Novatech X1 GTX review

21 Aug 2009

A decent gaming laptop but it's overshadowed in almost every area by stronger competition

Price when reviewed 
1,893
4

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.

Ergonomics

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.

Novatech X1 GTX

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,646
Price inc VAT £1,893
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 3
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 439 x 302 x 68mm (WDH)
Weight 5.700kg
Travelling weight 6.8kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo P9700
Motherboard chipset Nvidia MCP79
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 18.4in
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
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 1
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 1.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity 640GB
Spindle speed 578RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Fujitsu MHZ2320BJ G2
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Battery capacity 4,650mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support no
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel 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
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front, above keyboard, bottom
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

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