Gaming laptops are something that most people are quick to reject as out of their price range. There is a lot of sense in this train of thought. We know that laptop components are inherently lower performing than their desktop counterparts, and significantly more expensive. So the idea of spending more money for less powerful components seems like a bad trade off for the added gains of portability for many gamers.
However, we also seem to be in a bit of a plateau as far as generation-to-generation performance gain with desktop components. Midrange processors from a few generations ago are still more than capable of playing the vast majority of games, and even lower-end modern GPUs are able to game at 1080p.
So maybe it's time to take another look at the sub-$1000 gaming notebook options, and that's exactly what we are doing today with the Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro Black Edition.
The Aspire V Nitro is equipped with fairly modest components when compared to what most people think of gaming laptops as. Where machines such as the MSI GT70 Dominator or ASUS G751 seem to take the kitchen sink approach towards mobile gaming machines, The Aspire V is a more carefully balanced option.
|Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro Black Edition|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4720HQ 2.6 GHz|
|Graphics Card||NVIDIA GTX 960M 4GB|
|Storage||1 TB Hard Drive|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||15.34" x 10.14" x 0.86" - 0.94"|
Anchored by an Intel Core i7-4720HQ and a GTX 960M, the Aspire V Nitro isn't trying to reach to the top stack of mobile performance. A 15.6" display along with 8GB of RAM, and a single 1TB spindle drive are all logical choices for a machine aimed towards gaming on a budget.
While it's difficult for us to recommend that you buy any machine without an SSD these days, a 1TB drive is great for game storage on a machine like there. There are also other configurations optiosn which add SATA M.2 SSDs alongside the 1TB drive, and we managed to open up our sample and put an SSD in ourselves with little pain.
Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2014 - 02:36 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, Intel, z97, gigabyte, Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK, black edition, Samsung, u28d590d, asus, ROG, g-sync, freesync, titan z, 295x2
PC Perspective Podcast #300!!! - 05/15/2014
Join us this week for our 300th podcast as we discuss the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming Black Edition, a $599 Samsung 4K Monitor and much more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Morry Tietelman
What happened 100 Episodes ago…
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
Like many other manufacturers, GIGABYTE is using the launch of the Intel Z97 Express chipset to update its product line aesthetics and makeup. The Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard is part of GIGABYTE's Black Edition product line, differentiated from other GIGABYTE offers because of the enhanced validation criteria each individual Black Edition product is put through prior to leaving the assembly plant. Each board is put through a 168 hour stress test, consisting of both CPU and GPU-based Lite Coin mining, to prove its worth as part of the elite Black Edition product line. The Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard itself shares components and aesthetics with their Gaming line, featuring the line's black and red coloration and the GIGABYTE Gaming logo (the silver eye) on the Z97 chipset heat sink. With an MSRP of $349, the board is priced at a premium, more than justified by its enhanced feature set and Black Edition enhanced validation criteria.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
GIGABYTE paired the Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard with an 8 phase digital power delivery system to ensure clean power to the CPU under all operating conditions. Additionally, the board's VRM heat sinks can be integrated into an existing water loop using the provided G 1/4" threaded ports. Note that the PLX and chipset heat pipe is physically separate from the VRM heat pipe and does not benefit by water cooling the board's VRM cooler. The Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard boasts the following integrated feature list: eight SATA 3 ports; one SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports; dual Gigabit NICs - an Intel i217V NIC and a Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2201 NIC; an Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth PCIe adapter; four PCI-Express x16 slot; three PCI-Express x1 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, and CMOS clear buttons; Dual-Bios and active BIOS switches; left and right channel audio gain control switches; Sound Blaster Core 3D audio solution; removable audio OP-AMP port; integrated voltage measurement points; hybrid VRM cooling solution; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
XFX Throws into the Midrange Ring
Who is this XFX? This is a brand that I have not dealt with in a long time. In fact, the last time I had an XFX card was some five years ago, and it was in the form of the GeForce 8800 GTX XXX Edition. This was a pretty awesome card for the time, and it seemed to last forever in terms of performance and features in the new DX 10 world that was 2007/2008. This was a heavily overclocked card, and it would get really loud during gaming sessions. I can honestly say though that this particular card was troublefree and well built.
XFX has not always had a great reputation though, and the company has gone through some very interesting twists and turns over the years. XFX is a subsidiary of Pine Technologies. Initially XFX dealt strictly with NVIDIA based products, but a few years back when the graphics market became really tight, NVIDIA dropped several manufacturers and focused their attention on the bigger partners. Among the victims of this tightening were BFG Technologies and XFX. Unlike BFG, XFX was able to negotiate successfully with AMD to transition their product lineup to Radeon products. Since then XFX has been very aggressive in pursuing unique designs based on these AMD products. While previous generation designs did not step far from the reference products, this latest generation is a big step forward for XFX.
