So let's get down to business. First let's look at the specs of the review system:
Sager NP9390 (Clevo P375SM)
17" 95% Gamut 1920x1080 Glossy LCD
Intel Haswell i7-4800MQ quad core mobile CPU @ 2.7GHz (3.7GHz Boost)
nVidia GeForce GTX 780m SLI each with 4GB GDDR5 @ 2500MHz
16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1600 RAM
Intel 520 240GB SSD
Intel 6300 Wi-Fi N
Blu-Ray / DVDRW Optical Drive
Windows 8 Pro 64-bit
Sager has taken some risk this year by offering some more accessory lights on their laptops, including a blue (default color) logo on the lit touchad and power button along with some blinginess to the speaker bar at the top of the laptop. Red tail lights adorn the back of the laptop which makes it almost look like the rear end of fancy sports car from behind. The traditional backlit keyboard is present as well. While the keyboard lighting is adjustable for brightness and colors, much of the other lighting is relegated to simply turning ON or OFF with the keyboard backlighting. The touchpad light can be color adjusted with the center portion of the keyboard backlight, but it cannot be individually powered off. Mouse buttons are separated from the touch pad and is a single bar with a rough texture, but with two distinct button clicks for left and right mouse actions.
The speaker bar lights, which are really pretty neat when audio is played through the speakers or headphones, bounce and flash like an equalizer. I do find it odd, however that the lights are almost opposite of what they should be, they tend to light less of the bar with louder sounds and more with softer sounds. But in any case it's still a nice touch. Both these lights and the rear red lights shine a lot brighter than the other lights and can be a bit overpowering in a dark environment however.
The rest of the laptop has refined aesthetics from previous year's designs by implementing hard angles, almost with a stealth fighter look. Matte surfaces are found on the bezels surrounding the keyboard and LCD while the back of the LCD lid is comprised of a smooth plastic with a dull finish (i.e. not shiny). Bottom panels are the typical plastic ones found on Clevo notebooks.
Four audio jacks are found on the left side of the notebook: headphone, microphone, optical, and audio in. Card reader, ethernet jack, and kensington lock are also on the left rear of the audio jacks. On the right side is the optical drive, followed by a few ports rear of it, the eSATA/USB combo port, two USB 3.0 ports, and a Thunderbolt port. Around to the rear of the laptop are two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI, and one power input jack.
Two webcams are actually on this machine, one on the top of the lid and one on the LCD side. The one on the top of the lid is 5.0MP, and the webcam that you look at on the LCD side is 1.0MP.
Accessing the interior is same as any Sager laptop has been, simple. Even with the three massive fans and heatsinks, it takes all of thirty seconds to access the interior by removing a few screws on the bottom panel. There is also a separate compartment that houses two 2.5" 9.5mm drives. In the main compartment you will find the CPU nestled between the two GPU's one one either side of the CPU all with their respective cooling solutions comprised of fat copper heatpipes and large high air flow fans. The wi-fi card, two RAM slots, and one of the two mSATA slots are also located in the bottom compartment.
Additional components are underneath the keyboard, which is not so difficult to remove either. Just pop the small bezel above the keyboard off, unscrew 5 screws, and lift up the keyboard to expose two RAM modules and the second mSATA slot. The CMOS battery, southbridge chip and plethora of cables are also routed under there.
systemsoftwareSYSTEM AND SOFTWARE
The BIOS is the crux of any machine as it offers the micro code to manage the hardware even without an OS installed. While Sager notebooks of past have had pretty a pretty robust BIOS, they have been notoriously sparse with options. For a gaming machine it is always nice to have better control of your RAM, CPU, and GPU parameters, but alas this hasn't changed for as long as I've used Clevo notebooks. That being said, here's a breakdown of the BIOS screens and what is offered:
- Date, Time, drive and hardware information
- Rapid Start submenu to enable or disable
- Intel Thunderbolt submenu
-- secuity level: Legacy Mode, Unique ID, DP++ only
- Intel anti-theft technology
- SATA mode: IDE, AHCI, RAID
- Boot Logo: Enable, Disable
- Power on boot beep: Enable, Disable
- Battery low alarm beep: Enable, Disable
- Intel virtualization technology: Enable, Disable
- Secure Boot Control: Enable, Disable
-- Enabled Secure Boot Control: Standard, Custom
-- Custom Secure boot control: lots of details
- UEFI: On, Off
- Save Changes and Reset
- Exit discarding changes
- Load setup defaults
- Discard Changes
- Save Changes
- Launch EFI Shell from filesystem device
The power supply is a 330W (19v x 16.9A) brick with a four prong connector to the back of the laptop. Compared with the 180W brick typically supplied with the 15 inch models with a barrel connector, it isn't a whole lot bigger in size and provides almost twice the power. There is a green indicator light to show when the power supply is powered up.
