CyberPower X6-9300: Checking Out Clevo’s P151HM

We’ve looked at more than a few Clevo notebooks over the years, and we’ve had our ups and downs. Most recently, we’ve been impressed by the LCD used in their P150HM, and the Xplorer X6-9300 from CyberPower we’re looking at today uses the Clevo P151HM chassis with the same beautiful, matte 1080p panel as the P150HM. Pricing is good and performance is right where you’d expect from the component choices, so if you’re after an affordable gaming notebook with an awesome display, you can almost stop right here. Almost. The catch of course is that it’s still a Clevo chassis, so there are some compromises and omissions you’ll have to deal with.

CyberPower offers a wealth of configuration options for the X6-9300, and they sent us a moderately loaded notebook for review. The table below summarizes the test configuration in bold, with alternatives listed in a standard font.

CyberPower Xplorer X6-9300 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i3-2310M (dual-core 2.10, 35W)
Intel Core i5-2410M (dual-core 2.30-2.90GHz, 35W)
Intel Core i7-2630QM (quad-core 2.00-2.90GHz, 45W)
Intel Core i7-2720QM (quad-core 2.20-3.30GHz, 45W)
Intel Core i7-2820QM (quad-core 2.30-3.40GHz, 45W)
Intel Core i7-2920XM (quad-core 2.50-3.50GHz, 55W)
Chipset Intel HM65
Memory 1x4GB + 1x2GB DDR3-1333
2x4GB DDR-1333 (CL9)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M 1.5GB GDDR5
192 SPs, 675/1350/2500MHz Core/Shader/RAM clocks
Display 15.6” LED Anti-Glare 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
(AU Optronics B156HW1-v1)
Hard Drive(s) 250, 320, 500, 640, 750GB 5400RPM HDD
250, 320, 500, 750GB 7200RPM HDD
30 to 256GB SSDs from various vendors

500GB 7200RPM HDD
(Seagate Momentus 7200.4 ST9500420AS)
Optical Drive 8X Tray-Load DVDRW(TSST Corp TS-L633F)
Blu-ray Reader/DVDRW Combo
Blu-ray Writer/DVDRW
Networking Gigabit Ethernet(JMicron JMC250)
802.11n WiFi (Realtek RTL8191SEvB)
802.11n WiFi + Bluetooth 3.0 (Intel Advanced-N 6230)
802.11n WiFi (Intel Ultimate-N 6300)
802.11n WiFi (Killer Wireless-N 1102)
Audio Realtek ALC892
2.1 Speakers + THX TruStudio Pro (Stereo speakers and subwoofer)
Four audio jacks (Microphone, Headphone, Line-In, Line-Out)
Capable of 5.1 digital output (HDMI/SPDIF)
Battery 8-Cell, 14.8V, 5.2Ah, 77Wh
Front Side IR Receiver
Left Side Memory Card Reader
Mini FireWire
1 x USB 2.0
2 x USB 3.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Right Side Optical Drive
Headphone/Microphone/Line-In/Line-Out
1 x USB 2.0
Kensington Lock
Back Side 2 x Exhaust vent
1 x eSATA/USB 2.0 Combo
HDMI
Dual-Link DVI-D
AC Power
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 14.8” x 10.08” x 1.38-1.69” (WxDxH)
Weight 6.93 lbs (with 8-cell battery)
Extras 2MP Webcam
Flash reader (SD, MMC, MS)
Fingerprint Scanner
98-Key keyboard with 10-key
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
Life-time technical support
Pricing Starting Price: $1094
Price as configured: $1322

We received a moderate configuration, all things considered, but the price even with the upgrades still comes in at a compelling $1322. We’d love to get a decent SSD in there, like the OCZ Vertex 3 240GB, but that would bump the price up nearly 50%. It’s a shame there’s not a second HDD bay, as a moderate 60GB SSD for the OS and apps paired with a larger 750GB HDD would be a great combination. (Of course, you could use the optical bay with an appropriate Clevo adapter—note, I’m not familiar with that site, but it’s one of the few places that clearly stocks the correct part.) Outside of the quad-core CPU and the 8GB memory, everything is stock. The 1-year only warranty is also a bit of a concern; notebooks go through a lot more use and abuse than desktops, and ponying up for a 3-year warranty often works out well in the long run. With CyberPower, your only choice is their default warranty, though you do get unlimited technical support.

