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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Gigabyte P57W Review

Introduction

High-performance gaming laptops are no longer the preserve of die-hard PC enthusiasts. Whereas said machines were once big, bulky and at times ostentatious affairs, today's gaming laptops take a more refined approach while maintaining the requisite level of performance.
A good example of this evolution is Gigabyte's latest 17.3in powerhouse, the P57W. Back in the day, any laptop described as a powerhouse would be visualised as thick, chunky and downright ugly, but the P57W is anything but. Gigabyte's new machine measures a reasonable 24.9mm at its thickest point, it tips the scales at a hair under 3kg, and it has a finish that's equally well suited to a LAN party or an office meeting.
Granted, the orange trim along the edges won't be everyone's cup of tea, however it's a minor point on an otherwise clean design, and while we might have preferred silver highlights, gamers may appreciate the hint of flair. On the whole, the understated aesthetic works well, but while the laptop is suitably slim, portability isn't its forte. The near-3kg weight doesn't lend itself to frequent travel, and the 421mm width means you'll need a well-sized bag.
Build quality is decent throughout, with Gigabyte employing good-quality plastics, though there is a difference between the main body and the lid. The former is quite sturdy, with only a hint of flex in the keyboard tray, but the thin top bends a little too easily. The display hinges however offer the right amount of tension, and while the P57W doesn't offer Ultrabook levels of sophistication, it looks and feels tidy.
Opening the laptop reveals the ofttimes forgotten benefit of a 17.3in machine - a wonderfully spacious workspace that makes for an effective desktop replacement. It looks roomy and inviting, and the keyboard and trackpad seem familiar. That's because both are carried over from the recently reviewed P35X. The backlit keyboard, with anti-ghosting technology and integrated numpad, continues to exhibit a bit of flex and doesn't offer a great amount of key travel, but it's comfortable enough, well illuminated, and suited to both gaming and productivity.
The P57W trackpad is similarly expansive and responds well to multi-touch gestures, however it's a shame Gigabyte continues to adorn its laptops with unwanted stickers. We really don't need the specification to be on show at all times, and the 'two-year warranty' and 'made in Taiwan' badges in no way heighten the laptop's appeal. Of course, the laptop is sold in many countries, particularly in the Far East, where this kind of sticker fascination is expected.
High levels of polish aren't typically Gigabyte's speciality, but the manufacturer sure knows how to put together a specification sheet. On the outside, the P57W provides a trio of USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI 2.0, VGA, mini-DisplayPort, audio jacks, an SD card reader, Wireless AC and a connector for the bundled 180W power supply.
Forward-facing stereo speakers provide plenty of volume and acceptable clarity, and there's also a DVD writer accessible from the laptop's front edge. Should you prefer, the optical tray can be substituted for a storage device, and Gigabyte bundles the required converter.
There's plenty happening on the inside, too. The CPU is a high-end Intel Core i7-6700HQ with integrated HD 530 graphics. There's 16GB (2x8GB) of DDR4-2133 memory, and when the going gets tough, a dedicated GeForce GTX 970M GPU will kick in for added oomph. Gigabyte has all this channelled toward a 17.3in 1080p IPS display with wide viewing angles and an anti-glare coating that helps minimise reflections. It's a good panel, there's no doubt about that, yet we're surprised to find that an ultra-high-res option isn't yet available.
The P57W is high-end in certain areas but it doesn't necessarily push the boat out. Storage, for example, is provided by a 256GB LiteOn M.2 SSD and a 1TB hard disk. Not a bad combo by any means, but it's fairly basic by today's premium gaming laptop standards. Gigabyte's decision not to win every benchmark does bode well for the price tag, mind, which sits at a competitive £1,350.
Gigabyte has ticked a lot of the right boxes, yet there are recurring niggles regarding tidiness. The stickers on the palm rest are one, and the needless number of icons on the Windows 10 desktop are another. The software configuration isn't as clean as we'd like on a premium machine, and some of the pre-loaded utilities simply fail to function after updating to the latest version of Windows, resulting in errors on boot. The final question-mark is the optical drive, and more specifically whether or not it should be dropped in favour of a much larger battery? Answers in the comments section, please.

