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  • extide - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I am fairly sure it is a single link DVI, not Dual Link. Did you actually test a 2560 res screen on the DVI port? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Argh! Why, Clevo, WHY!? They supported dual-link DVI for so long, and it's literally a cost savings of pennies these days. But you're right: it's single-link only (my 30" LCD only allows 1280x800 when connected). Consider me flogged, and I've updated the text. Reply
  • Freakie - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Really? That sure does look like a DVI-I Dual Link connector on the back though, which means it *should* pinned for Dual-Link, right?. Do you think that it might be a driver issue with AMD? Reply
  • Freakie - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Nevermind, just looked at the specs on Sager's version and yeah, DVI-I Single Link... man does that suck some serious balls. Reply
  • Penti - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    At least it has DisplayPort, but it only makes me view these gaming notebooks in even worse light. DP is fine and should be brought forward as the connector for high-res screens but then why keep a DVI? Does it support dual screens? Then why not two DPs and ship a passive DP>VGA/DVI adaptor and an HDMI-adaptor with the kit. Use DP everywhere or keep your DVI-DL I say. Most people doesn't really think about the connectivity but with the amount of people with 27 and 30-inch monitors around it should be a bigger issue and you shouldn't have to buy high-end or business class stuff to get the possibility to use DP or DVI-DL as it is now, consumer stuff generally doesn't have it. Reply
  • Roland00Address - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    That makes me pretty angry why would you be so stupid with cost cutting. Reply
  • mczak - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    FWIW that's not really Clevo's problem but intel's. intel's chipset do simply not support dual-link dvi (the only way to get higher than 1920x1200 resolution with them is with DisplayPort), so with Enduro (and Optimus for that matter) when displays are always connected to the IGP it simply can't work.
    Well there would be some possible solutions to that problem but neither one is great:
    1) connect dvi directly to discrete gpu. This means whenever you want to use external monitor you'll need to switch to the discrete gpu. I know in the past some notebooks were wired like that, but I believe this is incompatible with enduro/optimus (in theory it should be possible to only use the copy-to-igp approach for one display but not for all but probably not in practice), hence you'd also need muxes for switching all other displays.
    2) the notebook could use additional dual-link tmds chip. intel's chipset still support svdo, and it should be possible to add a dual-link capabable svdo to dvi converter chip. But costs will be higher than a few pennies.
    I don't know about notebooks but I've not seen a single desktop motherboard with 60- or 70-series intel chipset doing that - you NEED displayport for higher resolution (and unfortunately most budget motherboards skip DP).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Oh, true! I didn't even think about that aspect. It's silly that Intel supports higher resolutions with DP than with DVI, though. Reply
  • mczak - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Well I'm not sure it's totally silly. Don't forget AMD is heading in the same direction - apparently dual-link tmds transmitters don't come for free, every AMD gpu (since Northern Islands) only supports one dual-link dvi port even if they still support otherwise simultaneous use of two dvi/hdmi ports - you've got two high res monitors (at least) one is going to use DP.
    Near all monitors (save some Korean imports) supporting such resolutions though support DP however nowadays, so it isn't that bad as long as you've got a DP port on the graphic card side (and my advice would be to stay far away from high res monitors not featuring DP - too bad though if you already have such a monitor since certainly earlier models did not support DP).
    Reply
  • crfog - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    First off: I'm a Clevo P170EM owner.

    Though I don't have time to read the entire article right now, I got as far as the keyboard review and saw some errors regarding the back-lighting. If you look to the top right hand corner of the numpad, you'll see four keys with odd secondary symbols on them. Pressing the Fn key plus these will get you the following: either quick access to the back-lighting settings (which, unfortunately as an application doesn't seem to have an easy way to close), an on-off setting (much easier than setting the colour to black as you stated), and brightness settings.

    Hopefully, I'll have time to read the rest of the article tonight.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Hey, whaddayaknow! I totally missed those. I couldn't figure out why Clevo wouldn't have such keys, but for some reason the shortcuts on the 10-key area just never registered. Text updated. Thanks! Reply
  • junky77 - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Wouldn't it shed some light upon the issue of under utilization? Reply
  • junky77 - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Also, according to the notebookcheck review of the m17x-r4, the performance gets much much better without the Enduro problem, even besting the 680m in many cases. Are their results really so out of course? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    We have not been able to test non-Enduro 7970M yet; I'm hoping to get the M17x R4 + 7970M in some time in the near future. At that point we can get a better view of the performance with/without Enduro. (And we might have another driver updated from AMD by then as well.) Reply
  • ThreeDee912 - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Looks like somebody forgot to add in the battery life charts...? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Fixed, thanks! Reply
  • halbhh2 - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    It was very interesting to me to see the excellent battery life of the Samsung 7. So I know which I'd get if I suddenly needed a new laptop in that price range. Really enjoyed this article, and mostly for the detail/nuances. Reply
  • transphasic - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Hey Jarred. Is this a realistic solution to this Enduro nonsense?
    It would seem like this would be a better solution to this problem than by cobbling together a patchwork of drivers month after month for specific games in a seemingly vain and futile attempt to bypass these Mux design/Enduro problems in order to increase FPS scores.
    Since AW users have a physical switch to turn it off completely, AMD should just create
    a software patch to shut the stupid Enduro thing off and disabling it, and thereby solve the problem that way.
    I am at a point, like a lot of 7970m owners, where I am wondering if I would be just better off spending the extra $800 for a Nvidia 680m upgrade, or just waiting for the rumored soon to be released 7990m GPU upgrade that SUPPOSEDLY has no Enduro issues. I really cannot believe that even with some supposedly better AMD drivers on the way be the end of the year that it will even come close to closing the enormous gap in gaming performance between our 7970m and the 680m.
    Your thoughts?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    This won't work. To turn Enduro off (like on the Alienware M17x), you need actual hardware muxes on the motherboard to route the video outputs to the iGPU or the dGPU. The P170EM (AFAIK) only has the outputs connected to the iGPU, so it will always be in Enduro or Optimus mode. Sorry! Reply
  • Harmattan - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I've owned both p150em and p170ems and generally agree with the assessment, albeit I felt it a bit harsh. The keyboard was not as bad as described, neither was the build quality. The p150em is, IMO, the best 15" gaming laptop available in terms of performance and size.

    But yes, AW has it all over Clevo on build even with a 2-year old design.

    On the bright side, they did finally listen to people (after 3 years) and put back-lit keyboards on their new line.
    Reply
  • This_Account - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Hi, great article. It is a shame about the dual-link DVI though for sure.

    Quick question for you, does the USB 2.0 charge with the lid closed?

