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    Default Sager 8150/ Malibal Lotus P150HM Review

    Sager np8150 / Malibal Lotus P150HM Review
    By Epsilon748

    I apologize in advance for the pictures. They're from my Windows Phone 7 since my DSLR batteries were dead and I wanted to get this review up ASAP

    You can click the pictures for higher res versions though (it won't make them less blurry though...)

    Overview
    The Lotus P150HM is a high end gaming notebook sold and serviced through Malibal. It is a rebranded Sager np8150 laptop, based on the Clevo P150HM barebones. The stock configuration sports a 15” full HD 1080p display, a selection of the new Sandy Bridge mobile processors, the Nvidia GTX460m (with the option for the current fastest mobile GPU option- the GTX 485), and a host of other customizable options. Clevo is known for producing some of the most powerful laptop barebones on the market, and the P150HM is no exception.

    I personally chose Malibal over the other resellers primarily due to cost (they beat out the others in cost + shipping), but also due to good reviews from other customers. Mobiousblack on NBR reported that his was fantastic, and praised Malibal (as most of us tend to praise the efforts of our particular reseller). There were also reviews up on other sites with the Lotus, and I liked the styling that Malibal chose to go with instead of adding in other stickers/decals. As expected, the Malibal reps were awesome and accommodated any changes I had.

    Laptops, Gaming Laptops & Fastest, Custom Laptops - MALIBAL

    The configuration I ordered from Malibal was delayed due to the Sandy Bridge recall for nearly a month. In that time I did make quite a few changes to arrive at my final configuration.

    - Intel i7 Sandy Bridge 2720qm processor (2.2ghz, turbo to 3.4)
    - GTX 485m 2GB Graphics
    - 4 GB RAM
    - 500GB HDD
    - No optical drive, included optical HDD caddy instead
    - Intel 6230 Wifi
    - Stock 15” 1080p Glossy 65% color gamut screen
    - Stock thermal compound
    - No OS
    - Extended 3 year labor / 2 year parts warranty

    As configured, the total was $2106

    On arrival yesterday 3/17, I added a few of my own components to the above setup as well. I increased the RAM to 12GB with 2 x 4GB sticks of G.Skill DDR3 10666 as well as adding a 128GB Kingston SSDnow SSD. I have included a section on the upgrade process as well.

    Unpacking

    My laptop arrived at the loading dock at work in a small and unassuming brown box. There was nothing on the outside to indicate that it contained anything particularly valuable inside except for a very small product ID sticker on the side.



    Inside the packing box was another slightly smaller box with what I assume is Clevo branding. This internal box held the laptop and power brick packed tightly with Styrofoam. The overall packaging was quite well done as the laptop couldn’t move and seemed to be well cushioned.



    Once removed from the box and spread out, you can see Malibal included a few extras. Packed with the laptop is, obviously, the power brick and cord as well as a VGA adapter, the ODD caddy I ordered, user’s manual, driver and software CD, and various parts that went to the original ODD (used on the caddy to make it match the case). The laptop itself was covered in protective film on all areas except the bottom panels.





    As Sager/Clevo are known for, the external of the laptop is unassuming. While most Sager resellers ship with the Sager logo on the lid, my Malibal machine has a very understated Malibal logo on the lid. Other than that there are no branding marks anywhere on the case. Even the palm rest under the keyboard has only two stickers, one for the THX audio and one for HDMI (that’s all it says).



    Upgrade Process

    Adding the extra RAM I purchased was trivially easy. The RAM is located under the main panel on the bottom. Remove the four screws and the panel slides out. The RAM slots are on the left side (with the GPU/CPU heatsinks orientated to be at the bottom). Pop in both sticks of RAM, close up the bottom panel, and the RAM is good to go.



    Swapping the HDD for my SSD was also equally easy. Directly above the bottom panel, in the center of the laptop, is the HDD bay. Remove the two screws and it also pops open. Strangely enough, the hard drive is only held in place with two strips of foam/rubber on the bottom of the bay and two strips that are screwed on to the hard drive. When the panel is closed, the drive is only held in place by the friction of these 4 strips. To remove the old drive, I just had to slide it out unscrew the rubber strip piece. Installing the SSD was the same process in reverse order.

