If you came here looking for fps figures in games and in 3D Mark then go elsewhere, I will suggest http://www.notebookcheck.net. This is a personal review of the Sager NP9170 / Clevo P170EM. This is my first proper gaming laptop. Let me just say this right away, I have never seen a laptop like this. I have seen Alienware laptops but I knew this was the laptop for me more than 3 years ago when a friend had introduced me to the name Sager. He was looking for a gaming laptop and had planned to get one sent over from US to India. I could not do that for more than one reason, but I had decided then that a Sager will be the first thing I buy when I get to US. Call me a nerd but I like my technology stuff.
The laptop is good. Well when you are paying $1400 it better be good, but this is just better. A friend of mine had an Alienware M17x and that was nowhere near as good as this. The laptop is very well powered and at the same time its the coolest running laptop I have seen. The palm rest sure gives me shivers even when gaming, its that cold. The laptop is completely customizable from all of the sellers so there is no sense in giving a spec sheet, but since nerds (I am one!!!) may be reading, here goes : Intel Core i7-3610QM 3rd Gen, 16GB(4x4GB) DDR3-1600 RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M 2GB GDDR5, Switchable Intel HD4000 chip with NVIDIA Optimus, 500GB 7200RPM Seagate Momentus XT, 17.3″ Full HD 1080P LED-Backlit with Super Clear (1920 x 1080) Display, IC Diamond Thermal compound CPU+GPU. Add to those a Sony V6, Logitech MX400 and a SteelSeries pad and its a beginning of a pretty good gaming machine.
I decided that the $300 premium on the 680M was not worth it while I am still in student debt (someday!!!), nor were the CPU upgrades, thankfully I got the Back-to-School free upgrades on the ram and the hdd. I won’t lose sleep over what the system could really become if I had a greener bank balance but still the system does give you reasons to feel a sense of what could have been. The chassis screams out to you, I CAN TAKE MORE YOU MORON. Now that my regrets are expressed lets tell you about why I am amazed by the laptop.
Like I said the laptop runs cool, it ought to since this chassis is designed to handle the 680M and the extreme edition Core i7 and those generate some serious heat. I have really underpowered the chassis with my spec (but like I said, someday!!!). The speakers are good, I blare music from them when my roommate is not there, and at full volume there is just a hint of crackle with 96kbps audio files. This model comes with a full keyboard and I am grateful for that. One gripe is the missing left windows key and the options key on the right (I do tend to use them a lot for shortcuts). The keyboard is chunky and feels like I am really pressing buttons and not trying to push through some membrane, it really helps in typing and feeling those frantic keypresses during a gaming session. The keyboard backlight is good and even throughout – this keyboard is designed by the same guys that do the SteelSeries pro keyboards so what else can you expect. On top of the keyboard are a line of status indicators and the power button. You can find out more about what kind of ports are available on other review sites, they are all good and perform as they are expected to (from a $1400 laptop). The fingerprint sensor is not as good as those on the Lenovo systems though and the touchpad buttons should have been softer, but I guess you get used to them. I hope I don’t have to explain why this is a bloody well HEAVY laptop as is the charger for the laptop. The display is gorgeous and have a good contrast ratio and gamma levels. You will have to increase the brightness in sunlight though and maybe a concern for battery life when working outside on battery power, yet to test that out. The battery lasts for a good 3 hrs (less depending on the applications running) without gaming. The plastic liner looks a bit tacky specially with the gorgeous brushed metal top but I guess that improves the drop survivability and yes I have already dropped it once without a single scratch or performance issue(!!!). Also nothing special to add regarding the webcam, it works (what more do you need from a webcam?).
I said in the beginning that I preferred this to Alienware. Let me also add that I am also a great admirer of Apple design. So when the time came to decide, I had just three options – Sager, Alienware, Macbook Pro. Apple gave feather light impeccable design (I am also an artist) and I love that but I hate to be tied down and Apple’s no tease policy on their products ultimately made the decision for me. I love to take stuff apart and examine them closely so no Apple and no Alienware for the same reason. Ultimately why I chose Sager is that they allow you to open the chassis and replace parts by yourself without voiding warranty. The chassis is designed in such a way that once you take the back plate off everything is just a latch away – CPU, GPU, ram, hdd, keyboard and YOU can do it. I love that trust in their customers, really shows what kind of people buy Sager. I looked around and did a lot of digging to find out where I can find the best and the cheapest system make. After a lot of digging around Sager forums I decided on LPC-Digital. The customer service is first class, and Larry from customer service is a Champion. He gave replies no matter what the time and gave them very truthfully. They not only have the cheapest prices but will also price match if you can find a cheaper rate elsewhere. They also give student discounts and a discount for paying in cash/money order/transfers. The build was very well done, the thermal paste looks to have been applied professionally and perfectly. Go LPC-Digital, they sure get my thumbs up.
The main problem with getting ATI 7970M was the problem with graphics switching technology with the ATI drivers. The problem is well documented in the Sager NP9170 forums. I am not aware if the problem has been fixed but if it hasn’t been then avoid the ATI 7970M, get the 675M or the pricier 680M if you can afford it. Another problem you will face is that the laptop is huge so plan on a good backpack. You get a Sager side-slinger with the laptop (throw it away as soon as you get it, its worthless, just a few hours and the straps were showing signs of strain). Your average 17″ laptop backpacks may not fit this behemoth so OVERESTIMATE a little. Also account for a huge power adapter, its double the size of a dell XPS Studio adapter. I suggest the Case Logic RBP-117. Just $40 during Back-to-School offer time and it lets me carry my laptop, charger, water bottle, MX400 ($30), SteelSeries QCK pad ($10), Sony V6 ($49) and my college notebooks and and my karate uniform.
Its a brilliant machine and I wish to do it justice. Now, is anyone game!!!