The Schenker XMG P502 PRO is an upgrade to the 15-inch XMG P501 gaming notebook, itself rated amongst the best on the market at launch. This time round the chiclet-keyboard has fallen by the wayside in favor of conventional adjacent keys, and the screen has been upgraded to a matte panel. Powering the XMG P502 is a top-notch Core i7-2670QM paired with a top-end NVidia GTX 675M graphics card.
The outer shell is a suave, matte charcoal gray, constructed from plastic with a rubber overlay. Build quality is sturdy and workmanship is superb. Tight, reliable hinges. It’s solidly built, with a thickness of 51mm helping explain the P502′s considerable 3.2kg mass. A 180-watt power adaptor adds a further kilo. Weight was clearly a secondary consideration in the design of this monster.
The matte 1920 x 1080 pixel display musters an impressive 365 candelas and coupled with deepish blacks gives a respectable 440:1 contrast ratio. Twice as high as on most notebooks, to give you a sense of perspective. The sRGB spectrum is almost covered and the matte surface and excellent brightness make outdoor use a pleasure.
Schenker have readied the P502 for an Ivy Bridge upgrade with the inclusion of an HM77 ‘Panther Point’ chipset backwards compatible with the Sandy Bridge CPU on offer here. Not waiting for the release of quad-core Ivy Bridge CPUs before buying would surely be a mistake for consumers. yet the hyper-threaded 2.2GHz i7-2670QM chip will still be amongst the front-runners in benchmarks even after the Ivy Bridge deluge. PCMark Vantage scores of 15675 are superlative, thanks in part to the OCZ SSD-750GB spinning disk hybrid solution. 7200rpm of course, but a pure SSD solution is faster.
The XMG P502 PRO can be configured with either GeForce GTX 670M or GTX675M although these are still based on the 40nm Fermi architecture rather than 28nm Kepler. The difference between the two cards offered is around 15%, and 110 euros (about $140), well worthwhile in our opinion. It’s possible to find current games whose highest settings will lower frame rates below playable levels – Metro 2033 for example – but let’s not be too particular; this is a supercomputer.
The port selection has been improved – a brace of USB-3 ports is complemented by a USB-3/eSATA combo, and elsewhere there is an SDcard reader, USB-2 port, audio jacks, and tucked away on the rear DVI and HDMI interfaces.
Connectivity options for XMG P502 PRO are highly configurable, with a Bigfoot Killer 1103 WLAN card the best available choice – other options include dual-band 2.4GHz/5Ghz, 3 stream MIMO and IEEE. And trusty Realtek Gigabit Ethernet for wired connecting. Bluetooth is optional, though not with the Killer WiFi option. The bundled driver DVD will come in useful at some point.
The switch to end-to-end keys on the P502 keyboard is significant when nearly all notebooks are currently offering island-style keys. Feedback is crisp and assured, and less noisy than on the old XMG P501. It’s backlit, too, although that’s a luxury not available for anyone insisting on a chiclet-style keyboard, which is also offered. Keyboard lighting is configurable in three distinct areas offering the same 16 million hues as found on Alienware keyboards. The space bar has shifted leftwards, meaning a steepish learning curve for some, but unfortunately the all-important Enter key has shrunk to a single-row key, and to add insult to injury, the Delete key is not just shrunken, it’s minute. Not a keyboard for budding novelists. The number pad gets enlarged Enter and Plus keys, though, great for technical folk.
The touchpad’s keys are slightly sunken, and separated by a fingerprint scanner, which might not suit some. Gamers and creative types will doubtless be using an external mouse, so won’t be too bothered.
An Onkyo audio system with THX software render with full and satisfying tones. It’s still a notebook though, so external speakers are recommended.
The 77Wh battery delivers above four hours of medium usage, thanks to NVidia’s Optimus switching mothballing the GPU when it’s not needed. A truly magnificent machine, and with that Ivy Bridge-compatible chipset, so future-proof you’d be crazy to buy it just yet. Not that you’d regret it by any means.
A 24 month collect-and-return warranty is standard, at least in the Bundesrepublik, and upgrades to 48 months are offered for a surcharge. Schenker XMG P502 PRO starts at 1050 euro. You can order it directly from Schenker.
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