HP Omen 17 review (Skylake/1070)

Discussion in 'HP' started by Mobius 1, May 23, 2017.

  1. Mobius 1

    Mobius 1 what is quality control?

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    Hello everyone, this is Mobius 1 (or STR8_AN94BALLER on reddit).


    Today’s review is the HP Omen 17 (GTX 1070). This laptop is HP’s highest end portable device for the consumer line.

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    My reviews are not sponsored in any way that might change viewpoint of the product. Meaning reviews are 100% straight and no fluff.



    Standardized chart


    Rating System (Overall for the category): ("0" Rubbish <-> "5" Average <-> "10" Excellent.)


    Well now, shall we begin?





    Why Omen 17?

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    The Omen is an interesting laptop, as HP’s gaming line recently have been full of meaningless low end graphics chips with mediocre products not appealing to the enthusiast market. However, the GTX 1070 having been utilized in this model presents itself in the semi-enthusiast laptop market, since it is paired with a 6700HQ CPU.

    To complete the package, you get 16GB of DDR4 (2x8GB), a 512GB Samsung PM961 NVMe SSD, Intel Realsense 3D webcam (compatible with Windows Hello), an old Intel 7265 2x2 Wireless card, and a 4K IPS 17” screen with G-sync. Quite a strong package can be owned for around 1600$US before tax. But given the enticing price, should one really buy this “gaming” laptop? Let’s find out together in the review below.



    Build quality: 7


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    The Omen 17’s build quality is a mixed bag of feelings for me as some parts of the laptop is good, but some parts are quite disappointing.

    The base of the laptop is made of a single piece of plastic. It is quite sturdy and the finish does resist scratches pretty well. There isn’t much flex with the bottom plate and overall it feels very sturdy due to the plastic’s thickness.

    The same experience cannot be said of the top of the laptop, the whole keyboard assembly has a moderate amount of flex and the shiny finish is easily marred / dinged. The top of the laptop feels very mediocre.

    The chassis is largely shared with the Pavilion line of notebooks, meaning that the overall build quality is just average. I don’t think that it’s a deal breaker, but just something to keep in mind when making your purchase.



    Aesthetic Design (8)

    HP went for a “gamer” look but in a less flashy way. The overall color scheme of the laptop is black-gray, accented with a red logo and red backlit keyboard. You get a faux fiber (slightly contoured) carbon cover on the lid, the inside of the display assembly is textured plastic. The faux carbon fiber look is maintained on the whole palmrest area (top) while the bottom cover is a finely textured (?) plastic (NOT soft touch).

    If you can disregard the red “Omen” logo, this laptop looks pretty discreet with the keyboard backlight turned off. It does have slight hints of, “gamer” designs here and there but it would be pretty hard to spot them.

    If you so desire, it is also possible to remove the red Omen logo by carefully removing it. It’s just a sticker. However, do note that there’s a cavity in place of the sticker that resembles the Omen logo.

    Laptop is visibly thick from the outside, it looks big and it is big. However, the corners of the laptop are rounded off so it lacks of having sharp angles.

    Overall I would give this an 8. The look is discreet enough and doesn’t stand out in anyway..


    Display housing/hinge (8/9)

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    The display has minimal flex under normal use. Other than that, nothing really interesting to write home about.

    There are chrome colored hinges to the right and left of the display assembly, and it seems to have good overall tension, making it is possible to open the display with one finger (due to how heavy the laptop is).

    Be aware that screen bleed is a very prominent issue since the display bezel isn’t very well made. The thin plastic doesn’t have a very good tolerance and could cause uneven pressure on the display. HP does not do in home service at all for the Omen series, but they would accommodate shipping to and from the end user to the service center for resolving the screen bleed issue.


    Overall just a standard display/hinge, nothing really special here.




    Screen panel (9)

    OPEN SPOILER FOR CALIBRATION GAMUT RESULT AND CALIBRATION CURVE

    UNCALIBRATED MEASUREMENT

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    UNCALIBRATED WITH TARGET D65K MEASUREMENT

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    CALIBRATED
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    The included 4K display is the AUO B173ZAN01.1, this revision of the 17” display has an included functionality of G-sync (through eDP adaptive sync). It is an excellent IPS display with around 95% Adobe RGB and 99% sRGB gamut coverage, making this display’s color gamut beyond excellent in terms of color reproduction and accuracy. This laptop’s screen can be used to edit color critical photos without any issues. (after calibration).

