From smartphones to tablets and ultrabooks, ultra mobility is all the rage. But sometimes, there's still no substitute for simple screen size. That's especially true for gaming. Enter the Medion Erazer X7611 laptop.
It's a full-on desktop replacement gaming portable with a monumental 17.3-inch, full 1080p display. It packs a full-on Intel quad-core processor and Nvidia graphics with 2GB of video memory.
For storage, you get both solid state and magnetic hard drives. Oh and there's the minor matter of a mere 16GB of system memory.
It also sports a plethora of ports and card readers, a webcam and integrated sound complete with a subwoofer. By now you should be getting an idea of a system that doesn't just tick the desktop-replacement box. It really delivers on the notion.
And yet despite all that, it's just 2.3cm thick. OK, the 17-inch screen makes for a chassis that's over 40cm wide.
But your typical 17-inch gaming brick is usually so much thicker. Take Alienware's new 17. it's over twice as thick and not far off twice as heavy. The Asus G750JX is significantly thicker and heavier, too.
Of course, both of those systems are both pricier and sport higher spec graphics chips. But choice is a very fine thing and depending on exactly what you're after from a gaming portable, and especially if you want something either mnore affordable or a bit easier to lug about, this Medion might just have the makings of a winner.
First up, processing power. Intel now offers a baffling array of processor models so you may not have heard of the Core-i7 4700HQ.
But no bother, it's barely any different to any other current quad-core. All that varies of note is clockspeeds and cache. This particular item rocks in at 2.4GHz nominal, 3.4GHz Turbo and sports 6MB of on-die cache memory.
That puts it towards the low end of Intel's quad-core mobile line up. But make no mistake. It's an extremely powerful quad-core chip by any sensible metric.
Slightly more open to debate is the fitness of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M graphics. While a low -end Intel quad-core chip is very nearly the same as a hgih-end quad-core model, that's not so for graphics chips.
The GTX 765M is a proper discrete 3D chip designed for gaming. But it's pretty modestly specified. It sports 768 CUDA cores running at 797MHz and a 128-bit bus.
Nvidia's fastest desktop graphics offer nearly four times the CUDA cores and triple the bus width. Not a fair comparison?
Perhaps, but it does put this 'gaming' graphics chip into context. Whatever, it's less than half as powerful as the fastest mobile graphics chip Nvidia currently does. Hmmm.
Next up, storage. Our test sample came with a 128GB SanDisk SSD, but Medion's official spec includes a 64GB drive at this price.
Along side the SSD is a 1TB conventional magnetic drive for mass storage. There's also a very healthy 16GB of RAM in dual-channel configuration.
Ports-wise, we're talking four USB 4.0 sockets, a multi-card reader, LAN, HDMI and no fewer than two mini DisplayPort outputs. For wireless networking, there's an Intel n-spec adapter.
For sound you get a stereo-speaker-plus-subwoofer solution with Dolby certification, for what that is worth, but Medion doesn't quote a battery capacity. The screen, finally, is a 17.3-inch LED backlit item with 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. Medion doesn't quote the panel type, but we reckon it's TN.
Oh and for the record, there is no optical drive. Surprising for a 17-inch rig? Perhaps, but then the days of optical are very nearly dead.
As for dimensions, the key numbers are 418mm, 288mm, 23mm and 2.68kg.
On the CPU side, the Intel Core-i7 4700HQ puts in a pretty predictable performance. And that means it's just excellent. You simply will not want for raw CPU power with this laptop.
As for storage, it's a bit more complicated. The 128GB SanDisk drive in our review unit puts in some pretty decent numbers with around 450MB/s sequential reads and 250MB/s writes. The random access performance is good, too.
However, it's likely any 64BG SSD will have more modest performance due to the limitations of smaller SSDs involving memory channels and NAND memory chip counts. It's unlikely to be a deal breaker, but it worth bearing in mind.
The built-in audio system is another strong point. The sound quality isn't exactly audiophile. But the volume levels are darn impressive for a laptop. And that means you could take the Erazer on hols without the need to bring a spare set of speakers. Handy.
The 17.3-inch LCD screen is mostly a good thing, too. It doesn't offer the expansive viewing angles of an IPS panel. But nor is it one of those really poor TN items.
Colours are rich, contrast is decent. The response rates are pretty nippy for a mobile panel, which is welcome for a portable with a gaming remit.
Speaking of gaming, what about that critical graphics performance? We can't give you a 3DMark result, sadly, as a software glitch meant it simply refused to run. But we've ran several other benchmarks.
For an idea of how well an older arcade-style game runs, Grid 2 flys along at 70 frames per second. That's at 1080p and the settings cranked up to high. Nice.
Less impressive is Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. Here you're looking at just 22 frames per second, again at 1080p and high quality settings. The geometry-heavy Heaven benchmark, meanwhile, is down at just 14 frames per second at similar settings.
Of course, you can improve those numbers by cutting back on the eye candy. But the overall jist is of a gaming system that will require you to make compromises and fine tune the settings. It's certainly not powerful enough that you simply set everything to full reheat and fire up any game.
Battery life is another result that's best described as middling. Three and a half hours of 720p video playback isn't bad for a 17 incher. But with smaller notebooks now offering something approaching all-day longevity, it's not that wonderful, either.
More of an unambiguous win is the overall build and robustness of the chassis. It's extremely solid and flex free – and that includes the backlit keyboard. Generally, it feels a high quality item and impressively so given the aggressive pricing.
Big portables have generally gone out of fashion. Bit with one exception: gaming laptops. The downside, apart from girth and weight, us usally price. On paper, the Medion Erazer seems to attack all those issues. It's both relatively thin and light and relatively affordable for this sort of system.
First and foremost, it's a good looking and good felling laptop. Medion is broadly a budget brand, but you won't feel like you've cut corners. It's a sleek looking, solid feeling portable.
The spec is good, too, on the whole. The quad-core Intel CPU is all you'll ever need. There's a mix of fast SSD and magnetic mass storage along with oodles of RAM.
The 17.3-inch 1080p LCD is generally a nice panel and well suited to gaming and there are plenty of ports on offer.
It's a fine line, but the Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M probably doesn't offer quite the level of gaming grunt we're after from a specialist portable.
Make no mistake, this is a genuinely gameable system. But it has little performance to spare and over time we suspect it will just feel slower and slower. The three and a half hours of battery life will also be a deal breaker for some.
As a pure gaming rig, the Medion Erazer X7611 is a bit mediocre thanks to its middling Nvidia graphics.
However, view it as a broader multimedia desktop replacement system and it's much more compelling. It's a quality item with a nice screen and excellent all-round performance. It's just not an uber gaming rig.