Most of us will never get behind the wheel of a high-powered supercar, but the AvaDirect P570WM might be the next best thing. As the first gaming notebook to be equipped with Intel's X79 chipset, the P570WM offers some serious power in the form of an Intel six-core processor. The notebook also comes with a full HD display and a showstopping chassis. Throw in a Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M GPU and you've got yourself a party. But is the $3,981 P570WM worth its V.I.P. price tag?
Click to EnlargeThe P570WM is a tank, a beautiful, beautiful tank. The 13 pound, 16.5 x 11.26 x 2.28 ~ 2.44-inch notebook is thicker than the 12.6 pound, 17.2 x 12.7 x 2.05~2.12- inch Alienware M18x R2. That's as thick as 6.5 iPads.
Once we got over its sheer girth, we had time to appreciate the P570WM's unconventional beauty. The lid features two black brushed aluminum panels separated by a glossy vertical black plastic strip in the center; this highly reflective strip livens up the notebook. As an additional embellishment, the lid's perimeter is lined with glossy black plastic. Our one gripe with the design is the ease with which the notebook's surface picks up fingerprints. However, we're still fans of the Alienware's soft-touch finish and its graceful lines.
Click to EnlargeThe notebook's interior is also visually appealing. We liked the glossy touch panel at the top of the deck as well as the two-toned speakers surrounding them. The thick plastic hinges were nice and sturdy.
The keyboard is rather large and features blue backlighting; it would have been nice if we could customize the lighting similar to the Alienware M18x R2. The keyboard sits between a pair of panels featuring an ornamental old-school punch card design along the sides. The right panel also houses the chrome-lined power button. A black brushed aluminum palm rest rounds out the interior along with the chrome-lined touchpad.
If you have the upper-arm strength to lift this beast, you'll see four huge fan ports along the bottom of the notebook.
Don't like the all-black look? AvaDirect also offers custom paint jobs, including Ferrari Red, Cotton Candy and Viper Blue, to the tune of $350.
Click to EnlargeYou'll get sharp detail from the P570WM's 17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 display, but not much else. Measuring a lackluster 144 lux on our light meter, normally vibrant vistas on this panel looked dim and overcast. The notebook's display is much dimmer than the 250 lux desktop replacement average. The Maingear Nomad 17 notched 212 lux while the M18x R2 delivered a brilliant 255 lux.
The dimness cast a pall over the 1080p "Oblivion" trailer, making what should have been a vibrant blue sky and a lush green meadow look ashy. However, we were able to see individual blades of grass that Tom Cruise was lying in, as well as his beard stubble.
"Max Payne 3" also fell victim to the dull display. The normally vibrant world look faded, particularly the bright blue sky and the flashes of gunfire during our battles. The bright magentas and golds of the nightclub bard looked rather muted. Still, we could see individual strands of Payne's hair as he dove, rolled and charged from one gunfight to the next.
Click to EnlargeFor such a Gulliver-size notebook, the P570WM has Lilliputian-size audio. As we played through "Max Payne 3," the sound barely filled a large room. Gun battles sounded as if they were happening in the next room instead of right in front of us. Payne's inner monologue sounded flat, as did the other character's audio.
Our audio downer continued as we listened to Emeli Sandé's "Daddy." The swelling string sections sounded muted as did the singer's usually brassy vocal. We also found ourselves having to lean in to hear some of the subtle nuances of the track such as triangles and cymbals.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Click to EnlargeThe P570WM's traditional keyboard, which has a full number pad, provided firm, springy feedback. The black matte keys are slightly tiered, which creates a nice amount of space. The ethereal blue backlighting is bright enough to be used in dim lighting situations. On the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, we matched our 55 words per minute with 1 percent error rate average.
Our only real gripe with the keyboard is the undersized Right Shift key. We would have gladly gone without the direction keys for a larger key.
Click to EnlargeThe 3.9 x 1.9-inch Synaptics touchpad is rather small considering the size of the notebook, but most gamers will rely on a mouse to do most of their maneuvering. It was easy to execute Windows 8 gestures on the gritty touchpad, but multitouch gestures such as two-finger rotate, pinch-zoom and three-finger flick were inconsistent.
Feedback on the discrete mouse buttons was strong and accompanied by a satisfying click. The fingerprint reader in between the mouse buttons was large, but didn't disrupt our regular touchpad usage. Using AuthenTec TrueSuite, we mapped several fingers to the system to log in to Facebook, Twitter and Windows.
When we watched 15 minutes of "Indie Game: The Movie," the touchpad measured 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The space between the G and H keys read 95 degrees, which is on a par with our comfort threshold. The underside of the notebook was slightly higher at 96 degrees.
After 15 minutes of playing "Max Payne 3," the touchpad measured 86 degrees with the space between the G and H keys reading 97 degrees. The bottom of the notebook measured 94 degrees, but we measured 103 degrees along the front panel. The four bottom fans can get a little loud in a quiet room. However, the noise soon faded into the background once we got deeper into the game.
Click to EnlargeUsing the Windows 8 webcam software, the P570WM's 2.1 megapixel camera can capture stills and video in 1080p. There was a little fuzziness in our test shots, but colors were fairly accurate. We had no problem making out the knit pattern of our blue-green sweater.
Click to EnlargeThe P570WM has pretty much any port a gamer could want. The right side of the notebook has a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a secure lock slot and jacks for headphone, microphone, Line-in, S-PDIF. Two USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA/USB 3.0 port, Firewire, HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet and a Blu-Ray DVD burner. A 9-in-1 card reader and an ExpressCard reader are cleverly disguised as decorative grilles along the left front lip of the notebook.