    But what about gaming? Personally I think the display is more than adequate for normal gaming usage such as single player games and coop games. I do not recommend playing “competitive” online shooters or anything that requires fast reaction time or high refresh rates to be played on this screen. While it supports G-sync, the 60hz refresh rate and mediocre 24ms B2W/37ms G2Gms (even more when factoring in input lag) response time leaves more to be desired for the serious online gamer. In the era where laptop displays are widely available with 120hz refresh rate and even 10ms b2w/31ms g2g response time, this leaves more to be desired in the screen department. Seeing that this laptop is marketed towards gamers instead of content creators, the 4K AUO screen is an odd choice.

    Maybe something like the AUO B173QTN01.0 (one with line issue)/ B173QTN01.4 (revised w/o line issue) can be more appropriate as that is a QHD 120hz screen with 10ms b2w/31ms g2g response time and it supports G-sync to boot [55% Adobe RGB]. r maybe the 7ms B2W/21ms G2G Chi Mei N173HHE-G32 FHD screen like on the MSi models (72% Adobe RGB).

    The wide color gamut of the display is also often times a wasted asset due to the fact that the internet and most games are catered around the sRGB color space instead of Adobe RGB color space or DCI P3.

    So, before you choose this laptop, make sure that you can take advantage of the wide color gamut and be prepared to tolerate the slow response time of the display as well as ghosting.

    Overall I would rate this screen to be excellent, while having less than stellar response time and refresh rate, although the screen can potentially make up for the downsides due to the excellent color gamut and color accuracy if the user can utilize the potential properly.

    The panelook link below points to the revision 1.0 of the display which does NOT support G-sync, however the panels are identical and nothing major has been changed between the revisions (1.0 vs 1.1).

    http://www.panelook.com/B173ZAN01.0_AUO_17.3_LCM_overview_25358.html


    Keyboard (2)

    The biggest letdown of this laptop has to be the keyboard. They feel very mushy without any noticeable feedback while being shallow in travel. This makes for a very disappointing typing experience and overall user enjoyment of the device.

    The layout is good with the numpad section of the keyboard being a separate “zone” from the main keyboard. I do prefer this style compared to some manufacturers with a small right SHIFT key and/or arrow keys which extend to the numpad zone.

    The backlight does not have an auto-timeout, meaning that it will stay on as long the as the computer is not off or in a sleep state. It also only has one level of brightness.

    Overall, the keyboard is a very disappointing aspect of the computer. HP really dropped the ball on this one.


    Trackpad (4.5)

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    The synaptics clickpad is average. Tracking is clean throughout different finger swipe speed; as well as detecting multi finger input. However, you cannot adjust tracking speed (trackpad DPI).

    The software functionality of the trackpad is average and is able to detect Windows 10 advanced gesture, but it is not able to understand four finger input (to switch between desktops). Overall the multi finger tracking seems to be on point. Overall, nothing major missing here.

    Clicking down is not that great; the trackpad feels very hollow and takes quite a bit of pressure to actuate the click. Once the click is registered you have a lot of spongy over-travel.

    The clicking is finicky. A lot of the times when you press down to click, the cursor will ‘jump’ down making you miss the click or mis-click something else in the process. This could happen 3-4 times in a row if you do not lift your finger and reposition your finger to click again. This happens quite a lot more than the previous GS63 that I’ve reviewed.

    Overall, the trackpad is okay and the tracking/swipe is good but the clicking is less than desirable.

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    Grease Magnet / Surface durability (8)

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    The HP’s chassis is fully made of different types of plastic. The lid is a textured faux carbon fiber, the bezel is a rough textured plastic, the palmrest assembly is semi-glossy plastic, and the bottom cover is made out of semi-soft touch thick plastic.

    They all absorb oil pretty well and will cause a shiny spot to be formed, so I would recommend you to be careful when eating in front of the laptop.

    On the bright side, the plastic holds up reasonably well to scratches and is very easy to clean.



    LED lighting (7.5)

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    The only lighting zone is on the keyboard which only glows in red and is quite dim, making it too dim for many situations. There’s no time out for the keyboard lighting which means you need to manually toggle on/off depending on your needs.

    Overall it looks discreet I guess?




    Speakers (8)

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    The speakers are actually quite good; they’re moderately loud and are able to play sound with minimal distortion at max volume. There are four speakers, with two bottom facing in the front and two in the speaker grill.

