Kepler's Got Game

First things first—the GeForce GT 650M is pretty close to the GTX 560M from a performance standpoint. Basically, in most gaming situations, the Monster comes within 10% of the performance of an ASUS G73. It runs rings around all generations of the M11x, and outpaces basically everything with less than a GTX 560M. Needless to say, mobile Kepler is impressive.

The GT 650M replaces the GT 555M at the top of the GeForce GT line and bridges the gap between more mainstream graphics cards and the gaming centric GTX line. It’s based around the GK107 core, with 384 shader cores and 2GB of VRAM. The Monster has the DDR3 variant, which has 128-bit DDR3 memory and clocks of 850/850/900 for core, shader, and memory respectively. The other variant of the GT 650M has GDDR5 memory and a core clocked at 735MHz; despite the slower core, the additional memory bandwidth should make it a higher performer in most situations. Even so, the Monster is a pretty potent gaming portable.

Basically, it's fully playable in our Value and Mainstream gaming suites. Note that our mainstream game test runs our suite at 1600x900 with maximum settings (no anti-aliasing), so even though we call it mainstream, it's pretty strenuous. Even through most of our Enthusiast test suite (1080p, max settings + AA), it's close to playable (which I'm choosing to define as 30fps, give or take 10%). The gaming performance on tap here seems a little bit like overkill considering that the display resolution is actually only 1366x768. You can max the settings on everything and still have almost all new games be playable at native res. That's insane, and something that not a lot of laptops can claim. And you can plug it into a 1080p display, whether that's a TV or a monitor, and game reasonably well on that. It's pretty impressive overall.

Batman: Arkham City - Value

Batman: Arkham City - Mainstream

Batman: Arkham City - Enthusiast

Battlefield 3 - Value

Battlefield 3 - Mainstream

Battlefield 3 - Enthusiast

Civilization V - Value

Civilization V - Mainstream

Civilization V - Enthusiast

DiRT 3 - Value

DiRT 3 - Mainstream

DiRT 3 - Enthusiast

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Value

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Mainstream

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Enthusiast

Portal 2 - Value

Portal 2 - Mainstream

Portal 2 - Enthusiast

Total War: Shogun 2 - Value

Total War: Shogun 2 - Mainstream

Eurocom Monster - Performance Eurocom Monster - Battery Life and Thermals
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  • ijozic - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    Thanks for a review of this little thing; was waiting for something like this to replace my portable Acer 1810TZ, although I'd need a better matte display and a backlighted keyboard.

    But, just had to note that I don't really see why all the cries after the M11x. Personally, it looked like a very thick laptop designed around a 14" 4:3 screen with a 11,6" screen fitted instead. While I like the Clevo's effort, I wish it was made with a nicer design, better materials and a higher quality screen (though admittedly, there aren't seem to be any available in this size apart from the matte option used on some variants).
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    Don't get rid of that 1810TZ. It's a goddamn gem.
  • Darkstone - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    I digged up the specification sheet of the M11x R3 display you tested: it features an advertised contrast ratio of 500:1. In fact, i have never seen a datasheet with an contrast ratio below that.

    Saying that the matte display is better than the standard glossy display based on a number in a datasheet, is just not right. Those numbers are never accurate for budget LCD's anyway.
  • Menty - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    True, but saying the matt screen will be better than the glossy one is basically 99.99% true. Glossy screens are almost entirely terrible if you don't live in a dark cave, regardless of the numbers on the spec sheets.
  • plewis00 - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    This isn't necessarily true. Glossy screens are not terrible depending on the other specifications, I'd go as far to say contrast ratio and colour gamut are more important factors - the Dell XPS 15 1080p B+RGLED is a stunner however you look at it and I can compare that to my work Dell Latitude E6400 with a matte screen and I can't stand it, it looks dull and washed out.

    That said the Alienware M11x R3 was everything I wanted and expected from a computer like that with the exception of the screen - I loved the low idle power consumption meaning you could watch videos and browse the web in bed or on the sofa without heat being an issue.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    We're trying to get a version of the laptop with a matte LCD in for testing. It almost certainly can't be worse than the glossy display, but is it better? As you point out, datasheets often "lie".

    I've seen LCDs advertised as 500:1, and what I found in testing is that if I measured white at max brightness and black at min brightness, I would get around 550:1. The problem is that the LCD didn't even support dynamic contrast, which would at least make such a claim partially true. So the LCD in question was something like 250 nits white/1.25 nits black at 100%, and 80 nits white/0.47 nits black at 0%.

    I've got another laptop actually in house where the max brightness is 430 nits, but black levels at 100% are 1.66 nits. Drop to 25% brightness and you get 108 nits/.42 nits. Using the same "dynamic" range, the manufacturer might claim 1000:1 contrast, when the real contrast is closer to 250:1.
  • prdola0 - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    I wonder if Asus comes with something similar/better. I would give my fist-born for a 11" 2core Ivy Bridge/GT640M Zenbook-style machine with Optimus, an Intel SSD 120GB inside and a matte screen with something like 1280x720 or so. Thunderbolt would be a great addition as well.

    Since this 11" Clevo is possible (although at the limit of thermals), my setup with smaller/slower CPU & GPU should certainly be possible too. Drop the D-Sub and Ethernet ports, leave just mini HDMI and Thunderbold and some USB 3.0, add backlit keyboard, and it is a bestseller.
  • htwingnut - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    I own the Sager brand of this and have to say it is one sexy mini beast. A couple things to note is that if you just prop this laptop up at the back, temps can drop as much as 10C at load. The screen is a bit miserable, and should have been matte by default. It's impossible to use outside or with any kind of lights on in the background.

    Otherwise it runs like a charm. 60-80FPS in BF3 on high. Can even crank out games at 1080p without much issue.
  • bennyg - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    I had a G51J that spent a LOT of its life with its GPU nearly boiling water. Sure it's not great, but the fact it survived 22 months without skipping a beat means high temps are somewhat tolerable. I made damn sure it sat on a cooler and the fan grilles and vents were cleaned every few months though. Ironically, it died when I ran over it... the base was resurrected minus a couple of ports and lives on as a ~50W HTPC now :)

    Every laptop with intake vents on the bottom benefit from being propped up or a cooler.
  • Meaker10 - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    I think they could have taken the current M14X and slimmed it down into an edge 14" machine (tiny bezel).

    The 650M (which had GDDR5 btw instead of DDR3) at a native 1600x900 would be awesome.

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