Deadsmiley's Review of the Sager NP8278 / Clevo P170SM-A

Discussion in 'Sager/Clevo Reviews & Owners' Lounges' started by deadsmiley, Apr 18, 2014.

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  1. deadsmiley

    deadsmiley Notebook Deity

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    What you are about to read is my very subjective view, so keep that in mind. This is my experience with the machine for a week. I have spent some time banging on the thing so I have a good feel for it.
    This is not a HTWingNut, Mr. Fox or johnksss review. I am pretty awesome, but not that awesome. :thumbsup:


    The laptop this replaced:

    Dell Precision M4500
    i7 M640 Dual Core 2.8GHz
    15.6" 1600 x 900
    8GB Crucial (maxed out)
    256GB Bulletproof SSD
    320GB WD Black
    Quadro FX 1800M

    My Dell Precision M4500 has been very good to me. Basically all I have done to the thing is blow out the fan/heatsink fins every now and then and run it. It got an upgrade to a Bulletproof 256GB SSD a couple of years ago. That sold me on SSDs and I will never go back to a HDD for the primary drive on my main machine. I also have a full docking station that I am dearly missing. It was really nice to just pop the Dell into the dock and go.

    On my desk I have two Asus VS248 24" 1080 displays. They have HDMI, DVI and VGA inputs and they look really nice for the money. They were previously connected to the Dell dock via DVI and worked very well.



    The laptop I bought:

    Sager NP8278-S (Clevo P170SM-A)
    17.3" 72% color gamut 1080 display
    nVidia GTX 880M
    i7 4810MQ
    32GB RAM
    1TB Samsung 840 EVO
    1TB HGST Travelstar 7K1000, SATA 6Gb/s, 32MB buffer, 2.5-Inch 1TB 7200 RPM
    Blue-ray burner
    IC Diamond thermal compound
    Windows 7 Professional



    First impressions:

    I expected it to be a lot bigger than my M4500 which is a 15.6".
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This Sager is 1/2" thicker, 1 3/8" wider and about 2 pounds heavier. It is about the same depth because the M4500 has and extended battery that literally extends out the back. The size and weight don't really bother me. I am used to carrying around a heavy laptop. I use it for work and this thing will see the production floor of many manufacturing plants before it's life is through. So you understand when I say I needed something rather plain looking (industrial, if you will..) I think it looks nice. It looks professional.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Power brick:

    The power brick is 230w and it's big. It probably weighs in a good pound and a half more that the 130w Dell brick.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Keyboard:

    The keyboard is a lot nicer than I thought it would be. The only real problem I have with it is I keep hitting the Num Lock when going for the backspace. It's something I am adjusting too just like I did when I got the M4500.



    Touchpad:

    My Sager came with a Synaptics touchpad and it's pretty decent. I expected worse and was prepared to replace it. I don't think there is any need as this works well. I normally use a wireless mouse so I turn it off as I have a nack for hitting the touchpad with my hands while typoing, sending the pointer off to another screen.



    Screen:UPDATE: 10/10/2014

    The screen is quite nice. I am glad I sprung for the 72% color gamut. It's what I look at all day so it needs to be a good looker.

    I replaced the screen with a used display that I bought off eBay. Chi Mei N173HGE-L21 REV.C1 17.3 Full-HD 1920X1080 Glossy LED

    This is the same screen I had before with the exception of the glossy finish. The matte looked nice at first, but after a while it the just looked grainy. I wasn't really sure about this swap, but it was super easy. It took me about 20 minutes. I figure the next time it will take about 10 minutes. I used the guide [which needs to be stickied] found here:
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/sag...-lcd-panel-clevo-shell-pictures-included.html

    After using the glossy screen for a few days I can't go back to the matte screen. This screen had the same specs as my previous screen (Chi Mei N173HGE-L11) but it is MUCH sharper. I never had an issue with the brightness or the colors, all of that is good to my eyes. I do turn down the brightness in a darkened room as it's too bright. In a well lit room it's not overpowered by the ambient lighting. I know a lot of people like the matte screen. I guess I am not one of them.


    Work performance:

    Performance is good. I loaded up three VMs with WinXP, Win7 and Win8. I also ran AutoCAD, three web browsers (IE, Firefox and Chrome), Excel, and two eDrawing viewers. This used a tad over 17GB of system RAM. My CPU utilization was around 15%. System responsiveness remained high. I am very happy.



    Battery life:

    I did not test this. For me the battery is just a UPS as I almost never go unplugged from A/C power. This is not to say I don't need a laptop. I do, as I travel with it nearly every day. A desktop would never work for me.



    Gaming/Graphics performance:

    In games I can run Hawken and MechWarrior: Online at max settings at 1080 with complete fluidity. It's nice. I really only tested Hawken. Everything was put on Ultra. All power sucking checkboxes where checked including the nVidia specific ones. The loweest frame rate I recorded was in the high 40's. Mostly it was 60+ fps. After 20 minutes I saw a max of 79C on the GPU with a room temp of about 78F (26C), so this isn't bad at all. The computer is just sitting on my desk.

