Review: Aftershock X17S

The Aftershock X17S is one of the first laptops powered by an Intel fourth-generation Core processor.

In fact, the quad-core CPU used in this 17.3-inch gaming notebook was just launched this week.

The high-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M graphics inside is equally new.

Together with 8GB of RAM, a 120GB solid-state drive and a 750GB secondary hard drive, the laptop appears to have all the prerequisites for a powerful gaming machine.

Users can upgrade this configuration with more RAM, a larger SSD and replace the default DVD drive with a Blu-ray version.

While the typical gaming laptop is built to give the impression of speed and power by taking design cues from automobiles or aircraft, the Aftershock X17S has a bland, functional design identical to the older Aftershock X17.

From a distance, it simply looks like a thick black slab with a small logo on the lid. Weighing 3.9kg, the X17S is not a laptop for commuting.

The only concession to the gaming stereotype is a keyboard with seven adjustable LED backlights.

A minor grouse: The arrow keys are too close to the neighbouring keys.

Large air vents are located at the back of the unit so that warm exhaust from the laptop is directed away from the user.

In addition to its 1,920 x 1,080 pixel matte panel, the laptop comes with a trio of display outputs to support three additional screens.

The system fans are quite noisy when the laptop is running an intensive app. Fortunately, its loud and punchy 2.1 speakers help to drown the noise.

Can the laptop run Crysis 3, the latest instalment in the franchise known for bringing high-end

PC hardware to its knees?

The answer is yes, but not at the highest settings (Very High). The game was barely playable at about 30 frames per second (fps) at High settings even after disabling some visual effects.

The X17S fared better in another recent game, Bioshock Infinite.

It scored 44fps at the highest settings, compared with 35fps on its predecessor, which has last-generation CPU and graphics.

The laptop also did well in Battlefield 3, producing 46.7fps at the highest Ultra settings.

The overall system performance on the X17S had significant gains with a PCMark 7 score of 5,990, compared with 4,357 on the older Aftershock X17.

However, some of the differences could be due to the fact that the X17S is on Windows 8, while the older model was running Windows 7.

Not surprising for a powerhouse gaming system, battery life is an afterthought. The X17S lasted 2hr 40min in Digital Life's battery test, which involves video playback. Expect about 11/2 hours of usage when running a more taxing 3-D game. To be fair, its poor battery life is an acceptable trade-off for gamers who value performance.

Beneath the Aftershock X17S' bland and functional design is one of the fastest gaming laptops in the market.

Vincent Chang is a freelance writer

TECH SPECS

Price: $3,094

Processor: Intel Core i7-4700MQ (2.4GHz)

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5

RAM: 8GB

Screen size: 17.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

Connectivity: HDMI, DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, eSATA/USB combo, SD card reader, FireWire, Ethernet, S/PDIF output, microphone and headphone jacks

Battery: 77Wh

RATING

Features: 8/10

Design: 6/10

Performance: 10/10

Value for money: 8/10

Battery life: 4/10

Overall: 8/10


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