iBuyPower Valkyrie CZ-17 Gaming Notebook Review
Keyboard, Trackpad, & Display
The first feature that stands out is the screen's pixel ratio. At 17", the Valkyrie's 1920x1080 panel has a PPI of 129.5. That's good enough to qualify as a Retina Display at a viewing distance of 27" or more. The Asus monitor, in contrast, has the same 1920x1080 resolution, but a PPI of 81.5. Compared side-by-side, the Valkyrie's LCD is crisper and small text is easier to read.
How much this matters depends on how good your eyes are and the distance between your eyes and the screen. If you've got better than 20/20 vision and you've despaired of finding a non-Apple laptop with a high-PPI display, you might really like the Valkyrie's panel.
Color gradients and black/white banding are about what we'd expect for a TN panel -- decent, in other words, without particularly standing out. SPVA and S-IPS panels have always had better color reproduction than TN panels, but both the VG278H and the Valkyrie are at the upper end of the TN spectrum.
Keyboard and Trackpad
There's a lot of good things to say about the Valkyrie's keyboard. Responsiveness is good, the keys are comfortable, and everything is reasonably sized. One feature of the keyboard that we didn't personally like (but that some users may love) is an omission at the lower-right-hand corner:
That's right. No Windows key.
Whether or not this is a problem is itself a matter of contention. If you hate the Windows key, this is reason enough to mutter triumphantly into your neckbeard. If you like and use it, its absence is jarring. We've seen plenty of gamers note that while it's handy in general, they'd give a tooth to be able to disable it when gaming. Given the CZ-17's focus, we're betting that's the crowd iBuyPower wanted to cater to.
As for the trackpad, it sets a record as the most annoying mouse replacement I've ever tried to use. Mechanically, it's fine, with good button response and reasonable default sensitivity. Multi-touch and swipe gestures aren't supported, but it gets the job done -- until you try to type.
The CZ-17 desperately needs palm detection, and it doesn't have it. The pad immediately picks up even a light brush from the bottom of the palm and promptly transforms from staid icon of productivity to caffeine-fueled Jack Russell Terrier. This wreaks enthusiastic havoc on text and web forms.
Those of you who learned proper wrist position from an overzealous Catholic nun will have no problems. Everyone else is in for a rough time. Mobile gamers almost always use a mouse for playing, but the CZ-17's trackpad drove me to full-time mouse usage. I couldn't leave the trackpad enabled, even when typing a story or comment on the desktop.