The keyboard is the same backlit keyboard used across Clevo's 15" and 17" lines. The feel, key travel, and backlighting is the same as on my year old NP9150. Only difference is they moved the windows key from the right side to the left side swapped with the Fn key.
Sager usually offers a compelling number of high quality displays in their models and this time is no different, and actually it is very nice for a 17". It is a an AUO B173HW01 glossy 95% gamut with great viewing angles and brightness. The other options that I've seen so far are a 60% matte and 72% matte. The AUO screen, while glossy, didn't seem to have a horrible super glossy mirror effect like other ones I've seen.
The Logitech touchpad is quite large. The buttons are separated from the bottom of the touchpad and are activated by a single wide bar. I did find myself jabbing the bezel beneath the touchpad instead of the buttons themselves, but likely something just to get used to.
SSD's are becoming more and more popular storage drive choices and the 17" form factor allows a number of options for maximum performance. There are two 2.5" 9.5mm height drive bays for a traditional laptop HDD but obviously also supports SSD's. All the ports are supposedly SATA III, including the two mSATA slots. And the optical drive can be exchanged for a 2.5" drive caddy. There is onboard RAID should you choose to take advantage of all the drive bays for increased performance or data redundancy, or backup. With up to five drives there are ample options for your storge needs. Not to mention the four USB 3.0 and one eSATA/USB 3.0 combo port.
This specific machine came populated with an Intel 520 240GB SSD and I added a Samsung 830 256GB loaded with the benchmarks and programs used for this review. Both show SATA III speeds.
speakersSpeakers and Audio
Other Sager notebooks have had average speaker systems. While I wouldn't call the P375SM much of an improvement, it still sounds better and is louder than my NP9150 and the NP8250 I recentely reviewed. Check out this 3DMark Ice Storm demo where you can see the audio lights as well as hear the sound level of the laptop speakers. Initially sound was at 50% and cranked to 100% at about the 1:36 minute mark.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ciddjMlzIhY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
System drivers were included on a DVD supplied with the system and can also be downloaded from www.sagernotebook.com or CLEVO or even from the respective manufacturer's website if you so desire. One driver that was missing from the DVD however is the Intel Management Engine, but was readily available form the Clevo website.
Video drivers for the SLI 780m GPU's were of an older vintage 311.24, which worked fine with the laptop, but many newer games would not work with SLI. A download of the latest beta drivers 320.49 seemed to improve or correct any issues that were apparent with the earlier drivers. This is of no fault of Sager or Clevo since the games that weren't supported weren't even released yet or were just released at the time these DVD's were pressed. In any case be sure to check online for drivers if you are having some concerns with the stock ones.
There are a few unique software items that come with this Sager laptop.
First is the Clevo Control Center. It is part of the Clevo Hotkey app, and allows users to change system settings on the fly including power states, keyboard backlighting, desktop backgrounds, screen brightness, etc. It is accessed using the Fn+ESC key combination. Coupled with this are all the Fn key combos for activating/deactivating touchpad, LCD switching (for external displays), volume and brightness controls, camera, and "airplane mode". The keyboard backlighting app is also included in the Hotkey software which allows for changing of colors, brightness, toggling on and off. One function key that is missing from last year's machine is the wi-fi antenna and Bluetooth toggle. It is neither present in a Fn key combo nor in the control panel. It is all to be controlled through Windows.
Another software feature is SoundBlaster X-Fi 3. It's basically a fancy interface for equalizer, EAX effects, and includes voice effects to alter your voice using the microphone, and something called Scout Mode that's supposed to let you hear even the faintest sounds in games more clearly, so you can hear your enemies from further away. I haven't put this to the test, but I can't imagine through the meager speakers it would give you much more tactical advantage than a good set of USB headphones.
And of course if you ordered your laptop with a blu-ray drive then it comes with Cyberlink Media Suite 8 for Blu-Ray movie playback.