    HP made a decent set of speakers here. While they’re not the loudest I’ve ever heard, the sound quality is above average and is generally usable for basic listening needs.


    I/O (6.5)

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    “No Thunderbolt 3,” I’ll just say that from the get go. The DisplayPort has a (+) sign next to it that could indicate Thunderbolt 2, but that does not seem to be the case since I didn’t find the driver on the HP website.

    The ports on the right side are placed towards the front: SD card, DP, 2x USB3.1, HDMI, Ethernet, Power in. This configuration is not very friendly to right-handers, as the straight angled power cable and other devices may get in the way. On the left side, you have a pair of audio in / out alongside your third USB3.1 port.

    Nothing really spectacular here. HP seems to be missing Thunderbolt 3 and the left side port selection seems to be quite sparse, giving it the potential space to put more I/O, yet they opted not to. I see this as an inefficient usage of space and a missed opportunity.


    Fan noise (9)

    *Tested with most recent BIOS from HP as of Feb-28 2017.
    **After gap is taped up to reduce internal turbulence

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    The fan noise on max is not so loud, and the pitch / turbulence noise is very “soft.” Even inside an isolated small room you will not get annoyed by the fans. Generally the noise generated will be much lower if you are playing a game as opposed to synthetically stressing the system. There are two fans that exhaust through the backside and left of the laptop.

    There isn’t a physical button or switch to activate max fan or the ability to control it via the software. I believe the author of NBFC (notebook fan control) can help you with this but I was not able to contact him in time to try out if it is possible to control the Omen 17 EC to trigger maximum fan speed.

    Overall the noise of the cooling system is very good. It’s one of the more balanced automatic fan profiles I’ve heard so far.


    Cooling system.

    OPEN THE SPOILER IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE ACTUAL TEMP READING UNDER STRESS TEST
    TEST OCCT + FIRESTRIKE ULTRA LOOP
    TEMP TAKEN AFTER THERMALS HAVE STABILIZED, THEN HWINFO IS RESET

    "FULLY STOCK" OUT OF BOX W/O ANY MOD, ONLY BACK IS ELEVATED


    ambient is a bit wonky (24-26c)

    Pay attention to how long the test is run



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    "TAPE MOD" WHERE FOIL TAPE IS APPLIED AND NO REPASTE

    ambient is a bit wonky (24-26c)

    Pay attention to how long the test is run

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    "TAPE MOD" + LIQUID METAL!

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    Here you can see the picture of the cooling system with the two fans and shared fin stack on the second fan. You have a dedicated heatpipe for the VRM bank in addition for two shared between the CPU and GPU core heatpipe. This will help the longevity of the system since you have additional cooling on the power delivery system of the component that consumes the most power.

    Retention mechanism is excellent! The CPU and GPU gets a very solid aluminum brace and a proper four-tension screw retention mechanism to secure it down.

    The second fan is smaller but it cools two fin arrays.

    The thermal pad seems to be high quality and fits well and I don’t think it needs replacement.

    Be careful of the CPU VRM area though, this review unit does not come with any thermal pad. Theoretically this can cause a thermal runaway of the VRM that translates to catastrophic failure and possible fire hazard. Here I chose to apply K5-Pro Thermal Gel, the quality of thermal transfer is sufficient for the power efficient 6700HQ CPU, and with a proper undervolt this CPU will not consume more than 45w of power (generally around 35-40w). You can opt for a higher quality thermal pad if you wish.

    There are big gaps in the cooling fins, where I think it’s worth taping up with foil tape. Ideally you would want to remove the cooling system and fans to make the procedure much easier, but in this example I taped mine up without removing the heatsink. You will see why I did this later on in the temperature review.

    The PCH area seems to have a two-hole cutout to mount a small metal heatsink, however I wonder why HP didn’t do this? Of course like others they focus too much on profit and leave a possibility of PCH overheating, system throttling, and possible damage. Not a very smart decision I reckon.

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    M.2 (NVME) slot is also poorly placed, in the corner of chassis with zero airflow. Watch those SSD temps if you're doing some heavy file transfer.

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    SSD temp, worrying!

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    CPU temps (8)

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    Tested in a 24c ambient environment.

    The temperature of the 6700HQ inside this unit is actually very good. With a bit of undervolting the CPU didn’t thermal throttle while running a simultaneous load on the CPU and GPU. The stock paste is decent enough to keep the hottest CPU core under 81c (avg) 86c (max spike). At worst, there’s only a 6-degree variance between the average hottest and average coldest CPU core. With the gaps taped up, you will improve the thermal performance by 3-4 degrees.