    Cheers
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    I assume you mean with the laptop in sleep mode? As far as I can tell, there is no USB charging mode, so no it will not. Reply
  • hulawafu77 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    No. But on the right side, there are 3 USB 3.0. The first one is charging. It has a battery charge indicator on it to let you know. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    It's actually the left side with three USB 3.0 ports, and the front port does not have a charging symbol; rather, it has a USB symbol along with eSATA -- it's a combo port. Reply
  • MThorne74 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    ... of laptop GPU performance. As pointed out, this thing has a user-upgradable GPU in it which allows you to swap out the graphics board much like you would on a desktop system. All you'd need is the 7970m and a 680m and whatever else you desire to compare. GPU focused performance comparisons would be much more precise then. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    We've got the same laptop with 680M; I'm just running the tests still and did this one first. Reply
  • hulawafu77 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    P150EM

    This may be a shock to Anandtech, but many like myself appreciate the design of the Clevo. Metal = Weight. These machines already weigh plenty, so I personally and many others like me agree, Clevo choosing plastic is good. The plastic does not feel cheap to me and it is thick and robust. There is no flex on it. As for hinges, not sure what else you want. The hinges on mine are covered by the thickest plastic I've seen on any laptop. Nothing thin about it. There is no flex around the hinges on my machine. I don't know why this article exaggerates the build quality, reading this, most will think it's cheap feel. And it's far from that.

    Next: Comparisons are idiotic. This is a gaming machine. This is not a professional workstation, though you can modify to be, but really without a proper professional IPS display, better off getting a Dell/HP/Lenovo. So why bother comparing to those, those machines are military grade certified. As for Apple, those machines are made to look pretty on your coffee table. Clevo aren't make table decorations like Apple is. They aren't selling to moms and women or men who worry more about how thin and pretty their machine is than the hardware it comes with. 650M is not by any stretch impressive. Most gaming machines are plastic. Few have some metal, but very little, sparing on just small details to give it some panache. The laptop that took the mobile gaming industry by surprise was the G73JH, and that was all plastic. But that told manufactures, gamers want understated, black matte cases. And Clevo delivers. Even the latest iterations from MSI have calmed down their appearance significantly since the G73's release.

    I love matte look, I don't want shiny metal. I prefer the rubberized surface, but I could deal with a brushed metal. These notebooks can be configured to have no logos, branding at all, which is awesome. I am not a billboard for Clevo, Apple, Dell, Lenovo.

    Cost: These notebooks are really expensive. People who buy Clevo, buy it for the cost/performance. If you want a sci-fi look, get a Alienware. You want bling, get a MSI. If you want a stealth toy look, get a Asus. You want a Apple clone cause secretly you are envious of Macheads, get a Razer Blade. There are plenty of choices. I'd rather Clevo keep costs low on the case and pack it with hardware, options.

    I've been typing on this machine for a long time and think the keyboard just takes adjusting to. This keyboard you do need to press more in the center or bottom, if you press on the edges or top, chance of missing keys. But since I'm used to it, I have no issues with the keyboard and can type as precisely and quickly as I could with my old IBM Thinkpad.

    Some of your complaints with the keyboard are because you from the perspective of a writer. That's a problem, because this is not a machine designed for writers, it's a gaming machine. Take for example your ire with Windows key. Clevo did that on purpose. They enlarge the CTRL button which is used very often by gamers, whether its CS:GO or SC2. The removed the Windows because gamers complained of hitting unintentionally and sometimes causing to switch to desktop out of the game. I don't use End/Home often, even when using Word Processor or InDesign. I don't think that's a concern for most gamers.

    Going forward you may want to write more in context of gaming and perspective of gamers when it comes to Clevo. I'd bet if you were to budget conscious gamers what they were most concerned about, metal casing and eye catching design would be near the bottom of the list. As long as the machine was well built, robust, and sturdy, they will be satisfied. And the Clevo does that.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    I disagree with most of your assessment of the build quality. ASUS has similar build quality and they charge quite a bit less (though they lack the top-end GPU options as well). Alienware has a combination of metal alloys (magnesium alloy possibly?) with plastic and the rubberized coating. Magnesium alloys are very lightweight, which is why they're used in higher end notebooks -- they're rigid, better than plastic, and about the same weight.

    The hinges aren't necessarily worse than other consumer laptops, but take a look at the ThinkPad hinges; they're not substantially more expensive to make, but I can tell you from experience that they last forever. I've used ThinkPads that are over seven years old where the hinges still hold up. The plastic covers are just that: covers. Look under them and you'll find a mediocre hinge. For the cost, I want it to have a hinge that I don't think is going to fail in a few years (or at least become very loose).

    The keyboard still sucks, no matter how you want to mince words and try to say it's for gaming. The Windows key can be remapped/disabled easily enough if you want, and Clevo also has resellers that say this is a "mobile workstation" -- not that I really go for that classification, given the build materials and overall quality. Sure, the keyboard works, and yes I'm a writer, which is why I point that out in the text.

    The fact is, a keyboard like the one on the Samsung Series 7 is better in just about every way. If Clevo took the same layout and had a look and feel similar to the Series 7, I wouldn't complain much, but it seriously feels like crap to me. If you don't care about keyboard quality, fine, but it's pathetic that a machine this expensive has such a lousy keyboard. MSI's keyboard has the same layout but feels worlds better. And it's funny you try to slag off my complaints about the lack of dedicated Home and End keys... but how often do you use Insert, Pause, or Scroll Lock? Literally, it's about a ten second fix from a design perspective (and yes, I know you can remap keys, but then the labels are wrong so it's better done by the manufacturer).

    The Clevo is not a bad machine by any stretch; it's just not at the same level as some other gaming notebooks. If I were in the market, I'd wait for one of Dell's frequent sales and buy an Alienware M17x. It's just better in pretty much every way, with better support from the manufacturer as well. Clevo's support (particularly in the form of BIOS updates) is terrible -- they don't trust users to flash a BIOS, so they don't provide them. And yet, they have battery life that's just as bad as if they didn't bother with Enduro/Optimus. It's a half-baked attempt, no matter how you slice it.

    The primary reason to buy a Clevo is because it's less expensive and more customizable than an Alienware, and it has fast hardware. I understand that's enough for most people, and hopefully after reading this review they'll be able to decide that for themselves.

