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Pros: - Still-fast Core i5-3340m processor, socketed (upgradeable!)
- Dedicated GPU drives multiple screens easily
- Decent gaming performance
- Robust build quality
- Wonderful keyboard, dual mouse options
- Hinge feels solid and laptop feels insanely sturdy
- Screen is fairly bright, no dead pixels
- Few blemishes, "Excellent" condition and they mean it
Cons: - Heavy
- Runs warm even when not stressed
- Screen color accuracy is poor, viewing angles so-so
- Refurbished by a third party that did not do an OEM image with first time setup
Other Thoughts: **Update 14 Mar 2016** - The listing for this machine has changed. The product description now indicates a slower processor (2.6GHz = Core i5-3320m) and half the memory (4GB DDR3) of the model I received. This review does NOT reflect the current product listing.
This is a fantastic laptop and a screaming bargain at 219 shipped. I assume by the time this review is posted the price will have gone up, but this would still be competitive with laptops that cost twice as much as I paid. The Core i5 CPU is insanely fast, and 8GB of RAM means you can go a while before thinking about upgrading the memory as well. The Quadro NVS GPU does multi-monitor setups just fine, though single-screen gaming performance is merely acceptable. Don't expect to load up Fallout 4 here, but Rocket League and Payday 2 run fine on medium at the screen's native 1366x768.
The major issue I had with the computer is that the refurbisher (CBC Computer?) doesn't seem to have set the HDD image appropriately. Upon first boot I was logged right into an "Owner" account with programs and features already installed and configured. This is usually fine if an independent shop or friend/relative does it for you, but I'm disappointed by the fact that an OEM image wasn't used so that the setup can occur by the end user. Not only was the setup done in this method, but the drivers installed seem to all be the factory ones...from early 2012. If they're already going to take control and set up an account, a couple rounds of Windows Update wouldn't have hurt.
As an expert user, this wasn't much of an issue to overcome, but it's still aggravation that wouldn't have occurred if it were a Dell-Certified refurbished computer (and, subsequently, would've cost hundreds of dollars more). I bought this for the hardware, and I'm not disappointed.
The age of the hard drive is the only thing that worries me otherwise, as it's likely a three to four year old HDD, but I plan on switching it out for an SSD sometime soon anyway with the money I saved staying well under my laptop budget.
Regarding the warmth of the laptop, a quick removal of the undertray and hitting it with compressed air helped a bit, but the biggest change was from enabling NVidia Optimus in the BIOS. It was disabled at first, which caused the NVS to handle all the graphics processing and run warmer than it needed to, particularly at idle or in standard desktop apps. Re-enabling it allows the laptop to switch between the integrated and dedicated cards on the fly, and my battery life has soared while operating temperatures plummeted.
In summary - This is a great laptop for tinkerers! Casual users might want to look elsewhere.
Pros: - Super compact
- Solid build quality
- Very accessible RAM slots + M.2/SATA
- Dual fans are reasonably quiet
- Sufficiently fast APU (see Other Thoughts)
- Big heatsinks
- Case airflow is fairly good
- Onboard WiFi + Bluetooth is strong
Cons: - Runs way too hot out of the box, hitting thermal throttle frequently
- Atrocious thermal pad material and application (see Other Thoughts)
- Dual fans get loud when ramping up to max to deal with the aforementioned overheating
- BIOS is very limited in performance and cooling options
- (Unrelated to product) Chipset + Graphics drivers difficult to procure from AMD
Other Thoughts: The other reviews on this were right in that it does run unacceptably hot out-of-box. I was idling at 47C and hitting the thermal shutdown for the APU (105C) after less than an hour of gaming. Worse, the thermal pad that was applied was done sloppily (covering less than two-thirds of the die) with a very poor quality pad that was not designed to sustain the high temperatures this APU runs at. It burned and appeared to have bubbled at some point, which would further degrade cooling capability.
I took the machine fully apart and removed the old thermal pads with some Goof Off and 91% isopropyl alcohol. Applied Thermaltake TG-7 grease, covering the entire die and ensuring contact and good fill. Idle temps plummeted to 31C with load temps now in the high-80s. Not great temps by desktop CPU standards, but well within tolerance for this chip and keeping the fans from entering their highest power state. I feel confident with this chip now.
I bought this as a portable box to take to LAN parties and it seems to do the trick. Most Source games run well at medium-high details (> 30FPS, 1600x900) Chivalry: Medieval Warfare runs well on low-medium (~30FPS, 1600x900), and Payday 2 is acceptable at low-medium (~25FPS, 1280x720). Straight CPU performance is excellent, running emulators at full steam without issue.
The APU's graphics performance is going to be limited by your system RAM (go for dual-channel DDR3), and the chipset appears to sequester 768MB of your system RAM at boot to use as graphics memory. Buy memory with good timings to keep this at top performance.
I would recommend this product only if you're willing to take the whole thing apart to re-do the thermal paste, and you're on a budget. I'm not dissatisfied with it in the end, but a less build-savvy user or someone who isn't comfortable doing more than just memory and HDD swaps should look elsewhere.
Pros: - Notably more powerful than comparably-priced 550 Ti cards
- 288 CUDA cores, 50% more than a 550Ti and not far off from a 560 (336)
- Stays cool even at full-tilt (sub-60 C)
- Lots of overclocking room
Cons: - Requires 2 PCI-e power connectors (or four 4pin molex connectors with the included adapters)
- Did not detect properly in some applications (but determined it was the fault of the applications, not drivers)
- mini-HDMI to HDMI cable is not included (stated on newegg.com, stated on packaging on the bottom of the box!)
Other Thoughts: I really, really want to dock a star over the not-included mini-HDMI to HDMI cable, but for my needs it didn't affect me.
This card has been running at 100% full bore since I put it in the computer. It's primary use is as an extra set of cores for folding@home, Stanford University's distributed computing project. This card will pull 9500-10000 points per day on its own, which is a wonderful addition on top of the 30,000+ given by my primary GPU and CPU alone. I figure gaming performance would be excellent on this too, and the value just can't be beat. This is like ten bucks more than a 550Ti and it simply gives much better performance.
Intel Core i7-3770 @ 4.1GHz
Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H Mobo
16GB (4x4) G.Skill Sniper DDR3 @ 1866MHz
EVGA GTX 570
EVGA GTX 560 SE
620w SeaSonic modular PSU