|Introduction & Specifications|
|While many full-size gaming rigs are built to elicit oohs and ahs with their stunning looks and high performance, gaming notebooks can sometimes be a little bland. CyberPowerPC has had its share of solid yet non-distinct looking gaming notebooks, but the Fangbook series is a different animal. Built with plenty of alluring hardware and a slick chassis, the Fangbook is also clearly designed to make people stop and ogle.
The Fangbook comes in three iterations--the X7-100, X7-200, and the X7-300--and of course, all three models are completely customizable in terms of specifications and features. To give you a sense of the range of prices, the X7-100 starts at $1,299 (which gets you a pretty solid base configuration if you ask us), and on the high end, the X7-300 starts at $1,799.
CyberPowerPC sent us a base model X7-200 to savage, which costs $1,549 as configured.
The Fangbook X7-200 features a 17.3-inch (1920x1080) FHD LED-backlit display and runs an Intel Core i7-3630QM (2.4GHz/3.4GHz Turbo) processor paired to an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX (4GB) GPU. There’s 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1333MHz (8GBx2) RAM on board, and for storage, the system has a 60GB Intel 520 Series SSD coupled with a spacious 750GB WD Scorpio Black (7200RPM, SATA 6Gbps) HDD. The optical drive is an 8X DVD±R/RW/4X + DL Super-Multi model.
All that hardware goodness has a bit of heft to it; the system weighs in at a whopping 13.85 pounds, which is quite a load even for a gaming notebook.
There’s a respectable number and variety of I/O ports, including three USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, eSATA, a 4-in-1 card reader, VGA and HDMI, a lock port, and a LAN port. One excellent surprise is the presence of four audio jacks (two of which double as headphone and mic jacks), so users can connect to an external sound system. That’s not to say that the internal sound system is lacking, however, as it boasts 2.1 stereo speakers and 3D Premium Surround sound.
In the box, you’ll find the requisite manuals and paperwork, recovery disc, manual disc, and power adapter. The Fangbook X7-200’s specifications are solid, but to try and set this system apart from the competition, CyberPowerPC spent a lot of its time focusing on some of this notebook’s design elements, which we’ll examine on the next page.
|Design & Layout|
|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.
|PCMark & 3DMark Tests|
|Usually, we’d fire up Futuremark's system performance benchmark, PCMark Vantage so we'd have a wide range of comparable numbers, but as of press time, Futuremark had not yet released an update of the test for Windows 8. We still have PCMark 7 and 3Dmark 11 to test our system, though.
Below is what Futuremark says is incorporated in the base PCMark suite and the Entertainment, Creativity, and Productivity suites, the four modules we have benchmark scores for you here.
The PCMark test is a collection of workloads that measure system performance during typical desktop usage. This is the most important test since it returns the official PCMark score for the system
The CyberPowerPC Fangbook starts strong out of the gate, posting a surprisingly strong score in PCMark 7. This score speaks to the prowess of the system as a whole, which includes a solid CPU/GPU combination bolstered by 16GB of memory and an SSD.
3DMark11, is specifically targeted at Windows 7 and 8-based systems due to its DirectX 11 requirement. 3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test. We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark11's Performance preset option, which uses a resolution of 1280x720 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering.
Our system didn’t do nearly as well in 3DMark 11. In a trend that we’ll see repeated in our benchmarks, the Fangbook beat out systems with older CPUs and lesser GPUs but, as expected, couldn’t quite match the performance of the GTX 680 nor multi-GPU systems. It did, however, edge out the iBuypower system, which has very similar specs.
|SiSoft SANDRA & Cinebench|
|We continued our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Memory Bandwidth, Physical Disks).
Although the Fangbook doesn't take the top spot here, it can definitely hang with the lead pack, scoring within a reasonable range of the four best systems in our bank.
In terms of memory bandwidth, the Fangbook posted one of the better scores, and you can see how much of a performance boost this gaming notebook gets from the Intel SSD. Of the three SSD-packing systems here, it scored the lowest, but the gulf between it and the systems with a traditional HDD is vast.
These CPU scores are mosty predictable, with the Fangbook’s Core i7-3630QM falling just short of the Alienware M18x R2 and M17x and their slightly better processors. It’s a little surprising that it outpaces the Eurocom system by such a large margin, though.
You can see how well the Fangbook’s GTX 675MX GPU performs here; its 41.64 OpenGL score beats out a GTX 580M SLI configuration and isn’t too far off of the score put up by the M17x’s GTX 680M.
|Gaming Performance: Far Cry 2, Metro 2033, & Just Cause 2|
|And now begins the round of gaming benchmarks. First up is Far Cry 2, Metro 2033, and Just Cause 2.
