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Vortex III Elite Review
Member Name: Torgan
Advantages: Fantastic Performance
Disadvantages: Quite Pricey
Spec received is as follows:
Chassis & Display Vortex Series: 17.3" Matte Full HD LED Widescreen (1920x1080)
Processor (CPU) Intel® CoreTMi7 Quad Core Mobile Extreme i7-3940XM (3.00GHz) 8MB
Memory (RAM) 8GB KINGSTON HYPER-X GENESIS 1600MHz SODIMM DDR3 (2 x 4GB)
Graphics Card 2 x NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 680M - 4.0GB DDR5 Video RAM - DirectX® 11
Memory - 1st Hard Disk 240GB INTEL® 330 SERIES SSD, SATA 6 Gb/s (500MB/sR,450MB/sW) (Special)
1st DVD/BLU-RAY Drive 8x SATA DVD±R/RW/Dual Layer (+ 24x CD-RW)
Memory Card Reader Internal 9 in 1 Card Reader (MMC/RSMMC/SD: Mini, XC & HC/MS: Pro & Duo)
Thermal Paste ARCTIC MX-4 EXTREME THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY COMPOUND (£9)
Sound Card Intel 5.1 Channel High Definition Audio + SPDIF/MIC/Headphone Jack
Network Facilities GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL® ULTIMATE-N 6300 (450Mbps)
USB Options 4 x USB 3.0 PORTS + 1 x USB 2.0 PORT AS STANDARD
Battery Vortex Extreme 8 Cell Lithium Ion Battery (5,800 mAh/89.21WH)
Power Lead & Adaptor 1 x UK Power Lead & 300W AC Adaptor
Keyboard & Mouse INTEGRATED BACKLIT UK KEYBOARD WITH NUMBER PAD
Warranty 3 Year Silver Warranty (1 Year Collect & Return, 1 Year Parts, 3 Year Labour) (£5)
Dead Pixel Guarantee NONE
Delivery STANDARD INSURED DELIVERY TO UK MAINLAND (MON-FRI)
Build Time Standard Build - Approximately 9 to 11 working days
Just for Clarity, this review is completely within the bounds of my technical knowledge. I am not a tech superstar and would not attempt to sound like one. I have put together this first impressions report exclusively on my use of the laptop which is mainly t'internet browsing and gaming. If anybody has any questions which require more technical information please feel free to ask and I will do my utmost to give a useful answer.
I received the laptop within 12 working days of the order being placed so was extremely pleased with the turnaround time. And the delivery service was excellent, I received emails and text alerts from both PCS and DPD throughout the process, from pickup to the hour "window" that it would be at my address.
Packaging was sound and I believe was more than adequate to protect the laptop during transit but was not over the top like you often receive from certain other online retailers.
Upon receipt I had various extras that I salvaged from my previous Vortex II which I wished to install. Namely a secondary SSD (OCZ Agility 3 480GB) and Corsair Vengeance Performance 16GB Ram.
The Drives are much more accessible than on previous models, both Primary and Secondary are stacked on top of each other in a separate compartment which is easily opened.
The primary RAM modules are located underneath the main access panel which I was apprehensive about removing as it also uncovers the GPU's and most of the "belly of the beast". Upon examination however, this panel is simply removed using 4 screws and a simple push and lift technique and 2 RAM housings are slap bang in the middle and easily replaceable. I did have a dig around for the other 2 RAM housings as the configuration page offers the option of installing 4 RAM modules but couldn't see anything. After some t'internet investigation it appears that slots 3 and 4 are actually underneath the keyboard and would require that to be removed to access them, something I am not comfortable performing on my own.
The additional RAM was automatically detected by the BIOS and just picked up the work with no further input and the SSD intergrated seamlessly through Disk Management.
Onto the Screen. After I had finished setting up Windows and Anti Virus etc I started to put on some Games as that is what I use this laptop for. When I first launched Skyrim I noticed two "Stuck" Pixels........ I have attempted to fix these by running various programs that rapidly flash at the pixel in the hope of resetting it, but to no avail. I have to admit that I am disappointed that this has happened so early in the day but I did not take out the Dead Pixel Guarantee so guess it's as much my fault as anybody else.
