Rivals such as Alienware often adorn their gaming laptop with all sorts of glowing lights and other eye-candy, but Chillblast tends to opt for generic Clevo cases that – at best – simply look dull. And so it is with the Messiah 17 GTX780M, which comes clad in a bulky matt-black chassis that bears absolutely no distinguishing features other than its sheer size and weight. See also: Group test: what's the best high-end laptop?
The 17-inch Messiah measures a full 55 mm thick and weighs 3.9 kg, so it's obviously not a machine that you'll carry around with you on a daily basis. Even so, that's still relatively normal for a gaming laptop of this size, and the Messiah is at least semi-portable for those occasions when you need to take it away from home. Take a look at our review of the impressive Alienware 17 laptop too.
It's solidly built, and the keyboard is firm enough to take a pounding during long gaming sessions. However, the Fn key is rather oddly located on the right-hand side of the keyboard, and the half-size US-style Enter key is a bit irritating when you're typing at speed. The trackpad is also small for such a large machine, although most gamers will be using a mouse so that's not a major problem.
The 17.3-inch screen is bright and clear, with full 1920 x 1080 resolution and a welcome matt finish that reduces glare. It's not an IPS display, but viewing angles are good, both horizontally and vertically, so you can swerve around in your seat when things get a bit frantic without losing sight of all the action. The screen isn't touch-sensitive, but that's unlikely to matter to most gamers, and while the speakers do sound a bit tinny they are reasonably loud and also include a small sub-woofer to give explosions a bit more impact.
You can customize most of the Messiah's main components on the Chillblast web site. Our review unit was priced at £1799 with a quad-core Haswell, an Intel Core i7 processor running at 2.7GHz, 16GB of memory and both a 1TB hard disk and a separate 250GB solid-state drive.
Gaming duties are handled by an nVidia GeForce GTX 780M with 4GB of video memory, and Chillblast also provides a two-year back-to-base warranty as a welcome bonus.
The Messiah achieved an impressive score of 6316 points when running PCMark 7, making it one of a select group of laptops to break the 6000-point barrier. Needless to say, it can handle most desktop applications with aplomb, and the inclusion of 16GB of memory and that 1TB hard drive mean that it could also server for tasks such as video-editing besides gaming.
There's a FireWire port that will come in handy for importing video and professional audio use, and a Blu-ray writer so that you can burn your own high-def discs, or just sit back and watch some Blu movies.
But, of course, you're primarily paying for gaming performance, and the Messiah doesn't disappoint on that score. It managed a smooth 64.3 fps when running Stalker at 1280 x 720 resolution with Medium graphics settings, and barely dipped to 63.8 fps when we stepped up to 1920x1080.
To really push it hard we then fired up Batman: Arkham City, cranked it up to 1920 x 1080 resolution with High graphics settings – and saw it cruise along at a smooth average of 50 fps. We have seen a few gaming laptops that produced even higher scores, and only at cost of £2000 or more, so the Messiah can justify its £1799 price tag.
Battery life is almost irrelevant on a laptop like this, since it's rarely going to be used outdoors or far from a power socket. However, switching to the low-power integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600 option provided 4 hours and 15 minutes of streaming video over Wi-Fi, so it can provide some useful battery life when necessary.