Benchmarks: CPU

£1,350 is a fair ol' chunk of change, yet at this price point Gigabyte's P57W is one of the most affordable laptops in our line-up. As far as the CPU is concerned, a lower cost needn't mean less performance - the quad-core, latest-generation i7-6700HQ is about as quick as they come.

Benchmarks: Memory

CPU performance is excellent and Gigabyte hasn't skimped on memory, either. 16GB of DDR4 is a very healthy dollop, and the 2,133MHz speed delivers heaps of bandwidth.

Benchmarks: Storage

Concessions do have to be made in order to keep costs in check. Whereas costlier laptops are touting NVMe drives or a couple of SSDs in RAID, the P57W is making do with just a single 256GB LiteOn L8T-256L9G M.2 SSD. The fact that we're complaining about a 256GB flash drive delivering read and write speeds of 460MB/s and 318MB/s, respectively, is a sign of how far storage devices have come.

Benchmarks: System and Gaming

For performance purists, the other concession is the GeForce GTX 970M, which is of course a step-down from the GTX 980M that's readily available in pricier units.
A cause for concern? Not quite, as the GPU is intrinsically linked to the display, and the GTX 970M is ideally suited to the P57W's 1080p panel. At the native resolution, the graphics chip has little trouble doling out silky-smooth framerates in excess of 60 frames per second.

Benchmarks: Temperature and Noise

We mentioned the added layer of refinement available to today's gaming laptops, and here's some proof. The CPU's practically cold when idle, it only just gets past 60ºC when it's running absolutely flat out across all cores, and the GPU peaked at 67ºC when gaming.
The P57W still gets warm when stressed, but temperatures are comfortable and the two built-in fans aren't overzealous. They can always be heard, but they keep reasonably quiet at low load and only become noisy when the going gets tough.

Benchmarks: Power Draw and Battery Life

Gaming laptops have terrible battery life, right? Well, no, not always. Gigabyte's P57W managed to keep looping a high-definition movie clip for almost five-and-a-half hours with screen brightness at 50 per cent and all wireless radios disabled.
A solid return for a 17.3in machine, but is it enough? Gigabyte will argue that gamers prioritise performance over battery life, and though that might be true, we're of the opinion that while five hours is considered decent for a gaming laptop, all premium laptops should now be aiming to deliver more in terms of longevity.

Conclusion

Gigabyte's P57W offers a good amount of punch in a sleek, understated chassis that's reasonably slim and able to keep cool without intolerable levels of noise.
It might be time to reconsider a gaming laptop, as the latest crop manage to dispel the common belief that such machines are loud, bulky affairs that offer a level of refinement akin to Donald Trump.
Proving that gaming laptops have mellowed, Gigabyte's P57W offers a good amount of punch in a sleek, understated chassis that's reasonably slim and able to keep cool without intolerable levels of noise.
It's a refined package, yet don't let the minimalist appearance fool you. Beneath the hood a Core i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 memory and a dedicated GeForce GTX 970M GPU come together to deliver a high level of performance that's well suited to a wide range of usage scenarios ranging from productivity to gaming. In either mode, the 1080p IPS panel delivers anti-reflective visuals from just about any angle, the keyboard and trackpad feel roomy and inviting, and there are enough connectivity options for the P57W to serve as an effective desktop replacement.
There's plenty to like, yet there's room for improvement, too. Gigabyte's choice of SSD isn't the quickest by today's standards, the integrated battery isn't likely to get you through a full day's work, and we'd like to see an option for a higher-resolution screen. Willing to accept such compromises? Then the P57W is worthy of consideration as both a portable gaming rig and a capable workhorse.
The Good
 
The Bad
Sleek for a 17.3in gaming laptop
Quad-core Intel Skylake CPU
Capable GTX 970M graphics
Keeps suitably cool and quiet
Ample connectivity options
 
No ultra-high-res display option
SSD is basic by today's standards
Pre-loaded software could be tidier