perfHARDWARE PERFORMANCE, POWER, COOLING
testing stuffSoftware / Hardware Used for Testing
- : Storing and sharing images
- IrfanView 4.35 : image cropping and manipulation
- FRAPS 3.5.99 : measuring FPS and taking in-game screenshots
- nVidiaInspector : Overclocking GPU
- CrystalDiskMark : SSD performance
- Excel 2013 : storing, sorting, and manipulating data and creating FPS and other graphs
- Notepad : writing this review
- P3 P4330 : measuring power draw from the wall
- HDE IR Temparture Gun : laptops surface temperature measurements
- CEM Mini Digital Sound Level Meter : measuring dbA of laptop
cpuCPU Intel i7-4800MQ
Haswell is Intel's Tock to Ivy Bridge's Tick built with 22nm process. The new micro-architecture adds some features to improve power consumption, and of note is moving the voltage regulator on the die, not to mention the improved integrated GPU performance. If you'll notice the TDP of these CPU's are 2W more than the Ivy Bridge chips they replace. Mobile quad cores that were 45W are now 47W, dual cores that were 35W are 37W, and that is primarily due to the voltage regulator and IGP improvements, but overall the architectural changes are supposed to reduce idle power consumption considerably. Other than added features, Intel also jumbled the nomenclature considerably. Going from QM for a quad mobile CPU to an MQ, and then adding HQ for the CPU's with the on-die video RAM, and MX for the Extreme Edition CPU's. Just for ease of correlation, the i7-4700MQ is more or less like an i7-3630QM Ivy Bridge, i7-4800MQ like an i7-3740QM, i7-4900MQ like the i7-3840QM.
Intel XTU is supported on this machine, however only for changing multipliers, the TDP is not adjustable nor is the turbo boost power time window. While increasing the multpliers by 400MHz resulted in faster clock speeds, it also increased CPU temps by a considerable amount. If you want a slight boost to your CPU speeds this is a nice feature, however. Apparently the i7-4700MQ will offer a +200Hz overclock, i7-4800MQ a +400MHz overclock, and i7-4900MQ a +600MHz overclock. However without control over the TDP results may not be as desirable as you'd like.
cpubenchCPU Benchmark results can be found in the Sager NP8250 / Clevo P157SM Review: http://forum.notebookreview.com/sag...ager-np8250-clevo-p157sm-review.html#cpubench
gpuGPU nVidia GeForce GTX 780m SLI
SLI is an great option for those looking for the ultimate performance in a portable form factor. The 780m as seen in the review of the Clevo P157SM showed significant improvement over last year's 680m, and overclock potential is great, but hampered by the 180W power supply in the single GPU system. The 330W power supply, however, offers ample power for the two 780m GPU's, i7-4800MQ CPU, and all the other electronics. Maximum power draw at stock was typically below 270W, and with a slight overclock (+100MHz core / +450MHz vRAM) resulted in a draw less than 320W. These figures are all draw from the wall so the actual supplied power to the laptop is 10-15% less due to an efficiency factor of the PSU.
SLI performance is also dependent on proper drivers, and using the drivers supplied by Sager there were several newer games that either suffered performance or would only utilize a single GPU. Most were all corrected by downloading the latest beta 320.49 drivers, the one benchmark that still suffers is Final Fantasy XIV benchmark. I'm sure that will be corrected with time. Performance with SLI was less than with a single card, so clearly drivers need some work for that.
Let's take a look at the specs of the 780m:
CUDA Cores: 768
Clock Frequency: 823MHz + Boost (~ 923MHz)
Memory Clock: 2500MHz (effective 5000MHz)
Memory Interface: 256-bit
This makes the 780m basically a slightly underclocked desktop 680!
Benchmarks results can be seen by clicking on the respective benchmark below or the general BENCHMARK link at the top of the list. Results were compared with the P157SM laptop that has a similar configuration except with only a single 780m. This way you can see the relative performance by using two cards in SLI vs a single card.
GPU clocks were based on the following:
- Desktop GTX 670: 670 core @ 1215MHz, vRAM @ 3100MHz, 1.162V
- P157SM Stock: 780m core @ 823MHz, vRAM @ 2500MHz, 1.012V
- P375SM Stock: 780m SLI cores @ 823MHz, vRAM @ 2500MHz, 1.012V
- P375SM Overclock: 780m SLI cores @ 923MHz, vRAM @ 2950MHz, 1.012V
GPU's were overclocked using nVidiaInspector. While a single card on the P157SM could be clocked at the max software allowable of +135MHz on the core, and +500MHz on the vRAM, the P375SM 780m in SLI was only able to manage +100MHz on the core and +450MHz on the vRAM. But in any case the overclock did offer some measureable improvement.
Benchmarks used a Desktop machine with an i5-3570k at stock clocks and a nVidia GTX 670 GPU. Also I threw in the Clevo P157SM with i7-3800MQ and single GTX 780m results at stock speeds for comparison.
Below are the GPU-z and CPU-z of the desktop i5-3570k and GTX 670 used for comparison:
Pretty much all games were run at maximum detail, and synthetic bencharks were run at their recommended settings.