Gaming and Graphics
Click to EnlargeDuring the 3DMark11 benchmark, the AvaDirect P570WM's Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M GPU with 4GB of VRAM notched 5,979, surpassing the 4,176 desktop replacement average. The Nomad 17's Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M GPU with 4GB of VRAM scored a lower 7,405. However, the Alienware M18x R2's dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M GPUs with 4GB of VRAM crushed the competition with 10,177.
On the "World of Warcraft" test, the P570WM returned an average frame rate of 223 fps on Good at 1920 x 1080. That's enough to top the 198 fps average and the Nomad 17's 162 fps. It was no match for the M18x R2's monstrous 410 fps. At maximum settings, the P570WM's frame rate dropped to 99 fps, slightly below the 101 fps average. The Nomad 17 managed to match the average while the M18x R2 scored 201 fps.
When we ran the "Batman: Arkham City" benchmark, the P570WM scored 81 fps at 1080p, well above the 69 fps category average. The M18x R2 held a slight lead with 86 fps while the Nomad 17 delivered 72 fps. When we cranked the settings to maximum, the P570WM averaged 53 fps, topping the 38 fps average and the Nomad 17's 47 fps. However, the M18x R2 stood its ground again with an impressive 70 fps.
As we played a few levels of "Max Payne 3" with all the settings maxed out, we saw an average frame rate of 29 fps. When we lowered the FXAA and MSAA (anti-aliasing settings designed to smooth out textures within the game) to 4x, the frame rate leaped to 64 fps. At 2x, the notebook delivered 89 fps.
The game ran pretty smoothly throughout our testing, but it looked a little rough around the edges at maximum settings. We definitely noticed some jagged textures, particularly in Payne's suit as he took damage. There was also some noticeable stutter during gun battles. We recommend playing games a step or two below maximum for the best effects.
Click to EnlargeThe AvaDirect P570WM is the first gaming notebook to be outfitted with a X79 chipset. That means that the extreme six-core 3.3-GHz Intel Core i7-3960X CPU that would normally be found in a desktop system is resting comfortably in a smaller, slightly more portable package. Combined with its 32GB of RAM, the notebook tore through our real-world tests. This beast ran 12 open tabs of Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox while running a full system check and streaming "Black Dynamite" on CartoonNetwork.com.
During the PCMark 7 test, the P570WM scored 5,640, well above the 3,834 desktop replacement average. The Maingear Nomad 17 (2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-3840QM CPU) and the Alienware M18x R2 (2.7-GHz Intel Core i7-3820QM CPU) notched 5,489 and 5,495, respectively.
The P570WM's 750GB 7,200-rpm hard drive and 240GB SSD booted Windows 8 in 41 seconds, a hair faster than the 0:45 average but slow for a Windows 8 notebook. The P570WM was outgunned by the Nomad 17's dual 128GB SSDs, which clocked in at 0:32, and the M18x R2's dual 256GB SSDs, which were faster still, at 0:29. Both of those machines were tested with Windows 7.
On the File Transfer Test, the P570WM duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 29 seconds for a transfer rate of 176 MBps. That's enough to beat the 91 MBps average, but not enough to overcome the M18x R2 (424 MBps) or the Nomad 17 (299 MBps), respectively.
For the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro Test, the P570WM matched 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses in 4 minutes and 39 seconds, just short of the 4:36 category average. The M18x R2 completed the task in 4:04, but the Nomad 17 clocked in at 3:50.
Software and Warranty
Click to EnlargeLike most gaming notebooks on the market, the AvaDirect P570WM is bloatware-free. Windows 8 apps include SkyDrive, Calendar, News and Maps. There's also Qualcomm's Atheros Killer Network Software to manage network and overall PC performance.
The AvaDirect P570WM comes with a standard one-year warranty.
Click to EnlargeDue to the AvaDirect P570WM's sheer bulk, we don't see you moving it farther than from one room to another. That's a good thing, since this notebook lasted only 1 hour and 22 minutes during the Laptop Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi). That's 2.5 hours shorter than the 3:51 desktop replacement average. The Alienware M18x R2 fared slightly better with 2:57. However, the Maingear Nomad 17 turned in an impressive time of 4:18.
Our $3,981 review unit of the AVA Direct P570WM features a 3.3-GHz Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme six-core CPU with 32GB of RAM, a 750GB 7,200-rpm hard drive, 240GB SSD and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M GPU with 4GB of VRAM.
The $2,209 base unit has a 3.6-GHz Intel Core i7-3820 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 750GB 7,200-rpm hard drive and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 670M. Shoppers can also trick out the notebook with dual Nvidia 680M GPUs in SLI configuration ($1,282.50) or splurge on Nvidia's Quadro K5000M GPU ($2,148.90).
AvaDirect has a slew of other configuration options.
Click to EnlargeThe AvaDirect P570WM certainly has the intimidation factor that will appeal to hardcore gamers. Its six-core processor is blazingly fast, and you can expect fairly high frame rates on demanding games. We also appreciate the comfortable keyboard and the myriad customization options AvaDirect offers.
On the other hand, at $3,981, we would expect a brighter display and better audio, both of which the Alienware M18x R2 deliver. Overall, the P570WM is a solid choice for gamers with deep pockets, but it's not our top pick.