HP updates Omen gaming lineup with laptops, desktop and monitor

HP launched its Omen gaming laptop back in November 2014, packing punchy mobile processing for its time. Now, according to Tom's Hardware, the firm has updated this 15.6-inch laptop, launched another model with a 17.3-inch display, launched an HP Omen gaming desktop and launched an attractive partnering 32-inch QHD gaming monitor. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, HP doesn't seem to have updated its product pages with the lineup, or published a press release.
HP Omen laptops
As mentioned in the intro, now HP is producing both 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch versions of this gaming laptop. Inside you will find that the latest Intel Skylake processors are employed (up to a Core i7-6700HQ), complemented by up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM.
Both models can be configured as follows - choice of GPU from Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M, 960M, or 965M; choice of FHD or UHD screen, dual storage option with maximum 4TB HDD and 512GB PCIe SSD. It is notable that the optional 4K screens would be a lot to handle for the discrete GPU options on offer, especially for modern native resolution gaming duties.
Other standard features are; HDMI out, USB 3.0 x2, card reader, Dual-Band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45), and HD webcam. There are options for a pre-installed Intel RealSense camera and battery life up to 10 hours, depending upon your configuration choices.
The 2.1Kg, 24.5mm thick, 15.6-inch model is priced from $899.99, and the 2.85Kg, 30mm thick, 17.3-inch models from $979.99. Availability is scheduled for 10th July online and in Best Buy stores.
HP Omen desktop
This is a micro-ATX desktop tower PC in the signature HP Omen red & black. Inside you can configure up to an Intel Core i7-6700K and 32GB of DDR4. For graphics it seems like the sky's the limit - you can opt for up to a brand spanking new Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, or AMD R9 Fury X, to propel your pixels.
Further options include; storage of up to 3TB (HDD) or 512GB (SSD), and an option to upgrade to a 120mm closed loop liquid cooling system. Standard I/O includes USB 3.0 x2, USB 2.0 x4, USB 3.1 (Gen 2, Type C on Select Models), and a 7-In-1 Media Card Reader. No pricing has been indicated and this gaming desktop isn't likely to become available until August.
HP Omen display
HP is providing a nice matching screen for its desktop, detailed above. The Omen display is a 32-inch 2560 x 1440 (QHD) WVA display with a response time of 5ms. It displays the full sRGB gamut and is AMD Freesync compatible. That's all we have on this monitor and its specs right now, except that it is due to launch alongside the Omen desktop in August at an unspecified price.

EVGA SC17 Gaming Laptop Review

Introduction

We've been itching to get our hands on EVGA's first laptop ever since the 17.3in machine was unveiled back at CES in January. With EVGA's roots firmly entrenched in the enthusiast scene, we're intrigued to see whether or not the Californian firm can strike the right chords with the gaming elite.
First, the pertinent details. It's dubbed the SC17 Gaming Laptop and is available for pre-order right now with the first shipments expected around the middle of this month. The price? A staggering £2,400. The target audience? According to EVGA, the SC17 "was meticulously created from the ground up for the hardcore gamer, performance enthusiast, and even over clocker".

Design

Out-the-box impressions are favourable. It's always nice to see a high-end gaming laptop that isn't just a re-purposed Clevo, and EVGA's custom-made chassis certainly looks the part. The aluminium components come together to give the frame a near-seamless feel, and a thickness of just under 27mm makes most other gaming laptops appear bulbous in comparison.
EVGA's all-black styling provides an elegant look, as does the backlit logo on the lid, however the SC17 isn't quite as portable as the thin profile would suggest. The laptop is in fact quite large, measuring 408mm wide and 296mm in length, and though the robust aluminium frame has its benefits, it results in a hefty 3.7kg weight.
On a laptop of this scale it's a balancing act between low weight and high build quality. EVGA leans heavily toward the latter, and though we'd like the SC17 to be lighter for transport, it's hard not to appreciate the overall level of sturdiness during actual use.
There's no sign of flex in the keyboard tray, the base doesn't bend at all, and even the large display lid is reassuringly rigid. One caveat, however, is that the near-matte paintwork is a magnet for fingerprints, particularly around the palm-rest area.

