Sager NP8156 Gaming Laptop Review


The gaming laptops we’ve tested have all been from the usual suspects: Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, Acer, and even Razer and Dell; all with design teams to customize and style systems with purpose. But some boutique systems shops source plain, barebones laptop shells or chassis from the likes of Clevo. Exhibit A: Sager. We're testing the company's NP8165, which comes equipped with an Intel Kaby Lake Core-i7 processor and Nvidia’s GTX 1060, and is based on the Clevo P650HP6-G.

Specifications

Packaging

Because the Sager NP8156 is based on a Clevo design, the packaging is really just a generic box. The laptop is secured with three pads of Styrofoam. You’ll find a disc with drivers and manuals, screws for your additional SSDs and HDDs, a (rather large) user’s guide, a warranty policy, and two extra thermal pads for the GPU’s VRAM. The 200W AC adapter is stored in a separate compartment inside the box.

Exterior

The crisp, minimalist lid design includes strategically beveled edges, giving the Sager NP8165 a clean, yet unmistakably gamer aesthetic. The exterior features a black, brushed metal finish. MSI’s laptops use brushed metal as well, but those models are a bit glossier, whereas the NP8165’s finish is much more muted, so fingerprints and smudges won’t be the issue they are on MSI’s laptops; but keeping the surface clean still isn't easy. Finally, Sager stamps its company logo front and center on the Clevo-based chassis.

Inside, on the bottom half where the trackpad is located, we see the same brushed metal texture, but the area surrounding the keyboard and upward uses a matte black plastic construction. This could be the result of some cost-cutting, but the plastic construction doesn’t feel cheap. If anything, you won’t have to clean the plastic bits as much as the brushed metal surfaces.

The front, back, and side edges all use the same plastic construction. There are two exhaust vents: one on the back edge and one on the left edge. The back edge features an ornate, chrome border surrounding the rear exhaust and I/O ports. The exhaust vents aren’t the flamboyant designs we’ve found on many laptops.

The Sager NP8165’s bottom panel is constructed out of plastic as well. There are abundant air intake cutouts on each side of the bottom panel, but this doesn’t compromise the panel’s rigidity. In fact, the panel is quite sturdy. There’s an additional exhaust vent on the left side of the chassis. There are four rubber feet at each corner and two plastic feet at the top and bottom edges of the panel to elevate the NP8165 slightly. Overall, the chassis construction is robust; there are no flex points, and even the areas constructed out of plastic don’t feel flimsy.

The Sager NP8165 (or rather Clevo’s design team) receives top marks for excellent speaker placement. Too many laptop manufacturers place speakers on the front lip of the system. Normal usage, such as typing and using the trackpad, will naturally block the speakers and inhibit the audio experience. The NP8165’s speakers are placed right next to the hinge, making it pretty difficult to block the sound.

There isn’t much to say about the NP8165’s hinge. It’s a bit stiff, and it swings back by about 135°.

The NP8165’s right I/O consists of a Kensington lock, an RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet port, USB 3.0 port, two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, two card readers for MMC/RSMMC/SD/Mini-SD/SDHC/SDXC cards, a headphone jack, an SPDIF jack, and a microphone jack. The left side includes an HDMI 2.0 port, another USB 3.0 port, and two Mini Displayports. Finally, the backside has a final USB 3.0 port and the DC power input.


Display

The Sager NP8165 features a Full HD (1920x1080) matte IPS display with excellent viewing angles. The display also features G-Sync. The NP8165 can support three additional displays with its HDMI port and two Mini DisplayPorts.

Input Devices

The NP8165 features a scissor switches, a number pad, and customizable RGB lighting. The keys are well spaced and have a nice springy feedback. The RGB lighting features four levels of brightness, and the lighting areas are divided into the left and right hand sides and the number pad.

The trackpad is composed of several inputs. First is the trackpad, which is non-clickable. Tracking is decent, but the trackpad’s surface has a small bit of drag, and that introduces jerkiness when trying to make small, fine movements. Two separate buttons sit below the trackpad for left and right clicks. Separating the buttons from the trackpad eliminates issues like non-uniform clicking and dust traveling under the trackpad. Between the left and right click buttons is a fingerprint sensor for added security. The sensor is easy to setup, and logging in with it takes less than a second.

Interior

The bottom panel is secured to the chassis via 15 screws. Under the panel you get a clear view of the NP8165’s guts. Every laptop we’ve reviewed uses a unified cooling solution with heat pipes connected to both the GPU and CPU heat sinks. The NP8165’s cooling solution is split in two, with the CPU using one fan on the bottom left corner and the GPU using two fans on the bottom right. We'll see if that makes a difference.

There are two memory slots in the middle, two 2.5" SATA slots and one M.2 slot for storage on the top right, an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 above the GPU’s exhaust fans, and a 60WH battery on the top. There are a few thermal pads attached to the bottom cover that are intended for the GPU's MOSFETs and inductors.

Software

Pressing Fn + / on the number pad opens the Control Center software, where you can adjust keyboard backlighting, create macro profiles, and track key usage statistics. Lighting effects include spectrum cycling, breathing, flashing, wave effects, and more.

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21 comments
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  • jaber2
    If I was looking for a gaming laptop your test has convinced me this isn't it, and that I should look at acer
    0
  • JQB45
    I was interested till I saw "Inefficient CPU cooling", that's when I decided this wasn't for me. The lack of a standard hard drive to go with the SSD wasn't a deal breaker for me as a 1TB HDD is a fairly cheap and relatively easy upgrade. But I've had a laptop with poor cooling - Never Again will I allow myself to have a laptop with poor CPU OR GPU cooling.
    1
  • Giroro
    I'm looking at Sager's configuration tool.