    I was thinking at one point I should have saved myself $300 and gotten the GTX 870M. I am glad I spent the money on the 880M. I will be keeping this for three years and at that time I will get the flagship graphics card again. I have no regrets.

    At first I was really bummed about the 880M. I was running FurMark and getting right at 90C temps on the GPU and the card was throttling down to 405MHz. The kind folks here pointed out the err of my ways. FurMark isn't a real world test and it has damaged hardware in the past. For this reason the nVidia drivers automagically throttle the GPU when FurMark is detected. I won't be running FurMark again.

    Here is a stock clocks run with my Fire Strike score. It looks to be about what we expect to see.
    [​IMG]

    UPDATE: 4/28/2014

    I updated nVidia drivers to the GeForce 337.50 Beta and gained over 100 points in Firestrike: 5603

    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A


    UPDATE 5/1/2014:
    3DMark 11 test added. This is with everything at stock settings. NO overclock or other tweaks other than running the fan at max speed.
    Driver version: Nvidia 337.61 Beta Hotfix driver


    UPDATE 4/24/2014:
    I have been playing some games in earnest now and all I can say I say is that I really enjoy the machine. One game that I really liked, but my M4500 could barely handle at 720 with the lowest settings was MechWarrior: Online. Despite the demands of this game my son and I played it a LOT a few months ago. He has a Dell XPS 15 with a GT 640M so didn't have much trouble with it.

    MechWarrior Online videos on Youtube with MSI Afterburner OSD. My son's mic was captured along with the game sounds. My mic was not configured to be recorded. He plays on a Dell XPS 15 with a GT 750M. It's a nice machine.

    Youtube Videos (1080p):
    [video=youtube_share;jSkvR-v95Vc]

    [video=youtube_share;PszUeYBqPlc]

    Or, if you would like to see the videos without the Youtube loss of quality, here is a link to my Dropbox:
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/c5wkw3ozam8zj4t/YZNovjT-Gw

    Right click in the video and "Save Link As" to get the file. Otherwise you will see it in compressed format (which defeats the purpose).


    Noise:

    As I type this it is almost silent. While gaming the fans do ramp up. I do not find it objectionable and I did expect it. Really... I thought it would be much louder after reading some reviews on previous models.

    UPDATE 4/24/2014:
    I took my new laptop to a customer site and worked in their engineering office for a day this week. It really is quiet during normal office work.
    As the (old) song goes, "She's lady on the street but a freak in the sheets." :thumbsup:



    Things I don't like:

    I use two Asus 24" 1080p monitors with DVI connections to the Dell dock. It was just really handy. Since Sager/Clevo does not have a dedicated docking station I bought a Plugable USB 3.0 dock. The biggest problem is the Dell dock provided DVI video (and DisplayPort) outputs. The Plugable uses DisplayLink drivers over USB 3.0. It looks great but I haven't been able to start a game on the external displays with it. For now I am using the two external displays with HDMI/HDMI and DisplayPort/HDMI cables. The Plugable dock is used as a high dollar USB hub, gigabit Ethernet adapter and sound port. So... it's not 100% perfect.

    I will play with the Plugable some more and see if I can get it working better. I have read that I won't be able to play games with video going through the Plugable USB 3.0. However, I could run FurMark and YouTube videos through it with no apparent video lag. This requires further testing.

    A small annoyance is the OSD for Cap/Num Lock. Sometimes it obscures what I am looking it. This occurs primarily when moving from the desktop to a virtual machine.

    I was thinking that the GTX 880M would help out with viewing models in eDrawings (Solidworks viewer). Alas, this was not to be. I had forgotten that this takes a workstation class graphics card. I took a small side trip, modified the inf file for the Quadro drivers and installed them. It didn't work. While the drivers installed fine and it was utilized in games, the eDrawings viewer didn't see it as a Quadro. I am pretty sure that I would have to modify the hardware ID on the card itself to get this to work and I am not willing to do that. Even without the graphics card helping (the 880M GPU load sits at 0%) viewing models is a lot better than with the 3+ year old Dell M4500 and it's Quadro FX 1800M. Sigh...



    Final thoughts:

    Overall, I am pretty darn pleased with the Sager NP8278-S. The machine is fast and stable. I have had no lockups, freezed, BSOD, balks, stutters, hickups that weren't user induced. :)

    I guess if I wanted a dock and Quadro graphics card I could have gotten a Precision M6800 with a K5100M and it still would have been plenty fast and quite the upgrade. The M6800 would have cost me quite a bit more outfitted with the Quadro K5100M.



    UPDATE: 6/1/2014

    svl7 and Johnksss have released their modded vBIOS for the GTX 880M!


    My 880M always throttled at stock clocks. VERY frustrating. Now it doesn't throttle at stock clocks.

    3DM11 scores

    Stock Clevo vBIOS:
    P8372, Graphics Score 8595
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A

    Highest overclock with stock vBIOS
    +70 core, +470 memory
    P8940, Graphics Score 9348
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A



    svl7 OC vBIOS:

    P8498, Graphics Score 8836
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A

    For comparison I will run the card at the highest clocks I could manage with the stock vBIOS

    +70 core, +470 memory
    P9102, Graphics Score 9656
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A


    Now I am running at +100 cor, +0 memory. The first run crashed so I bumped the voltage to 1.050v and it completed just fine. The core is getting hot. I reached 90c during this test.

