HP ENVY TouchSmart 15-j000 (Intel i7-4702MQ & Nvidia 750M) Haswell Quad Review

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  1. T2050

    T2050 Notebook Deity

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    HP ENVY TouchSmart 15-j000 (Intel i7-4702MQ & Nvidia 750M) Haswell Quad Review

    This is the one that everyone has been waiting for, well at least if you have been waiting for the new ENVY 15 for 2013 (or aka dv6 2013) with the elusive unavailable Nvidia 750M graphics processor, at this time of writing, which has taken it time to get to market.

    I will continue on to begin with saying, this is also the new dv6 for 2013, with the name re-branded to ENVY 15. There are hints of the original ENVY 15, this can be found around the keyboard design, and the half alloy shell the covers the palm rests, which is about where it ends. The keyboard has flex in certain areas (left and right, the centre is somewhat ok), and is an alloy like insert between the keys with the general feel being poor compared to last years dv6, whereas the original ENVY 15 has solid alloy between the chiclet keys. The chassis features a half alloy shell that fully covers the top area/palm rest, and covers around the sides of the left and right ports, which added some rigidness to the chassis, but again nothing like the original ENVY 15 build quality. I believe the lid is made of plastic, colour coded to look like alloy. Even though the name has been re-branded and the named convention line has shifted down a market segment, you are still paying the same amount of money as you would for a dv6 product, therefore you can expect what you pay for and nothing more.

    The model I am reviewing is one of the top of the range Intel pre-built models on the market for my country, sorry to say it can't be better as in CTO build will allow. Specs are as follows

    Intel i7-4702MQ (Haswell Quad) 2.2 GHz base with 3.2 GHz turbo
    Nvida 750M DDR3 (128bit) 967 MHz core with 1085 MHz Boost clock, 1001 MHz memory
    8GB single channel DDR3L-1600 (low voltage 1.35v memory, single dimm)
    Standard HD 1366x768 touchscreen (Monitor\SDC4651 panel)
    750GB 5400rpm hard drive (Seagate ST750LM022 HN-M750MBB)
    Ralink RT3290 wireless (150Mbps)
    Bluetooth 4.0 (integrated with wireless card)
    Backlit keyboard (classic Envy style look)
    62Wh battery (6 cell)
    120W power adaptor (new design plug from HP, 4.5mm)

    [​IMG]

    I would highly recommend you read my other review of the same model, but with AMD hardware inside, as this is the same notebook. This will cover everything you need to know, that may not be in this review.
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/hp-...rt-15-j000-amd-a10-5750m-richland-review.html

    The main focus of this review for the Intel Haswell Quad and especially Nvidia 750M, covering the new Intel based hardware, and also the Standard HD touch screen, not to mention selected for gaming on. Therefore it is kind of a revisit, best read the link above for better details.
    Please take into account this is a work in progress, therefore the review will not be fully complete, and I will be editing mistakes, adding, or anything else I find.

    I will now go back over the ENVY 15-j, as I received this one.

    First of all, once I unboxed the machine, there is very little that come with it, actually just a couple of bits of paper, this are not really worth reading, unless you have never purchased a laptop before. Other than that, you will find a battery and charger.

    To note, I just want to say this, HP needs to watch their quality control. This is the 4th notebook that has had a defect out directly out of the box. The other 3 notebooks I reviewed on these forums. With this 4th review model I was going to review there is a scratch under the glass touch panel in the top right hand corner that was 4mm long. Luckily when you buy a retail pre-built model, you have to opportunity to get it replaced immediately, rather than having to send back and have replaced taking a significant amount of time.
    Second of all, after getting the unit changed, this time I am lucky there are no faults out of the box. I am now able to continue, with this particular unit, without having to return it, due to faults.
    Out of the box once again, on to my 3rd ENVY 15-j, the physical build looks the same as the two other ENVY 15-j that I have had (both had defects), everything seems to be inline, in regards the actually build being the same, just the defect with the first 2.

