It might not be the most powerful gaming rig on the marker, but for just £799 the Optimus IV from PC Specialist is a versatile and affordable all-round laptop that provides enough 3D horsepower for the casual gamer. See Group test: what's the best high-end laptop?
In fact, that £800 price tag really is the stand-out feature, as it includes a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor running at 2.4GHz, along with 8GB of memory, an nVidia GeForce GTX 660M with 2GB video memory. Storage is covered by a 1TB hard disk andy an additional 120GB solid-state drive as well. Throw in an attractive 17.3in display and Blu-ray drive and the Optimus IV really does look like excellent value for money. Take a look at Dell Alienware M11x review.
That combination allowed a solid 4572 points in the PCMark 7 test suite, confirming its abilities as a strong all-round performer. However, its gaming perfomance isn’t in quite the same league as its more hardcore rivals – the GeForce GTX 660M proved to be one of the more modest graphics cards in this group.
It could cope with Stalker at full 1920 x 1080 resolution and High graphics settings without too much trouble, but Batman: Arkham City and Hard Reset really needed to drop down to 1280 x 720 in order to run well.
There are a number of build-to-order options available for the Optimus, but if you want more flat-out gaming power you’ll need to look at PC Specialist’s separate Vortex range, which comes in at closer to £1200.
Even so, that’s still pretty good going for a laptop in this price range, and the Optimus IV scores well in other areas too. Its 17.3in screen has 1920 x 1280 resolution, and an anti-glare finish that helps to produce an attractive image, free of annoying glare and reflection. It’ll be great for watching films and video, with the help of the built-in Blu-ray player.
Battery life is poor but above average for this group, lasting for just under 3 hours when using the GeForce GPU. It ran cool and quiet during all our tests, and is also the lightest of the 17in models reviewed here, straining the scales at 3.3kg. It’s about as portable as a games station of this size is likely to get.
We do have a few minor complaints, though. The speakers sound distinctly thin and wiry, and while the keyboard is large and comfortable the trackpad is unnecessarily small given the size of the machine. The buttons on the trackpad aren’t responsive either, and right-clicking in particular required a firm prod in order to prompt a response.