Sensor but it didn’t works. So the solution I have found for this issue was covering the sensor with a coin or piece of tape. Really amazing!)

    But what I really hate, (and this seems not only belongs to Samsung laptops, but for most of suppliers) is all the garbage software pre-installed on a new machine.
    I buy a new laptop every year, and all I wish is a CLEAN computer installed just with SO + DRV.
    I spent almost a day cleaning it in order to get the machine working without all these pre-installed software. Because in this process, sometimes uninstall some vital soft, and as
    Re-installing doesn’t works properly, the only solution is perform a complete recovery then start again with the task.

    I would prefer my windows 7 working at full range just with my applications instead to waste resources with all the Samsung resident softs that degrades my machine's performance.
    But this kind of practice seems to be normal for all the laptop suppliers.
    Could we (the customers) do something to change it?

    Model NP700Z7C-S03US
    SN / HUY691DC800028
    Purchased on oct 30 2012 Tiger direct Miami, FL

    Best regards for everybody.

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