As we mentioned earlier, CyberPowerPC wants the Fangbook to stop traffic, and to that end they wrapped the machine in what looks like space-age armor; the lid's silver "panels" are punctuated by a thin black honeycomb line with a glowing CyberPowerPC logo in red.
With the lid up, you can really see all the design work that went into this case. There’s a two-tone black and battleship gray color scheme, with the black keys surrounded by the gray, and the gray touchpad area surrounded by black. Above the keyboard area is a glossy black band with the stereo speaks on either side, a power button in the middle, and touch buttons in between. The buttons include disc eject, monitor sleep, airplane mode, brightness, fan control, and one-touch movie mode and preferred user settings.
The mouse buttons under the touchpad require a surprising and uncomfortable amount of force to depress. Fortunately, the rest of the input methods on this machine are superb. We found ourselves using (and loving) the wide, comfortable touchpad for most navigation, including clicks and double-clicks. Although the actual keys are chiclet-style, the keyboard features spring-loaded programmable keys with anti-ghosting to maximize your gaming performance, and it boasts a full numpad, as well. Further, the keys have a very slight inward indentation for a slightly better tactile control in the heat of a gaming session.
Predictably, the keyboard is backlit. You don’t have a lot of control over the backlighting other than being able to switch it on and off, but it glows a menacing red. Areas around the speakers, power button, and touchpad have blue backlighting, and if you can get a low enough view, there are two rows of blue LEDs on the front, too. To achieve a nice clean look when you’re using the notebook, the top edge of the Fangbook extends out just slightly over the sides to conceal the ports.
There are various ports on the sides and back of the machine, and CyberPowerPC was wise in their placement. The back houses the VGA and HDMI ports, LAN port, eSATA port, lock, and power jack while the two USB 2.0 ports and the ODD are on the right side of the notebook--you know, where your external keyboard and mouse will be plugged in--and the three USB 3.0 ports, 4-in-1 card reader, and four audio jacks on the left.
The Fangbook feels solid and sturdy, with hinges that have a perfect balance between rigidity that keeps the display up with no trouble but can also be opened with one hand. The display itself is strong, and it doesn’t flex at all when you move it. The cooling system uses four vents--one on either side and two in the back--but you’ll rarely hear them kick into high gear even when the system is at full tilt, which makes for a refreshingly quiet gaming experience.
While you won’t mistake the Fangbook’s 2.1 stereo speakers for a full-sized speaker system, they do deliver impressive performance for a notebook. Of course, the low end is sincerely lacking and mids are only decent, but the clarity of the sound is striking, which is great for mobile gaming, and we detected almost zero distortion even with all the audio settings cranked to 100% and playing a track blasting a wide range of frequencies. Those are qualities you don’t see from notebook audio systems very often. If you want to connect a real speaker system, the Fangbook has four audio jacks, instead of just the customary headphone/mic pair.
CyberPowerPC didn’t bother with any bloatware on the Fangbook, so it’ll ship with tidy desktop and start screens. The only real extra software on our system was the Killer Network Manager.