    Just beware of HP marketing of the ultra-thin. It is not that at all, it just thin at the front. In fact I put the ENVY 15-j side by side to be dv6 2012, and it was a fraction higher at its highest point. Although the ENVY 15-j is thinner at the front, due to the optical drive being removed.
    The weight of the notebook is not balanced, much of the weight is at the back, and not spaced evenly across the notebook.
    When the laptop screen is fully opened (and that isn't much, as in tilt back of the screen), on the two Intel unit's I noticed the front right rubber feet lifts a good 2mm or 3mm off the table into the air, therefore no contact with table or bench you are working on, this makes the entire notebook rock around on the 3 remaining feet. This is not a problem when the notebook lid is closed, but hey! how may people are going to be using it with the lid closed, not many! The feet are rather fat and chunky is size too.

    ENVY 15-j (left) and dv6 2012 (right)
    [​IMG]

    Switching on the machine, the fan spins up lightly and not loud, as I found the AMD was a little noisy. Tilting back the screen, I noticed that once again and to be expected from the other two models that were unboxed, that the screen does not tilt back ever far at all, this I know now is due to the amount of weight the screen has, and HP have added some counter weights inside the machine to stop it from falling over backwards.

    ENVY 15-j (front) and dv6 2012 (back), lids tilted back as far as they will go
    [​IMG]

    After checking out there is not imperfections under the glass, I then restarted hitting the F11 key and restored the machine to a clean restore “minimal image”. This is great and does not allow all the bloat ware HP adds to be installed on the system
    Once restarted, the first thing to do is run CPUZ, GPUZ, and HWinfo, collecting some information, about the machine.

    The i7-4702MQ runs pretty cool at idle, and the voltage seems to way down there at 800 MHz, with mine particular unit at 0.668v, and the temperature sitting around 40c.
    Weighting in a 37W TDP, this makes for an excellent choice if you want to keep heat down, or stop the cooling system from overloading

    [​IMG]

    Even cooler I have been able to reduce the core voltage of the processor by 0.1v using Intel XTU v4.1, as you can see in the next screenshot, I am only using 0.57v at idle! This can be done by changing the setting Dynamic CPU Voltage Offset, and then reduced by -100mV

    Dynamic CPU Voltage Offset, reduced by -100mV
    [​IMG]

    What is even better about the i7-4702MQ, can be overclocked by 200 MHz using Intel own Extreme Tuning Utility or XTU 4.1, this is fantastic and works (tested with BioShock Infinite). All that is needed is an installation of the XTU v4.1, select Core, and move all the multiplier sliders to there maximum. Nothing like getting some extra speed for free, especially on a low TDP processor :)
    What does this all mean? If you have a i7-4702MQ you can effectively overclock the turbo of the processor, from 2.9 GHz for all 4 cores to 3.1 GHz, and reach a maximum single core speed of 3.4 GHz :D

    Overclocked 4 core turbo from 2.9 GHz to 3.1 GHz
    [​IMG]

    While we all were hoping by some chance the 750M would turn out to be a GDDR5 model, those hopes were pretty far gone, even before I received this unit. The 750M uses the GK107 core which is the same found in the 650M GPU's Although there is some very healthy looking GPU core clock speeds bumps, and the boost core goes way over 1 GHz nearing 1.1 GHz which is impressive. The memory type used is just DDR3. If it is any consolation the DDR3 is clocked at high 1001 MHz (which is 2002 MHz effective), and about 100 MHz more that DDR3 is commonly clocked at, which it usually 900 MHz for almost every other DDR3 based notebook. Soon see what kind of head room there is for some overclocking. Even at stock memory speeds, this should be enough for my 1366 x 768 panel to deal with, giving an ok bandwidth total of 32 GB/s.