    Under normal circumstances I do not think the CPU would overheat even with the stock thermal paste, given that you properly ventilate the laptop.

    The CPU received a substantial drop in temps after repasting with Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut, where the CPU was only 2-degrees apart from the hottest average core to the coldest average core. After the repaste and burn-in, the CPU averaged around 70c with a maximum variance of 2 degrees from the coldest and hottest core (68/70c).

    I don’t necessarily recommend liquid metal on the CPU due to the unit being a 6700HQ. With this CPU it’s only necessary to cool it down so that it doesn’t throttle while boosting to 3.1GHz. If we’re dealing with a 6820HK it would be different, as every centigrade of temperature drop would be meaningful when overclocking. But it is still fun to try and see what happens.

    The CPU fan has a passive state whereas it would stop spinning if a low enough temperature is reached.

    Overall the HP displayed very impressive stock temps, although you might want to take a bit more caution if ambient temperatures are higher and probably consider a repaste, however liquid metal thermal material is optional.

    Caution should be taken if you want to use Liquid Metal as the copper slug on the CPU portion is very narrow. Take extra care so that the LM does not spill or even touch the aluminum brace. This WILL cause a heatsink structural failure and may necessitate a brand new heatsink unit. Use Kapton tape to provide additional shielding for the aluminum brace.


    GPU temps (8)

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    Not bad, but could be better if we had the ability to max out the fan. It hovers around 68c with automatic fan settings under simultaneous load (OCCT + Firestrike Ultra). The temperatures are at an acceptable level where the GPU doesn’t heavily throttle, and the fans are exceptionally quiet for cooling a 115w TDP unit.

    Liquid metal repaste brings it down to 62-65c.



    RAM (8)

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    You get two slots that can be upgraded to a max of 32GB (16+16), and the BIOS settings do not have XMP nor memory adjustment section, neither does XTU.

    It’s standard, nothing impressive but nothing is a letdown either. I feel that with all the empty space inside the chassis HP can put four slots of DDR4.

    If you want to access the RAM slots, you will need to remove two screws holding down an access bay, it is a relatively simple process and doesn’t take much time.

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    Portability (6.5)

    The Omen 17 has a large volume for a 17” laptop, meaning that you have to get a relatively large backpack to fit the device safely. One advantage of being made almost entirely out of plastic is that it reduces the overall weight of the device. The weight of the Omen 17 (3.3KG) is lighter than the Alienware 17R4 (4.42KG) and comparable ASUS ROG 17” (G752 4.4KG / 701VIK 4KG) laptops.

    The port selection is certainly not lacking, but it isn’t wealthy at the same time. There’s no USB type C or a Thunderbolt port to extend the I/O selection of the device.

    The battery capacity is large, but the lack of Optimus negates the advantage (more about this in the battery section).

    Included with the purchase is a slim 230w adapter, which isn’t very heavy and the cable is of good length. (The same model is included with some Dell laptops.) While the plugs match, the notebook doesn’t accept charge from a Dell 230w adapter, due to a mismatch in adapter ID (transmitted by the center pin in the barrel connector). Users should keep in mind of this inability to share power adapters when on the go.

    Overall, being a 17” gaming laptop, I don’t think you would want to carry this regularly, especially if you commute.


    Battery life (4.5)

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    With undervolting telemetry disabled, and custom windows power settings, the 99wh battery pack on the Omen lasts only a short period (relative to the battery capacity); with normal web browsing and Discord open the battery managed to last 2H35M. Not particularly impressive. You can extend it a bit further by using Microsoft Edge instead of Chrome / Firefox, but don't forget to install ublock origin!

    The disappointing battery life is caused due to the system not having Optimus, you are not able to conserve your battery life when not gaming because the dGPU (1070) is always active. Even with running in a forced P8 state (idle power), the 1070 dGPU consumes around 8 watts of power, considerably more than an iGPU (<1w).

    This is however, not a bad thing. It is better to not have Optimus if switchable graphics is not present.

    The battery life is disappointing due to the inclusion of Optimus, a switchable graphics solution would have been preferred (but it costs more money to implement).



    Accessibility / ease of service (5.5)

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    Mixed feelings in this department, accessing the RAM for an upgrade is a very easy task but the rest of the laptop is not so easily accessed.