    To say that my comparisons are "idiotic" because I mention Samsung as a slower alternative with a higher build quality, or ASUS, MSI, and Alienware... well, you're entitled to your opinion, but considering you already purchased a Clevo I'd have to say your opinion is more than a little biased. I'm writing from the perspective of someone that has used and tested dozens of laptops just in the last year; I try to put all my reviews into that context and let readers know where a particular notebook ranks. The Clevo is one of the fastest (if not the fastest) gaming notebooks around. For the performance, the pricing is pretty reasonable (but not great). For the pricing the build quality and overall design is about on the level of a midrange consumer notebook, only with a thicker chassis and bigger fans. And the keyboard is still one of the worst I've used. Some people like Acer's old floating island keys too; the general consensus however is that they were terrible.
    Reply
  • hulawafu77 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Not really biased at all. My previous machine was a Asus G73JH and I like my Clevo more in every way, from the design, cooling, hardware, LCD, and even the keyboard.

    I think you should spend more time in the Clevo/Sager forum where people actually buy and discuss them. Your perspective on these machines and your preferences are pretty off base. I don't think you understand the market that Clevo is going for.

    As for price, Sager beats MSI and Asus handidly. The base price for my machine with a GTX 675M is $1300. Asus can't beat that even with a GTX 670M, inferior hardware. Plus Asus is not upgradeable and can't even access the GPU easily.

    As for Alienware's sales? Please, they can't come close to the price of Sager still. Unlike Allienware, you don't have to barter with a sales rep and Sager's discounts are 24/7 all year round. What discounts did I get with my Sager? $80 off+3% cash discount and free shipping on top of a price that already beat anything offered by MSI/Asus/Alienware for the hardware I specified.

    As for comparisons I think I spelled it out pretty clear how idiotic they were. You were comparing to Dell and Lenovo. For one they build workstations that are military grade certified. And the XPS 15 is not a high end gaming machine, that is a boutique machine competing with other Mac clones. And the Samsung Series 7 is not in the same category with Clevo and Alienware. The only two companies that make sense to compare is Alienware and MSI. When it comes to dependability and having your machine last, no problems. These things are built like tanks, there are users who bought X7200 with HD5870s and now upgrading them to 7970s. That's damn good quality of build to me. 30% of laptops don't even last 3 years and for many expect their Clevo to last 5.

    As for service on a Clevo? Unmatched, no one can beat Clevo. If you go with a Clevo builder Mythlogic, you won't get a more technical proficient, better interaction and service by ANY company. Mythlogic has repeatedly reach out to Clevo owners who weren't even their customers. All it takes is a few minutes to post on a forum and they are ready to help. Sager, yeah I had an issue, and it was free 3 day shipping both ways and laptop fixed in 2 days and returned, I had it back in 1.5 weeks. Give me a break about service. As for BIOS, yeah that's laughable. If you actually spent time on a Clevo/Sager forum you'd see every laptop has had countless BIOS updates. I've only owned this machine for about 4-5 months and I've already updated the BIOS 3 times. No BIOS updates? Who are you kidding. And if I bork the BIOS update? Clevo doesn't care, you get that fixed, no questions asked. That sure doesn't like they don't trust us. Far from it, to the point they will repair your notebook without question if you borked it with a BIOS update.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Where do I "compare" this with the XPS 15? I say there are laptops like XPS 15 and MacBook that do unibody aluminum, that it costs more, and that's it. You're trying to make comparisons that aren't really there, which just shows your bias all the more. And talking to people in the Sager/Clevo forums is again asking for biased feedback; sure, it's important to please those users, but the market for laptops is huge and Clevo targets a very small niche. All I've done is spelled out exactly how this design fails to cater to other desires, and you apparently can't accept that and resort to calling me "idiotic".

    Sure, the base price for your machine is $1300; the base price for an M17x R4 is $1500. That's a 15% difference in price, with better build quality and materials in my book, so yes it's close to the Sager pricing. When Dell runs a 10% off sale on it, it would be basically a wash in terms of pricing. Meanwhile the base price of the MSI from iBUYPOWER is $1371 (5% more), and I'd have no problem suggesting you spend $70 more to get the MSI chassis in place of the Clevo if you want a better keyboard. The ASUS also starts at $1400 (8% more), but with specs on many components that are higher than the base Sager. Clearly, you and I have very different views on what it means to "beat a price handily".

    Sager or one of the other vendors may end up costing less most of the time, especially with upgrades, but spending 20% more on a high-end notebook isn't out of the realm of possibility. Plus if we're looking at features and extras, Alienware has the option in the BIOS to switch off Enduro/Optimus. That requires extra hardware on the motherboard, which costs money, and there are a lot of Clevo owners with 7970M that wish they had that feature right now.

    Are BIOS updates available for Clevo notebooks? Yes. Are they supported by Clevo if they go wrong and you need to get it repaired? Sure, if it's under warranty. Do they provide them on their site to the general public? NO. So you have to go through unofficial channels to get a BIOS update, which may or may not work. Or if you want to prove me wrong, give me a link to the official places where these countless BIOS updates are available.

    Hint: a thread on Notebookreview forums with modded BIOSes does not qualify: http://forum.notebookreview.com/sager-clevo/416916... -- just read the disclaimer: "Before reading this thread, please know that this thread should not exist in the first place. While the option to email your Clevo reseller and ask for the latest BIOS is considered now the official policy of obtaining the latest BIOS, it should be noted that Clevo is the only major notebook manufacturer that has such a policy. My opinion alongside that of other users which have posted in this thread is that a reputable notebook manufacturer like Clevo should make BIOS updates publically available." Yup, my comments about Clevo's lack of BIOS updates is laughable, just like your blindness.

    I'm sorry if my review offended you and your decision to buy a Clevo. That wasn't the purpose, and I still don't think it's a bad system. It's just not great and it's not something I can recommend to people without some caveats. I spelled out my caveats quite clearly, listed things I feel could be improved, and all you've done is said, in essence, that you disagree with the areas I dislike. You can do so (and you already have with your wallet), but I think there are a lot of considerations to make before buying any $1500+ gaming notebook. Then again, I still do my gaming on desktops 95% of the time.
    Reply
  • hulawafu77 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    You are so ignorant of the Sager/Clevo forum, it's rather sad. The BIOS that are posted are not modded, they are the official, vanilla Clevo BIOS. Clevo does no sell direct like HP, Alienware, Dell, etc do. The tech support is provided by the builders, and the BIOS also. The modded BIOS are actually the ones from the OEM, like Sager who ask Clevo for specific changes, like a FN+1 for full fan speed. Emailing Sager sure doesn't take very long to do. So yes, your comments about the lack of BIOS is laughable.