Systems with this level of processing and graphics firepower typically make mincemeat of older DX10 benchmarks, and indeed, the Fangbook delivers here. The system’s CPU/GPU combo can’t quite keep pace with systems running the GTX 680M and CrossFire/SLI setups, but otherwise it holds its own. In the lower resolution run, it obliterated the iBuypower system, which is a little surprising.
In this DX11 title, multi-GPU systems clearly dominate, while most systems with a lone GPU struggle to post playable framerates. However, the Fangbook can hack it--albeit barely--at a resolution of 1920x1080 with the in-game features turned up.
The Fangbook breezed through the Just Cause 2 benchmark, delivering impressive 116.45 and 186.22 FPS at high and low resolutions, respectively. Our system turned in scores surpassing those of some multi-GPU systems, and at the 1280x720 resolution it actually posted the second-best score of the group.
|Gaming Performance: Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, & Batman: Arkham City|
|The gaming benchmarks continue with Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, and Batman: Arkham City.
A follow-up to Capcom’s Lost Planet : Extreme Condition, Lost Planet 2 is a third person shooter that takes place again on E.D.N. III ten years after the story line of the first title. We ran the game’s DX11 mode which makes heavy use of DX11 Tessellation and Displacement mapping and soft shadows. There are also areas of the game that make use of DX11 DirectCompute for things like wave simulation in areas with water. This is one game engine that looks significantly different in DX11 mode when you compare certain environmental elements and character rendering in its DX9 mode versus DX11. We used the Test B option built into the benchmark tool and with all graphics options set to their High Quality values.
Clearly, there’s a big difference in what the Fangbook can do to a DX10 title versus a newer, more demanding DX11 game. Although the system managed playable framerates at each resolution tested, it didn’t clear the bar by much. Still, it’s in good company, as again only multi-GPU systems and the GTX 680M-packing Alienware M17x could handle Lost Planet 2 at 1920x1080.
We’re still culling data on gaming notebook’s performance for comparison numbers, but on its own the Fangbook handled Aliens vs. Predator fairly well. At most resolutions, it posted comfortably playable framerates, although at 1920x1080 it choked a little.
Unlike in AvP, the Fangbook blazed through the Batman benchmark, posting a strong 56 FPS even at the highest resolution.
|Battery Life isn’t exactly high on the list of priorities of people looking to buy a gaming notebook; it’s a given that all that high-performing gear is going to drink a battery’s juice like it’s last call, and as long as you can get a little something done with your notebook before it runs dry, that’s generally satisfactory. Still, there’s a big difference between losing power after less than an hour and being able to watch a whole movie before the battery gives out.
The Fangbook is right on par with most of the systems on our test bank; other than the ASUS G74SX’s 100-minute marathon and the iBuypower’s impressive 91 minutes of power, most of these ultra high-performance mobile rigs clocked in at a little over 70 minutes.
|Performance Summary & Conclusion|
|Performance Summary: If you just glance quickly at our benchmark charts, it looks like the CyberPowerPC Fangbook X7-200 trailed some other high-performance mobile gaming rigs. However, a closer look will reveal that most of the systems that beat the Fangbook in our tests were actually running multi-GPU or more powerful and hence more expensive GPU setups, whereas our system is rocking a single GeForce GTX 675MX GPU. In fact, the Fangbook scored right about where it was supposed to in most of the tests, considering the system’s specifications and features.
The Fangbook is just an all-around great system. Of course, you could configure it with better specs, but the Intel Core i7-3630QM processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX GPU, 16GB of RAM, and speedy SSD do pretty well together. (It’s worth noting that this is merely the base configuration for the X7-200 model.) Sometimes, a PC maker will load a system with one or possibly two extremely high end components and skimp on the rest, but CyberPowerPC built this Fangbook with a well balanced mix of components, which frankly makes more sense.
Cold hard benchmark scores aside, the Fangbook also delivered remarkably quiet performance considering its pedigree. Even after long gaming sessions, the fan noise stayed pleasantly low. We were also impressed with the speakers’ overall clarity and clean sound even at high volumes (even though lower frequency performance was predicably weak).
CyberPowerPC made an effort to produce a gaming notebook that had some flair to it, and the Fangbook definitely delivers on that front. Further (and more importantly), the build quality is as solid as the cool lights and funky exterior shell are attractive, and ports are placed in areas where you’re most likely to actually use them.
At the end of day, it always comes down to value, and this is one area where the Fangbook actually shines quite brightly. At $1,549, it costs less than almost all of the systems we put it up against, including the Alienware M18x with dual GPUs ($4,379), Alienware M17x ($2,469), and the ASUS G74SX-A1 ($1,749). Even the small-screened Eurocom Monster is more expensive at $1,605. In terms of comparable systems, only the iBuypower Valkyrie is cheaper, at $1,459.
CyberPowerPC’s Fangbook has it all. Good looks, strong performance, and great bang for your buck.