    +100 core, +0 memory, +50mv core (1.050v)
    P8963, Graphics Score 9482
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A


    Let's try this again with a memory speed bump.
    +100 core, +470 memory, +50mv core (1.050v)
    P9155, Graphics Score 9834
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A

    But... the core reached 93c this time around. I think I am done with 3DM11.


    Firestrike score
    +100 core, +470 memory, +100mv core (1.100v)
    6283, Graphics Score 7119
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A
    Peak of 91c on the core... gotta work on cooling.


    Thank you so much svl7 and Johnksss for "unbreaking" our GTX 880M graphics cards!


    UPDATE: 6/27/2014
    For those that are interested, I posted up my Sager/Clevo cooling mod here:
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/sag...adsmiley-s-gpu-cooling-mod-np8278-p170ms.html


    UPDATE: 6/29/2014
    I repasted with MX-4 and did some other work to get my 3DMark 11 score up to 9650. Details are in a the post linked below.
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/sag...-sager-np8278-clevo-p170sm-4.html#post9707087


    UPDATE: 7/20/2014
    I finally got my 330w power supply and put it to good use. Tonight I ran a 3DMark 11 score of 10013. It's a (very distant) second place to Johnksss, but I will take it. :D

    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Here is a link to the GTX 880M rankings. Select 1 GPU from the pull down menu.
    Search GeForce GTX 880M

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    UPDATE: 7/21/2014
    Tonight I ran Firestrike with the 330w power brick: 6620
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    At Meaker's request... Firestrike Extreme: 3318
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A

    Looks like it's pretty much 1/2 of Firestrike. I noticed that my CPU is throttling due to heat. Probably need to back off the watts in XTU or something...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Ok, just topped that with a 3332.
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7 4900MQ,Notebook P17SM-A



    UPDATE: 10/10/2014: Cooling mods and other stuff.

    Deadsmiley's GPU Cooling Mod
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/sag...adsmiley-s-gpu-cooling-mod-np8278-p170ms.html

    Ok, I have lived with this machine for about 6 months now. The GTX 900 series is out. I think I am gonna wait on upgrading the GPU. I would like to do it, but it's very hard to justify when what I have works for me at 60fps (capped) in the games I play.

    I didn't think the weight would be much of a burden as I carry it around just about every day for my business. It would be nice if it was lighter but it isn't so I just use both shoulder straps on my backpack. I have to admit that my backpack is jammed full of various cables, notepads, pens, a mouse pad, wireless mouse, phone charger, flash drives, headphones, etc... so it's not just the laptop that makes my bag heavy. All that other stuff adds up to probably 1/2 the total weight.

    The thing is indeed speedy. I am really spoiled if I have to use a different computer I get impatient with it pretty quick.


    UPDATE: 1/9/2015: ASIC quality.
    Just checked ASIC quality on the GTX 880M and it's pretty good.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015
  2. n=1

    n=1 YEAH SCIENCE!

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    Nice review, glad you like the machine thus far. Seems like Clevo does improve their machines at every iteration, so there's some progress.

    And yeah the OSD for CAPS annoys me to no end, especially when it cuts me off in the midst of typing a long sentence/paragraph.

    It's a shame none of the resellers are willing to offer the Quadro K5100M as a default option, because it seems like that would've been the perfect card given your workflow. At stock it has 90% of the gaming performance of a 780M, and you might be able to OC it to 780M or even 880M level performance.
     
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  3. deadsmiley

    deadsmiley Notebook Deity

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    Thanks!

    Mythlogic offers the Quadro K5100M in this machine. It's really pricey and at the time I didn't think I would need it. I don't actually need it. The CPU is strong enough to grunt it out.

    Sent with love from my Galaxy S4
     
  4. n=1

    n=1 YEAH SCIENCE!

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    Yikes, $2000 for a K5100M from Mythlogic, that's a bit steep. You can find one for $1350 on eBay, and you could even snag it for $1000 if you don't care about it being used. But yeah if the 4810MQ can power through it all then no point in wasting that money.
     
  5. Meaker@Sager

    Meaker@Sager Company Representative

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    Warranty support is a bit different though ;)
     
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  6. deadsmiley

    deadsmiley Notebook Deity

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    Hahahaha! Yes sir! :D
     
  7. deadsmiley

    deadsmiley Notebook Deity

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    Updated with some additional comments and gaming videos. :D
     
  8. Meaker@Sager

    Meaker@Sager Company Representative

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    You could move to a quadro later if you like.
     
  9. deadsmiley

    deadsmiley Notebook Deity

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    Maybe when Maxwell Quadro arrives.

    Sent with love from my Galaxy S4
     
  10. Meaker@Sager

    Meaker@Sager Company Representative

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    If support could be modded in (or there are no bios issues) it would be a nice jump.
     
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