CyberPower Xplorer X6-9200 Gaming Notebook Review

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, December 12th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/CyberPower_Xplorer_X6_9200/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

CyberPower is best known for their high performance gaming desktop machines that are fully customizable, optimally designed and professionally built. However, the vendor also offers a full range of gaming notebooks. The notebook examined here today is part of their Xplorer X6 series, which makes use of high-end components and comes packed with all the bells and whistles.

The CyberPower Xplorer X6-9200 gaming notebook is based on the second generation Intel Core architecture, as it sports a high-end Intel 2670QM mobile processor with a base clock speed of 2.2GHz and a Turbo Boost frequency of 3.1GHz. Additionally, the Cyber Power X6-9200 includes 8GB of DDR3 memory, a built-in NVIDIA GT540M 2GB Video unit, a 500GB hard drive and a large 15.6” full HD screen. These are impressive specifications for a notebook but even so, the X6-9200 (as configured for this review) has an MSRP of only $881 USD which is actually quite affordable for a notebook of this caliber.

While the specifications are impressive, they are only a small piece of the puzzle. Notebooks are unlike desktops in that they are designed for mobile use (natch) so long battery life, low thermals and durability become equally important to consider. Taking all these into account along with the performance, a notebook generally has a lot to live up to, especially considering the difficulty of upgrading in comparison to a desktop.

The configuration below uses the stock specifications for the CyberPower X6-9200. For more info regarding the notebook and the modifications that can be made to the hardware check here. Of course making changes to the notebook will affect the price, but the amount of customization available will allow anyone to build a notebook tailor made for their needs.

Specifications
Notebook A15HC Gaming Notebook 15.6" Full HD 1920x1080 Display w/ Built-in 1.3MP Webcam, HDMI Port, Li-Ion Battery, & Universal AC Adapter
Notebook Color Xplorer X6 Gaming Notebook Cover
CPU Intel® Core™ i7-2670QM Mobile Processor 2.20 GHz 6M Intel Smart Cache, Max Turbo Freq. 3.10 GHz
Motherboard Intel HM65 Chipset Mainboard
Memory 8GB (4GBx2) DDR3-1333 SODIMM Memory
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M 2GB PCIe Video
Hard Drive
500GB 5400RPM SATA300 Hard Drive
Optical Drive
8X DVD±R/RW/4X +DL Super-Multi Drive (NB-353-DVDRW)
Sound
Built-in 3D Premium Surround Sound
Wireless Network Card
Built-in Wireless b/g/n + Bluetooth v3.0 WiFi Combo Card
Speakers
Built-in Stereo Speakers System
Network
Built-in 10/100/1000 Mbps Network Card
Keyboard
Built-in Keyboard
Mouse
Built-in Touchpad
Flash media
Built-In 3in1 Media Reader
Battery
6-cells Li-Ion Battery Pack 4800mAh
Operating System
Microsoft® Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

CyberPower takes packaging seriously, so we were not surprised when the box the Xplorer X6-9200 was shipped in turned out to be larger than the majority of packages that enter our labs. The outer portion of the packaging consists of a simple white color scheme that has the CyberPower logo printed on it along with symbols denoting the fragile nature of the inner contents.

The inner contents include large layers of Styrofoam along with another box secured between them.

The second box has yet another box inside of it, which again holds another plain cardboard box. The effort CyberPower put into its packaging and shipping process was impressive, and we can't imagine many of its products arriving to their destinations damaged.

The notebook is held securely inside its actual box with lining material, and comes wrapped in a thin protective layer that cushions the outer enclosure while protecting against electo-stactic damage. There is yet a another box holding the accessories which include the notebook charger/power pack, a three prong power cord, and the drivers and Windows installation disc.

Folded closed, the X6-9200 measures 1" thick which gives it a rather low profile for a gaming notebook. As you can see, the sides of the notebook feature multiple I/O ports including two audio jacks, dual USB 2.0 ports, a DVD-RW drive, the power connector, 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN port, VGA output, HDMI output and two USB 3.0 ports, which are up to ten times faster than USB 2.0 ports. There is also a built-In 3in1 media reader along the front of the laptop that supports multiple forms of flash media.

The amount of connections found throughout the notebook will allow the user to not only connect to the internet and import media via multiple sources, but also to external video sources such as a larger computer monitor, projector or high-definition TV.

The X6-9200 uses a 15.6" display that supports 1080p video. A built-in 1.3MP webcam is located just above the monitor. At 15.6", the display is larger than most notebooks designed for portability, but we found this is a nice balance between the smaller netbook displays and the larger 17" displays of ultra high-end gaming notebooks. This allows the X6-9200 to still be portable while offering a screen large enough to game on.

The enclosure of the X6-9200 features a high gloss finish. However, the finish proves to be a double edged sword as it is prone to collecting fingerprints, smudges and dust.