    As for perspective, yeah it is idiotic. You are writing from the perspective of someone who doesn't find Clevo appealing. Your review should be for people who interested in buying a Clevo, not reading your ridiculously biased, opinionated diatribe about Clevo's design. Just stick to what it is. Dimensions, weight, cooling, temps, performance whatever. People who are told about Clevo know what they are getting into. It's not a secret that a Clevo isn't designed for the shallow, fashion obsessed person who must fit in with the hipster crowd. For Clevo owners, a laptop isn't an accessory to our appearance and isn't a expression of vain needs. It's a machine, a gaming machine or for some a work tool. It doesn't need to be pretty.

    You said it yourself, Clevo markets to a small niche. Yup, you would be right on that. So your review should be for that small niche that is interested in buying a machine that caters to that small niche.
    Reply
  • hulawafu77 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Also for support, and updates, the way Clevo does it, may be unusual, but it sure works awesome. When the 7970M was found to be unable to work with the HM series, because they do not support switchable, Sager stepped in quick and within a month, Clevo sellers were selling Clevo 7970M with modded vBIOS so would work in a HM.

    I've mentioned Mythlogic before, they are full AMI Aptio servicer, and can even unlock Raid 5 for those who request it. Can you get that from Alienware? Can you get that from MSI? Nope, nope and nope.
    Reply
  • xtrophy - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Just wanted to put out there that I have owned a plethora of laptops. Of all the ones I have owned the Clevo feels the most solid of them all.

    I owned an M11x R2 and an M14xR1, both of them had serious hinge issues and both had creaks and issues with build quality.

    I had a second gen MBP and, while light, the over heating was too much of a problem. I was given the laptop by a friend after they upgraded to a desktop. After using it I have decided I would have never spent that much on a Mac.

    I prefer the solid feel of the Clevos. Their build quality far out reaches everything I have touched and, as I have stated before, That is not a small number. I've owned my own repair business in the past (I have since moved on to bigger and better things).

    I can make no comment on the Razer Blade, but I would (just like in the case with Macs) not pay that much money for dated hardware. Sure it has all the gimmicks, but to me there is no way those gimmicks are worth it in the long run.

    And don't get started on Alienware. I made that mistake. Twice. Want to know the sad part? I have to send the M11x in AGAIN to replace the hinges AGAIN because since I have given it to my fiancee, they have begun to crack and pop. Their "build quality" consists of "expensive materials" and a blender to put it all together.
    Reply
  • transphasic - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Jarred, I would like your honest opinion, appraisal, prognosis, and projection based on your experience and what you have seen so far regarding the "newest" comparison between the 680m and the 7970m AFTER the new AMD driver patches for the 7970m are released by the end of the year.
    In your professional estimation and based on what you seen thus far, will the 7970m be on par and and roughly equal to the 680m once the updated drivers are released for it?
    I ask this, because like a lot of other people here (and other forums as well) who own the 7970m were told big things about gaming performance ON PAPER that never translated into real-world results in the games we played due to under-utilization/Enduro problems, and so we are still seriously thinking of swapping out our cards for the much better 680m.
    If you were in this same position as we are, would you still swap out GPU's for the 680m even after the AMD patches are in place regardless of the big initial price difference or later upgrade swap-out cost (which would run about $700-$800 dollars according to what Sager told me)?

    Call me a "Doubting Thomas" here, but I am still very dubious and skeptical at this point of whether or not our 7970m GPU's will ever be on par in gaming or battery life with the 680m at any point regardless of what patch/update AMD puts out in the next 6 months.

    Your thoughts?
    Reply
  • hulawafu77 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    He already showed on the benchmarks he ran on many games, it's not far behind the Alienware. So with a few more iterations and fixes, hopefully be on par. He also said this isn't the finished hotfix that will be released, it wasn't even packaged properly and had issues installing it.

    As for 680M. C'mon be serious. The 680M costs $900 if you were to buy it separately, and it is about $300 more than 7970M from any Clevo reseller. You can hope, but why forego your brain and common sense? The difference between 7970M on my Clevo and a 680M equipped in many games, is not that far apart right now. Again, you're trying to have paid $50 for a cake but wanting it to be the $150 cake. Can't do both.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    If AMD does everything right, by the end of the year the HD 7970M should be roughly the same level as the GTX 680M -- faster in a few titles, slower in others. My recommendation (and I made it at the bottom of the 7970M conclusion) is that for a $2000 notebook, the better drivers and performance of the GTX 680M make it the better choice: 15% more money ($2300), 15% better performance, and drivers that work today.

    But if you already have the 7970M, would I try to buy the upgraded 680M? Unless you can return the 7970M for $600 and only pay the $300 difference, no I wouldn't. Maybe if you can return the whole notebook and get it with 680M that would work? Also, by the end of the year (or early next year), we'll probably be seeing another generation of high-end mobile GPUs. By the time AMD has 7970M fully fixed in terms of drivers, it will be their "last year's best AMD option". Anyway, wait for the Hotfix, test it in the games you want to play, and then decide if it's good enough or not.

    Also, testing several games on the P170EM with Optimus GTX 680M, the GTX 680M also has "underutilization" problems. Now, they may be to a lesser degree than the 7970M, and so far it's mostly at our Medium and High detail testing (e.g. not at Ultra). I'll be discussing this in part 2 of the P170EM review. It's possible that the root issue is simply the copying of frames, particularly at higher frame rates (lower settings). Whether you're at max detail or minimum detail, copying a 1920x1080 frame over the PCIe bus will use the same amount of bandwidth. I wouldn't think it's much of a problem (especially at PCIe 3.0 speeds), but it's still overhead. A 5-10% drop in some cases might be the cost of Optimus/Enduro.
    Reply
  • hulawafu77 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    I think this should also be put in perspective. Dell, Samsung and others make LOTS of laptops for the battery conscience and very good at it. Clevo in their current lineup, I don't see any thin and light. Even their slimmed down have GTX 660M, more powerful than the best Apple can offer. And even their 11" machine has a 650M. I agree, the battery life on Clevo pales compared to Alienware, but I think it should be stated differently. This is what you get from a company that doesn't make ANY thin and light notebooks made primarily for on the go battery efficiency. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Alienware proves that you can still get reasonable battery life without being "thin and light" -- at least if you want to. Clevo is also the company that for years fought off the trend of Optimus and only started supporting it with Sandy Bridge. I know people that hate the idea of Optimus, and I think there's still a place for discrete-only systems. Alienware covers both with their BIOS option to disable the iGPU, and Clevo could have done the same. Anyway, battery life is just one item on my list of things Clevo hasn't done as well as they could. Reply
  • hulawafu77 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    FYI Alienware are unlikely to do that in the future. MS, Nvidia, Intel and AMD all have concluded muxless switchable graphics is the best method and will be the standard.