    The entire bottom half of the laptop is made out of a plastic shell, removal requires removal of all screws surrounding the bottom chassis (one inside the RAM bay) then prying from the top to loosen the securing clips.

    It is not an easy task for beginners, as removing the bottom cover requires patience and care to not inflict any kind of surface damage.

    However, once the bottom cover is off, it is easy to remove the M.2 SSD and 2.5” drive along with the motherboard if you wish.

    Overall, extremely poor design to access the laptop’s internals, but once you remove the bottom cover it is extremely easy to remove the motherboard and other parts.

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    Performance (8)


    Max unstable OC (bench only, on AC)

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    The GTX 1070 dGPU has a standard TDP limit of 115w, making this is a strong GPU and it can handle most modern games without trouble, however the TDP limit is also the downside of this model as it is very low for a 1070. Cooling is also adequate with very reasonable noise levels. However, the CPU presents a bottleneck as it is slow (3.1GHz on all cores) compared to most other quad core CPUs. HP should give customers the option to upgrade the CPU to an HK model at the least.


    Summary:

    Fairly well built laptop with a very bad keyboard and trackpad. The specs and performance are acceptable with the CPU on the slower side of things.

    Not very portable at all, the battery life is poor and the I/O ports selection is “just enough” to get by without being considered lacking. You also only get one M.2 slot and a 2.5” bay (you need to pay for the 2.5” connector if your configuration doesn’t come with a HDD) that makes for quite a limited storage expansion.

    It does have a decent bargain price, while the weight is among the lowest out of all 17” gaming laptops. But I don’t think that the advantage makes up for all the negative points that the laptop has accumulated in this review.


    Pro

    + Lightweight in the 17” category

    + Overall hardware package is capable of current generation demanding games (1070/6700HQ)

    + Excellent stock thermal performance

    + Fairly quiet even under full load

    + Gorgeous AUO 4K screen with G-sync (EDP adaptive refresh)

    + Build quality is acceptable

    + Intel 3D Realsense camera with Windows hello functionality is an inexpensive upgrade

    + Copper fins on heatsink

    + Maintenance is straightforward once bottom case is removed



    Con

    + Low TDP on GPU

    + No option to upgrade the CPU to a HK model

    + Hard to disassemble the bottom panel to access the motherboard and other various internal parts

    + No fan control, wasted opportunity on an otherwise good heatsink design

    + Very bad keyboard and trackpad

    + Screen bleed due to thinly made display housing

    + Screen response time and refresh rate is not suited for competitive gaming

    + Ships with an outdated Intel 7265 wireless card (M.2 NGFF)

    + Costs money to obtain the 2.5” SATA connector if you didn’t buy the laptop with one

    + Short battery life due to no Optimus/Switchable graphics implementation

    + NO PCH heatsink



    Overall a very boring laptop, there’s nothing that would highlight this model from the competition. You’re better off buying from other gamer-centric brands.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017
    Sammamish, KING19, VonCrisp and 6 others like this.
  2. Mobius 1

    Mobius 1 what is quality control?

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  3. Mobius 1

    Mobius 1 what is quality control?

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  4. Mobius 1

    Mobius 1 what is quality control?

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  5. Mobius 1

    Mobius 1 what is quality control?

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  6. don_svetlio

    don_svetlio Notebook Virtuoso

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    Fantastic review. One thing I found really surprising was the keyboard, I honestly expected it to be better (a while back I had a quick run in with the green Pavilion Gaming machine and that keyboard felt good. Guess they had to cut cost somehow.
     
  7. iunlock

    iunlock 7820HK @ 4.7GHz

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    Nice!
     
  8. Mobius 1

    Mobius 1 what is quality control?

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    bloodhawk and don_svetlio like this.
  9. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    Good review. Nice job. You were very thorough. BGA would always be a deal-killer for me, but if it were not there is ample evidence from your comprehensive evaluation that this is not the best option out there. It's pretty sad what HP has done with the VoodooPC brand.
     
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  10. Papusan

    Papusan BGABOOK's = That sucks!! STAHP! Dont buy FILTH...

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    Good review as always @Mobius 1
    You could as well put in ATTO benchmark for ssd's in later review. Will put more heat on ssd's. And a lot of the Aw owners would be greatly happy with 63C ssd temp instead of fiery +83C on the ssd's they receive from Dell:D Good work. +rep
    Ps. The end result is as expected.
     
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