Powerful graphics and performance; Eye-catching design; Affordable price
Dim display with shallow viewing angles; Spastic touchpad; Stiff mouse buttons; Below-average battery life
The CyberPowerPC FangBook X7-300 offers all the power and performance of a souped-up gaming rig at a reasonable price, but the touchpad needs work.
When it comes to gamers on a budget, only two things matter: power and price. Boutique gaming maker CyberPowerPC aims to please with the FangBook X7-300. Running a Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M GPU, the X7-300 has the specs to play some of the most graphically taxing games on the market without breaking a sweat. And thanks to a relatively affordable $1,799 price tag, gamers don't have to break the bank to deliver serious "pwnage." But does the FangBook X7-300 have the bite to back up its bark?
There's more of the slate-gray-and-black motif on the notebook's interior. Despite the color swap, we've seen the X7-300's interior design on another notebook -- the Maingear Nomad 17. The glowing blue speakers sandwiching a capacitive touch panel with a triangular power button are a dead giveaway.
The large keyboard sits in a glossy black plastic deck surrounded by a slate gray border. The black palm rest is brushed aluminum while the rest of the notebook is sheathed in plastic. We like the blood red Fang insignia; it lends some edge to the look. The discrete mouse buttons along the touchpad have a glowing blue accent that match the speakers.
Weighing 8.6 pounds, the 16.9 x 11.3 x 2.2-inch X7-300 is slightly heavier than the Maingear Nomad 17 (8.2 pounds, 16.9 x 11.4 x 2.1 inches), but lighter than the Alienware M17x R4 (9.4 pounds, 16.1 x 11.9 x 1.75 inches).
The X7-300 was also lacking in the color department, delivering dull, washed-out vistas. When we played "Bioshock Infinite," the brilliant blue skies were muted, as were the normally emerald green lawns and shrubbery. When we performed close-quarter kills, the resulting blood spray looked more maroon than bright red.
The 1080p trailer of "The Wolverine" was cast in a bluish pall, disrupting the contrast. A usually bright fireball made up of vibrant reds, yellows and oranges turned into an amorphous yellowish-white blob. Viewing angles were shallow, with the color inverting anywhere past 45 degrees.
Note that this panel is not a touch screen, so your interaction with Windows 8 will be limited to the touchpad or an external mouse.
The FangBook's pair of speakers delivered a sizable roar, thanks to THX TruStudio Pro technology. The flirty instrumentals on Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" filled our small test room. We heard clear cowbells, piano and snare drums. However, Thicke and rapper T.I.'s vocal seemed to fade in and out, despite making adjustments via the THX control panel.
The speakers delivered crisp gunfire and menacing caws from our Murder of Crows vigor during "BioShock Infinite". Unfortunately, dialog also faded in and out, preventing us from becoming fully immersed in the action.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The notebook's 3.9 x 2.4-inch touchpad gave us plenty of space to maneuver. However, poor palm rejection and spotty Windows 8 gestures plagued our experience. The result was unpredictable cursor jumping that made working in a Word doc difficult. The pair of discrete mouse buttons were fairly stiff with little travel.
After streaming 15 minutes of "The Evil Dead" on Netflix, the touchpad and the bottom of the notebook measured 83 degrees Fahrenheit. The space between the G and H keys was slightly warmer at 87 degrees, but was still well below our 95 degree comfort threshold.
During our "Batman: Arkham City" testing, the touchpad measured 83 degrees. The space between the G and H keys was slightly warmer at 85 degrees. The bottom of the FangBook X7-300 measured 89 degrees. Too bad the bottom front panel registered a hot 103 degrees. Fortunately, the plastic chassis is a good conductor, so we weren't uncomfortable when the X7-300 was in our lap.
Gaming and Graphics
Outfitted with an Intel HD 4000 GPU and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M GPU with 4GB of RAM, the CyberPowerPC FangBook X7-300 can hang with the big boys.