If there is one thing that anybody takes from this review it's "TAKE OUT DEAD PIXEL INSURANCE"
Aside from that, this is the first time I have used a matte screen and I'm pleasantly surprised. I had heard from friends that the display would be much less vibrant than with a glossy, and that is definitely the case, however nowhere near the degree that I had been told. Sure, sometimes there is a "graininess" to proceedings, but colours are still full and HD pictures are in all their glory. The removal of the glare is the major plus factor as that was most definitely my major bugbear over glossy screens so balancing the pros and cons I would definitely recommend using matte.
Overall Build. I had read various reviews stating that the chassis felt "plasticy". This is definitely the case, but as the laptop is constructed out of plastic i'm not entirely sure what people expected it to feel like!
The build quality is more than adequate, I work away at sea and will be taking this with me, and I am confident that the unit will cope quite happily with the transit to and from ship in my luggage, and also the rigours of life onboard.
The keyboard is very responsive and I find it very easy to type quickly and accurately. The small return key has been cited in other reviews as being difficult to locate, but I have not noticed this to enough of a degree for me to make it a detrimental point. I have to admit that I preferred the keyboard from a Vortex II with each key in it's own hole (i'm sure there is a technical term for this, but i'm not that tech savvy i'm afraid) as I smoke and often worry about the amount of particles that can get into the system between the keyboard, and with two GPU's, fan cleanliness is quite a prominent concern. As I have not had the laptop very long, I cannot make a judgement on the validity of that statement but will be monitoring it over time.
The Backlight on the keyboard is something that when I initially read the spec of the laptop thought I would not be particularly bothered about, but since I have started playing about with it, find it an extremely good addition. I enjoy "faffing" around with my Desktop and use Stardock Windowblinds and IconPackager to customize everything, and find being able to match the keyboard to my Desktop is another string to my bow. Obviously, the ability to use the keyboard easily in a dark environment is also a great benefit, but I find the aesthetic bonuses much more to my liking.
Performance. I was initially concerned about overheating due to the two GPU's, however I have ran Skyrim and Battlefield 3 on the highest possible settings for a good few hours each and the only area that I noticed getting warm was underneath the bottom left of the unit (where your left palm rests) but this certainly wasn't to the degree that my Vortex II running a GTX580M did. I haven't played anything for a massively extended period of time, so cannot report on that but I plan to monitor temperatures using GPUZ so if anything earth shattering occurs I will definitely report on these forums.
I had also read about excessive fan noise when idle. This is not something that I have come across myself, the laptop is definitely not silent, but I can quite happily get on with something else in the same room and not notice it.
Speakers. The preinstalled Onkyo speakers are good enough I suppose for gaming and general use, the quality is ok, but did not produce any great richness of sound, sometimes getting a bit "tinny" at top volume, so if you wish to use the laptop for any kind of media playback, I would strongly recommend external speakers. I use Logitech Z305 which hang very nicely over the top of the lid and produce excellent quality.
Nitpicking. There is nothing major here, just a few things that I needed to "tweak" or turn off but felt I needed to include them to provide a complete review
The AuthenTec Truesuite that comes preinstalled with the fingerprint reader is a nice addition to the security of the laptop, however I did find it annoying whenever I opened a password protected webpage that the popup to swipe a finger appeared. I prefer to use Norton Vault, as occasionally if there is a site that has separate logins (PCS Homepage and Forums for example) the popup would not let me swap to the other one that was required. This is simply remedied however from the configuration page.
You will also need to instruct the Nvidia Control Panel to use both GPU's by enabling SLI. When I first ran the Windows Experience I was initially disappointed to see that it did not rate my graphics as highly as I thought, but after investigation, turned on the SLI and reran the assessment which then gave me top marks.
Overall I definitely recommend this laptop. The price is very high, but you get what you pay for in terms of components and from what I have seen so far, will be able to cope with anything the gaming community has to throw at it for the foreseeable future.
Summary: You get what you pay for and will be "at the top of the tree" for the forseeable future