    Alienware is designed for the mainstream crowd who are more interested in being able to brag about a brand name than being able to customize their laptop and paying a premium for it. And you forget, Clevo is the pioneer when it comes to laptop gaming. They were the first company to use MXM, the first to have SLI and CFX laptops. They are the industry leader, and standard setter for mobile gaming. Much of the cooling design, dual fan design and customization and upgradability is pioneered by Clevo. And this is what they are good at.

    Also I highly doubt that someone who buys a 17" Alienware will be using it for 4+ hours at a time on the battery. You can't game on it on battery still, so why bother using a 17" monster for 4+ hours browsing on Chrome? Sure it's just on aspect of your review, but you sure hammered it in, Clevo are inept at battery life. I think for many Clevo owners, we're just happy we even have battery life.
    Reply
  • hulawafu77 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    I think this review was great. I just believe the audience for a Clevo is not the same as perspective this review was written from. The people who buy Clevo are not the same crowd who are looking for a brand name notebook so they can proudly show off their billboard fashion sense. It's not the crowd that is going to be focused on the aesthetics or even how amazing the keyboard is. I find the keyboard to be lacking also, but it's exaggerated. It's functional and it works. I've used the keyboard for work for months now and I haven't had issues with it, whether I'm working on the database, data entry or working on marketing material.

    I think your preference in notebooks shows clearly. Obviously the Samsung Series 7 is your cup of tea. I'm quite the opposite, I don't want a silver notebook, I want a beast matte finished, uninteresting notebook. I don't want attention or stares. I don't want to advertise that I have a $2000 laptop to the world. Alienware, MSI, Asus with their eye catching design, scream, I'm expensive, I'm worth a pretty penny, steal me, touch me. No one wants to look at my laptop or touch it, they don't care, and that's just dandy with me.

    Also I differ on your opinion on the display ports. I like em in the back and appreciate that. When I connect a display to my machine, I don't have the display to the right or left of me, it's behind my laptop. So for me, personally, it makes perfect sense. This way I don't have a cable jutting out from the side and jerked backwards. Just me I guess, but makes a whole lot of sense to me.
    Reply
  • mrhumble1 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Dood, you are a little too harsh on the design of the Sager/Clevo chassis.

    I own a NP9150 and will be the first to admit it's no looker. However, we (gamers) do not buy these things for their looks. We want to impress people by quoting specs, not be showing it off in a coffee shop.

    Also, you complain about the HDMI port being on the back. So you think it would be better placed on the side?? Really?? I plug my laptop into my entertainment center via HDMI (like a console, but much better visuals) and I would find it very cumbersome if the port was on the side.

    Finally, the keyboard. I seriously think you got a bad one. I think the keyboard is just fine, and I am not alone.

    So you end up saying "it's really fast so if that's what you are looking for then it's a good option". Huh?? If it IS what one is looking for then it's a total winner.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    HDMI port on the side would be preferable in my book, yes. Reaching behind the notebook to plug in a display is cumbersome, and if you close the display then the system goes into hibernate/sleep mode (unless you disable that, but then when you forget it's disabled and you close the lid and nothing happens you get irritated that you disabled the option).

    My conclusion is more correctly stated as: P170EM is really fast and it's less expensive than an Alienware and about the same price as an MSI. All three are still expensive, however, and if you can try them all out in person you may find you really like one more than the other. You also need to make sure you really want a top-end gaming notebook, as there are other notebooks that cost less and can still deliver a good gaming experience (though not with all settings cranked to 11).

    Personally, I would take the M17x R4, even though it costs more. I'd probably buy the cheapest model other than the GPU, and I'd upgrade the RAM and storage on my own since it would be less expensive that way. But if you prefer a matte LCD, I'd probably go for the MSI (better keyboard than the Clevo IMO, and better LCD than the glossy mirror on the M17x). And if you don't care about the keyboard the Clevo is fine.

    It's okay to buy a laptop that doesn't look awesome; the most important aspect is how you think the laptop feels. Buying to impress people with specs, on the other hand... well, people do it but I certainly don't condone e-penis contests! For me personally, the Clevo keyboard doesn't feel good. And for the record, I have two P170EM units as well as a P150EM undergoing testing. I guess the keys aren't necessarily loose... they're just flat with horrible key travel. It feels as bad to me as typing on the first generation Ultrabooks, which is unbelievable for a chassis that's nearly two inches thick.
    Reply
  • mrhumble1 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Yeah my point wasn't very well made regarding "impressing with specs." I meant it's a lot easier to forgive a laptop for being ugly when you note that it's much more powerful than any other laptop. Mentioning this is not bragging, but noting the point of owning this laptop is so it can play games with settings maxed out.

    The typing experience really boils down to personal preference. I am typing on the NP9150 and I actually prefer this keyboard to the one I have at work. I have always liked tight laptop keyboards though, so it's right up my alley. You might want to just state your opinion and note that "your mileage may vary". You might hate it, but it's certainly not BAD.

    Finally, you spend a lot of time comparing it to other laptops and not focusing on its own merits. The advantage of the Clevo chassis is that you basically get to build your own. 15", 17", hard drive vs optical vs empty bay, memory options, GPU options, etc. I just checked, and Dell doesn't even offer a 15" model. If you want the most options for a reasonable cost (yes it's expensive but you get a LOT) then Sager/Clevo is really the best way to get exactly what you want.
    Reply
  • hulawafu77 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    So when you look for a gaming machine, you are more concerned about it being metal (heavy/hot) and looking pretty, and the keyboard than getting the most performance for your money and the best available choices on LCD? There is only one component that I look at 100% of the time when I'm using my laptop and that is the LCD. The keyboard is not a big deal since if I'm gaming, I'm plugged in to A/C, I can easily just attach an external keyboard is it's that big of a deal, but it isn't. For the majority of people buying a Clevo, they won't have problems with the keyboard. Reply
  • TrantaLocked - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    I personally do not buy a laptop to impress AT ALL (responding to both mrhumble and Jarred). Buying to impress is for self-centered, materialistic fools. I buy electronics for actual reasons. I bought the Sager NP9150 because it offered the best available hardware in a decent frame at a relatively good price. To get what I wanted in an Alienware would have costed me an extra $300-$400, while if I had gone with an MSI or Asus I would have sacrificed not being able to get the 7970m. Reply
  • htwingnut - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    First of all, good review. I know what it can take to write an extensive and exhaustive review of a product. But I do have a few nitpicks mainly as a long time Sager/Clevo user and owner of many Sager notebooks. Many of them nitpicks, but that's just how I am.

    First of all I feel like a little bit of bias towards Alienware in general. As far as cost, if you price our a system with GTX 680m, i7-3720QM, 256GB SSD, blu-ray, 16GB RAM, the cost difference is around $700. Fairly significant. While base prices aren't too far off, AW tends to gig the customer with any add-ons. There is a little added value in an AW over a Clevo, but imho not close to $700 worth. Plus you don't have the options for decent screens or more configurability like you do with a Sager.