    The Optical caddy had me feeling like a full on retard for a few minutes. Embarassingly enough, I spent a good 5 minutes playing with it before I released it was shipped partially disassembled. The caddy is made of two pieces- a top and bottom tray. The top tray just lifts off the bottom, giving you room to put in your drive. Malibal also shipped 3 separate pieces to go with this caddy. As the caddy is just a stock SATA caddy- it’s not going to match the styling of the notebook without some additions. Also in the box were: a DVD drive cover (the black trim piece that matches the laptop body), a white clip piece that attaches to the trim, and a small piece of metal that secures the whole assembly. I had to unscrew the black trim piece that came with the caddy and set it aside. Next you clip the included black trim to the white mounting piece, which screws in neatly to the caddy. The small metal mounting clip needs screwed on to the back of the caddy so that you can secure the whole unit into the laptop. Finally, the drive needs seated into the caddy, screwed down, and then held in place with the top piece which is screwed on. The whole caddy slides into the chassis and is held in place with a screw in the HDD compartment that goes through the metal clip on the caddy.



    Initial Setup

    I opted to get mine shipped without an OS because I have access to MSDN licensing, meaning I planned to install Windows myself. For others looking to do the same thing, there are three main options: USB install, DVD install, and Network install (if you have a PXE environment).

    Normally I opt for the PXE install from my home server, but as I was at work, I had a bootable Windows 7 flash drive with me. Of note: You cannot install windows from USB on the USB 3.0 ports as they don’t have drivers for the install. You must use the 2.0 ports until you get Windows running. After booting from the USB stick, the install went smoothly. I’m currently running Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1.

    On getting to the desktop, it’s obvious that these machines don’t have a lot of Windows supported hardware (at least, that windows carries drivers for on the install disk). This means that the driver CD is crucial. The cd contains graphics, chipset, Bluetooth, wireless, sound, THX, RST, and quite a few other drivers and software. Once all that is done, and the laptop is booted back to Windows it seems that it’s at a point where everything critical is up and running.

    Build Quality/ Impressions

    As mentioned before, the overall external design of the laptop is understated. There are very few stickers or decals on it at all (limited to the three I mentioned on the top/front). It’s very solidly built and has no noticeable flex in it when picked up. The rubberized finish is a great plus, as it’s got the texture of most rubberized cell phone cases. It’s not as tacky as say, a neoprene sleeve, but it’s a bit nicer than a hard plastic finish. It does tend to attract dust and dirt though, so a microfiber cloth might be a good thing to carry around. Overall the whole system feels rather light. Compared to my older XPS 1530 system, it’s a little thicker and just about the same weight at 6lbs. The power brick however adds almost a 1/3 to the overall weight at almost 2lbs by itself. Don’t get me wrong, this power brick isn’t as big as others out there but it’s definitely substantial and heavy. The indicator lights on the left and right of the keyboard aren’t overly bright and seem to serve the intended purposes just fine.

    The screen is surprisingly nice for glossy. As my previous laptop was also glossy, I feel that this was never really going to be a big issue anyway. As others have noted, it’s not the glossy screen that distracts the most, rather it’s the glossy bits of plastic trim that surround it. They’re significantly more reflective than the screen ever is. While on, the screen reflectivity doesn’t amount to much anyway. Only while off (or in direct sunlight) do you notice how glossy it is. I would have preferred matte plastic or rubberized finish to continue up around the screen trim, personally. As for the actual quality of the screen- I’m quite impressed. After all the talk about the upgraded matte screens, I’m not unhappy with my choice to stay with the stock model. The colors are quite vibrant when gaming and watching movies. I haven’t noticed any real bleeding or backlight contrast issues.



