Date Joined: 07/27/13
Pros: - (in theory) Nice cheap IPS monitor
Cons: - The monitor suffers from flickering artifacts. For very specific color shades, the monitor will display horizontal flickering lines instead of solid color. Watching movies or playing games is still fine, but anything that needs large areas of solid color (browsing, text editing, programming - any office work, really) drives you insane on this monitor.
Initially I chalked it up to a bad HDMI cable or graphics card, but I've been through three cables and two machines at this point and still have the same issue.
My best guess is this - LCD monitors sometimes have less dynamic range than they need to display certain brightness values, so they use dithering to "fake" smaller brightness steps. This is normal. However, this monitor uses some of the worst dithering patterns I've ever seen - rather than using noise, this monitor displays horizontal lines of alternating brightness. Looking at LCD test images (google "lcd black level test") does seem to confirm this.
Overall Review: I really wanted to like this unit (IPS, at this price!), and it works fine most of the time. However, after a few days the flickering did not get any less distracting, so I'm not sure what to do at this point. My advice - spend a bit more money on a nicer panel.
Pros: I bought this laptop a week ago and could not be happier. Since I am currently overseas for half a year, I needed a desktop replacement that I could take back home with me. Personally I do a lot of hardware intensive computer graphics/computational physics programming, especially on GPUs, so it was clear that I needed a laptop with a beefy graphics card, a recent CPU and lots of (video) memory.
This laptop certainly fits the bill. The performance of the gtx780m is absolutely amazing, since it is essentially a gtx680 shrinked to laptop size, and with 4GB of graphics memory it readily eats everything I've thrown at it so far.
The 24GB of RAM have been more than enough to run several IDE instances, encode video, hold a large fluid simulation plus a sizable ramdisk all at the same time, so I don't think I'll have memory issues ever again - but make sure to always get the 64bit version of programs to use the memory to full extent.
One thing that I find really impressive is how quiet and cool this laptop is. The cooling is especially nice, hosting two separate fans for CPU and GPU that have their own air flow (blowing out on the back left and right, respectively). This way, you get adequate cooling even if both CPU and GPU are running under full load - certain other competitor laptops with similar hardware specs only come with a single fan for the entire laptop, which leads to overheating and in turn to CPU/GPU throttling, degrading performance.
To give you an idea, my GPU has been rendering under full load for the past 48 hours, and the chip is still only at 52C/125F; the keyboard barely got warm and having the laptop sitting on my thighs is still fairly comfortable. Very impressive!
The internal hard disk isn't the best (5400RPM), but the SSD helps alleviate that a little bit. Keep in mind that OS+recovery partitions take up a good 128GB of the 256GB SSD, so you don't get a lot of space left for you data.
Apart from the hardware, the design is absolutely gorgeous. Everything feels well built and sturdy, even the power plug is a massive piece. The screen is quite nice - doesn't have the vivid colors of a glossy screen, but at least you can actually use it when there's high frequency lighting in the room.
I haven't been able to test the speakers/subwoofer yet (since I live in an apartment building and I don't want to annoy my neighbours) or the bluray drive, but I'm guessing they do their job as they're supposed to.
In addition I haven't been really able to test the CPU under full load yet, so I recommend reading some reviews on it. It is a 4th gen intel, supporting SSE4.3 and AVX2 with all the bells and whistles, so I think you're set with this one for the next few years.
Cons: Probably my biggest issue with this laptop is the branding that it comes with - theres an "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag" as well as a "Republic of Gamers" logo printed in a few well-visible places, so prepare to do some free advertising when you're in public.
The brushed metal case looks very nice, but it does attract finger prints like crazy. Always washing your hands before using the machine and regularily wiping down the case seems to help.
The headphone jack is a really tight fit and plugging/unplugging your headphones feels very wrong. Also, there seems to be quite a bit of acoustic noise on the line even when no sound is playing, so be aware of that.
The multitfinger gestures on the trackpad aren't the most accurate, which makes scrolling a bit of a pain. I didn't check yet, so it is possible that there are options to change the sensitivity on some of the gestures.
The hard disks on the laptop came very oddly partitioned in my case, but luckily Windows 8 keeps partitioning tools readily available, so that wasn't too much of an issue.
It is quite heavy, so keeping it on your lap can get a bit uncomfortable after a while.
Overall Review: All in all this laptop is WELL worth the money and impresses both in performance, cooling and design. If you have the spare change, I can only recommend getting this model.