Battlefield 3 64 Player Multiplayer
Far Cry 3
Final Fantasy XIV
Metro Last Light
Resident Evil 6
One of the criticisms of SLI has been micro stuttering which relates back to frame times. Alternating high/low or high frametimes altogether can result in a visual experience that looks more like stuttering or a 60fps frame look like one that's running at 15fps. Throughout the benchmarking and gaming on this machine there has been no visual discontinuities at all. I measured frametimes using the FRAPS benchmarking tool and the result was very impressive. Overall the frametimes were as good as or better than the P157SM with a single 780m. As long as nVidia keeps on top of their drivers with new game releases, microstuttering should remain a thing of the past.
Power consumption of the laptop was measured as Watts drawn from the wall. System was set up with maximum brightness, volume at 50%, wi-fi on, all accessory lights on and full brightness. A few things I noted, and just for reference, the backlighting can take a significant amount of power as can the LCD at full brightness. All settings run with system on "high performance".
Idle, LCD min brightness, backlight off: 37W
Idle, LCD min brightness, backlight full: 40W
Idle, LCD max brightness, backlight full: 48W
Power draw was measured during benchmarking. Below are the results of the power draw from the wall.
coolingCooling and Sound Levels
There are two cooling levels users look for, one is tactile temperature, basically how the laptop feels to them while using it and component temperatures, where you don't want them too high so the components don't throttle or worse, fail. A good cooling solution will offer mild temperature increases on the touch surfaces while still maintaining cool component temperatures. A compromise to that is fan noise. Bigger and stronger fans help improve cooling performance while keeping noise levels down, but you can only get so big in a confined space of a laptop.
The surface temperatures were measured at load as were the dBA levels to give a feel for how loud and comfortable the laptop is during gaming.
Component cooling performance was measured during benchmark performance tests and resultant temperatures are shown below.
For fan sound levels, using a not so scientific method but a simple dBA meter the following measurements of the system fan were taken with the meter about where your head would be in relation to the screen:
Ambient: 39 dBA (refrig and a/c were running)
Idle: 40 dBA
Heavy Load: 42 dBA
Full Fans: 45 dBA
With an SLI machine one wouldn't expect much from battery life, especially considering the machine does not support nVidia's Optimus technology which uses the GPU integrated in the CPU for light tasks and only activates the dedicated GPU when needed. In this case the 780m GPU's are always on. Although they do have a low power state that keeps them from drawing too much power.
In a web browsing battery test running four web pages with light Flash on them, being refreshed every 1 to 15 minutes, the system resulted in a battery life of 2 hrs 27 mins to 5% battery remaining.
The Sager NP9390 offers the highest performing consumer level PC components in a 17" notebook that rival the power of high end desktop PC's. With dual 780m GPU's latest games play at maximum detail at 1080p with ease, easily breaking the 30FPS minmum barrier and in most cases well above 60FPS. This is a gamer's dream if someone is looking for a powerful and portable gaming PC. Not to mention it is actually priced reasonable compared to other laptops with similar equipment.
Cooling performance is more than sufficient even when the GPU's are overclocked modestly. Fan noise is within reason and to be expected when there are a large amount of high TDP parts parked inside a slim chassis of a notebook form factor. The screen is beautiful and as usual, one of many great screen options that Sager offers with their notebooks. Additional accesory lighting is a nice touch, although it strays from Clevo's traditional basic look and may not be for everyone. Speaker bar light and rear tail lights are a bit bright and offering ability to adjust intensity and turn off the other lights would be a welcome addition.
Build quality is very sturdy with great fit and finish. The laptop is solid and no concern of soft spots or fragile areas. Using the 15" keyboard is a bit of disappointment in a 17" form factor, but overall it has a firm feel when typing. Easy access to components, typical of Sager notebooks, is always welcome, and the ability to install up to five mass storage devices and with RAID offers plenty of storage options.
To be honest it's hard to find much fault with this machine, and what I do find undesirable to me is really personal preference like touchpad lighting and glossy screen. Overall if I had to rate this machine on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a solid 9.
Artificial Benchmarks INDEX
3dm133DMark 13 INDEX
catzillaAllbenchmark Catzilla INDEX
uheavenUnigine Heaven INDEX
uvalleyUnigine Valley INDEX
bf3Battlefield 3 INDEX
bioshockinfBioshock Infinite INDEX
crysis2Crysis 2 INDEX
crysis3Crysis 3 INDEX
dirt3Dirt 3 INDEX
farcry3Far Cry 3 INDEX
ffxivFinal Fantasy XIV INDEX
(clearly SLI drivers aren't ready for this game yet)
hitmanHitman Absolution INDEX
metro2033Metro 2033 INDEX
metrollMetro Last Light INDEX
re6Resident Evil 6 INDEX
sleepdogSleeping Dogs INDEX
tombTomb Raider INDEX
witcher2Witcher 2 INDEX