    [​IMG]

    At this point, I have added this section in the middle of the review to cover a popular game BioShock Infinite that I will be playing on the ENVY 15-j, and how well it works with the system hardware. This is certainly something to get excited about, and there is plenty good things to say about the ENVY 15-j in this regard. Make gaming on this notebook one of it's very strong points.
    Must also point out, the sound system in the notebook is very strong and loud, gaming experience is enhanced and compliments the graphics on screen.
    When running BioShock Infinite, and make no mistake with the i7-4702MQ and the 750M (even though DDR3) is capable of pushing this game on Ultra settings, whilst remaining fully playable. I am only running 1366 x 768 panel, and by pushing ultra settings with the native resolution the game looks awesome, and that's the way I want it, without down scaling.
    I noticed no thermal throttling on both the CPU and GPU, all clocks stay at their maximum. The CPU stayed under 1v and ticked along at a healthy 2.9 GHz on all 4 cores, that a good 700 MHz over base clock, for a 37W TDP processor it is pretty impressive. The GPU boosted continuously at a very fast 1067 MHz according to GPUZ sensors.
    The palm rest gets hot on the left hand side, but is bearable, and heat seems not to continue to rise. The WASD key get hot to, but again bearable. The alloy along the side next to the vent gets very hot, but no problem, as you are not touching this part mostly.
    The cooling fan during gaming ramps up a bit, and is to be expected, but maintains a good acceptable level, no where near out of control, and is not by any means to loud.

    BioShock Infinite CPU speed
    [​IMG]

    BioShock Infinite power draw
    [​IMG]

    BioShock Infinite GPU temps
    [​IMG]

    Already being impressed by the 750M performance even with its DDR3 memory. What I thought might have no overclocking head room, with it already being a high clocked GK107 core, the GPU does have quiet a bit in it. Using MSI Afterburner latest beta 3.0, I am able to push the slider to the max on the core which is +135, but somehow the boost actual reported speed is much higher, just shy of 1.3 GHz!
    With the memory being DDR3, I kind of figured that maybe it is already maxed out at 1001 MHz and 32 GB/s, I was not optimistic about get much if anything from here. But I was wrong, I was able to harvest an extra 5.5 GB/s, which might not sound like much, but when you only have a little to being with and that area is hurting, that little is a lot. The memory would clock over 1200 MHz, but show a few faint artifacts (unstable in benchmarks), so I backed it off with a +170 setting to produce a decent 1171 MHz which in turn allows a 37.5 GB/s bandwidth for the memory bus, which I believe so far to be stable from testing.

    750M overclocked to 1102 MHz core and 1189 MHz memory with 37.5 GB/s bandwidth
    [​IMG]

    750M sensor showing core boost clock at almost 1.3 GHz!
    [​IMG]

    Ignoring all of the above clocks, and just running the 750M at stock, I benchmarked Tomb Raider 2013
    Here are the following results at native resolution of 1366 x 768:

    Tomb Raider 2013 benchmarks

    Normal (default) settings:
    Min: 56
    Max: 64
    Ave: 59.7

    Ultra settings:
    Min: 24
    Max: 40
    Ave: 31

    Ultimate settings:
    Min: 13.2
    Max: 25.2
    Ave: 18.6

    Quick check in HWinfo, shows a lowly 750GB hard disk at 5400rpm, there is no SSD cache drive or hybrid drive in this machine, although there is a spare slot of a mSATA. The wireless card is a RT3290, which connects at a max of 150Mbps, which performs relatively well for a 1x1 card. The Standard HD panel does not show a manufacturer, but is labelled as Monitor\SDC4651.

    Keyboard has bit more flex in it than the AMD model I reviewed, this time the flex is mostly up and around the SDFG line of keys, also XCV are pretty bad too, along with the WERTY keys. All nearby keys have some flex in them too, actually is pretty annoying, especially when I am writing this with the actual keyboard. There some flex in the keys surrounding the Enter key too. This particular keyboard is actually pretty damm awful, my last one in the other review was much better keyboard, but that had flex. I can see on the back, there are no screws in which to adjust the tightness, so I am pretty much stuck with a keyboard with bad flex. After looking at it little more, it looks like there might be a single screw holding the centre of the keyboard, with each right and left side having about 1-2mm play underneath the keyboard membrane.
    Really the only good thing about the keyboard is the backlight.
    Watch out for hitting the number lock key, when reaching to hit the backspace key, I seem to making this mistake bad on this keyboard. The key arrangement is slightly different than the dv6.
    Definitely a step back from the dv6 2012 keyboard which is pretty tight.

