Sager NP8157 / Clevo P650HS-G Review by HTWingNut

Discussion in 'Sager/Clevo Reviews & Owners' Lounges' started by HTWingNut, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. HTWingNut

    HTWingNut Potato

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    The chassis of the new Sager NP8157 is familiar, and setting it next to my over two year old P650SE with GTX 970m and i7-4710HQ, they look remarkably similar. But that's where the similarities end (Cue DUN, DUN, DUNNN! music). Sager has completely gutted and refitted their slim Clevo P650 15.6" chassis with the latest bleeding edge laptop components. This time with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 based on Pascal technology, and Intel Kaby Lake i7-7820HK mobile quad core CPU. Not to mention finally offering a 120Hz G-sync 1080p TN panel worth getting excited about. Also sporting the new 512GB Samsung 960 Pro M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD (that doesn't overheat) and latest Intel wireless AC 8265 card. Once again, LPC-Digital have gracefully provided a review sample of this machine for me to review and share with the folks here at NBR.

    SPECIFICATIONS

    But without further adieu, here are the specs in an easy to digest list:

    SAGER NP8157 based on CLEVO P650HS-G
    15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) AUO 120Hz 5ms Matte with G-Sync Technology
    Intel Core i7-7820HK CPU (8MB Cache, up to 3.9GHz)
    Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB GDDR5 at 8000MHz
    32GB Dual Channel DDR4 2400 MHz (PC4 19200 RAM) - 2 x 16GB, up to 4 x 16 GB supported
    Samsung 960 Pro 512GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD
    1TB HGST 7200 ROM SATA Hard Drive
    Intel Dual Band Ultra Wireless - AC 8265 M.2 + Bluetooth 4.2
    Windows 10 Home 64-bit
    60WHr Battery

    The power brick is 230W and remarkably slim considering the power it provides.
    Dimensions: 6-5/8 x 3-1/4 x 1-1/2 inches (169 x 83 x 39 mm)

    Laptop Dimensions and Weight:
    15.16 x 10.67 x 1.13 inches (385 x 271 x 29 mm)
    5.84 lbs (2.65 kg)


    OVERVIEW

    [​IMG]

    The all black lid garnished with the silver Sager logo feels like it is an aluminum composite of some sort, and the same material is also used on the wrist rest. The keyboard surround bezel also feels like metal, although it is more of a black matte finish, that extends up around the speaker bezel just below the LCD, which is also a metallic black material. The bezel surrounding the 15.6" LCD is a black grained plastic approx 1 inch on the sides and about 1.5 inches at top and bottom. Centered beneath the backlit chiclet-style QWERTY keyboard is a multi-touch Synaptics driven matte surface touchpad with two individual mechanical mouse buttons with a fingerprint reader nestled between them. Tracking on the touchpad requires only a light touch, and tracks well.

    [​IMG]

    Moving on to the ports around the laptop, on the right side are three 1/8" (3.5mm) audio jacks, headphones, microphone, and audio out, followed by a SIM slot, SD/MMC card slot, USB 3.0 Type A port, and gigabit ethernet jack, with a Kensington port near the rear. On the left side there are two USB 3.0 type A ports, and two USB 3.1 type C ports, followed by a mini DisplayPort jack. The rear of the laptop offers a mini-DisplayPort, full size HDMI jack, and the cylindrical power jack. Underneath is just a black plastic panel with lots of ventillation slots, and secured with at least 15 philips head screws. Two screws can be removed and an access hole to push a screwdriver through to pop off the keyboard is available so the bottom panel is not required to be removed to access two of the four RAM slots underneath the keyboard.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Removing that bottom panel exposes the guts of the machine with most of the user replaceable components easily accessible. A drive cage that can support two 7mm height or a single 9.5mm height 2.5" SATA III hard drive or SSD can be removed with a few screws. Two of the four RAM slots are front and center with the other two underneath the keyboard as mentioned earlier. This machine can support up to 4x16GB DDR4 2400MHz So-DIMM RAM modules for a total of 64GB RAM. There are also two M.2 slots for support of 42mm, 60mm, or 80mm length drives with SATA III, or a single 4x PCIe NVMe drive. There is another 42mm length accessible M.2 slot but there is no documentation for what it is for and what it will support. The Intel 8265 802.11AC wireless card is also readily accessible. A 60WHr battery is secured here as well, which is connected through a small white connector, that can be easily removed should you decide to do any work on your machine.