Display and Sound

As a newcomer to the laptop scene, EVGA needs an eye-catching feature to stand out from the crowd and it has one in the form of a 4K display. The increased pixel density is a welcome addition to the 17.3in form factor, and EVGA is one of the first to use Sharp's IPS panel, identified as model SHP145E.
Viewing angles are good in all directions, a matte coating helps minimise reflections, and though it lacks the vibrancy of glossier displays, brightness is ample and colours are vibrant enough. We did notice slight backlight bleed near the edges, but the pixel-count combined with Windows 10's ability to scale well at high resolution is ultimately great for productivity.
The display is without doubt one of the SC17's strong points, yet it isn't perfect. The accompanying GPU hardware doesn't have the grunt to enable smooth gameplay at the native resolution, though upscaled visuals are hardly a bad thing, and given EVGA's close relationship to Nvidia, we're surprised G-Sync adaptive framerate technology hasn't been implemented from the get-go. And if we're being picky, the bezel beneath the display is unusually large.
Laptops of all shapes and sizes have developed a knack of delivering great visuals and lacklustre sound, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that the SC17's audio output is better than most. The upward-firing speakers don't look pretty in the palm rest, however they do provide decent clarity and ample volume that's backed by a small amount of depth from a downward-firing subwoofer.

Keyboard and Ports

Shoehorning high-end hardware into a laptop is no small feat, and rather than opt for doorstop dimensions, EVGA has chosen to keep it thin while winning certain battles and losing others. In the win column is the keyboard, which incorporates a numpad, white LED backlighting and a good amount of key travel.
We hadn't expected the SC17 to be satisfying as a work machine, but it is, and for a first attempt, this is already shaping up to be one of the better gaming laptop keyboards. The only real snag is the spacebar, which on our review sample isn't as responsive as the other keys and occasionally fails to register following a light press.
The large touchpad is perfectly serviceable, too, and in a nod toward the target audience, EVGA is bundling a wired Torq X10 gaming mouse for a limited time. We'd like to see that promotion extended indefinitely, and given how stylish the laptop can look, we do hope the manufacturer refrains from slapping such a large sticker on the palm rest of future models.
On the whole, it's a comfortable place to work, though the SC17 doesn't lend itself to on-your-lap usage. The machine's underside is lined with a large rubber standoff that provides good grip on a desk but digs-in when you're brave enough to try a 17.3in gaming system on your lap.
Plenty to like, however the thin frame does introduce limitations in terms of I/O ports. SC17's left edge is home to a power connector, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and two mini-DisplayPorts, while over on the right there's a headphone jack, two USB 3.0 ports and USB 3.1 Type-C. That's your lot, and EVGA recognises the lack of ports by including a USB Type-C-to-USB 3.0 adaptor in the box. Even so, a couple more USB ports plus an SD card reader wouldn't go amiss, and we see no obvious reason for the USB Type-C jack not to double as a Thunderbolt connector.

Under the hood

How about the all-important innards? Running through the checklist, EVGA's one-and-so-far-only configuration includes an Intel Core i7-6820HK processor, 32GB (2x16GB) of G.Skill DDR4-2666 memory and Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M graphics. These are joined by a 256GB Samsung M.2 NVMe SSD for system-disk duties, a 1TB Seagate hard disk for excess storage, and an Intel AC-8260 adapter for WiFi and Bluetooth.
Memory and storage is easily accessed - simply undo a series of Torx T5 screws to remove the bottom cover - though upgrade options are limited. There are only the two SO-DIMM slots, and both the CPU and GPU are soldered, meaning no love for an MXM update.
EVGA's default specification is nonetheless potent, yet considering the entry fee, we were almost expecting the full-fat laptop GTX 980, rather than the less powerful GTX 980M. There's also a question mark surrounding the timing of the SC17's release as the default GPU now dates back to late 2014, and next-generation Nvidia hardware can't be far away. As we approach mid-2016, GTX 980M is starting to feel old-hat.
Laying the foundation for forthcoming mobile GPUs may be the order of the day, and EVGA does have a few niceties on offer. The 240W external PSU has been designed to deliver ample power without looking like a typical brick, and if you're inclined to squeeze every last drop out of your components, there are a couple of healthy additions for overclocking.