All of the important specs are present, with USB 3.0, eSATA, and Firewire available should you need them. The fingerprint scanner is something a lot of people prefer over typing a password, and there’s a flash memory reader on the side. I’m still not sold on putting the video, power, and eSATA ports on the back of the chassis, but some people like that approach—just be careful if you ever tip the notebook back. Also interesting is that Clevo skips VGA and DisplayPort and instead includes a dual-link DVI port on the back—just in case you want to hook up to a 30” LCD.

The notebook itself looks virtually identical to the P150HM, except the soft-touch coating is gone and in its place is standard ABS plastic. I actually liked the rubberized paint texture so this feels like a downgrade, but the touchpad benefits because I don’t want my finger to stick when tracking. We also get the same old story of matte plastic literally everywhere, except for the screen bezel. That’s a double whammy when you factor in the anti-glare LCD, so you thankfully lose the reflections there but get them around the border. I frankly just don’t get why manufacturers go this route.

The other issue is a familiar refrain: the keyboard and its layout. Key travel isn’t very good, and while you can type on it well enough, the number keypad makes the layout for that element useless. The keys themselves also feel a little small, especially when you consider this is a 15.6” chassis. Of course the keyboard layout was pretty much set in stone a year (or three) ago, and if you want the rest of the notebook you’re going to have to live with the keyboard. I’m sitting here typing this out on the keyboard right now, and it’s certainly not the worst experience in the world (that would be a 10” or smaller netbook in my book), but besides the layout I really wish it had a backlit keyboard to go with the other premium components.

Clevo has a THX TruStudio PRO sticker on the P151HM (just like the MSI we’ll get to in a minute), and the chassis sports a 2.1 speaker configuration. Unfortunately, while music and games don’t sound bad, the P151HM is not at the same level as the Dell XPS 15 (or the MSI we’ll look at in a moment). Even with the subwoofer, audio comes across as tinny and lacks bass response, so you’d want a set of good headphones (or speakers) for serious audio. At least the speakers don’t actually rattle and distort at maximum volume, and they’re fine for general use, but gaming and movie viewing come up short.

We’ve got one more laptop to discuss before we get to the benchmarks, but the X6-9300 puts in a good showing. Pricing is better than many similarly equipped alternatives, and the LCD alone is worth the cost of entry. As far as gaming notebooks go, the 2630QM and GTX 460M is the current sweet spot. With the 460M, you have enough GPU performance to handle medium to high quality gaming at 1080p, without the high price premium of faster GPUs like the 485M or 6970M. On something like the Clevo P150HM from AVADirect, it’s $225 to move from the GTX 460M to the HD 6970M, and that’s a sizeable performance jump. Unfortunately, the P150HM also carries a $110 premium over the P151HM, so it’s actually a $335 upgrade at AVADirect, and CyberPower has better pricing on the P151HM so it ends up being a over $500 extra to move from the X6-9300 we’re reviewing to a P150HM with HD 6970M. If only the P151HM had support for Optimus, this would be a do-everything, go-anywhere notebook; instead, it’s a gaming notebook with plenty of performance and a great screen, but only so-so battery life.

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  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 14, 2011 - link

    Yeah, the price is the big sticking point, plus I'd still rather have a GeForce 460M + Optimus instead of the Quadro 2000M. I'm not sure why NVIDIA doesn't use GDDR5 for the Quadro 2000M, since that's the only major bottleneck it has. Maybe VRAM bandwidth isn't that critical for Quadro's normal use cases? Reply
  • chrnochime - Saturday, May 14, 2011 - link

    You can't have everything on your laundry list of requirements and still want them to charge the same amount of money as these ones you're offering. Pony up the money or put up with the compromises. Reply
  • chrnochime - Saturday, May 14, 2011 - link

    Dammit I mean "these ones you're reviewing." Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 14, 2011 - link

    Take the P151HM, which you can get as configured for about $1300. Now add in Optimus and spend $200 improving the keyboard and chassis. Are you saying that's not possible? Because $200 would go a long way towards fixing the few complaints I had with that design -- I figure $50 for a new keyboard layout with backlighting, and the remaining $150 can be put towards a magnesium alloy chassis. Add in maybe $25 extra to do Optimus (there's no additional hardware required, just enable the feature in the BIOS AFAIK) and you'd have my $1500 "dream" laptop.