    [​IMG]

    The cooling solution consists of dual fans and three heatpipes for the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU, a single fan with two dedicated heatpipes for the i7-7820HK CPU, and a single shared heatpipe running between the GPU and CPU heat spreaders that also runs to the CPU fan. The heatpipe assembly is shared between the CPU and GPU and fans, requiring removal of a whopping 14 screws (well a couple more really) to gain access to the bare silicon of the CPU and GPU. While most Clevo laptops in the past have been fairly simple to access these components, this machine is a bit tricky due to obscure routing of cables and a bridge bracket that the LCD is tucked between and requires due care to successfully remove the heatsink/heatpipe assembly.

    [​IMG]

    Now that that's all settled let's take a peek at the individual components. I won't bother with details of the more mundane stuff like the 1TB hard drive or RAM or keyboard since those are items that are pretty standard. Other than stating that the keyboard is a chiclet style three zone backlit, quiet and medium stroke keys that is really very responsive and a pleasure to type on compared with the earlier P650SE style that I own.


    LCD

    Sager is known for offering a multitude of quality options of LCD's for their laptops and the NP8157 is no exception. This review unit is equipped with the new AUO 120Hz 5ms TN 1920x1080 Matte G-sync LCD, which means it was designed for gaming in mind. At first look, I did not think this was a TN panel, since the colors were so crisp and clean and black levels are pretty respectable, especially after a calibration, I felt like it was an IPS or IPS hybrid panel of some sort. Although on a totally black screen there is some traditional TN panel "washout", it isn't nearly as pronounced as I typically see from other TN panels. Not to mention the viewing angles are superb. There is some color and shade shifting side to side and up and down, but it takes a significant angle before it starts to be noticeable.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    However, more importantly are the 120Hz 5ms panel refresha and response and G-sync capability. Personally, I would have preferred a 2560x1440 LCD in here with a GTX 1070, but that's beside the point, and don't even know if one exists with these other delicious specs. That being said, this LCD is a beauty to behold when gaming. The GTX 1070 is still challenged to present most newer games at 120FPS with maximum detail with G-sync enabled, so it is a great fit, and doesn't compromise fast frame rates because G-sync is enabled. Most other laptop G-sync panels are limited to 60Hz max refresh.

    120 Hz !!!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I wasn't able to determine exact specifications of the panel, but it is identified by HWInfo64 as an AUO52ED B156HTN05.2 and there are no concrete specs available online so far that I can find. But based on what I've seen, it does run at 120Hz 1080p, has great viewing angles, and offers a very smooth gaming experience. G-sync is incredible at these frame rates as well, buttery smooth. This is clearly seen during the Deus Ex Mankind Divided benchmark with G-sync enabled and disabled with the readily apparent texture tearing and micro skipping that is completely eliminated when G-sync is enabled. While not obvious in all games, this one stood out the most.

    After a Spyder 5 Pro calibration, below you can see the resultant profiles. It offers 96% of sRGB and 74% of AdobeRGB, with brightness of about 200 cd/m^2 at 50% and 385 cd/m^2 at 100%, and contrast of about 340-360:1 across the board.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    STORAGE

    As noted the NP8157 can support two 2.5" 7mm height SATA III hard drives or SSD's or a single 9.5mm height drive. Additionally it offers support for a single or dual M.2 42mm, 60mm, or 80mm length drives with RAID 0/1 through the BIOS, or a single PCIe 4x NVMe SSD. This particular machine was equipped with the new 512GB Samsung 960 Pro NVMe M.2 PCIe 4x SSD. Past Samsung NVMe SSD's I've tested in laptops have run into issues with thermal throttling since during large file transfers, they would encroach the 81C limit before throttling significantly. Thankfully this does not seem to be the case with these new Samsung SSD's. It did peak about 72C during the ATTO bench test, but performance did not seem to be affected by it.

    [​IMG]

    While CrystalDiskMark showed a sequential (large file size) read speed of about 2000 MB/sec and writes around 1600 MB/sec, ATTO indicated reads over 3000 MB/sec and writes around 2000 MB/sec for 32KB - 4MB range. This of course results in a very responsive system and quick file copies. Granted when coupled with a hard drive or over ethernet connection, these speeds are rarely realized other than the welcome read speeds when using windows and loading applications and resources from the SSD.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    SOFTWARE

    As is typical with Sager, the software load is minimal but includes useful apps like the Sager control center as well as CPU and GPU overclock utilities, and the keyboard backlight and macro editor. Soundblaster X-Fi 5 software is part of the stock package as well that improves audio quality and loudness.


