Considering the power pack on this gaming brute weighs more than most ultraportable laptops, it’s obvious that the Prime is not designed for prime moving. At almost 5kg in weight, this is a bruiser built to do one thing, and one thing only – kick major gaming butt. If you’re looking for a high-end gaming laptop that has all the specs, along with a sky-high price tag to match, you’ve come to the right place.
While the innards of this thing are highly customisable, the exterior is locked as is. The huge 17.3-inch screen might only be 1920 x 1080, but it’s got one rather important feature for gamers – Nvidia’s proprietary G-Sync technology, along with a speedy 75Hz refresh rate. G-Sync really comes into its own on laptops, where their slower GPUs mightn’t have quite the guts to tear through the latest games at 60 frames per second. With G-Sync enabled, it’s possible to game at 45 frames per second and higher without it feeling sluggish at all… not that this machine needs to really worry about performance. The only issue we have with the IPS screen is that it’s not quite as nice as the better IPS panels we’re seeing elsewhere when it comes to colour and contrast. A matte finish means it won’t turn into a mirror even in the brightest LAN environment though.
The huge base allows for a generous, full-sized keyboard, and there’s absolutely no flex at all, despite the chassis being made of plastic. The touchpad is similarly brilliant, being as accurate as it is responsive. Thanks to the huge dimensions, there are more ports than you’ll know what to do with, including five USB 3.0, one USB 3.1/Thunderbolt 3 combo port, one HDMI 2.0 output, twin mini DisplayPort 1.2 outputs, headphone and mic jacks, an optical SP/DIF output, and finally, not one, but two Ethernet ports. The latter are delivered courtesy of Killer’s DoubleShot Pro hardware, which can theoretically double the bandwidth to the laptop on a local network, or allow to different broadband connections to be hooked up. Intel’s dual-band 802.11ac 8260 Wi-Fi chip is included, which uses a 2×2 configuration.
Despite the Sound Blaster X-Fi MB 5 sticker on the laptop, this machine actually uses Realtek audio hardware. We’re not sure which version, but the Creative package is simply a software layer over the top – we found it was fine for driving a decent set of gaming headphones.
Where this thing really excites is the desktop-level hardware tucked away inside, which also explains the stratospheric price point. Intel’s blazing fast i7-6700K 6th Gen Core processor tops out at 4GHz under load, which is more than enough for even the most demanding games, including CPU-taxing RTS titles like Company of Heroes. This is backed up by a chunky 16GB of the newest DDR4 memory, though it runs at the stock Skylake frequency of 2133MHz. Our sample came with a Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SSD that is 250GB in size, along with a secondary 1TB 7200RPM mechanical hard drive.
REAL GRAPHICS POWER
But the cherry on the topping has to be the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980. Notice how there’s no sneaky M slapped onto the end of the GPU name? That’s because this is the exact same chip as that found in the desktop GeForce GTX 980. There’s no slowing down of clock-speed, no snipping off of Stream Processors, and none of the other shenanigans usually found in laptop GPUs. In fact, this laptop variant actually has an incredible 8GB of GDDR5, making it superior to the desktop part in some regards. There’s a price to pay for this part, in the form of a 165W TDP… and that’s just for the GPU alone. Under load, it measured 55dB on our sound meter, which is rather loud, if not quite as obnoxious as the 57dB heard with certain twin GPU laptops we’ve tested, such as the Aorus X7 Pro-Sync.
If you can handle the noise, the net result of all of this hardware is an utter speed demon of a machine. This is without doubt the fastest gaming laptop we’ve tested, besting even the twin GTX 970s found in the Aorus X7 Pro-Sync. Yet there are several compromises that have to be made to get this level of performance. We can handle the price, and the weight, but that fan noise is bound to get annoying after a while. Once again we wish the supplier included a set of noise-cancelling headphones in the box, but they’d have to admit upfront about how loud it was, something no marketing manager would ever allow.