Novatech X1 GTX review
A decent gaming laptop but it's overshadowed in almost every area by stronger competition
The folks at Novatech are obviously an ambitious bunch. As soon as they saw that we'd reviewed the superb Alienware M17x, they crammed the X1 GTX into a box and dared us to line it up against Dell's finest.
Haul the Novatech from its box and it certainly looks the part, combining a glossy black exterior with silver-effect edging and an illuminated Novatech logo. That gleaming finish obsessively collects fingerprints, but there's no denying it looks suitably expensive.
Open the lid and the air of extravagance continues, with clean lines and uninterrupted wristrest instantly reminiscent of the Alienware. As with the M17x, there are plenty of blue lights, with the row of media buttons, touchpad and neat touch-sensitive volume control all illuminated.
The X1 GTX holds its own when it comes to build quality too, feeling as solid as any laptop we've seen, with hardly any give in the wristrest and a respectable lack of flex from the screen. Also worth noting are the X1 GTX's dimensions: it's 68mm thick and weighs 5.7kg before you factor in the 1.1kg power brick, so it won't be leaving the mains in a hurry.
The colossal 18.4in panel isn't an edge-to-edge screen, despite looking the part. The wide expanse of glass gives way to a thin plastic bezel near the edge of the lid. The Novatech's screen can't match the Alienware's panel on a technical level, either, offering a less generous but still Full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 and variable quality: while detail is sharp and there's no sign of backlight bleed, definite graining can be seen in swathes of white and colours just aren't as vibrant as they were on the M17x.
The keyboard, meanwhile, is a Scrabble-tile design, similar to that seen on expensive machines such as the Sony VAIO VGN-AW21XY/Q and current-generation of MacBook Pros. The Novatech's keyboard offers comparable quality, with a rock-solid base, comfortable typing action and full-sized numberpad. We'd have preferred a little more travel on the keys, but it's hardly a deal-breaker.
There's even enough room to the left of the keyboard for a column of eight customisable buttons. Using the X1 GTX's GameKey software you can record and assign macros to these keys, and although you don't get the sophisticated profiles or options that specialist keypads offer, it's a touch that keen gamers will appreciate.
The trackpad, on the other hand is, a distinctly acquired taste, proving slow and sluggish when prodded forcefully - we found it worked slightly better with a lighter touch. The rocker button offered a bit too much resistance for our liking too.
As you'd expect from such a monster of a laptop, the X1 GTX is well-endowed in the ports department. You get four USB and one eSATA, HDMI and DVI-I outputs, a 3-in-1 card reader and even a CATV port, although there's no DisplayPort output, which the Alienware included.
|Price ex VAT||£1,646|
|Price inc VAT||£1,893|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||3|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||439 x 302 x 68mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core 2 Duo P9700|
|Motherboard chipset||Nvidia MCP79|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M|
|Graphics card RAM||1.00GB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Hard disk usable capacity||640GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Fujitsu MHZ2320BJ G2|
|Optical disc technology||Blu-ray reader|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||4|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Speaker location||Front, above keyboard, bottom|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||1hr 50min|
|Battery life, heavy use||1hr 34min|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.36|
|Office application benchmark score||1.42|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||1.53|
|Encoding application benchmark score||1.23|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||1.24|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||35fps|
|3D performance setting||High|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows Vista|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition|