Schenker XMG P505 gaming laptop review

Schenker XMG P505 review: what is it?

XMG is the gaming sub-brand of German laptop maker Schenker. And within the XMG range lies a choice of three levels – Advanced, Core and Pro – which correspond to the entry-level, midrange and flagship series.

So the XMG P505 is a gaming laptop from the top tier that Schenker can deliver – unless you want to step up to the Ultimate Series. This takes a desktop-class CPU and all the trimmings, making it more of a fire-breathing desktop-replacement PC; less of a notebook you’d want to place upon your lap.

The P505 is a 15-inch gaming laptops that serves as a platform to host Nvidia’s newest 900 Series mobile graphics processors, namely the GeForce GTX 965M, 970M and 980M. We tested a configuration with the top 980M, allied with the laptop motherboard’s single choice of CPU, an Intel Core i7-4720HQ running at 2.6 GHz. This chip packs 6 MB cache and can Turbo up to 3.6 GHz.

Schenker XMG P505 review: Configurations and options

The starting price for the XMG P505 is £891, although at this price you don’t get any internal storage, let alone an operating system to install it on, nor any wireless connectivity. Visit the laptop’s product page and you’ll find that Schenker UK has already set up a base model with a 500 GB hard disk and budget 11ac Wi-Fi card for a price of £939, although you’ll still need to pay the Windows tax of £65 and up to put your choice of gaming operating system on there. You can buy all variations of this laptop from Amazon UK, however.

Memory is fully configurable, from a single 4 GB RAM card of Crucial Ballistix Sport, up to 32 GB Kingston HyperX Impact. The given options are for 1866 MHz clock memory, higher than Intel's official specification for this processor of 1600 MHz. Schenker UK tells us that even higher-clocked RAM can be used, up to 2133 MHz, although this isn't stable.

We specified 16 GB of Crucial memory. There’s a total of four slots for SO-DIMM memory modules, with the pre-installed RAM installed on the reverse side of the motherboard. There’s a way in through the keyboard, to swap this out without a lengthy teardown of the entire machine. You can also add two more memory cards easily to slots on the top side of the motherboard when the bottom plate is removed.

Schenker XMG C505

The standard 15.6-inch screen is 1920 x 1080 resolution, IPS technology, and finished with a matt anti-glare coating. You can also trade up to a 4K UHD panel of 3840 x 2160, although since even the world’s finest GPUs for laptops struggle at four-times the full-HD resolution, we suggested a 2880 x 1620-pixel panel as the best compromise, driven by the top GTX 980M graphics processor with 4 GB of GDDR5 video memory.

Storage options get very interesting, as the P505 can accept up to two traditional SATA drives, either 2.5-inch hard disk or SSD up to 9.5 mm thick each, plus two M.2 form-factor drives. One of the latter can be a PCIe-attached flash drive, using four lanes of PCIe 2.0, while the other is fixed to a SATA bus only. But this SATA-only M.2 card slot can also potentially take a cellular data modem, which is why chassis manufacturer Clevo includes a SIM-card slot on the laptop’s side. Our sample was configured with a single drive, a Samsung XP941 PCI3 2.0 x4 card, with 512 GB capacity.

For wireless communications, we added the option for Qualcomm Killer dual-stream 802.11ac. Despite the size of the laptop, there’s no third antennae in the chassis to allow a full 3x3 MIMO Wi-Fi card. Also see: Best gaming laptops 2015.

Schenker XMG P505 review: Build and design

Like most customisable laptop designs, Schenker relies on pre-built and semi-stuffed chassis from Taiwan maker Clevo, and in the example of the XMG P505 is using a Clevo P651G case and display assembly.

This case is a heavy-duty chunky construction, satin finish black comprising an aluminium lid back and top deck area, and a black plastic bottom on the model we tested. Ironically, if you choose the cheapest Nvidia GTX 965M graphics you should get a metal bottom plate too; the plastic bottom is reserved for models with GTX 970M and 980M which require a more powerful cooling system. Cooling is undertaken by three fans, two on the GPU and one for CPU.

There’s no built-in optical drive, and like many modern laptops the battery is not designed to be changeable by the user. Inside is a lithium-ion battery pack with 60 Wh energy capacity. In our standard video-rundown test, this let the P505 survive off the mains for 3hr 11 min.

