Most gaming laptops are hulking great beasts with a 15- or 17in screen, back-breaking weight, and a price tag that is generally well over the £1000 mark. However, the Genesis Mini from Chillblast takes a completely different approach, aiming to provide good gaming performance in an affordable and highly portable 11.6in laptop. See: more high-end laptops reviews.
The Genesis Mini is no Ultrabook, though. The unassuming black chassis doesn’t include a DVD drive, but still measures a chunky 37mm thick and weighs in at 1.8kg, which is pretty heavy for an 11in model. Even so, you can still pick it up with one hand and it’s easy to carry the Genesis Mini with you when you’re travelling or going over to a friend’s place for an evening of shoot ’em up action.
The 11.6in display is obviously quite small, and its 1366 x 768 pixel count in that small frame might strain the eyes of some people. But it’s bright and clear, with wide viewing angles and – thankfully – a non-reflective coating that cuts down on glare and reflection.
The Chillblast Genesis Mini also includes both HDMI and VGA interfaces, so that you can connect it to a larger monitor or TV if you wish.
Despite the unit’s compact design the keyboard is large enough – and solid enough – for your fingers to fly around at high speed during a long gaming session. The trackpad is rather small and fiddly, but gamers will probably be using a mouse so that’s not a major problem.
Chillblast provides several build-to-order options on its web site so you can effectively build your own machine, but the basic Genesis Mini reviewed here costs £699 with your choice of either Windows 7 or 8, a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor running at 2.6GHz (3.2GHz with Turboboost), 8GB of memory, and a 1TB hybrid Seagate Momentus XT HD/SSD drive.
Chillblast Genesis Mini: Performance
That hybrid drive seems to work very well, helping the Chillblast Genesis Mini achieve a very solid score of 4557 when running PCMark 7.
But, of course, gaming is the real test for the Chillblast Genesis Mini, and the inclusion of both Intel integrated graphics and a separate nVidia GeForce GT 650M graphics proessor ensures that it does perform well for its price – even if it can’t match the raw horsepower of some of the more expensive gaming laptops that we’ve seen recently.
Running Batman: Arkham City at the native screen resolution with High graphics settings produced a score of just 23fps. So we had to drop the graphics settings down to their lowest level in order to raise that to 43fps.
However, older games such as Stalker: Call Of Pripyat zoomed along, hitting a full 86fps even at High graphics settings.
We also hooked the Chillblast Genesis Mini up to a TV to see how it would cope at full-HD resolution (1920 x 1080). At that setting, Batman only ran at 15fps with High graphics settings, but dropping to Low graphics more than doubled that score to 34fps, while Stalker ran at a healthy 55fps even on the High setting.
You’ll only get about 90 minutes out of the battery when playing games with the nVidia GeForce graphics, but you do have the option of switching to standard Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics for regular tasks.
We got 4 hours 45 minutes of streaming video when using integrated graphics, and it should last a little longer for simple web browsing and other routine tasks.