Schenker XMG C703 review

Schenker swaps pure performance for style in this slimline gaming laptop

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  • Cinebench 11.5
  • OpenGL 50.98fps
  • CPU 6.62
  • 3D Mark Ice 1115; Cloud 14987; Fire 2419
  • Battery Eater Pro 1h 13mins

The Schenker XMG C703 isn't the best-performing laptop we've ever seen, but considering its thinness compared to other portable gaming machines, it's pretty sharp.

The quad-core processor's score in Cinebench is nearly identical to the score from the nearly identical processor in the HP Envy TouchSmart 15, rather unsurprisingly. But that's good! It's also the same processor used in the Schenker XMG P503 and the Gigabyte P25W, all of which are nicely powerful gaming machines. There's loads of grunt on offer for gaming, but also plenty for video editing or other creative pro pursuits – it's a really capable chip.

Schenker C703
HDMI and mini DisplayPort for external screens

The GPU and subsequent gaming performance is where this and other recent laptops will be separated. The Nvidia 765M used here is good, but the 770M used in the Gigabyte P25W and Schenker XMG P503 is better, which the benchmarks bear out.

The 3D Mark scores come in around 30% higher on the Gigabyte P25W, though in the Cinebench OpenGL rendering test, the gap is a mere 10%.

In real-world use, you can get around 30 frames per second on average in BioShock Infinite with everything maxed out. Drop a little from there and you get it high enough to not have to worry about occasional framerate drops. That's a good amount of power, and although there are games that won't play well with everything maxed at 1080p, of course , it should keep you in a nice level of graphics for a few years.

Most of the other gaming machines we've mentioned come in at around a similar price to the basic version of the XMG C703, so you're looking at a trade-off, really. The Gigabyte P25W, for example, is thicker and heavier than the C703, and offers a 15-inch screen instead of a 17-inch one. To no small degree, you're trading thickness for a portion of gaming power by looking at the C703 over the likes of the P25W – whether it's worth it comes down to your priorities.

Battery life

However, one area that doesn't impress is the battery life, producing just 73 minutes in a our Battery Eater Pro test. We're not really surprised or concerned by this, since it tends to be par for the course with gaming laptops, but with Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina display boasting good performance, thin size and long battery life, it's still a shame the XMG C703 couldn't offer more in this area. That said, the battery figure is for intense testing, so if you're just web browsing or typing (on your highly specced gaming machine…), you'll get more life from it.

While we didn't have a version of the machine without an SSD to compare it to, we were very impressed with its overall speed and nippiness, thanks in no small part to that Samsung EVO 500GB SSD. The unit boots in seconds and comes on rapidly from standby. If you can afford the upgrade, we definitely recommend it (though Schenker also offers hybrid solutions as configuration options, meaning you could order a large hard drive and small SSD as a fast boot drive).

It probably helps that there was no bloatware on our review model, though that could be because of the odd Enterprise version of the OS we were using – we hope Schenker would keep the purchased ones similarly clean.

The screen isn't the most vibrant one we've ever seen, but being matte it's nice that it isn't prone to reflections. It's generally a very good performer, though, and while it darkens a little at difficult viewing angles, it's not too bad at all.

Sadly, despite the use a quiet SSD, the XMG C703 does get loud. It often fired up the fan somewhat just for switching around Windows, which is enough to be a bit intrusive. And then you hear the full-on high-performance fan kick in when needed and it gets ridiculous.

It's a good thing it comes with special Sound Blaster speakers, we guess, and these are definitely nice – a cut above your average laptop speakers. Still, some noise-cancelling headphones might be a wise investment, as long as you get extra for everyone else around.

Schenker C703
The trackpad is better than many we've tried

The keyboard on the XMG C703 isn't bad to use, though it is a bit soft and dead – the keys are a nice size and feel, but the could do with being more springy and responsive. However, this laptop does break the curse of many Windows machines by having a nice trackpad. It's got just enough texture to give some nice feedback through friction, and the tap to click is responsive. The physical click is a little hard for our taste, but overall it's easily one of the best PC trackpads we've used in months.