The laptop weighs a not ungainly 2.59 kg in this configuration, but you’ll need to factor in another 1.05 kg for the 180 W mains power supply should you need to travel far.

Keyboard, trackpad and display are all very high quality, with special mention for the unusually precise trackpad with its two real buttons, and the first-class IPS display on the model we tested. See all laptop reviews.

Schenker XMG P505 review: Ports and components

With such a capable graphics processor under the bonnet you may be inclined to connect additional display, made easy by the choice of two Mini DisplayPort v1.2 which can channel up to 3840 x 2160 pixels at 60 Hz; and an HDMI 1.4 port good for 2560 x 1600 (or higher to 4K UHD but with slow refresh rate).

Three USB 3.0 ports are joined by a fourth on the backplane that doubles as an eSATA port. For audio there are three 3.5 mm jack sockets, designed for S/PDIF, mic input and headphone output. Sound quality from the built-in stereo speakers with 2 W amplifier is perfunctory but sufficient for lo-fi music playback. Also see: Best laptops 2015.

Schenker XMG P505 review: Performance

The Core i7-4720HQ is a popular choice for gaming laptops at the moment – four out of six machines in our last group test all used the same Intel chip. Our benchmark results for the P505 followed the scores from those laptops, returning 3545 points in Geekbench 3, and 13,336 with eight Hyper Threading virtual cores engaged.

Cinebench 11.5 scored this laptop with 1.58 points single-core, and 7.38 points multi-core, which is at the top end of scores we’ve seen with laptops using this quad-core chip. Similarly Cinebench 15 returned figures of 139 and 681 points, which is just above results of comparable gaming laptops.

Schenker XMG C505

For OpenGL graphics performance, version 11.5 played at 59.5 fps while Cinebench 15 rose to 90 fps. The latter score is good but some way behind the 108 fps we saw from the Gigabyte P37X using the same CPU/GPU combination.

PCMark 7 rated the XMG P505 with 6217 points, an exceptionally high score for any PC. The PCMark 8 Home results of 2771 (conventional) and 3276 points (accelerated) were more disappointing, when the Gigabyte P37X scored 3300 and 4049 points in the same test. The Work results of 3018 and 4328 points were also some way behind the 3478 and 5156 points of the latter gaming machine sporting the same Intel and Nvidia parts. It’s worth mentioning that the Gigabyte resolves its performance storage in a different way, using two mSATA SSDs in RAID 0 rather than a single PCIe x4 SSD, which give broadly the same level of performance. Also see: Laptop Advisor.

Schenker XMG P505 review: Storage

Thanks to the Samsung XP941 PCIe solid-state drive, the P505 we benchmarked was capable of very fast data transfers, up to 977 MB/s sequential reads in our tests. Sequential writes were close at 891 MB/s, and high speeds were also recorded for 512 kB size data, 644 and 778 MB/s respectively for reads and writes.

In the important 4 kB random read/write tests we saw speeds of 24 and 76 MB/s respectively for reads and writes, rising to 326 and 275 MB/s using a 32-depth queue.

These are great results, unheard of from a single drive and still behind what we’ve seen from a RAID’d pair of SATA SSDS. Windows laptops are now finally starting to benefit from the PCIe-attached flash technology pioneered by Apple in its MacBooks, although we are yet to see the same level of performance available there, which reaches 1500 MB/s for the equivalent PCIe 2.0 x4 setup; and with single-threaded 4 kB random IO at 38 MB/s random reads and 100 MB/s random 4 kB writes. Since Apple is believed to be basing its PCIe-attached drive on this very Samsung PCIe unit, it’s unclear if the large shortfall in performance may be due to the Windows OS or Microsoft’s storage driver.

Schenker XMG P505 review: Graphics

As we found with the last gaming laptop using the top Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M graphics processor, it is possible to play graphics-heavy action games up to their highest detail, and usually even beyond full-HD 1920 x 1080 resolution.

Our simplest test for gaming laptops of Batman: Arkham City at 1920 x 1080 and High detail was quickly dispatched at an average framerate of 95 fps. This fell to 89 fps at Very High and 80 at Extreme detail settings.

Given the Nvidia chips clear fluency we rose resolution all the way to screen native 2880 x 1620, where the game averaged 72 fps at High detail and only fell to 62 fps at the Extreme setting.