    Track pad it pretty sticky, my finger tends it grab on it, then slip, and grab again, this can get irritating. There is really no good way to approach it. If you hold your finger down almost flat then it is a little better, but still sticky. Using the left and right click on the track pad is fairly good experience, with it easy to select left from right without any interference from either sides, and the track pad stays solid without any play in it. Yeah, would have to say after writing the review on the machine, the track pad has been sticking the entire time, pretty awful for your finger to move on.

    [​IMG]

    Touchscreen works well, and look great with edge to edge glass as one sealed like unit. The glass has a look of high quality, and add to the appeal of the notebook ascetics. Glass being glass, not sure if there is really any difference, fingers guide on the touch screen surface very nicely, would of been nice if HP had use a glass track pad too. Grab a cheap microfiber cloth, and the screen finger prints are easily removed. I tend to wipe the screen daily before I use it, for a freshen up.
    I am actually happy that I now have a Standard HD 1366 x 768 screen rather than a FHD 1920 x 1080 screen, believe it or not! The low resolution makes touching your way around actual windows, running on Windows 8 a lot easier, with icons such being larger on screen and easy to touch without making mistakes, when compared the FHD model I had used. Of course you could use DPI scaling on a FHD, but I am not a fan of that, as it tend to obscure the look of certain applications, and I rather stay with native resolutions for clean look and feel.
    The brightness of the HD screen seems around the same as the FHD display (which isn't much), although the colour and contrast are not as good as the FHD panel with the HD panel, but that is minimal, and there is little difference between the two.
    Viewing angles on the HD panel are just as poor as the FHD display, so no gain or loss here to have either or model.
    Once thing I am pleased about, there is no grainy vertical lines on this display, the FHD exhibited the vertical grainy effect which bothered so much, that I prefer to have a lower resolution without any of the graininess, compared to that of the grain in the FHD Chi Mei CMN15BB panel.
    I plan to game on this machine with the 750M, and being DDR3 type (not GDDR5), if I were going for a FHD panel, it is not going to help me much in this department with low GPU memory bandwidth. At 1080p there would be simply a to high amount of pixels to push. Therefore gaming at native resolution of 1366 x768 makes good sense as a 750M is not exactly high-end and more middle road.

    Just watch out for the lid, feels pretty cheap, and I am leaning towards it being made out of plastic, it does not have the cold feeling of alloy like the palm rest area does when touch to the two surfaced separately. The lid appears to be carefully color coded an alloy silver to be the same as the palm rest. The lid is pretty hollow when tapping the center,and can be push down a good half a centimeter downwards, and if you press on the back of the lid whilst the notebook is on, the display panel will ripple right through to the front of the screen, just as if you were to push your finger on the front on any normal LCD screen and see it ripple.

    [​IMG]

    Speaker system works well on this notebook and is loud, featuring six speakers in total, with 3 speakers on the top and 3 speakers on the bottom. When the sound is cranked all the way up, it reaches loud volumes for a notebook.

    Ports on the right side are combo headphones/headset jack, 2x USB 3.0 port, Gigibit Ethernet, and 4.5mm power jack.

    [​IMG]

    Ports on the left hand side are SD-card reader, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.0 (charge output), HDMI output, Cooling vent

    [​IMG]

    Battery life is really good, it would be about the as the same AMD model when just doing basic tasks. The fan hardly ever spins up, which is nice, even when plugged in to mains power, and runs with less noise the AMD model. I haven’t put this unit under any load yet, that is yet to come, when I start running some benchmarks tomorrow, when I have time. The notebook is supplied with w 62WHr battery and 120W slim power adapter.
    When just doing light work, with little load, the notebook can be easily used directly on your lap, even when plugged in to the mains, but runs cooler on battery. The top remains cool to the touch, and the bottom just get a little warm in the centre.

    [​IMG]

    Fan noise is very good, the lack of noise that is. It runs quietly and doesn't seem to pulse up and down which some other notebooks sometimes have a tendency to.
    Under load when playing Far Cry Blood Dragon short term, the fan took about 10 minutes before it really start to kick a gear, all the thermals stayed in check. Pushing Ungine Valley benchmark briefly, the fan noise was pretty low for such higher end hardware in a mid range platform.