    NOTES ON BENCHMARKING

    Benchmarks will be shown under the CPU and GPU sections of this review. I wanted to show the results of a fresh out of box experience so users can know what to expect is "normal" from a factory fresh machine. But I also did some simple tuning to improve thermals. So you will see results from a stock machine at all stock voltages and settings. Then the heatsink/heatpipe assembly was removed, factory thermal paste cleaned off, repasted with Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut. CPU was also dropped by 100mV using the built in Sager CPU overclocking/tuning software, and also the back end of laptop raised with a couple bottle caps to improve airflow. While I would have liked to test each iteration independently, it is time consuming, however, I did run a couple tests after each, but at a minimum undervolting and throwing a couple bottle caps underneath anyone can do. Repasting will take an experienced or brave soul to attempt, but it's still not that challenging if you take your time.

    All that said, I can say that dropping voltage by 100mV had the greatest effect on temperatures, dropping 10-12C alone from stock voltage. Fresh application of a quality thermal paste improved by another 5-6C, and propping the back probably only 1-3C. The CPU was adjusted to run all four cores at 3.5GHz instead of the ramped 3.5 to 3.9 GHz depending on number of threads, only to prevent possible lockups if fewer cores were active and trying to run at a lower voltage and caused a lockup. Additional tuning could probably improve on this and allow for faster performance at lower voltage and temperatures, but this was the most time efficient way to prove the point.

    CPU stock voltage when loaded was running around 1.05V, and reducing CPU voltage by 100mV in the app actually dropped the CPU voltage by about 100mV (not always the case), running at about 0.95V under load. See HWInfo64 screens below in spoiler tag for voltage when loaded at stock and then tuned.

    STOCK VOLTAGE
    [​IMG]

    -100mV ADJUSTMENT
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The GPU clocks were not touched at all. Temperatures seemed reasonable throughout, and overclocking was met with mixed results, as is the case with most Pascal GPU's that I've encountered. Whatever Nvidia does with their boost affects overclocking ability without significant testing involved which is time intensive, which will not be covered in the scope of this review. Maybe a future article unless some other more intelligent people offer their insight on making it happen. But in my personal opinion, I think the 1070 is a miraculously powerful GPU in a laptop this size that really doesn't need much additional performance at this point in time.

    So STOCK results indicate the system out of the box with no adjustments.

    TUNED results indicate the CPU voltage dropped by 100mV, CPU and GPU repasted with Thermal Grizzly, and back end propped up with bottle caps.


    CPU Intel i7-7820HK

    Intel's 7th generation Kaby Lake is the latest post "tick/tock" architecture on the 14nm process which is really an optimization of the Broadwell and Skylake architectures before it. This particular CPU, the i7-7820HK is a quad core hyper-threaded 45W TDP mobile BGA CPU that runs at 3.9MHz with a single thread, and down to 3.5GHz when fully loaded.

    As with all Skylake CPU's the stock voltage tended to make the CPU run a bit warmer than desired, as any CPU or game benchmark resulted in CPU temperatures exceeding 90C, and some slight throttling. However, for the sake of comparison, I did run all benchmarks on the system as stock at these higher temperatures. Then I repasted, dropped voltage, and raised the back end of the laptop with a couple of bottle caps to show resulting thermal and performance differences. See benchmark notes above for details.

    CPU-Z details of the CPU
    [​IMG]


    Several CPU specific benchmark runs were done and compared with the i7-4710HQ at 3.2GHz in the earlier model P650SE and against a desktop i7-5820HK for comparison sake.

    Cinebench R15
    [​IMG]


    wPrime 2.10 1024M iterations
    [​IMG]


    x264 v5.0 Benchmark
    [​IMG]


    Note that from these results, that there was no performance degradation between the stock and tuned system and even some improvement with the tuned system, despite the CPU being locked at 3.5GHz on all four cores.


    GPU NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070

    Pascal is really something mobile PC users should be excited about. This latest architectural iteration from Nvidia offers high performance in a lower power package than before, and easily matches desktop counterparts of current and previous generation desktop GPU's. The Sager NP8157 includes the Pascal driven GTX 1070 with 8GB GDDR5 vRAM at 8000MHz.

    Here are the specifications of the GPU in a nutshell:
    - 64 ROPS / 128 TMU's with 2048 Shaders
    - Core clock speed of 1480MHz with boost of 1695MHz, however it frequently would run in mid 1700's
    - 8GB of 8000MHz GDDR5 on 256-bit bus for a total bandwidth of over 256 GB/sec
    - DirectX 12.1 support
    - 16nm manufacturing process

    You can also see details in this GPU-Z screenshot.