UEFI Overclocking

Aiming to bridge the gap between performance desktops and laptops, EVGA imbues the SC17 with a proper UEFI firmware that offers mouse navigation and a dedicated overclocking tab. Granted, the array of options and settings pales in comparison to a premium desktop motherboard, yet it's a step-up from most gaming laptops and there's no faulting presentation.
The interface is easy to get around and EVGA takes it a step further by providing a Windows utility that offers streamlined overclocking options from within the OS. Dubbed PrecisionX Mobile, it offers three pre-configured profiles - DownClock, Normal and SuperClock. The former shaves 135MHz off the GPU core clock and limits the CPU multiplier to 8x in an effort to prolong battery life.
Switching to SuperClock raises the multiplier to 40x (38x on all cores) and increases GPU frequency by 76MHz on core and 202MHz on frame buffer. Nothing extraordinary, but what's handy is that switching between profiles can be achieved by a simple keyboard shortcut - hit Fn+Up Arrow to apply the SuperClock (without needing to reboot) or Fn+Down Arrow to switch to DownClock.
EVGA's software configuration certainly makes light work of frequency tweaking, and aside from obligatory drivers, PrecisionX Mobile is the only utility loaded on an otherwise clean install of Windows 10. It's refreshing to see a gaming laptop free of unwanted bloatware, and if your tinkering does get you into a pickle, there's even a tiny clear CMOS button above the power switch.
SC17 is shaping up to be a solid first outing, but gaming laptops live or die based on the numbers, so let's get onto the benchmarks.

Test Methodology

Comparison Laptops

System Name
EVGA SC17
Form Factor
17.3in
15.6in
17.3in
17.3in
17.3in
17.3in
CPU
Intel Core i7-6820HK
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
Intel Core i7-4720HQ
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
Intel Core i7-6820HK
Intel Core i7-4720HQ
CPU Base Frequency
2.7GHz
2.6GHz
2.6GHz
2.6GHz
2.7GHz
2.6GHz
CPU Turbo Frequency
3.6GHz
3.5GHz
3.6GHz
3.5GHz
3.6GHz
3.6GHz
CPU Cores / Threads
4 / 8
4 / 8
4 / 8
4 / 8
4 / 8
4 / 8
CPU TDP
45W
45W
47W
45W
45W
47W
Memory
32GB DDR4 (2x16GB)
16GB DDR4 (2x8GB)
16GB DDR3 (2x8GB)
16GB DDR4 (2x8GB)
16GB DDR4 (2x8GB)
16GB DDR3 (2x8GB)
Memory Speed
2,666MHz at 18-18-18-43-2T
2,133MHz at 15-15-15-36-2T
1,600MHz at 11-11-11-28-1T
2,133MHz at 15-15-15-36-2T
2,133MHz at 15-15-15-36-1T
1,600MHz at 9-9-9-27-1T
Integrated GPU
Intel HD 530
Intel HD 530
Intel HD 4600
Intel HD 530
Intel HD 530
Intel HD 4600
Dedicated GPU(s)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M 8GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M 8GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M 8GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M 3GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M 8GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M 4GB
Display
17.3in SHP145E UHD IPS (3,840x2,160)
15.6in LGD040E Full-HD IPS (1,920x1,080)
17.3in LGD0469 Full-HD IPS (1,920x1,080)
17.3in LGD0469 Full-HD IPS (1,920x1,080)
17.3in LGD0469 Full-HD IPS G-Sync (1,920x1,080)
17.3in CMO1720 Full-HD LCD (1,920x1,080)
Battery Capacity
74Wh
76Wh
76Wh
76Wh
83Wh
60Wh
Wireless
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
Killer Wireless-AC 1535
Killer Wireless-AC 1525
Network
Intel Gigabit Ethernet
Realtek Gigabit Ethernet
Realtek Gigabit Ethernet
Realtek Gigabit Ethernet
Killer E2400 Gigabit Ethernet
Realtek Gigabit Ethernet
Primary Storage
256GB Samsung MZHPV256 NVMe M.2 SSD
256GB Samsung MZHPV256 NVMe M.2 SSD
2 x 128GB LiteOn LMT-128L9M mSATA SSDs in RAID 0
256GB LiteOn L8T-256L9G M.2 SSD
128GB Toshiba THNSN5128GPU7 NVMe M.2 SSD
240GB Kingston SM2280S3240G SSDNow M.2 SSD
Secondary Storage
1TB Seagate Spinpoint 2.5in HDD
1TB HGST Travelstar 7K1000 2.5in HDD
1TB HGST Travelstar 7K1000 2.5in HDD
1TB HGST Travelstar 7K1000 2.5in HDD
1TB HGST Travelstar 7K1000 2.5in HDD
1TB WD Blue 2.5in HDD
Optical Drive
-
DVD writer
DVD writer
DVD writer
Hitachi Blu-ray writer
-
Power Supply
240W External
200W External
180W External
180W External
230W External
180W External
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit
Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit
Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit
Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit
Dimensions (W x D x H)
408mm x 296mm x 26.6mm
385mm x 270mm x 20.9mm
417mm x 287mm x 22.5mm
421mm x 290mm x 24.9mm
428mm x 294mm x 48mm
417mm x 287mm x 29.98mm
Weight
3.7kg
2.4kg
2.8kg
3.0kg
3.8kg
3.3kg
Standard Warranty
Two years
Two years
Two years
Two years
Two years
Three years
Date Reviewed
April 2016
December 2015
March 2015
February 2016
October 2015
February 2015
Price When Reviewed
£2,400
£1,700
£1,750
£1,350
£1,999
£1,349

