For a taste of the future of Windows gaming, look to the Mesh Edge DX laptop, one of the first portables to take on DirectX 11 games, and backed up with a new Intel Core i7 quad-core processor
Mesh Computers is a London-based PC systems builder whose desktop gaming PCs are regular challengers in our Top 5 PC charts. But unusually for a British company, Mesh also has a line of its own laptops, including games-slanted machines for the Windows games enthusiast.
We took a close look at the Edge DX, one of the first laptops that can take on new games exploiting Microsoft's updated DirectX 11 graphics.
The key specs of the 15.6in-screen Mesh Edge DX - and the fittings that lift it out from the crowd - are its brand-new ATI graphics card and an Intel quad-core processor.
The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650, equipped with 1GB of dedicated DDR3 RAM, is the first DirectX 11 graphics card that can fit in a laptop. We've noted before while reviewing similar ATI cards for desktop PCs that the range of DX11 games is rather limited right now; but based on the image quality we've seen in the few games that have been released, there's an impressive increase in on-screen realism to be found.
Essentially, the games experience gets that much closer to watching real recorded video.
To help render all this complex detail, a quick multi-cored processor is also needed to keep the action fluid. Here in the Mesh Edge DX we find a 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM, the same processor that drives the HP Envy 15 we reviewed recently. That headline 1.6GHz clock speed may not impress, but it's quite capable of auto-overclocking on demand, up to 2.8GHz. Once again, this is backed up here with 4GB of fast DDR3 1333MHz RAM.
Other features include four USB ports (one of which is a hybrid eSATA type), HDMI video output, fingerprint reader and dual-layer DVD±RW drive.
We found the Mesh Edge DX's trackpad rather poor, a greasy feeling lacquer covering a Synaptics TouchPad, and the click buttons proved just too stiff for comfortable use. And while this may be a matter of individual taste, we also thought the keyboard a little crude, although some will appreciate the flat-top keys with sandpapery texture.
The screen is a full-HD high-resolution 15.6in panel, grimly glossy but crisp and well lit. Thankfully Windows 7 includes an option to increase the size of screen fonts and interface elements. The Mesh Edge DX was supplied to us set at 125% - a good balance for legible icons and text.
Following the current fashion, the Mesh Edge DX is a symphony in high-gloss plastics and paints, featuring swirly silver pinstripe detailing around the top deck and palm rest area, while speakers and buttons take chrome-effect plastic trim.
The same laptop also with a new 5650 card is already sold in Germany by DevilTech for around the same price, and known as the Fire DTX. Like the DevilTech, the Mesh Edge DX chassis seems to be a generic far Eastern part, and even includes an essentially useless V.92 dial-up analogue modem. It certainly contrasts with the up-to-date gigabit ethernet and 802.11n connectivity also packed inside.
With all that firepower under the bonnet, the Mesh Edge DX raised internal temperatures sufficiently that a fan would frequently propel heated air from the left-side vents, whenever the laptop was under load. Its plastic bottom didn't get at all warm to the touch though, and the fan never reached obscene noise levels.
If you're looking for sleek and up-to-date bodywork, you'll need to look elsewhere. The Mesh Edge DX is chunky with big rounded corners and while it's sturdy feeling and solid enough at 2.7kg, it doesn't have the design aesthetic, nor Apple-esque build and lighter weight of the HP Envy, with which it shares some features.
But compared to most gaming laptops we see, it's almost modest in its presentation, while its sub-3kg weight is actually light for a hot-blooded gaming portable.
At £899, it's also £300 cheaper than the HP Envy 15 - and don't forget that high-end ATI HD 5650 graphics card waiting inside.
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