    [​IMG]

    G-sync as noted earlier under the LCD section, offers gloriously smooth gameplay, and the GTX 1070 coupled with a 120Hz 5ms LCD at 1920x1080, the fluidity is simply stunning since it can maintain over 90FPS in most games with high detail as well. It's hard to show how much it improves the visual aspect, but I included a short video showing the Deus Ex Mankind Divided benchmark with and without G-sync enabled. Not sure if it's readily apparent considering this is coming for a 30FPS 1080p camera, but I think you can see some stuttering and texture tearing even with this video recording limitation.



    The GTX 1070 in the Sager NP8157 does not use Nvidia Optimus. The GPU is tied directly to the LCD and external video ports. It is possible to switch to utilizing only the Intel integrated GPU through a switch in the Sager control panel, which requires a reboot.

    Benchmarks were run comparing with and without G-sync enabled and you can see it does no affect performance at all, especially with the high 120Hz refresh of the LCD:

    Crysis 3
    [​IMG]

    Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
    [​IMG]

    GTA V
    [​IMG]


    From a general performance perspective, even though only a handful of benchmarks were run, I think it tells the full story of how well this machine performs, and clearly it performs nearly as good as a desktop with a powerful CPU and GTX 980 Ti, and significantly improves over the 970m that was previously used in this form factor.

    ARTIFICIAL GPU BENCHMARKS

    3DMark 11
    [​IMG]

    3DMark Fire Strike
    [​IMG]

    3DMark Time Spy
    [​IMG]


    GAME BENCHMARKS

    [​IMG]

    You can view additional game benchmarks of the GTX 1070 from the Sager NP8153 review here.

    So based on this you can see that the 1070 improves over the 970m by a whopping 130 to 140% and virtually on par with a desktop GTX 980 Ti!


    POWER AND COOLING

    Power consumption when loaded running games hovered around 190-200W peak power draw from the wall and the PSU was barely warm to the touch. Here's peak power draw when measured during the benchmarking, comparing stock machine to optimized machine that was repasted, CPU dropped by 100mV and back end raised slightly for improved airflow.

    The "optimized" system config with lower voltage applied to the CPU and thermal repasted resulted in a good 7-8W reduction in power draw during gaming, and as much as 20W for CPU-centric only tasks.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    They cooling system as described in the overview portion of this review, does a good job of keeping components within limits, and fans are not very noisy either while doing so. Overall I think it's a great solution for such a compact package, especially once you tune the CPU a bit and change the thermal compound.

    Stock fan profiles are good, but can be adjsuted to increase or decrease fan speeds and at which temperatures should one desire to fine tune temperature to noise ratio. Full fans can also be activated through the Sager control panel or by pressing Fn+1 key simultaneously.

    CPU TEMPS

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    GPU TEMPS

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    BATTERY LIFE

    The Sager NP8157 with GTX 1070 activated achieved about 2hrs 15minutes of battery life in a movie rundown test, running in "balanced" mode with screen at 40% brightness, and keyboard backlight turned off. Switching to the Intel integrated GPU extends that to about 3 hours. I find that reasonable for a 60WHr battery with the hardware that's installed.


    CONCLUSION

    Sager continues to push the gaming laptop market forward by continually updating their sensibly priced business friendly looking chassis with the latest top end components. There is little to not like about the Sager NP8157 if your primary use is as a gaming machine. The i7-7820HK is plenty powerful enough to drive the latest Nvidia Pascal GeForce GTX 1070 GPU and pushing high framerates with maximum details with the latest games. The 1080p 120Hz 5ms LCD is a welcome addition to this lineup and fits the Sager notebooks perfectly, especially with G-sync. It's a great option for gamers and for people who intend on some content creation, and doesn't suffer from the annoying tunnel vision viewing angles like most other TN panels have. Plenty of storage options and the offered Samsung 960 Pro offers high capacity and blisteringly fast performance as well. Overall I say this is one of the most well rounded laptops available, and at it's price point, the best bang for the buck. While it may not offer an MXM GPU slot or socketed CPU, I think it's weight and size easily justify the use of BGA components.

    If you're in the market for a new gaming laptop, and/or have been waiting for the right time to upgrade from your previous generation 970m or slower GPU, I think you should highly consider purchasing this machine. It performs as good as a desktop GTX 980 Ti without compromise and allows you to G-sync game at up to 120Hz. What more could you ask for?
     
  2. HTWingNut

    HTWingNut Potato

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    Reserved for future additions.
     
  3. L00K3R4

    L00K3R4 Notebook Enthusiast

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    Interesting that you get ~3h while @pyrmon gets ~5h. Not sure what laptop he has, but I assume that undervolting the CPU while being on Hybrid/Optimus could explain the ~2h difference?

