Gaming laptops are fast becoming a hotly contested part of the market. No longer are they unfeasibly expensive, heavy or lacking power – they're bona fide platforms that can run state-of-the-art titles at high settings.
An upgrade to XMG's U506 range, the P506 is an intricately customizable proposition that's both portable and powerful. Its Clevo P651RE6 chassis allows for a plethora of configuration options including extra slots for hard drives and more RAM.
Unlike Gigabyte's new P35X v5, the P506 can't be configured with a 4K (or Ultra HD) display, instead topping out at 1080p (or Full HD). The 970M inside would struggle to run demanding games with any level of smoothness at 4K, so XMG's decision to stick at Full HD to keep costs and weight down is a welcome one.
The P506's matte black finish will appeal to gamers, along with its hard wearing and cold-to-touch aluminum casing. The keyboard's front corners aren't rounded – they're cut off at angles to give a boxier, more utilitarian look. There's also an array of flashing warning lights on the front – far more than, say, an office machine.
While the design won't completely wow you – the backlit keyboard is just a single colour and there are no real design flourishes of note – it certainly won't offend either. The P506's look is functional and sturdy.
There are four USB 3.0 ports, one of which is powered and sits on the back edge beside the power inlet socket, which is useful for hooking up an external storage device or charging a phone quickly. There's no internal optical drive, which isn't a disadvantage in the age of digital downloads. You will, however, need to plug in an external drive if you want to use the supplied Nero CD-ROM software.
There's a good quality trackpad on the base. While it's not up to MacBook standard, it's still reliable and doesn't skit about. The P506's display is a thing of beauty. Viewable from all angles, it's crystal clear and has consistent brightness throughout.
While the P506's Full HD resolution is a great fit for gaming, it means that fonts and icons on the desktop aren't as sharp as they would be on a 4K or even QHD+ display — so don't expect much eye candy in Office-styled applications — if you can tear yourself away from games long enough to use them.