    You mentioned about "GPU being held back by CPU". Just note that the i7-3610QM is way more than adequate to fuel any mobile GPU, 680m SLI included. I recorded CPU useage during gaming and benchmarks using a Sager NP9370 with 680m in SLI and average CPU use was typically 30-50%, with peak use less than 80%. Just something for users to be aware of that a faster CPU isn't needed for gaming.

    Now RAM. You likely received XMP RAM, not RAM with JEDEC timings for 1600MHz. Sure the Clevo BIOS has its limitations, but it can also be circumvented using Intel's XTU software. Secondly, RAM speed is irrelevant when gaming. I've done numerous benchmarking using different CAS timings, speeds, and even single sticks and it made zero difference in most case. Most of the speed sensitivity is with the GPU.

    Your complaint about the warranty is unfounded. ASUS and MSI offer 2 year warranties, and Alienware only 1. But adding any additional time on it is very expensive compared with +$79 for 2 yr and +$149 for 3 yr with the sager. I don't find issue with this at all. One thing that is beneficial with Sager/Clevo notebooks is the configurability. You only spend what you want, configured how you want, not forced into something you don't want or need. Plus Sager's warranty work turnaround time is quick.

    I agree the keyboard isn't the best, but it isn't that bad. I can still easily crank out 80+WPM error-free when needed. It does have occasional missed keys, but many keyboards I've used do that. The backlighting isn't intended to be a trans siberian orchestra light show, it's there to see the keys. I guess if you want lots of configurations or control over it AW is the only way to go, but not worth the $700 up charge as noted earlier.

    The touchpad isn't the best, but it's more than sufficient. This kind of laptop most users use a mouse with it. It's not the most portable machine so users aren't likely going to use the touchpad much so why invest in something that is low priority for users.

    Your comment "as long as the components hold up" is also unfounded. You rarely ever hear of a Clevo machine "falling apart" because of the materials chosen. Again, it gets back to the purpose and intent of Clevo, it's performance over form, and they make form perfectly robust to last 3-4 years at least. There is nothing wrong with the materials or construction.

    Comment that you want "HDMI on side instead of back" is purely personal preference. I prefer my video connections on back so they aren't in the way of my other cables. It is unfortunate though that there is no dual link DVI.

    Regarding the BIOS and comment "BIOS isn't something Clevo generally supplies" is not true. While they don't post them on their site, just a quick email to support they will provide you with the latest. They update frequently and fix issues and add support for other hardware and add features. I guess it's their way of preventing too many bricks. Why not email AVADirect or Clevo for an updated BIOS and I bet you get a response with an updated file in 24 hours (business days of course).

    A couple other nit picks, you note battery is 77WHr, it's actually 89WHr unless AVA Direct skimped on the battery . And the note about a $75 blu-ray add-on is superfluous considering it's a $100 add-on through Alienware. Again, users have the option to even remove the optical drive completely. Something AW doesn't let you do.

    Ok, sounds like a lot of negative, but the review is good. Look forward to 680m benchmarks. I do hope AMD fixes the Enduro issues because I hate to keep having to fork over an exorbitant sum of cash for top end nVidia hardware with my next laptop.
    Reply
  • hulawafu77 - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Well done. And I've created a thread asking feedback about the approach AnandTech took regarding this notebook. I'd like to note another reviewer of AnandTech cannot praise the Razer Blade enough even though the special CPU Razer claimed was customized for them is 50% slower in some benches and the 660M is slower in nearly every single game, sometimes 15 less than a 11" Clevo with a 650M. If you have to gimp and throttle so much because the cooling can't handle it, that's not a gaming machine. It's a pretty decoration. Also note the reviewer is a MacBook owner. Yeah true hardcore notebook gamer. Razer wants to say that is the only true gaming laptop? Yeah I disagree, I'd call that a shameless MacBook clone.

    I'd also like to stress to anyone reading, yes the Clevo is made of plastic, but I see no issues with it. I've owned Asus, Thinkpads, Dell, Compaq, Acer, AST, Packard Bell, HP notebooks in the past, and I have more confidence in this Clevo lasting 5+ years more than any other laptop I've owned. Also FYI to others, a plastic casing doesn't get as hot as a metal case, and it's a lot lighter. Ever touched a MacBook under stress? I have, I thought I burnt my hand.

    As for CPU, I also saw a thread in which a desktop owner with a GTX 680 decided to upgraded to Ivey 3770K from his first gen i7 870. On average his improvement in FPS was .5-1 FPS. That shows how much CPU matters for games these days. Any quad core Intel i7 is not likely to be bottleneck, and we're talking about a beast GTX 680 here.

    I agree with the ram. My G73JH has 1333 CL11 ram, and the P150EM I got CL9 1600 ram. Just for fun I put in 2x4GB 1600 CL9 in the G73JH. There was ZERO FPS improvements. Although it's fun to say I have the fastest ram allowed in my machine, it wouldn't make any difference, luckily ram is so cheap. A lot cheaper FYI than buying from Razer or Alienware, Alienware charges $250 for the ram upgrade I did for $68.

    I agree about the touchpad. I'd say even on the go, a lot of Clevo owners have posted they just buy on the go wireless mouse, and prefer them like the Razer Orochi. I personally love my Logitech Performance MX which can be used on any surface wherever I am. Touchpad is more than adaquate if I need to use it. Double tap, zoom in, zoom out, two finger scroll, no issues.

    I'd also like to add, AnanTech is constantly complaining about IPS display. This is not necessary. The TN 95% gamut matte display in the P150EM outperforms some IPS displays, as found by some Lenovo owners, to their surprise, after calibration of course. Sure it doesn't have as good viewing angles, but you have to be looking at extreme angle to see a problem. But for color accuracy, brightness, contrast, it can beat many IPS displays, even desktop ones. So I think AnandTech should just stick to asking OEM's to provide more options on high quality panels, doesn't have to be IPS. Actually the best panels are not IPS. Samsung and AOU both have panel tech (currently not available for laptop), that are much better than LG's IPS displays, using different, newer, better tech.

    Like I said before, I think the perspective of this article is different from that of those who bought a Clevo. And I hope it stays that way. I do not want to pay extra just because Clevo decided to emulate Alienware or become another Apple clone, that would be awful.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    You guys are taking this as though I've crucified Clevo and made them out to be the worst thing ever. I don't feel I did that, and it certainly wasn't my intention; I've merely pointed out what I perceive as flaws or shortcomings. I've modified the language a bit on the keyboard just to make it clear where I'm coming from, but there's no way you can convince me it's more comfortable than other options when my hands and carpals are yelling at me.

