Although aimed squarely at home users, Novatech's X15GT is actually a bit of a wolf in sheep's clothing: it packs surprisingly decent gaming performance into a sub-£500 machine.

It's not going to be taking on purpose-built £1000-plus gaming laptops just yet, but it will happily play many recent titles.

In an age of under-specced laptops, the X15GT is surprisingly fully-fledged. It packs 2GB of RAM, a Core 2 Duo processor and 250GB hard drive, so it's not lacking in basic specs. In addition, it's got an Nvidia 9300M graphics chip, which is essential for 3D graphics.

The casing of the machine, in brushed metal and silver, feels sturdy; and the trackpad and keys are nice and responsive. Whilst it's not the lightest or slimmest of laptops, it is still manageable.

Where it excels is in gaming performance. You're not going to be able to run the latest games in the highest settings, but the fact that it merely ran games at all makes it stand out from its contemporaries. We ran both World in Conflict and GRID in medium settings, and the laptop was able to keep up, and keep the games playable, which is very good coming from such a low-price machine.

Limited battery

However, battery life is fairly poor. We got an hours' worth of power when merely browsing the net, and it dropped even further when playing games or watching DVDs, and this was on the lowest power setting. It's a shame because it lets down what is a rounded machine, but if you're planning on using it as a home machine and only taking it on the road occasionally it will do the job.

The X15GT's 15.4" screen is bright and clear, and for the home user, the X15GT includes an HDMI-out port, for connection to a high definition screen. It also includes a DVD writer to back up those all-important files, and an integrated webcam above the monitor for video chat and general fun. Thankfully, Novatech has included a suite of useful software that doesn't bog the laptop down.

Despite the battery issues, the Novatech laptop does perform significantly better than laptops in its price range in every other department. You're hardly going to be blasting your way through a high-end game like Crysis on it, but it will do for a (brief) World of Warcraft session on the move.