The Schenker XMG P702 currently runs on Sandy Bridge generation CPUs, but the HM77 chipset is fully Ivy Bridge capable, so expect to see 22nm Intel Ivy Bridge upgrades in the next few weeks.
The base unit lands at $1350, though the price tag climbs steeply as buyers upspec the hardware. The review model costs $2100.
The metal casing of XMG P702 notebook is mostly brushed aluminum – shiny borders and screen bezel might irk some users for their smear potential, but they add a touch of finesse. The chassis is robust, and quite heavy at 4kg, swelling to 5.5cm at its thickest point. It’s appearance is more sombre engineering notebook than hardcore gaming rig, quite unlike the funky designs of the Alienware M17x or Asus G74SX.
The 17.3-inch full HD 1920 x 1080p display gives plenty of screen real estate for multi-tasking, with 273 nits of brightness and a low black value of 0.3 translating to a fantastic 900:1 contrast ratio. Thus bright, vivid, sharp movies and games. The matte display makes outdoor use a pleasure in any light.
Gone is the chiclet keyboard from XMG P701. The XMG P702 reverts to the adjacent-key model, and the keys offer an incisive pressure point with excellent resistance. On the minus side, they’re somewhat undersized at 13mm and the Enter key is a single-row effort. Despite these gripes, fast, accurate, prolonged typing sessions are possible with the P702. The three lighting zones of the keyboard can be set to any of 8 different colors, and seven ready-made templatesare provided.
The 90mm x 47mm touchpad surface is lightly textured for improved accuracy, at the expense of ease of glide and ultimately speed. It’s slightly recessed and can be deactivated, so accidental input neednn’t be a problem. Precise, prompt responses, and multi-touch gestures function faultlessly.
Ports of Schenker XMG P702 are superlative – a full three digital video sockets (HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort), miniFIreWire interface, pair of USB-3 ports and one USB-2, eSATA/USB combi port, 9-in-1 card reader, and four Surround Sound audio jacks. ExpressCard slot is absent, but little else. This particular model features the top-of-the-range Bigfoot Killer WLAN module, with three antennae and supporting the uncluttered 5GHz network with theoretical speeds of 450Mb/s. Bluetooth hasn’t made the grade. The fact that the fan and cooling system can be reached by removing a back plate means the CPU is upgradeable. A fingerprint reader between the mouse buttons adds to peace of mind.
An indispensable ‘Drivers and Tools’ DVD will make future factory resets a breeze, and the standard 2-year guarantee is extendable to 4 years.
The 2.2GHz i7-2670QM hyper-threaded quad-core chip and 2GB GeForce GTX 675M give phenomenal gaming performance – only one or two or the very most demanding games (Metro 2033, Battlefield 3) are not quite playable at ultra-high settings at native HD resolution.
That’ll change with the Ivy Bridge upgrades, especially since the GT670M and GT675M graphics cards are expected to be bumped up to 28nm Kepler architecture from the current 40nm Fermi design of the two curently configurable GPUs. For RAM this unit crammed in 8GB, expandable to 16GB.
For storage solutions the XMG P702 can incorporate a pair of normal hard drives and an mSATA SSD. An exhaustive list of hard drives can be found on the company’s website, and other specs are also configurable – Blu-ray player/burner instead of the base model’s DVD burner, matte or gloss display, WLAN modules in sundry flavors. And just for completeness, even the backlit keyboard comes in different languages.
Data transfer speeds of 500MB/s read and 310MB/s write are impressive s with the test unit’s 128GB SSD. The accompanying 7200rpm second hard drive gives an equally impressive 100MB/s transfer speed.
The Onkyo audio system blasts out decent sound through its pair of speakers and subwoofer, with audible bass notes and good virtually distortion-free maximum volume.
Thanks to Optimus switching technology shutting down the thirsty graphics card when it isn’t needed, the XMG P702 delivers 3:30 hours of battery life under medium use, though gaming performance drops dramnatically on battery power.
Weak points? Pah. No ExpressCard? Oh it’s pretty heavy. But superb screen, excellent input devices, extensive port selection, breath-taking performance… wait for the upcoming Ivy Bridge and especially the Kepler upgrade, and this could be the best machine on the market, certainly for $2100.
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