The Xplorer X6-9200 includes a full sized QWERTY keyboard with a number pad on the right side of the panel. The keyboard proved comfortable to use, and the inclusion of the number pad was greatly appreciated especially when you're accustomed to desktop keyboards.

Just below the keyboard is a built-in touchpad that incorporates both a right and left button. Like the rest of the notebook, the touchpad has a mirror finish which actually reduces the accuracy of the tracker. For the best results, we turned the tracking pad's sensitivity to maximum. This reduced the issue and allowed for better control of the on-screen cursor, but we would really have preferred if CyberPower didn't go with the high gloss finish in the first place.

Above the keyboard is a control panel that includes eight small icons. From left to right, this panel includes buttons to turn the notebook on or off, toggle between the WiFi settings and adjust the multimedia settings. At the far right side there are also two buttons to increase or decrease the volume of the speakers found on each side of the notebook. Overall, the audio fidelity of the speakers is very good for their compact size, but the small 1" drivers prevent them from hitting accurate lows and highs.

The optical drive is located on the right side of the notebook and is opened via eject button located on the front tray of the drive. Instead of a fully mechanical tray, the DVD drive slightly ejects from the side of the notebook before needing to be manually opened further. The drive has both read and write functions, and supports 8X DVD±R/RW and 4X +DL speeds.

The X6-9200 includes a 6-cell Lithium Ion battery pack  that can produce up to 4800mAh, and has a watts-per-hour rating of 47Wh. The battery is attached to the back of the notebook and has a long rectangular design. The total size of the battery is not very large for a gaming laptop, but at just 47Wh the X6-9200 will only have around an hour's worth of power on a single charge. Of course they are ways to improve the battery life via built-in Windows settings, but don't expect more than an hour's worth of use on a single charge while gaming or using the system for multimedia.

With the rear-side panels removed, we finally get a look at what powers the Xplorer X6-9200. As you can see, all the components are nicely separated with the graphics card and processor located at the left side, while the memory is in the middle and the hard drive on the right. This clean layout will improve the thermal performance of the notebook as the heat zones from the different components will not cross, and each has its own ventilation points.

The graphics card and memory are both integrated into the motherboard and share the same heatsink. The processor is part of the second generation Intel Core family, with an operating frequency of 2.2GHz and a Turbo Boost frequency of 3.1GHz. However, unlike desktop versions of the processor, the mobile 2670QM has a power rating of only 45W. In addition, the 2670QM includes a 6MB L3 shared cache, 64-bit instruction set and sports a 650MHz Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics processor.

The integrated graphics card is an Nvidia GT450M, which is mid-range solution designed for notebooks. The GT450M uses a Fermi-based graphics processor with a 625Mhz clock speed and a 2GB DDR3 frame buffer that runs on a 128-bit memory bus. Internally it features 96 CUDA cores and has a texture fill rate of 10.8 billion pixels per second, with support for the 3D Vision, CUDA, DirectX 11 and PhysX technologies.

On top of being a solid mid-range mobile graphics card, the GT450M also supports Nvidia Optimus technology. This allows the system to automatically switch between the Nvidia GT450M graphics and Intel integrated graphics seamlessly and in the background to improve performance and battery life during operation.

The memory is located in a rectangular area that houses both the memory DIMMs and the built-in wireless b/g/n + Bluetooth v3.0 WiFi Combo Card. In total, Cyberpower includes 8GB (4GBx2) worth of DDR3-1333 SODIMM memory manufactured by ADATA with a CAS 9 rating. Each memory module is secured into the DIMM by installing them at an angle and then pressing them down parallel to the motherboard.

Last up is the 2.5" Hitachi hard drive which utilizes the SATA 3.0 interface and spins at 7200RPM. This makes it faster than the majority of hard drives that come bundled with notebooks, as the average RPM rating for most 2.5" drives is still 5200. The hard drive is secured to the notebook via metal bracket that locks it into place while inside the bay. A black grip is used to disconnect the drive's SATA ports, allowing it be removed.

The X6-9200 can support any 2.5" form factor drive, including HDDs and SSDs. Upgrading from a HDD to an SSD can give a system a major boost in performance, but currently the price of a good SSD is still much higher than a traditional mechanical hard drive.

Test Setups

CyberPower Xplorer X6-9200 Gaming Notebook

Lenovo Ideapad V570

ASUS G73JW - A1

Benchmarks Used

7-Zip:

7-Zip is a compression program, much like WinRAR. It features a built-in test, which gives a score for compression and decompression.

Setting: Built-in Benchmark

Even at 45W, the second generation Sandy Bridge architecture is still amazing as it just plows through the competition in both the compression and decompression tests.

Cinebench:

Cinebench 11.5 is another rendering program, also optimized for many-core processors. I will run both the single-threaded benchmark as well as the multi-threaded.

Settings: Run CPU benchmark

Cinebench also sees the X6-9200 delivering stronger computing performance than the other notebooks tested in both single and multi-threaded benchmarks. Compared to the 740QM we are looking at an increase of 36% in multi-threaded performance alone.