    The fact that Lenovo's W520 can be purchased on sale for $1500 with nearly everything in my list proves it can be done--and Lenovo would still make money if they sold every W520 at that price, but they want to make more money.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Saturday, May 14, 2011 - link

    I heard about them a few years ago with the 1st generation MSI wind netbooks. The reason they have the retarded tap the corner to scroll instead of the more common swipe the edge behavior is that Synaptics has a patent on the latter. I don't know if they refuse to license it or if Sentelic is just too cheap; although the fact that Synaptic has a stranglehold on the touchpad market makes me suspect the former. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, May 14, 2011 - link

    Jarred, I am very glad you seemed to take to heart one of the points I made in my last bitch session of a laptop review. Well, at least you seemed to mirror one of my beliefs( in text ).

    Still, I think you would do very well, to educate your readers further. At first, I thought about Anand's comprehensive SSD write up in this context, but I am not sure how that might work in this case. On another semi related point. I still see no mention of driver support. This is very important.

    Passed that, I think most readers understand how you feel about certain aspect of different laptops. Personally though, I would rather not read two or more sentences about how you feel about black glossy plastic. In my case, it is a waste of your time to elaborate any further passed " it has a black glossy shell" or whatever. I do not like black glossy plastic either. but guess what ? My own personal laptop is gloss black . . . We never get exactly what we want.

    A companies case build policies to me, is something you should be taking up with them, and not us. Not to mention that this kind of "thought" in a review can be construed as being biased against the company. Whether truly fact, or not. Now, if the case felt flimsy, or like the screen might snap off in a short period of time of use . . .then sure thats something we should know.

    I can say that my personal use case for a laptop is completely different from yours most of the time. Which in of its self is something to consider. For you, and myself both. This is to say, several of the things that are important to you, are not important to me. Maybe there is some way to format different aspects in a way, where readers can easily take notice, and just skip altogether ? Just a thought. E.g. keyboard, and trackpad functionality are nearly irrelevant. For me, if they work, that is good enough. If I need to do any serious typing, or have need for accurate cursor placement, I *will* use external input devices. No mater where I am, or where I am going with my laptop.

    Anyhow, I felt like this was a decent review, although I care about neither product. I have always liked your reviews Jarred, because for the most part I feel when you review a product you are mostly thorough. Take my niggles for what they're worth, but do please seriously consider adding in driver support/stability comments. I am sure many readers of yours would appreciate that.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 14, 2011 - link

    Driver support is generally fine on any NVIDIA, AMD, or Intel graphics card these days. The reference drivers from all three companies work with the vast majority of notebooks. If there's a problem (e.g. Toshiba opting out of AMD's mobile driver program), I'll make a note of it, but otherwise I haven't seen anything with respect to drivers that concerns me. Granted, if you want to be able to go to, say, MSI and grab all the latest drivers, that might be a bigger problem. I usually go directly to the component manufacturer, so NVIDIA, AMD, Intel, Realtek, etc. sites are where I check. Not sure if that answers your question -- is there something specific you want me to comment on? Stability, incidentally, was top notch on both notebooks, with no crashes or unexpected reboots. Reply
  • bhima - Saturday, May 14, 2011 - link

    Well balanced review overall. I decided to pick up a clevo based laptop as well, but one with Optimus. The main reason I picked a clevo over the Dell was because I could configure the clevo with a 96% RGB color gamut matte screen (the exact same one that is offered as an upgrade to the W series ThinkPads). Dell glossy screens have a habit of being really "glossy" and I just can't take it anymore. Just like glossy plastic is going out of style, I hope glossy screens for laptops do as well. Reply
  • Hrel - Sunday, May 15, 2011 - link

    I agree with your summation. The Clevo seems like the best of the offerings but has flaws I don't want to live with. I really really wish you could get the G53SW in for review, as as long as the screen is good I'd take it. I agree with your wish for a laptop that doesn't exist too; except I don't care much about the speakers. I'd rather the price not get over 1200 than have uber speakers inside my laptop. If I really care I'll use headsets or external speakers or Logitech's clip on speaker. I could live with the 555M GPU as well, as long as it doesn't cost more than 1200. Laptop guys, DO NOT include Blu Ray; that's literally worth nothing to me. Discs are so last decade.

    Since I'm wishing, Asus, or whoever, put your chassis on cyberpower.com as a whitebox or at the very least with the option to not include the OS. I have my own thanks.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Sunday, May 15, 2011 - link

    Id like to see a review of the gt540 1080p laptop cyberpower has now. Reply

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