During our "World of Warcraft" benchmark, the X7-300 averaged 185 frames per second on Good at 1920 x 1080. That score is short of the 192 fps desktop replacement average, but enough to top the Nomad 17's 106 fps. The M17x R4 blew the competition away with 279 fps. When we switched the settings to maximum, the X7-300's frame rate dropped down to 113 fps, which topped the 97 fps average and the Nomad 17 (101 fps), but the M17x R4 continued to dominate with 147 fps.
When we played through a few levels of "BioShock Infinite," the X7-300 took a frame rate hit, delivering an average 32 fps on Low and 24 fps on Medium. When we switched the settings to Ultra, the notebook delivered a stuttering 12 fps.
On the PCMark 7 benchmark, the X7-300 delivered 5,743, beating the 3,843 desktop replacement average. The Maingear Nomad 17 and its 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-3840QM CPU scored 5,489, while the 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-3720QM-powered Alienware M17x R4 notched 4,610.
The X7-300's 750GB 7,200-rpm hard drive and 60GB SSD showed off their agility, booting Windows 8 in an speedy 24 seconds. That's 20 seconds faster than the 44-second average.
The X7-300's speed of 76 MBps on the File Transfer Test (duplicating 4.97GB of mixed-media files) failed to match the 92 MBps category average, but was enough to breeze past the M17x R4's 24 MBps. However, it was easily outpaced by the Nomad 17's 299 MBps.
When we ran the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro Test, the X7-300 paired 20,000 names with their corresponding addresses in 4 minutes and 15 seconds, beating the 4:46 average. However the M17x R4 and the Nomad 17 were faster still, with respective times of 4:10 and 3:50.
Software and Warranty
Similar to the Maingear Nomad 17, the X7-300 has the S-Bar utility. Located at the top of the display, the S-Bar provides quick and easy access to important programs, functions and utilities to configure Fn buttons. There's also Eco Mode, which consists of five power profiles (Movie, Game, Presentation, Office and Eco Off) that adjusts screen brightness and output for optimal performance.
The CyberPowerPC FangBook X7-300 comes with a standard one-year warranty and lifetime technical support.
Our $1,799 review unit of the FangBook X7-300 features a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-3630QM processor with 16GB of RAM, a 750GB 7,200-rpm hard drive and 60GB SSD, Intel HD 4000 graphics and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M GPU with 4GB of RAM. The $1,595 base model has a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-3630QM, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB 5400-rpm hard drive with a 64GB SSD and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 675MX GPU with 4GB of VRAM.
Similar to most boutique notebook makers, CyberPowerPC offers a dizzying amount of parts to fuse together to create your own custom monster. For example, there are four Core i7 CPUs to choose from, including the powerful Core i7-3940XM. There's also a multitude of disk drive options that can be placed into RAID configuration.
However, we have two major issues with this system. Since the X7-300 is a gaming notebook, a game has to look good in addition to putting up big frame rates. As it stands, gaming on the X7-300's display is like slathering a dry-aged porterhouse in A-1 sauce. It's still good, but a lot of the flavor gets buried. We also dislike this notebook's touchpad, which is way too erratic. We just like plugging in a mouse instead.
Overall, though, the CyberPowerPC FangBook X7-300 is a pretty good choice for gamers who don't want to sacrifice power for value.
|CPU||2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-3630QM|
|Operating System||Windows 8|
|RAM Upgradable to||32GB|
|Hard Drive Size||750GB + 60GB SSD|
|Hard Drive Speed||7,200rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive + SSD|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive||DVD /-R /-RW|
|Optical Drive Speed||8X|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M|
|Wi-Fi Model||Intel Centrino(R) Wireless-N 2230|
|Touchpad Size||3.9 x 2.4 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Microphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Line-in|
|Ports (excluding USB)||VGA|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 2.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Gigabit Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||security lock slot|
|Ports (excluding USB)||eSATA|
|Ports (excluding USB)||S/PDIF|
|Card Slots||4-1 card reader|
|Warranty/Support||Standard 1-Year Warranty and Lifetime technical support|
|Size||16.85 x 11.34 x 2.17 inches|