PCMark Vantage:

PCMark resembles a lot to the 3DMark suite from FutureMark, except the fact that it includes many other tests like hard drive speed, memory and processor power, so it is considered as a system benchmark and not just a gaming benchmark.

Settings: PCMark Suite at default settings.

PCMark 7:

Settings: PCMark Suite at default settings.

The X6-9200 performed substantially better in PCMark Vantage. The reason X6-9200 showed varying results across the benchmarks is due to the built-in gaming benchmarks, which are more demanding in PCMark 7. This allowed the ASUS G73JW-A1 to make up some ground as it utilizes a stronger graphics card compared the CyberPower notebook. However, the ASUS notebook still couldn't quite come out on top overall.

Sandra, by SiSoftware, is a tool capable of benchmarking about every component found inside a computer. The memory bandwidth benchmark will be ran as well as the memory latency test.

The Xplorer X6-9200 displayed excellent results across the board in Sandra 2010. The only benchmark it didn't top was the memory latency test.

Call of Juarez

The demo of these two gaming benchmarks can be downloaded for free. Call of Juarez is made by Ubisoft whereas the World in Conflict game is developed by Massive Entertainment. They will be run at the lowest settings possible so the score is not GPU-bound, so that entails a resolution of 1024x768 pixels for Call of Juarez and 800x600 for World in Conflict. This way, the true processor power will be exhibited.

Settings: Resolution at 1024x768 with details set to low.

World in Conflict

Settings: Resolution at 800x600 with lowest in-game settings

Since the ASUS notebook has a stronger graphics card, it managed to outperform the X6-9200 in both the Call of Juarez and World in Conflict benchmarks. However, the difference was relatively small due to the 2760QM having stronger gaming performance than the 740QM. This almost evens things out when gaming at ultra low resolutions.

To test the gaming performance of the Xplorer X6-9200 we benchmarked both DX10 and DX11 games. The in-game settings were adjusted to high and  we gauged the performance of the games at 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and 1920x1080.

The gaming performance was actually decent for a mid-range notebook. Overall, the majority of games ran above 30FPS when gaming at 1050p, and only slightly under that at 1080p. The only game that showcased issues was Metro 2033, but this is standard even on desktop as the title requires substantial hardware to run at a smooth frame rate.

As stated in at the beginning of the review, notebooks cannot be judged simply off of performance alone as there are many other determining factors at play. The most important factors usually include battery life, portability and pricing along with performance. For these reasons we examined the Xplorer X6-9200 from all angles to determine if it includes everything the mobile gaming market currently demands.

Breaking it down, let’s first look at the performance. In terms of overall computing power the Xplorer X6-9200 is an extremely well-balanced notebook. The Intel 2970QM is a snappy processor that gets the job done. Along with 8GB of memory and a 7200RPM hard drive, this pushed the X6-9200 to the top of our performance charts and kept it there when it came down to overall computing power.

The X6-9200 also did quite well in our gaming benchmarks, but the GTS450M is not designed to be a hard-core gaming solution. It was designed to offer good performance at an affordable price point, so don’t expect bleeding edge gaming power from this notebook. It will play the majority a majority of DX10 and DX11 games at or above 30FPS while gaming at 1080P. Though the GTS450M is not a gaming powerhouse, it does come with some interesting features such as NVIDIA Optimus, which improves the notebooks battery life by dynamically switching between the IGP and GPU depending on the current system load. This saves battery life when the system is being used for standard computing tasks, and boosts the rendering power while gaming.

Te X6-Xplorer showed mixed results when it came down to the battery life. CyberPower included a lithium-ion battery that can produce 4400mAh and has a Watts-per-hour rating of 47Wh. Overall this gave us about 45 minutes of power duing load off a single charge. However, we were able to get nearly two to three hours of use when running standard applications such as Word, Excel or just surfing the net. This is standard for most gaming notebooks, but it would have been nice if the battery included had a slightly higher Wh rating.

Even while the battery life could be stronger, the MSRP of the Xplorer really makes up for any shortcomings. At just $885,  the X6-9200 is one hell of a deal. We were hard pressed to find similarly performing models with the price of this unit. While the X6-9200 is not perfect, it is going to be hard for another company to beat CyberPower in this price range.

The largest issue we had with the notebook was the high gloss finish. I’ll be the first to admit that the finish looks great, but when handled it collects more fingerprints than any other product I can recall in recent history. This applies to both the inner and outer surfaces of the unit, and we had to clean off the enclosure multiple times just to keep it looking clean. This affects the appearance of the notebook, and the constant cleaning can get annoying quickly.

At just $885, the CyberPower X6-9200 is one of the best notebooks available, hands down. It offers a ton of computing power, can play most modern games at medium settings and comes loaded with features. Even while we were dissapointed with the glossy finish, it is going to be hard for another laptop to compete with the X6-9200 in this price range.

»Neoseeker.com

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