    Anyway, thanks for the review! This review helps me with deciding what to get. Although... I'm still questioning whether I should get an IPS panel and accept the bleed or TN panel and accept living in a darker world... Also the first photo of the "chapter LCD" seems way to dark (compared to the 2 below), is it really that dark or did something went wrong?
     
  4. Meaker@Sager

    Meaker@Sager Company Representative

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    Windows 10 can get some highly variable battery life times.
     
  5. HTWingNut

    HTWingNut Potato

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    I did a full battery drain with GTX 1070 but did an estimation with the Intel after a couple hours. I can do a full rundown with the Intel GPU and see if it lasts longer, maybe it was using estimations being used with Nvidia GPU.



    It is NOT that dark. I don't have fine control over exposure on the camera so it just does what it wants to. Wish I had better camera so I could force the same exposure. My sister is visiting tomorrow and she is an avid hobbyist photographer. If she remember her camera maybe I'll have her do a "real" and consistent photo between the three angles for better consistency.

    That being said, I do love the LCD. That's one thing that has prevented me from upgrading laptops, because the LCD in my P650SE (hell I can't recall what it is at the moment, but I added it myself). With the performance and LCD in this laptop, I'm tempted to go with this model. Although I don't use my laptop much any more, this would be a nice little machine that matches my desktop performance. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  6. bwolmarans

    bwolmarans Notebook Consultant

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    So same panel as the newegg aorus - oh man, this is a tough decision.
    I have not seen the aorus in person.
    I have seen the 650 in person - it is very nice.
    At this point, there's no difference between the two ( I don't necessarily see for me a benefit between skylake and kabylake, I don't mean to be kind of obnoxious on a forum where those things are taken seriously, but just for me, that's not a huge concern. cannonlake in a year+ will be different story but I cannot wait that long. ) .
    Actually only difference is per-key rgp in aorus.
    Aorus actually seems too thin for me - looks like it's going to be hotter/noiser and have issues. no need to make it that thing.
    Anyway. Just rambling.
     
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  7. HTWingNut

    HTWingNut Potato

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    That's the problem I find with Aorus and Razer. They go thin just for sake of being thin. They clearly don't prioritize thermal control and noise, optimizing size to still keep components reasonably cool, and with a decently quiet fan profile.
     
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  8. pyrmon

    pyrmon Notebook Enthusiast

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    I have the P650RS-G, the skylake version of the one in this review. Should be identical hardware besides the CPU. I'm always running on MSHybrid, and with an undervolt, although the undervolt is going to go away once the Prema BIOS is released and I can OC to my heart's content.

    I get 4.5-5 hours during lectures, during which I do a combination of coding/compiling, browsing, taking notes and viewing PDFs. On battery, I limit the CPU usage to 45% and I have the screen at 30% brightness and keyboard backlight off as well. I did a few other tweaks to increase runtime as well, have little to no background processes, etc. I get a discharge rate of about 12-14 W, jumping to 16-17 W when I do more intensive tasks, or 24 W when I'm really pushing it, but I reserve that when I'm plugged in, usually.

    EDIT: I am also not using Firefox/Chrome when I browse on battery. I prefer using more lightweight browsers like cupZilla, which might contribute to better runtimes.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
  9. HTWingNut

    HTWingNut Potato

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    Good info. But note taht is a lot of idle and low CPU power tasks. My test was strictly playing a 1080p MKV video. A bit over 2 hours with Nvidia, and I just ran same test full discharge with MSHybrid and it ran about 3 hrs 20 mins from 100% to 5% with movie playback.

    I don't know that limiting CPU usage helps a whole lot. It's always that "race to idle" argument. Do you complete task twice as fast and idle longer, or take twice as long to complete the task, and idle less? I guess it all depends on how much power it consumes at 50% performance vs 100% performance. But considering your "real world" use case, it's good to hear with some management it can handle a solid 4 hours.
     
  10. pyrmon

    pyrmon Notebook Enthusiast

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    Ah, I see. That's why there's this difference then. I know my usage is fairly undemanding in CPU power, but I generally find that it's a fairly realistic scenario for students like myself. A movie playback test would be a more useful metric for me if I was using the machine for entertainment while on a plane or in the bus/train and such. Thankfully, I don't have a commute long enough for that :D

    Yeah, I've been considering removing the CPU limitation for that very reason, but so far I don't even notice it's there unless I work in a VM. I'll probably give it a shot and see if it makes a difference or not. I took off my undervolt and saw a 11-12 W discharge rate, which got me through a meeting that lasted a pretty solid 5 hours. Still just coding, PDFs and light browsing, but I'm pretty happy with that kind of runtime out of a machine that can crush all my mates' PCs in gaming :)
     
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