    Blu-ray movies on my external 6x Asus drive look absolutely fantastic. It’s at least on par with my larger and more expensive home theater LCD display. Though the lack of 120hz is kind of disappointing in regards to Nvidia 3D Vision. I took these photos with my phone from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World on Blu-ray. I almost did screenshots before realizing how little that helps with showing screen quality...







    The keyboard has also been surprisingly nice. While most complain about the strange layout and Chiclet keys, I’ve been pretty happy with it. The keys are responsive and don’t make any more noise than my work Thinkpad or XPS machines. The lack of standalone media keys is kind of a letdown though, as I’d gotten used to them on my XPS. Sager/Clevo instead to go the route my Thinkpad went and included a few controls via hotkeys or Fn keys. The layout will take getting use to though as I’m used to having the arrows keys and delete in the far right corners. This isn’t a problem with the design, so much as having the included numpad, which I’ve never had in a laptop. One BIG thing I praise Clevo for is not messing around with the left Ctrl/Fn locations. My Thinkpad fips the two by default and it’s incredibly frustrating to a touch typist. Other companies like HP flip out the Ctrl key for calculator keys and other nonsense. While typing, I don’t notice any flexing, even when banging hard on the keys.



    The trackpad leaves some room for improvement, as it’s my least favorite part of the laptop so far (and to be fair, it's hardly a major issue). It works fine, though the rubberized finish makes sliding your finger a bit more annoying than usual. A light touch seems to negate most of the issues though. I personally don’t use touchpads 99% of the time in favor of a real mouse though, especially on high res screens where it’s just impractical. Overall, I don't think it's as big an issue as others have mentioned. It's definitely much nicer than a ton of other laptops I've used though (HP I'm looking at you). The mouse buttons are a bit shallower than I'd like, but not really a big deal.

    Speakers are about on par for what I’d expect from a mobile platform. The top grill is pretty nicely stylized as adds a bit of class to the overall look. The base is more impressive than my old system due to the integrated subwoofer. However, the sound still doesn’t come close to that of, say, my fiancés Toshiba Qosmio (which is 18” and has a MASSIVE sub that makes the case almost 2” deep on the bottom). Overall, music and movies have sounded pretty decent though. Treble is ok, bass is present (though not overpowering), and the volume can get decently loud (I could hear it over the background noise of our Datacenter at work, so I was impressed).

    Ports and connectivity abound. It’s obvious that Clevo put some thought to layout. The DVI/eSATA/HDMI/power ports are all in the back, which is great because these are often only used when docking or using the laptop at a desk. It keeps these bulkier cords out of the way. The left side has the two USB 3.0 ports plus a third USB 2.0 port, mini firewire, SD card reader, and gigabit Ethernet. The right side houses the optical bay, another USB 2.0 port and a literal ton of audio jacks. Supposedly they can support full surround sound through the 3 jacks, but I haven’t had a chance to test more than the headphones.







    Often unmentioned, the internal components of the laptop are laid out especially well. I noticed when upgrading that all the parts are simple to get to and thoughtfully put in the case. For anyone looking to repaste a chip, clean a heatsink or fan, or add their own RAM or HDD- it’s dead simple. Most of these things can be done in minutes.





    Benches/Performance

    I’m just going to admit straight up that I haven’t run any game benchmarks. Part of this is due to the fact that 90% of my games are on Steam and require a ton of time to download, and part is due to the fact that my 3DMark scores seem to show that most users will be able to expect the kind of performance detailed on the NotebookBookCheck gaming benchmarks, as well as those listed in many other reviews.

    Computer Games on Laptop Graphic Cards - Notebookcheck.net Tech

    I did however run my own 3Dmark 06 and Vantage tests in addition to the Windows rating. It scored within a few percentage points of the stock scores listed with the 485m GPU on notebookcheck as well (link and pictures below).







    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 485M - Notebookcheck.net Tech

    Compared to the scores I got on my older XPS… well, there’s no comparison
    Battery life is pretty decent from what I’ve seen. It’s got a smaller 8 cell battery versus the massive 12 cell in my XPS, yet with the LED screen and better idle power usage, I was seeing 2 hours 20 minutes to 2 hours 40 minutes of battery life on balanced power settings. (Low to medium brightness, wifi on).

