There's not a lot that surprises us, and when we unboxed the Novatech nSpire Black Ed 2760, we feared the worst.
A flimsy chassis and the lack of style that we've become accustomed to on high-end laptops indicated another lacklustre machine, but it appears that we were mistaken.
Under the hood is an Intel Core i7 2460M processor, which stormed our benchmark tests, scoring among the highest figures we've seen in our labs. This was also helped by the 8GB of RAM that makes this laptop positively sing.
Next up is the impressive Nvidia GeForce 555M graphics card, which is easily capable of playing HD movies and the latest games. It got strong scores in our lab tests, and while you might not be able to play Battlefield 3 on full settings, with the detail turned down, you shouldn't have any problems.
Battery life also impresses, with our power hungry tests achieving a very strong 222 minutes. This means you could work away from the power for over four hours, and even watch an HD movie on the move.
While there's enough juice for working on the move, at 2.8KG we wouldn't recommend the Novatech as a portable laptop. It's bulky, heavy and cumbersome, and not one for a day on your back.
Battery Eater '05: 222 minutes
3DMark 2006: 11654
However, for all the impressive tech that's packed inside, the poor build quality of the exterior does more than let this machine down aesthetically.
We tested a number of movies on the Novatech, and found the screen appalling. There was no vibrancy to the colours, it was grainy when playing back HD content, and there was substantial screen tearing. We hope this was just a problem with the review sample, but as the issue is caused by a disparity between the graphics card and screen refresh times, we think this is simply a gulf in quality between the two items.
The poor build quality manifests itself elsewhere too. The grey plastic wrist rest flexes when you push it, as does the lid. The keyboard is awful, with little refinement given to the black plastic keys. They're barely cushioned and feel loose and spongy to the touch.
The trackpad is better and we much prefer it to the current trend of single buttons which are a nightmare to master.
What we have with the Novatech is a fantastic powered laptop, admirably capable of dealing with most things you can throw at it. There's limitless performance power, great graphics and it even has a decent battery life as well.
Unfortunately, we're still yet to be surprised by a laptop, and the Novatech is no exception; a model hobbled by cost saving and corner cutting, that more than explains its low price. It's impossible to really enjoy movies or games on the poor screen, and if you have £750 to spend, we'd recommend saving up the extra for quality machines like the Dell XPS 15z.
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