    One thing to keep in mind about the ENVY 15-j TouchSmart, it is heavy! A lot heavier than the dv6 2012.Especially at the back. There is something HP has done with the screen, I not certain, but feels like there is a great deal of weight in the glass covered screen, and what ever dummy weights HP have added in. I don't have any good scales, but I borrowed my wife's very cheap kitchen scales and weighed my dv6 2012 and then the ENVY 15-j 2013, there is a bit of difference. The numbers don't look right for both units, but there really is not denying the difference that one is heavier than the other, that being the ENVY 15-j.

    Getting inside the back cover only requires one single screw to be removed, than the cover can be pulled open with your finger, it is held in by plastic clips. The hard drive caddie is nothing but a rubber insert that is fitted into the recess. At the top right are two dimm slots, and there is a small black plastic flap, to protect again dusts or objects getting in and on to the RAM, there is however ventilation holes in the back cover in the area, so if you want to, you could rip of this back plastic lip for extra cooling over the RAM, otherwise the plastic flap actually block the vents. At the far bottom left (kind of a black round spot) this is where the so called sub woofer is. At the bottom left appears to be where the mSATA SSD cache drive would be fit to, to bad if you don't get it, you don't get a screw with it, if you were to buy your own, but that is typical of HP not to give you screws, caddies, or anything there is an option for but has been optioned with. Finally on the bottom right hand side, is where the wireless card is installed, my card is a 1x1 card, but there is to antennas, so you should be good to replace this card with any 2x2 card providing the machine will support the card and not be white listed.
    I have loosen some of the screws I could find around this area in an attempt to get the keyboard out, but any of the screws did not loosen the keyboard one bit, or even allow it to move. If I or anyone could get the keyboard out, then there might be a chance that some double sided tape could be used to stop the terrible amount of flex between the keyboard and the recess chassis is sits in. I appears the that the keyboard is held down somewhat by the palm rest alloy. I don't know yet, but maybe the palm rest needs to come off in order to get it it.

    [​IMG]

    The hard drive is best pulled out carefully where the SATA plug goes into the hard drive. It will come out with the rubber caddie attached to it. It sits firmly in there, and just make sure when you put it back in you line it correctly, then so no rubber parts are sticking up and over the recessed square area

    [​IMG]

    This is much in the same as the AMD unit I had very briefly, except the keyboard has way more flex in it. I am pretty happy to have the power of the Intel Quad, and certainly that of the 750M.
    Going from a FHD and downgrading to a HD panel was beneficial for the touch aspect usability, the down grade was easy to deal/go with, as the FHD panel I had was/and is a poor one at best, and its only real advantage was extra pixels, but then the screen was harder to use in certain touch situations, becoming more of a hindrance.
    Which brings me to remember an article I read last year that Microsoft intended target touch resolution to be 1366 x 768, and why the experience work so well at this resolution have trying both. That's not to say things will not change in the future surrounding the best working resolution.

    I have had a rethink over today, with the way the notebook has performed with the hardware side of things, and I am pretty impressed with its internals. If you want something that has a fast quad and can keep the thermals in check without overloading, this will do that for you, I would still feel you might need the i7-4702MQ to achieve that though, as an i7-4700MQ or higher might be to much for the cooling system.
    I would recommend this notebook for a die-hard HP fan. There is some very good gaming potential in this machine for the dollars spent that other manufactures may not be offering in the same price bracket. If you already have last years Intel quad dv6 2012 with 650M, then this might not be for you.
    A big steer clear of this notebook or major let down, is the keyboard, it is rather pathetic, with way to much flex, the bottom surface on the actual keyboard is not sitting flat in the chassis, on both left and right sides, with no room to adjust.
    Otherwise if you can buy this notebook for a cheap price, its features are pretty hard to beat in its price range, with fast Intel processor, Intel HM87 chipset, and decent Nvidia GPU. In my country there aren't a lot of retail choices, especially with the new Haswell, this is the best bang for buck at the moment. You will need to make you own decisions on if this is right for you.