    Obviously, some of this is entirely subjective: what I think about the keyboard is entirely based on my opinion as someone typing on said keyboard. I don't have any meaningful way of benchmarking keyboards because it's entirely personal, but you can read my other reviews and see what I like/dislike and go from there. It's not even about typing speed; with practice I can type fast on just about any keyboard, but I find certain keyboards are fatiguing to use and cause me physical pain after a while. Actually, all keyboards cause me pain after enough typing, but some bring on discomfort far earlier than others -- the Clevo keyboard is among them.

    For the other items with build quality, let's just take the plastic construction aspect. I would rather have a mag-alloy frame under the exterior on a high-end notebook. You can use plastic on the outside if you want, but I feel a sturdier frame is desirable. Injection molded plastic is what you find on everything from $200 netbooks to $1000 consumer notebooks, all built with the goal of keeping costs down. Granted, some use thicker plastic than others (Clevo certainly does), but it's basically a cost saving measure done instead of going for higher quality. That doesn't mean build quality is horrific, but it's not really above average either. I'd rate Clevo's chassis as being roughly at the same level as the ASUS G-series, the MSI G-series, and certain Toshiba notebooks.

    I do note that the customization options are good with Clevo whitebook vendors, and that's one of the major reasons to go with them over an Alienware or other OEM build. In fact, that's the major reason to go with them I'd say, though you can find companies that offer similar configurability on MSI and ASUS chassis.

    Regarding warranties (this is for htwingnut, who it sounds like works for Sager?), I know that other big OEMs offer 1-year standard warranties. I'm saying I want the boutiques to do better than the big guys. Be nimble and put your support behind a product. If my motherboard goes out after 13 months for some reason, it should be replaced. The same goes for fans, hard drives, LCDs, etc. If I drop a notebook, that's a different matter, but in general use I would like some guarantee that a high-end notebook should be trouble free for three years. Is that asking too much?

    Also, the battery: http://images.anandtech.com/galleries/2353/P170EM%...
    I'm not sure why some people seem to think that I just guess at some of this stuff and don't do any research.

    It's the BIOS stuff as well; I know there are ways to get BIOS updates, and I disagree strongly with Clevo in how those should be provided. I want the manufacturer to provide every single user with a BIOS and manufacturer explanation on how to flash. I want them to update the BIOS for the public when there are problems. I don't want to have to send an email to the vendor asking for a BIOS update, or go to a forum for Sager/Clevo users where I can find official but not officially supported BIOS versions.

    I asked AVADirect about this and got the response, "Clevo does offer updated BIOS versions, but on a very limited basis. They're not very open to provide BIOS updates to the public. Even as a Clevo reseller, we have to request specific notebook BIOs versions to obtain access." Either AVADirect is lying/exaggerating, or Clevo is unwilling to do what every single other notebook manufacturer I can think of does: provide public BIOS updates on their web site. Yes, it's a problem, and if you're okay with this sort of "awesome" support I guess that's your decision. If you have an ASUS, Samsung, Dell, HP, Acer, etc. laptop and you need a new BIOS, you go to the site and get it (granted, assuming there is one). Again, in my opinion, Clevo as basically a boutique notebook supplier should again be doing better here than the large OEMs.
    Reply
  • ckevin1 - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    I own the last generation of this Clevo series, a sager 151 with the 460m. I think Jared is on the mark with the criticisms of this line, and the tradeoffs you make. The point is that it can still be a good buy (even a very good one) but everyone should go into the purchase fully aware of the tradeoffs.

    In my experience, the weight, performance, and screen were all absolutely top notch -- that was what sold me. And I've been very happy with it, despite its faults. I still prefer it for gaming over my MBP, thanks to Apple's idiotic crusade against the right mouse button and crappy BootCamp drivers that make right click dragging impossible.

    The negatives definitely include the keyboard -- mushy, causing me to miss keystrokes until I adapted to the greater pressure required. I was disappointed at first, but it became a non-issue over time. On the other hand, the lack of home and end keys in the new model is so mind-numbingly stupid that it probably would have been a deal breaker for me.

    The plastic is another negative. My laptop is about a year and a half old, and generally stays on a desk at home, but somehow it still got a crack in an internal standoff in the back right corner. The result is that the tabs on a small 3/4" x 1/4" corner piece next to the hinge will no longer stay in place, and it keeps falling off. I'm going to have the chassis apart and epoxy the standoff, probably, to get rid of the flex that allows the tabs to keep popping out.

    It sounds like improvement has been made on the touchpad at least; aluminum has to be better than the rough plastic texture from last generation, which started showing wear almost immediately.
    Reply
  • mrhumble1 - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    I can also verify the battery I have in my new NP9150 is 76.96Wh (5200mAh). I would LOVE to get an upgraded battery. I only get a few hours out of it. Reply
  • htwingnut - Friday, October 05, 2012 - link

    Wait wut? Work for Sager? Hardly. That's not a very fair comment. I've owned and used most every major brand laptop under the sun. I just happen to own two Sagers at the moment, and over the years has become my laptop of choice due to cost, performance, configuration, and ease of maintenance/upgrading.

    I don't disagree there could be some things improved, or think that Sager is perfect, but I was countering some issues you brought up that were either incorrect or perfectly personal opinion/bias is all. I even mentioned the keyboard isn't that great, the touchpad is average, and

    Sure I would like a magnesium alloy construction, but I understand the cost implications. And as stated there is nothing wrong with the durability of the materials as it stands.

    Regarding warranty, I don't think 1 year is great, but it's also pretty standard with most laptops. It's like slamming Ford, GM, or Chrysler for only offering 3/36 warranties on their cars when VW offers 4/50. If you want more, buy more, and at a very reasonable cost compared to competition.

    My bad on the battery, it is 79WHr..

    I wouldn't consider Sager a "boutique" laptop, it's really a rebranded Sager that they add the components too. There are some really great "boutique" Clevo based laptops, Mythlogic for one, that offer superb support and and great warranties.

    In any case I digress.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 05, 2012 - link

    Sorry... I just thought I saw something where you said "our [something]" when discussing Sager. I didn't mean it as an attack which is why I put a question mark. If someone officially works for a company and wants to engage in a dialog, that's more than welcome -- we just appreciate knowing who a person is and whom they work for.

    And in the interest of full disclosure, I believe you do write for Notebookreview -- or is that an unpaid hobby? Anyway, I know my review ruffled some feathers over there, but you know what they say about opinions....

