Schenker XMG P304 review

Schenker XMG P304 review

We haven't seen many laptops with nVidia's new GeForce 800M series of graphics cards yet, but Schenker is one of the first off the mark with its compact XMG P304. Until now, we've only tested the MSI GT70 2PC Dominator that's using this new graphics update. See also: What's the best laptop you can buy in 2014?

The P304 is small for a gaming laptop, with just a 13.3-inch display and a weight of 2 kg. However, it's really designed as a step-up from the integrated graphics of many regular laptops rather than as a hard-core gaming rig, so the idea is to provide good gaming performance while still keeping the laptop relatively light and portable.

Prices start at £725 for a model with an Intel Core i3 processor running at 2.6 GHz, and you can step up to an i5-branded part for another £30. The various Core i7 options range from £100 to £335.

Our review machine came in at £1100, with a quad-core Haswell-generation Core i7 running at 2.2 GHz, 8 GB of memory, and 250 GB solid-state drive. All versions of the P304 have the same on-board graphics processor, though, with the GeForce GTX 860M being the only option currently available.

The design of the P304 is fairly nondescript – a generic, off-the-shelf grey plastic chassis that is sturdy and functional and rather dull.

Schenker lists the P304 as being 42 mm thick on its web site, although we measured that at 35 mm when it was sitting on a desk in our office. It's a shame, though, that they couldn't trim a little more weight off it, as 2 kg is rather heavy for a 13.3-inch laptop – especially since nVidia says that the 800M series graphics is designed to provide greater mobility than its predecessors. Even so, the P304 still passes our pick-it-up-with-one-hand test™, and you can carry it around in a backpack without too much trouble.

Schenker XMG P304 review

Other aspects of the design are more appealing. The 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS screen isn't touch-sensitive, but it provides a bright, sharp image with excellent all-round viewing angles, along with a welcome matt finish that reduces glare and reflection.

The speakers sounded rather thin and tinny at first, but Creative's SoundBlaster Cinema software allowed us to coax a more satisfying sound out of it, and the P304 will certainly work well as an all-round entertainment system. Schenker also told us that they're planning to offer a high-resolution display with 3200 x 1800 pixels for another £75, although that won't be available until later in the summer.

As you might expect, the Core i7 processor proved strong enough to handle demanding tasks such as video editing, with the P304 managing a sturdy score of 5500 points when running the general-purpose PCMark 7 benchmark.

Schenker XMG P304 review

The Home and Work suites of PCMark 8 showed similar levels of performance, with 2740 points and 3100 points respectively.

Gaming performance is good, too, although the GeForce 860M didn't strike us as providing a dramatic improvement over its predecessors. It did breeze to 115 fps when running our Stalker: Call of Pripyat test at 1920 x 1080 resolution, but switching to the more demanding Batman: Arkham City at the same full-HD setting with High graphics detail brought that down to 45 fps.

That's still pretty good going for a laptop costing £1100, but it's only slightly faster than laptops, such as Chillblast's 13-inch Defiant, that use the previous-generation GeForce 765M.

When set to integrated graphics the P304 lasted for just over 5 hours (305 mins), streaming video off the BBC iPlayer. That bodes well for a decent amount of use from it when you're out and about; then just plug it into the mains when you get home for some gaming action.

Schenker XMG P304: Specs

  • 13.3-inch (1920 x 1080 pixels, 165.6 ppi) IPS display, matt
  • 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-4702MQ (3.2 GHz Turbo)
  • Intel HD Graphics 4600 (integrated)
  • nVidia GeForce GTX 860M (2GB) Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
  • 8 GB DDR3L RAM
  • 250 GB solid-state drive
  • 802.11b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x VGA
  • gigabit Ethernet
  • 3 x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • SDXC card slot
  • 720p webcam/microphone
  • 1x headphone, 1x microphone
  • 62Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 374 x 250 x 37 mm
  • 2.0 kg
  • 13.3-inch (1920 x 1080 pixels, 165.6 ppi) IPS display, matt
  • 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-4702MQ (3.2 GHz Turbo)
  • Intel HD Graphics 4600 (integrated)
  • nVidia GeForce GTX 860M (2GB) Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
  • 8 GB DDR3L RAM
  • 250 GB solid-state drive
  • 802.11b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x VGA
  • gigabit Ethernet
  • 3 x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • SDXC card slot
  • 720p webcam/microphone
  • 1x headphone, 1x microphone
  • 62Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 374 x 250 x 37 mm
  • 2.0 kg

OUR VERDICT

The new GeForce 860M doesn't break new ground for gaming performance, but the XMG P304 still provides strong performance for games and other applications at a competitive price. It's also a lot more portable than most gaming laptops, so it can earn its keep when you're away from home as well.