    Btw. Please don’t quote this post, it is much too large, and is a work in progress, which I will be editing to improve quality where possible.
     
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  2. T2050

    T2050 Notebook Deity

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    Reserved for benchmarks and other stuff

    Ok I need to get some sleep, it 4am in the morning over here!
    I just ran Unigene Valley benchmark, both on the Intel HD4600 with single dimm (I have a second module coming early next week), which should see a boost in performance. Expect the Intel to be weak, as it only has half the bandwidth with only a single dimm populated.
    And ran it on the 750M.

    Nvidia 750M result:
    [​IMG]

    Nvidia 750M with overclock boost core 1298 MHz and 1171 MHz memory 37.5 GB/s
    [​IMG]

    Nvidia 750M with overclock boost core 1298 MHz and 1171 MHz memory 37.5 GB/s with updated 320.49 drivers
    [​IMG]

    Intel HD4600 (single dimm) result:
    [​IMG]

    There are settings are not greyed out, and are adjustable.

    I have tweaked the Core clock multipliers and they work. With the i7-4702MQ it is possible to raise all multipliers up 2 notches, in my case I am able to overclock all 4 cores by 200 MHz. Effectively the CPU can now turbo from stock 2.9 GHz to 3.1 GHz on all 4 cores, and can single core turbo to 3.4 GHz. Impressive to say the least. Free overclocking on a notebook, directly from Intel. This is something new, and a must mention about Haswell.

    See the screenshot: Intel XTU 4.1 Core with 200 MHz (all bins) overclock to 3.4 GHz

    Key setting I will be adjusting the turbo clocks to x34, lowering the thermal limits, voltages, and tweaking the integrated graphics. Looks like some fun to be had here :)

    I have posted screenshot of those settings available, then others can make up their mind what they want to do with it, on their own machines.

    Intel XTU 4.1 console
    [​IMG]

    Intel XTU 4.1 Core
    [​IMG]

    Intel XTU 4.1 Core with 200 MHz (all bins) overclock to 3.4 GHz
    [​IMG]

    Intel XTU 4.1 Graphics
    [​IMG]

    Intel XTU 4.1 Other
    [​IMG]

    Added some details taken with HWinfo which show that certain parts of the i7-4702MQ processor is unlocked, and can be overclocked.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Maikky

    Maikky Notebook Consultant

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    Cool ! Re-thinking my specs now sadly :(
     
  4. titansfan

    titansfan Notebook Consultant

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    As a spoiled American consumer, I would like to call shenanigans on any other country receiving the 750m model option prior to us. :(
     
  5. volati1e

    volati1e Notebook Consultant

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    Thanks T2050 for the review. I can't wait to see the benchmarks. While I am pretty disappointed in the lack of DDR5, and actual "Envy" quality, nothing can really touch this machine, its specs, and battery life for US $750.
     
  6. Maikky

    Maikky Notebook Consultant

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    Off-topic, how'd you get it for 750$ :confused: unless you mean before tax .
     
  7. BLiquid

    BLiquid Newbie

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    Thanks for the review. I wonder a little more about the noise level and the heat when playing games? Will it be uncomfortably warm after a long period where you hold hands?
     
  8. Maikky

    Maikky Notebook Consultant

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    Somethings I'm still wondering

    - Can the 4702mq use XTU ?
    - is the mSata slot sata II or III .


    Holy , that is a weird hard-drive caddy, is that common or is that just cheaping out ?
     
  9. joel99081

    joel99081 Newbie

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    Are the CPU and GPU relatively easy to access? It'd be nice to be able to clean the fan and/or reapply thermal paste from time to time.
     
  10. lhanliang

    lhanliang Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hi , Thanks for the review.

    I have some questions:

    Whats the height of the HDD ? Slim 7mm or normal 9mm?
    Any idea where is the dummy weight (if there is) located?
    Is the flex on the keyboard really bad ?
    Does the laptop do gravity deifying stunt like resting on only 2 rubber feet at the back then the front(track pad) floating ?
    How to toggle between integrated GPU and 750 GPU?(Restart required?)

    Sorry for the huge amount of questions.
     
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