Retail-ready HD 7970
We first showed off the power of the new AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB graphics card in our reference review posted on December 22nd. If you haven't read all about the new Southern Islands architecture and the Tahiti chip that powers the HD 7970 then you should already be clicking the link above to my review to get up to speed. Once you have done so, please return here to continue.
Welcome back, oh wise one. Now we are ready to proceed. By now you already know that the Radeon HD 7970 is the fastest GPU on the planet, besting the NVIDIA GTX 580 by a solid 20-30% in most cases. For our first retail card review we are going to be looking at the XFX Black Edition Double Dissipation that overclocks the GPU and memory clocks slightly and offers a new cooler that promises to be more efficient and quieter.
Let's put XFX to the test!
The XFX Radeon HD 7970 3GB Black Edition Double Dissipation
Because of the use of a completely custom cooler, the XFX HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation looks completely different than the reference model we tested last month though the feature set remains identical. The silver and black motif works well here.
Subject: Motherboards | April 26, 2011 - 03:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: X58, rampage III, rampage 3, lga1366, ich10r, black edition, asus
Fremont, CA (April 25, 2011) - ASUS Republic Of Gamers (ROG), the most innovative and award winning enthusiast and gaming motherboard brand, is excited to introduce the Rampage III Black Edition. Team ROG is resetting the bar by which motherboards are judged by incorporating new levels of design, quality, functionality and connectivity that enthusiasts and gamers demand in current products.
Years of Refinement – Today’s Latest Technology
The Rampage III Black Edition combines the years of continued refinement and innovative design its industry leading engineering staff brings to the ROG brand into one board. Not only does the Black Edition board sport the latest design aesthetics featuring a superb layout, ultra-modern finishes, and a revised thermal cooling solution it also features incredible performance.
ASUS has always pushed the performance envelope and the limits of designs with ROG motherboards and the Black Edition is no exception. After listening closely to the gaming and enthusiast communities’ feedback and combining the expertise of ASUS’ performance gurus Peter “Shamino” Tan and Andre Yang, the Rampage III Black Edition provides the most robust and extensive BIOS, software and connectivity options available on a motherboard. It is this dedication to the user community and continual product improvements that separates ASUS ROG from the imitators.
Leading Connectivity for the Gamer and PC Enthusiast
The Rampage III Black Edition meets the needs of gamers and enthusiasts alike when it comes to expandability options. The board begins by offering dual-slot GPU spacing to optimize airflow along with (4) PCI-E x16 expansion slots. In addition the Black Edition offers a multitude of leading I/O standards such as USB 3 , SATA 6G, eSATA, Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11N WiFi. In addition the board features both Intel Gigabit LAN and BIGFOOT Networks Killer™ NIC LAN technology for the best possible online multimedia and gaming experience. The Black Edition motherboard ensures the latest connectivity standards are available for gamers and enthusiasts alike, something the imitators are unable to offer.
Digital Power Delivery and Design – Only the Best for ROG
Like all ROG motherboards, the Rampage III Black Edition uses the latest in high quality and durable components to ensure trouble free operation and long life. Leaving the constraints of analog designs from imitating brands behind, the Black Edition takes the performance leading and award winning ASUS Extreme Engine Digi+ design of the Rampage III Extreme and pushes it even further. Utilization of a super alloy choke and a high-quality dual proadlizer design ensures extremely low ESL and ESR as well as high capacitance and current capabilities for cooler operation while gaming along with leading performance when overclocking. These superior design elements are brought together with ASUS’ other innovative designs such as ROG Connect, OC Zone and AI Suite to give gamers and enthusiasts gamers a board that stands above the rest.
Ultimate Immersion and Superior Performance
Republic Of Gamers always pushes the limits of hardware design and now takes this commitment to the next level with the ThunderBolt card. The ThunderBolt combines the award winning designs of ASUS’ Xonar audio cards as well as specifically designed high performance DAC and headphone amp for the ultimate in ear fidelity and in game positioning. In addition the ThunderBolt card integrates cutting-edge gaming technology from BIGFOOT Networks Killer™ NIC series and brings them together into one card. Plugging the Thunderbolt card into an open PCI-E slot ensures an immersive audio experience and stunning networking performance in a unique design that competing imitators do not offer.
Intel LGA1366 socket for Intel Corei7 Processor Extreme Edition / Core™i7 Processor with optimizations for Gulftown 32m based CPUs.
- Intel® X58/ ICH10R
- ROG ThunderBolt LAN/Audio Combo with High Quality AMP for headphones , Based on Xonar Audio Design and Killer™ NIC E2100 NPU (that is the add-in card you can see on the board)
- Bluetooth v3.0+HS with 802.11n WIFI Support
- Extreme Engine Digi+ - Powerful combination of analog and digital design elements for Ultimate VRM Performance
- True USB 3.0 & SATA 6Gb/s Support.