QHD GAM­ING WAR­RIOR

Af­ter­shock XG13-V2

HWM (Singapore) - - TEST - by Kenny Yeo

The first gen­er­a­tion Af­ter­shock XG13 is some­thing of a gam­ing gem, com­bin­ing ex­cel­lent per­for­mance, good fea­tures and an at­trac­tive price tag. It should come as no sur­prise then that it also won the Best Por­ta­ble Gam­ing Note­book cat­e­gory in our last Tech Awards.

Fol­low­ing NVIDIA’s an­nounce­ment of their new GeForce GTX 800M se­ries of mo­bile GPUs, Af­ter­shock has re­freshed the XG13. Now called the XG13-V2, this 13.3-inch gam­ing note­book now fea­tures an up­graded GPU as well as many other new fea­tures in­clud­ing an in­te­grated head­phone am­pli­fier, a new Full HD front-fac­ing web cam­era as well as an op­tional ul­tra­high res­o­lu­tion QHD dis­play.

Let’s get down to the specifics. Un­der the hood, the most sig­nif­i­cant up­grade is the new GeForce GTX 860M mo­bile GPU, which is also presently the most pow­er­ful mo­bile GPU that is based on the new Maxwell ar­chi­tec­ture - the new GeForce GTX 870M and GTX 880M are both based on the older Ke­pler ar­chi­tec­ture. It might be worth not­ing that graph­ics is the only non­cus­tomiz­able as­pect of the note­book, al­most ev­ery­thing else - pro­ces­sor, mem­ory, stor­age - can be cus­tom­ized to your lik­ing.

Our XG13-V2 re­view unit came with a 2.4GHz quad-core In­tel Core i7-4700MQ pro­ces­sor, which is pretty much the de­fault choice of gam­ing note­books ev­ery­where, and is com­ple­mented by 8GB of RAM. Users can opt for more pow­er­ful pro­ces­sors such as the range-top­ping 2.9GHz Core i7-4910MQ and up to a max­i­mum of 16GB of RAM. As for stor­age, our re­view unit came with a 128GB Sam­sung SSD 840 EVO mSATA drive and a 1TB 7,200RPM HD - a good com­bi­na­tion for both per­for­mance and ca­pac­ity. And since the XG13-V2 has two mSATA bays, it is en­tirely pos­si­ble to have mSATA in RAID 0 for even faster stor­age per­for­mance.

For net­work con­nec­tiv­ity, users can ei­ther opt for a stan­dard 802.11 b/g/n wire­less adapter, Killer Wire­less-N 1202 adapter, or In­tel’s new­est Wire­less-AC 7260 adapter that sup­ports the new Wire­less-AC

CON­CLU­SION Af­ter­shock con­tin­ues its tra­di­tion of of­fer­ing great per­for­mance at a com­pelling price with the up­dated XG13-V2.

pro­to­col.

As for de­sign, although the XG13-V2 looks iden­ti­cal to its pre­de­ces­sor, there has been some change of ma­te­ri­als to boost the note­book’s over­all dura­bil­ity; there have also been nu­mer­ous tweaks to its cool­ing and fan man­age­ment sys­tem to im­prove its ther­mal char­ac­ter­is­tics. The speak­ers have also been up­graded for bet­ter au­dio per­for­mance. How­ever, one of the key up­grades is ar­guably the in­clu­sion of in­te­grated head­phone am­pli­fiers. This al­lows high im­ped­ance head­phones to be driven more ad­e­quately, and in our test­ing, we found that our head­phones now play with more ur­gency and bass is more im­pact­ful and pro­nounced.

And while the stock de­sign looks pretty plain, users can now opt from a myr­iad of dif­fer­ent wrap and paint treat­ments. For ex­am­ple, one of the lat­est cus­tomiza­tion op­tions is the “color shift” paint, which changes hue de­pend­ing on the light­ing and view­ing an­gle. Users can even sub­mit their own graph­ics to be air­brushed on.

When bench­marked, the new XG13-V2 does not dis­ap­point. Gam­ing per­for­mance is much im­proved thanks to the more pow­er­ful GTX 860M. On Cr­y­sis 2, we saw im­prove­ments of over 25%, which is def­i­nitely im­pres­sive.

Now, the XG13-V2 can also be out­fit­ted with an op­tional QHD dis­play for an ad­di­tional $195, which gives it a dis­play res­o­lu­tion of a whop­ping 3,200 by 1,800 pix­els. While this means sharper im­ages and text, it does come at the cost of gam­ing per­for­mance. At such ex­treme res­o­lu­tions, we could no longer man­age playable frame rates for Cr­y­sis 2. On Tomb Raider, we could still get above the mag­i­cal 30 fps mark, but only if we di­aled the graph­ics down to “Nor­mal”.

With that in mind, we do not rec­om­mend QHD dis­plays as it brings lit­tle im­prove­ment to the ta­ble. Fur­ther­more, Win­dows 8 on a whole has yet to be prop­erly op­ti­mized for such ex­treme res­o­lu­tions, as we no­ticed is­sues with cer­tain ap­pli­ca­tions, win­dows and pop-ups look­ing fuzzy and out of place.

As it stands, the Af­ter­shock XG13-V2 is eas­ily one of the best per­form­ing note­books in its class. The stiffest com­pe­ti­tion should come in the form of Razer’s newly re­freshed Blade, which has been up­graded with a QHD dis­play as well and a GeForce GTX 870M. How­ever, the Razer Blade with a com­pa­ra­ble 128GB flash stor­age op­tion will cost a stag­ger­ing $3,199. The Af­ter­shock XG13-V2 on the other hand, is much more af­ford­able. Our re­view unit, with the QHD dis­play no less, came in at $2,375 - over 25% less.

If we had the choice, we would rather have a Dis­playPort in­stead of the VGA port.

The key­board is ex­cel­lent, but the track­pad is a lit­tle too small to be used com­fort­ably.

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