    I have edited/toned down/clarified some of the commentary on the keyboard and other elements. My discussion of the build materials was also perhaps not entirely clear. I note that the highest end in terms of materials quality (though it has drawbacks like weight) is doing a machined aluminum build, and that such a design would likely jack up the price $500. But I do feel the addition of brushed aluminum veneers is still "putting lipstick on a pig" -- you can dress up the exterior all you want, but underneath there's nothing special.

    Incidentally, I personally find the aesthetic of the P150EM far better than the P170EM, even though it's still mostly plastic. The keyboard still feels the same, but at least there it matches the chassis size nearly perfectly. Because the chassis isn't as large, the plastic doesn't feel as flimsy (not that it's flimsy per se, but everything has more give on a larger chassis), and the soft touch coating is nice -- I'm a sucker for that, but I'm not sure how it holds up long-term.

    Finally, regarding boutiques, I basically use that as a somewhat generic label to mean, "They're not a huge OEM and offers more customization options than you can get from a Dell/HP/etc." Some might consider Clevo to be a "large ODM", but for me they're basically a smaller whitebook vendor that targets a market niche, and nearly all of the resellers fall into the "boutique" category. I don't mean this as a bad thing either; I think most boutiques are able to offer a far more personal level of service than what you get from the big guys.
    Reply
  • htwingnut - Saturday, October 06, 2012 - link

    My reviewing is an unpaid hobby, purely. There's no money in reviewing (well you likely know), at least not enough to support a family on unless you get one of the few lucrative positions out there.

    I guess we can agree to disagree. Would I like a solid metal chassis? Sure. Is it necessary or practical strictly imho? No.

    I find Asus and MSI comparable as far as materials. Alienware is one step up in that regard, but I find the rest of the flashy nature a distraction and unnecessary IMHO.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, October 07, 2012 - link

    No, I don't think we disagree too much... that is about how I feel about the various options in terms of build quality. I guess the disagreement is: would you pay more for it? If I could get a Clevo with a mag-alloy frame for $100 more, I'd say that would be worthwhile; $200 more would be questionable, and at $300+ more they'd need to have build quality every bit as good as mobile workstations. It could certainly be done, but you may be right: the target market may simply now be willing to pay for it. Reply
  • TrantaLocked - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    Clevo has no issue with battery life management. The W110ER is the BEST performing per watt-hour, and it has the same GT 650m and 45W i7 processor as the Samsung. Simply put, the EM series laptops are designed not to save energy as they are targeted at gamers. It won't clock down as much, and the 7970m still needs a lot more energy to run. The Alienware models are based on the 680m, which is quite a bit better with power than the 7970m. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 05, 2012 - link

    W110ER is best according to what, our charts? That's why I mentioned the SECOND W110ER that I tested, which got battery life as follows:

    Idle: 217 minutes
    Internet: 209 minutes
    H.264: 187 minutes

    Notice the similarity to the P170EM numbers? And I ran those tests myself (twice on each test, listing the higher result for each). I even tried with two different drives, one an SSD and one a Momentus XT. I couldn't figure out why the battery life was so much worse than what Vivek got with the Eurocom Monster 1.0, though we talked about it later and it's possible the improvement was because he did a clean install of Windows whereas I used the supplied install from Clevo.

    Speaking of which, that's an interesting idea: maybe I need to try a clean install of Win7 on the P170EM and see if battery life is the same, better, or worse?
    Reply
  • htwingnut - Friday, October 05, 2012 - link

    No, battery life using stock Clevo BIOS sucks, period. Latest EC/BIOS helps, getting about 5 hours with basic wi-fi use on W110ER though. So there are improvements being made.

    The Monster 1.0 battery life is curious at best. But I guess with proper tuning in the BIOS and settings I guess it's possible to exceed 5 hours.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 05, 2012 - link

    Realistically, with a properly tuned BIOS and a 62Wh battery, the W110ER ought to be able to last 8+ hours. Look at the Samsung Series 7: 77Wh battery and a 17.3" LCD and it manages over seven hours idle and six hours Internet. There's no reason an Intel-based laptop can't come close to the numbers put up by AMD's Trinity, especially in light use scenarios. I've actually got a dual-core IVB laptop in now, so I'm going to be interested in seeing what sort of battery life that gets (Dell Latitude E6430s if you're curious). My bet is it will be about equal to Trinity in efficiency. Reply
  • htwingnut - Saturday, October 06, 2012 - link

    Part of the issue in the W110ER is how it handles Optimus. Until recent drivers the GPU never fully shut down (so we think based on some anecdotal evidence). 305.53 and latest driver seem to do it properly. Where system was draining 14-15W with wi-fi on, 40% brightness, it now draws 11-12W. For a 45W CPU, I find that about normal. The latest ME, EC, BIOS updates do help quite a bit. I am getting over 5 hours just casual use with a dual core i5-3360m that I'm testing at the moment. Will compare against the i7-3610QM when done.

    For 8 hours battery the W110ER would have to consume no more than 7.5W. That means 7.5W total for wi-fi, lcd, CPU, RAM, HDD/SSD. Not very realistic. That's about the power drain of the M11x R1 with a 10W ULV CPU. The LCD in the W110ER also has a high power draw for such a small screen.

    The Samsung Series 7 is quite spectacular for sure. I'm curious however if Samsung employed some voltage reduction measures and dropped CPU speed to achieve that power draw. Can you check voltage and CPU speed at idle unplugged on that machine? Using Throttlestop I can drop speed to 800MHz, but voltage is same so it doesn't really matter. Samsung are also masters a optimization. Not an excuse for Clevo or any other manufacturer, but in the end, it also does affect cost. A 17" with low end quad core and GT 650m for $1350 compared with laptops for $400-$500 cheaper with similar specs.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, October 07, 2012 - link

    With an 11.6" LCD, I think 8W idle is perfectly realistic with Ivy Bridge. M11x actually isn't that awesome on power savings either; I've seen quad-core Sandy Bridge draw only 10W idle with a 17.3" LCD, though.

    As for the Samsung Series 7, idle clocks are 1.2GHz, just like they should be. Voltage on the CPU is apparently 0.826 to 0.846 at those clocks; I assume there's some "luck of the draw" there, but I don't know what normal is supposed to be.

    Anyway, you're probably right: with the latest drivers and firmware updates, the W110ER should be doing much better than the second unit I tested, and hopefully close to what we measured on the initial Monster 1.0 review.
    Reply
  • Tijgert - Sunday, October 14, 2012 - link

    I'm on the virge of deciding what to buy and am on the edge of my seat to read part two of the 680m/7970m face-off in the P170EM...

    Any sign of that yet?
    Reply

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