    Scores for said old XPS:



    Battery:



    The SSD was the best option for this model. I added mine aftermarket (128GB for $120), and as it does with my desktop- it makes a drastic difference. Boot times average 18 seconds from power to windows login screen, with another 30-45 seconds to get to the desktop (trillian and background processes loaded). This is fairly respectable also considering that I’m running this on a domain at home with active directory and drive mapping enabled for login.

    Temperatures at idle seem a bit high for me. The CPU hovers around 50C, with the GPU at 38C. The case itself is cool to the touch on all parts of the top and bottom. Fan noise isn’t as loud as others have mentioned. I don’t notice it kicking on and cycling at all when idling or watching a Blu-ray. The only times the fan has ramped up so far are when gaming or running the 3DMark scores. Overall fan noise when using it for web browsing or other light tasks seems to be around the level of quiet whisper. When gaming it becomes more pronounced, but coming from my XPS it’s still quieter (the XPS had a pretty audible hum and whir when the fans were spinning).



    Day to day usage is very snappy and responsive thanks to the hardware choices I had for it. For the most part, this machine is a very close second to my gaming desktop (and is only held back by the lack of SLI- otherwise it’d be almost identical). The fast 485m graphics very nearly equal the full size 470 desktop cards (which isn’t surprising considering that the 460 desktop card was only a few percent slower, where the 485m is essentially a cross between the 460 architecture and the 560 ti performance and processing power).

    As of right now, Nvidia has not made drivers for the 485m available for download. I also was unable to get the current 3D Vision drivers installed to test my 3D glasses on here. Hopefully this will be fixed in a future release so I can report back on the quality of the 3D Vision setup.

    Overview
    Despite the minor issues with the trackpad, bits of glossy framing around the screen, and keyboard layout; I’m quite happy with my purchase. Unlike Alienware models, the Sager is very understated and runs almost out of notice. The performance lives up to everything I’d expect from such an expensive purchase as well.

    Malibal was awesome throughout the purchase and I know when I’m in the market again in a few years, I’ll be sure to head back.

    For anyone looking at the 8150’s, a laptop cooling pad is mostly unnecessary- though a good external mouse is not. I have a Logitech MX 1100 that has served me well through the last two laptops and works like a champ with this one.

    All in all, I’m quite impressed. Sager has managed to cram a desktops’ power into such a small package. For me, this means less lugging around of equipment for LAN parties plus the ability to game anywhere I go. From a practical perspective, it also gives me the option of doing my VMware work in college with nothing more than a small laptop. The only flaws I’ve found with my machine so far have been nothing if inconsequential.

    I did want to mention to anyone wondering- I haven't had any of the freezes mentioned by others. I installed all the drivers off the included driver CD and was running Windows 7 SP1 from the get-go. If anything comes up, I'll be sure to add the update though.

    If you guys have any other questions, feel free to ask and I'll be sure to answer when I can! I know someone wanted a video of trackpad usage, so I'm going to try to get that too.

    Also, the service manual posted on NBR is definitely worth the download (it's much more useful than the users manual you get with the laptop)

    Official Sager NP8150/Clevo P150HM Owners Lounge

    Now off to break in my baby!
    Last edited by Epsilon748; 18th March 2011 at 09:32 PM. Reason: Clarifications!
    MALIBAL Lotus P150HM - i7-2720qm/485m/16GB RAM/128GB SSD/500GB HDD/15.6" Stock/6230 WiFi/Win7 Ult x64
    Thinkpad x220 - i5-2520/8GB RAM/250GB HDD/12.5" HD IPS Panel/9 cell battery/6300 Wireless N/Win7 Ult x64


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sager 8150/ Malibal Lotus P150HM Review

    Nice review, +Rep!
    ThinkPad T420 | i3 2310M | NVS 4200M | 8GB 1.35V | 14" 900p

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sager 8150/ Malibal Lotus P150HM Review

    Thanks for the review!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sager 8150/ Malibal Lotus P150HM Review

    nice review.
    i wouldnt worry too much about those idle temps. your cpu temps seem on par for a mobile quad. id be more interested in temps at load. i also had an odd caddy on my old sager 8690, and the hdd in the caddy registered higher temps there. im wondering if you are experience this also.
    and although i did not buy from them, i agree that malibal has excellent service and they will always be a consideration when purchasing another clevo.