Tomb Raider 2013 sped by with even greater ease, at 217 fps with Normal detail and full-HD screen resolution. We ratcheted up the detail to High (150 fps) and Ultra (111 fps) before hitting Ultimate and a still remarkable 76 fps.

Having proved its mettle, we again went up to native ‘3K’ panel resolution. This time Tomb Raider averaged 79 fps with High detail, 57 fps at Ultra and an accomplished 41 fps at maximum Ultimate preset.

Presented with Metro: Last Light the XMG P505 could play at an average framerate of 108 fps in our standard full-HD High test, tumbling to 36 fps at our top Very High settings.

Schenker XMG P505 review: Display

The 2880 x 1620 IPS display available to this laptop is an unusually fine example of the technology. In lab measurements it may not look too remarkable, its 94 percent sRGB coverage missing the full coverage some IPS panels provide, and contrast ratio reaching a middling best of 510:1.

Colour accuracy was good but again nothing exceptional with Delta E average of 1.34. What impressed with this Panasonic-made display was the subjective impression of image quality. Despite the measured results, black looked very deep and inky, type and images were incredibly detailed; and of course with clear viewing angles as wide as the screen. See all laptops buying advice.

This review was updated on 26 June 2015 with added information about upgrading memory through the keyboard and use of memory clocked higher than Intel specification.

Schenker XMG P505: Specs

  • 15.6-inch (2880 x 1620) 212 ppi IPS matt anti-glare (Panasonic VVX16T020G00)
  • Windows 8.1
  • 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ (3.6 GHz Turbo) 4C, 8T
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M with 4 GB GDDR5 + Intel HD Graphics 4600
  • 16 GB (2x 8 GB) 1866 MHz DDR3 (Crucial Ballistix Sport)
  • 512 GB M.2 PCIe 2.0 x4 SSD (Samsung XP941 – MZHPU512HCGL)
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO (Qualcomm Atheros Killer Wireless-AC 1525)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3x USB 3.0, 1x eSATA/USB 3.0
  • 2x Mini DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4
  • Kensington lock slot
  • SD, SIM card slots
  • stereo speakers
  • webcam, array microphone
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack, 3.5 mm line in, 3.5 mm S/PDIF
  • UK tiled, white backlight keyboard
  • two-button multi-touch trackpad, 107 x 63 mm with fingerprint sensor
  • 60 Wh lithium-ion, non-removable battery
  • 180 W mains charger with IEC C13 inlet
  • 385 x 273 x 29.5 mm
  • 2591 g (+1053 g PSU)
  • 15.6-inch (2880 x 1620) 212 ppi IPS matt anti-glare (Panasonic VVX16T020G00)
  • Windows 8.1
  • 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ (3.6 GHz Turbo) 4C, 8T
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M with 4 GB GDDR5 + Intel HD Graphics 4600
  • 16 GB (2x 8 GB) 1866 MHz DDR3 (Crucial Ballistix Sport)
  • 512 GB M.2 PCIe 2.0 x4 SSD (Samsung XP941 – MZHPU512HCGL)
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO (Qualcomm Atheros Killer Wireless-AC 1525)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3x USB 3.0, 1x eSATA/USB 3.0
  • 2x Mini DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4
  • Kensington lock slot
  • SD, SIM card slots
  • stereo speakers
  • webcam, array microphone
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack, 3.5 mm line in, 3.5 mm S/PDIF
  • UK tiled, white backlight keyboard
  • two-button multi-touch trackpad, 107 x 63 mm with fingerprint sensor
  • 60 Wh lithium-ion, non-removable battery
  • 180 W mains charger with IEC C13 inlet
  • 385 x 273 x 29.5 mm
  • 2591 g (+1053 g PSU)

OUR VERDICT

The XMG P505 is a very accomplished game player, fueled by its top-of-the-range Nvidia mobile graphics processor. The Clevo platform to support this is fairly standard chunky games machine fare, although the all-up weight of around 2.6 kg is modest by the standards of the breed. This laptop is distinguished by its premium IPS display, solid build and the graphics chip required to drive modern Windows games at their highest settings without fuss. And as a general PC it feels commensurably quick, helped along by its 1 GB/s-class PCIe solid-state drive.

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