Joined on 09/14/06
Excellent Powerhouse & Gaming Laptop
Pros: This is a no frills very decent gaming laptop, but it is also excellent as a powerhouse workstation as well (my primary purpose). Some may complain about the HD access but the hybrid HD is fast enough for any application one would need. With 16GB of memory you don't have to worry about intensive applications using a lot of HD. I run VMware workstation with numerous virtual machines (be sure to enable the Intel Virtualization CPU feature in BIOS) and have maxed out all 16 GB of memory with it still performing at worst adequately, and at best pretty decently (good), so I have definitely put this through the paces. The fan is amazingly quiet, and unless you're running 4+ CPU Cores simultaneously you won't notice it. I can run SetiatHome with all 8 cores and both graphics cores... and it gets warm but not ridiculously noisy. Part of the genius in this design is that the fan exit exhaust is right at the top back at the hinge. There is a long back rubber pad to prevent re-circulation of hot air and this cooling design works very well even with the laptop lid closed and the system still churning (not sleeping). The weight, size and display are all reasonable. Gaming is excellent so far and I've maxed out graphic settings for a couple of titles with no issues. The keyboard lighting is excellent for both letters and keys, and they aren't obnoxiously high - rather flat and spaced comfortably as wide apart as a standard keyboard. The 2 levels of lighting (plus off) work well even in full bright lights or in darkness without being obnoxious... RED really was the wisest of colors to not interfere with the screen. (Somewhat TRON like.) The built-in video camera, wi-fi (802.11n) performance are respectable and the 2 USB 3.0 slots are a bonus. It's also worth noting the built-in HDMI slot works great as well and I was able to do dual-screen (simultaneous) presentations with ease using an HDMI extension cable. Lastly, the biggest pro for me is that this system supports 32GB of memory, though it only has 2 memory slots. At this time the first 16GB compatible DIMMs are not available (2x needed for 32GB), but they should be in the later half of 2014. You will be hard pressed to find any other gaming, workstation or performance laptop that can support 32GB of memory for this price.
Cons: The only con I've found: The colors seem way off, anyone using this for graphic design or relying on strong color matching will be surprised... but you won't notice this easily in wallpapers, games or other daily uses. Only if you look carefully in say colored excel fields or photoshop, so don't rely on this display for any sort of color accuracy. (For gaming, workstation and other standard uses this is a complete non-issue.) Hard drive access could be a little faster, but honestly I don't really notice it - Windows 8 is fast enough under the hood and with this memory size HD speed really is a non-issue. (Only bears mentioning for those looking for ridiculous high-end performance.) The very minor last complaint is that the finish / metal type chosen for the chassis/lid permits the slightest oily smudge marks to show... no really, I mean the smallest handling REALLY shows... I'm constantly wiping it off with a rag, but that's just something to be aware of and a very minor item. The touchpad requires a little tinkering with on the settings, sensitivity and other options for comfort, but that's not a con against it, just adjust the settings... and really if you're going to game or use it as a workstation, just use a bluetooth or USB mouse (works great). Of course some power setting changes will be needed to get the most out of the battery, but that's common sense for any portable laptop.
Overall Review: I did a LOT of looking around, reviews, comparisons and this was one of the best deals available. The CONS are minor quib points and I wouldn't give them too much thought... if you're looking for a workhorse and/or a gaming machine on a budget, you will be hard pressed to do better than this. I've had it about a month and I am EXTREMELY pleased with my purchase, it's on par with a good performance gaming desktop. I don't normally do reviews, but you get a lot of performance with this laptop