What's this? A £900 laptop capable of running games decently?
And the it doesn't look like something you'd use to control the landspeeder in Star Wars? I call shenanigans!
But, here it is, the Zepto Nox A15 in the ﬂesh, open on my desk like a clam of PC gaming potential, the oyster being the copy of Far Cry 2 running on it quite respectably.
Best looking laptop
A Danish company started in 2002, Zepto specialises in providing pre-customised PCs in much the same way as smaller desktop retailers do in the UK.
And there's no arguing with the quality feel of the product - it puts even a Mac to shame. Minimalist aesthetics, a lovely rubberised rough texture and a solid build make this quite possibly the best looking and feeling laptop we've had in the ofﬁce. Ever.
The innards match its luxuriant chassis too - although this is marketed as a 'performance' laptop rather than a gaming one. A Core 2 Duo processor and a 9600M GT graphics card make this the equivalent of a modern mid-range desktop, and 4GB of DDR2 800MHz RAM is enough to keep the 64-bit version of Vista happy.
We found that the six-cell battery supplied will give about two hours of low-power usage, or an hour's worth of high-end gaming. It's not great, but on full charge you've got enough juice to watch a ﬁlm.
But Zepto have slipped up slightly by slapping an all-too-big screen into the chassis. The 1680x1050 WSXGA+ resolution screen may look sharper than a razor blade in a pinstripe suit, but the laptop simply doesn't have the computing beef to keep those framerates up.
Both Race Driver: GRID and World in Conﬂict were playable, but they never managed to break through the 20fps barrier.
Impressive gaming abilities
That said, I managed to play Far Cry 2 on high settings and maximum resolution with very little lag. And one of the great things about modern PC games is their scalability – sure, we all bitched about Crysis' system requirements this time last year, but now playing in medium settings is attainable on a budget. And the slew of major releases this year – Far Cry 2, Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead – are all eminently scalable.
It's a well-made laptop that disappoints slightly on the benchmarks. But the fact is that you're getting a very nice bit of kit which will chow down on most games, provided you keep the settings in the mid-range.
Yes, it's a little under a grand, but the Nox A15 will function admirably as a desktop replacement. And being able to play games like GRID on the train is just plain awesome, If a little nauseating.