CPU Benchmarks

HEXUS PiFastOur number-crunching PiFast test is used to benchmark the computational power of each system's CPU.
CinebenchUsing Cinebench's multi-CPU render, this cross-platform benchmark stresses as many cores as possible.
HandBrakeFree-to-use video encoder that stresses all CPU cores.

Memory and Storage Benchmarks

AIDA64Benchmark that analyses memory bandwidth and latency.
CrystalDiskMarkPopular free-to-use storage benchmark, used to gauge sequential performance and aggregated 4K QD32 speeds.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMarkDX11, default Fire Strike test.
Dirt RallyDX11, 4xMSAA, Ultra quality, various resolutions.
HitmanDX12, SMAA, Medium quality, various resolutions.
Rise of the Tomb RaiderDX12, FXAA, High quality, various resolutions.
Tom Clancy's The DivisionDX11, Medium quality, various resolutions.

Miscellaneous Benchmarks

Power ConsumptionNoted for system idling, under HandBrake video-transcoding load, and for GPU playing Aliens vs. Predator.
TemperatureNoted for CPU idling, under HandBrake video-transcoding load, and for GPU playing Aliens vs. Predator.
Battery LifeMeasured while looping a high-definition movie clip with 50 per cent screen brightness and flight mode enabled.

Benchmarks: CPU

The SC17 laptop has been tested in two states, firstly using the standard out-the-box configuration, and secondly with SuperClock mode enabled.
Straight away we see an interesting set of numbers. Stock performance from the Core i7-6820HK is fast and in line with expectations, however it's inevitably the one-touch overclock that adds a twist to proceedings. With the SC17 running in SuperClock mode, the PiFast and Cinebench results are increased by as much as 14 per cent.
An admirable return for hardly any work, but what's happened to the extra performance in HandBrake? And why is the SuperClock result lower than standard? Simple answer, throttling.
Long answer, the CPU struggles to maintain the 3.8GHz overclock across all cores in this demanding workload. As temperatures soar, the Intel chip intermittently dials-down to 2.7GHz for safety, which as you might imagine has an adverse effect on performance. This is an overclock you'll need to use wisely.

Benchmarks: Memory

32GB of DDR4 memory at 2,666MHz is mighty fast by laptop standards. EVGA has no trouble topping these charts, though it's a shame the SuperClock profile doesn't bump-up memory speed another notch or two - the performance numbers on this page don't see any meaningful benefit from the overclock.

Benchmarks: Storage

Samsung's 256GB NVMe M.2 SSD is a solid choice for any high-end laptop. Single-drive performance in excess of 1,000MB/s is impressive, and we suspect EVGA will make available a roomier 512GB option at a later date.