    Sager 8150 Intel 2630m, 12gig 1333 ddr3, 485m, samsung 840 500gb ssd, 500gb hdd in optical bay, external dvd-rom, 1080p Glossy, Win 7 64-bit


    vsonic gr07 bass, logitech anywhere mx mouse, timbuk2 zeitgeist

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Sager 8150/ Malibal Lotus P150HM Review

    Quote Originally Posted by trvelbug View Post
    nice review.
    i wouldnt worry too much about those idle temps. your cpu temps seem on par for a mobile quad. id be more interested in temps at load. i also had an odd caddy on my old sager 8690, and the hdd in the caddy registered higher temps there. im wondering if you are experience this also.
    and although i did not buy from them, i agree that malibal has excellent service and they will always be a consideration when purchasing another clevo.
    I'll try to get load temps up soon if I can run furmark and 3dmark.
    MALIBAL Lotus P150HM - i7-2720qm/485m/16GB RAM/128GB SSD/500GB HDD/15.6" Stock/6230 WiFi/Win7 Ult x64
    Thinkpad x220 - i5-2520/8GB RAM/250GB HDD/12.5" HD IPS Panel/9 cell battery/6300 Wireless N/Win7 Ult x64


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    Default Re: Sager 8150/ Malibal Lotus P150HM Review

    wow. very nice review! As others have stated, those temps seems normal. They are exactly like mine so I wouldn't mind that. How are the fans operating on your machine? So there is absolutely no turning on of the GPU fan when idle?

    Sager NP8130 (P151HM1): 15'' 1920x1080, Core i7 2630QM, Nvidia 460m GDDR5, 8GB RAM, 500GB 7200RPM, Intel 6300
    Xoticpc (Order: 1/18/11 Phase 1: 1/24/11 Phase 2: 3/3/11 Phase 3: ???? Phase 4: SC2)
    Shipped: Wednesday, 3/09/11 at 8:34PM || Arrived : Friday, 3/11/11 at 6:49PM

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    Default Re: Sager 8150/ Malibal Lotus P150HM Review

    Quote Originally Posted by hispeed4567 View Post
    wow. very nice review! As others have stated, those temps seems normal. They are exactly like mine so I wouldn't mind that. How are the fans operating on your machine? So there is absolutely no turning on of the GPU fan when idle?
    nope, not at idle. Its almost entirely silent unless I put it under load.
    MALIBAL Lotus P150HM - i7-2720qm/485m/16GB RAM/128GB SSD/500GB HDD/15.6" Stock/6230 WiFi/Win7 Ult x64
    Thinkpad x220 - i5-2520/8GB RAM/250GB HDD/12.5" HD IPS Panel/9 cell battery/6300 Wireless N/Win7 Ult x64


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Sager 8150/ Malibal Lotus P150HM Review

    Nice review mate. BTW is that the SF-19 in the background?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Sager 8150/ Malibal Lotus P150HM Review

    Good review, and agree with most of what you said. I am getting similar idle temps as well. What I am really appreciating is that, unlike my HP griddle, my hands aren't getting fried as I'm typing this

    Edit: I should also mention that, in terms of build quality, this lappie feels way better than any of the Thinkpads that I've owned.
    Vera - Sager NP8150 | 15.6" 1080p | i7-2630QM | GTX 485m | 8GB DDR3 1333 | 500GB 7200rpm HDD | Intel 6230+BT

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Sager 8150/ Malibal Lotus P150HM Review

    Where did you get a 128gb ssd for $120?

 

 
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