Benchmarks: Gaming

The GeForce GTX 980M is a known quantity and has serviced performance laptops for well over a year. EVGA's SC17 slots into the pack as expected and needs the overclock to break the 9,000-point barrier in 3DMark Fire Strike.
How does the GTX 980M fare with regards to modern games? We've run a quartet of recent titles at a full-HD 1080p resolution with the aim of achieving an average of 70 frames per second or more.
In order to meet that criteria, The Division and Hitman needed to have quality settings turned-down to medium, Rise of the Tomb Raider had to be reduced from ultra to high, and only Dirt Rally was able to run with everything set to maximum.
For reasons unknown the Sharp display didn't want to scale to 2,560x1,440. We've instead run the games again at 2,560x1,600 and, while the laptop doesn't manage a desired 60fps, all four titles are still playable.
But a single GTX 980M can only do so much. This may be a 4K gaming laptop, but it lacks the gusto required to actually game at 4K. Quality settings would need to be reduced dramatically in order to keep things smooth, and that's not really what you want to be doing on a £2,400 machine. The ultra-high-res panel is still worth having for productivity reasons alone, but it needs a next-gen GPU (or two) to push those in-game pixels.

Benchmarks: Temperature and Noise

We see mixed results when it comes to core temperature. On the one hand, we're impressed to see EVGA manage to tame the GTX 980M, which keeps below 70ºC under load even when overclocked.
CPU cooling performance is also healthy at stock speeds, but core temp on the Intel chip takes a turn for the worse when the pre-configured overclock is applied. Note that the Video Encoding graph doesn't tell the whole story - the 77ºC temperature is an average from the last few minutes of the benchmark. Peak temperature was in fact a toasty 93ºC.
As is the case with most thin gaming laptops, fan noise ramps up considerably when either the CPU or GPU are stressed, and the SC17 inevitably gets loud. There's plenty of heat exhausted from the vents, yet we did notice that the chassis becomes quite hot just above the top of the keyboard where the processors are situated.

Benchmarks: Power Draw and Battery Life

The CPU overclock took its toll on core temperature, and it does the same in terms of power consumption, which shoots up to 172 watts.
EVGA is clearly focussing on enthusiast performance, and the SC17 marketing material rarely mentions battery life. No surprise, really, as the 74Wh battery only just managed three-and-a-half hours in our standard battery run-down test.
If you're willing to limit the CPU to 0.8GHz at all times, a quick DownClock can be applied (Fn+Down Arrow) to increase longevity by a further hour, give or take a few minutes.

Conclusion

EVGA's implementation is neat and tidy throughout, and the manufacturer has a good idea of what its target audience is looking for.
Gaming laptops aimed at enthusiast users typically deliver high levels of portable performance with a customary list of caveats. These can include, but aren't limited to, poor battery life, plastic build quality, excessive heat and noise, average keyboards, lacklustre displays, plus a good dose of bloatware.
Alleviating a good number of those concerns, EVGA is bringing its high-end expertise to the gaming laptop space with the launch of the SC17. Designed to offer a premium experience to gamers with cash to spare, this 17.3in machine touts a thin and well-built metal chassis that's a cut above many competitors and outfitted with some of today's best mobile components.
The highlights include a 4K IPS display, a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, GeForce GTX 980M graphics, an NVMe M.2 SSD and 32GB of DDR4 memory. EVGA's implementation is neat and tidy throughout, and the manufacturer has a good idea of what its target audience is looking for. There's no bloatware in sight, the BIOS offers a decent amount of tinkering potential, and for overclocking novices PrecisionX Mobile provides a simple, one-click boost in frequency.
An admirable first attempt, yet as is the case with most first-run products, there is room for improvement. Battery life is mediocre, the laptop's weight isn't ideal, heat and fan noise are still prevalent, and there's something uncomfortable about a £2,400 enthusiast laptop running an 18-month-old GPU.
The SC17 lays a solid foundation and does enough to suggest that EVGA is a welcome player in the gaming laptop market. A reduction in weight, a next-gen GPU and a few small tweaks is all it would take to elevate the SC17 from interesting to compelling.
The Good
 
The Bad
17.3in 4K display is a treat
Sleek for a gaming laptop
Comfortable backlit keyboard
Good build quality throughout
Quick and easy overclocking
Has a proper BIOS
Free of bloatware
 
Steep £2,400 price tag
Needs a next-gen GPU to shine
Tips the scales at 3.7kg
Short on I/O ports
Poor battery life
 
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