    The M.2 SSD defaults to a 250GB Western Digital blue SATA drive. A SanDisk X400 isn't even a selectable option.
    0
  • deadsmiley
    Good review. I have dealt with Sager and cooling issues before with my NP8278. SHOULDN'T have to deal with it.
    1
  • Clamyboy74
    You forgot to mention another deal-breaker, it can switch between G-sync and optimus if you want to save battery life. I don't know how you guys could possibly miss this, its mentioned in the manual too (C-2 in the back of the manual)
    0
  • Clamyboy74
    Also, many resellers (Xoticpc, HID, Gentech) sell this exact laptop for a lower price (WITH 1TB HDD around $50 less) than the sager store, and you get a much better warranty along with it through the reseller. There is also a 120hz option (although it costs extra) which is nice and might be a good investment for fps gamers. Lastly, xotic and HID both support prema bios, which allows you to tweak many settings that are locked by default without voiding warranty, so you could undervolt the cpu and get an even better battery life. Best thing about sager/clevo to me is the huge amount customization that they allow, unlike every other manufacturer
    0
  • HERETIC-1
    Hi Alex,
    Need to move the decimal point in the specs-even the evil crapple can't
    make a lappy that thin.(.098" 2.5mm)
    In your internal description-" two 2.5" SATA slots and one M.2 slot for storage"
    I believe there's 2 x M2 slots-I think if you go NVME you can only use one-
    but if SATA you can use both...............................................
    1
  • cats_Paw
    +35 dollars for a thermal compound.
    Btw, check the difference in price between a 1060 and a 1070....
    Then check the price difference between a laptop with a 1060 and a 1070 (everything else the same).

    Its a rip off.
    0
  • JQB45
    Anonymous said:
    +35 dollars for a thermal compound.
    Btw, check the difference in price between a 1060 and a 1070....
    Then check the price difference between a laptop with a 1060 and a 1070 (everything else the same).

    Its a rip off.


    Just for reference, what is the difference? I felt the same way when comparing the 960m or 965m to the 970m.
    0
  • drajitsh
    Unless you live deep inside a cave, in Siberia (cold & dark) why would you want a laptop with such a horrible display and poor cooling.
    If you are not gaming, or the laptop is overheating, you can always switch off the DGPU and use the iGPU, but I can't think of any case where you can switch off the CPU
    1
  • inmyrav
    Is it loud?
    0
  • Brandon_29
    Sager has a ton of model selection. Personally the choice to review here is in question. Plus they often offer several screen options. I have a Sager I purchased from XoticPC and it has a very nice IPS (1080p) display. I have owned several Sager's. So far the only issue I have had with any of them is heat (on some, but not all) and I had one cracked bezel around the bottom side of the screen. When I purchased my last one it was 600 cheaper than the exact same specs from anyone else. It still runs like a champ and I have never had any issue gaming with it. It came with a free cooler stand, but I never needed to use it.
    2
  • hst101rox
    So that cooling solution is basically an MSI GS63VR or GS73VR .. and they are planning on releasing a 7700HQ with a 1070 GPU option within a month or so.
    0
  • hst101rox
    No bottom pics of the fans you took off to get the manufacturer of the fans, model numbers, voltage and amperage?
    1
  • hst101rox
    You didn't mention if the CPU throttled when it reached that high temperature. It probably did..
    -1
  • nibb0r
    Thanks, Clamyboy74 for mentioning that this model can switch between G-sync enabled and Optimus enabled. That was my first question after reading this review, because it sounds like that ability (very useful, I think) is exclusive to only some Clevo/Sager laptops.

    But I also would like to know if this laptop supports charging via USB-PD? Alexander says "the DC power input" as if the power connector is the only way to charge, but given that this laptop has two USB Type-C ports (very good to see!) I hope that they support the gamut of options this port could provide. I want to plug in only one cable to my laptop to connect USB peripherals, ethernet, displayport monitors, and to begin charging. On that note, do these USB Type-C ports support full 40 Gbs Thunderbolt 3, or are they limited in bandwidth as we see in the XPS 15?
    0
  • nibb0r
    Thanks, Clamyboy74 for mentioning that this model can switch between G-sync enabled and Optimus enabled. That was my first question after reading this review, because it sounds like that ability (very useful, I think) is exclusive to only some Clevo/Sager laptops.

    But I also would like to know if this laptop supports charging via USB-PD? Alexander says "the DC power input" as if the power connector is the only way to charge, but given that this laptop has two USB Type-C ports (very good to see!) I hope that they support the gamut of options this port could provide. I want to plug in only one cable to my laptop to connect USB peripherals, ethernet, displayport monitors, and to begin charging. On that note, do these USB Type-C ports support full 40 Gbs Thunderbolt 3, or are they limited in bandwidth as we see in the XPS 15?
    0
  • hst101rox
    How much CPU load is incurred by Furmark? Thought it was light on the CPU but extremely heavy on the GPU.
    0
  • Clamyboy74
    Anonymous said:
    Thanks, Clamyboy74 for mentioning that this model can switch between G-sync enabled and Optimus enabled. That was my first question after reading this review, because it sounds like that ability (very useful, I think) is exclusive to only some Clevo/Sager laptops.

    But I also would like to know if this laptop supports charging via USB-PD? Alexander says "the DC power input" as if the power connector is the only way to charge, but given that this laptop has two USB Type-C ports (very good to see!) I hope that they support the gamut of options this port could provide. I want to plug in only one cable to my laptop to connect USB peripherals, ethernet, displayport monitors, and to begin charging. On that note, do these USB Type-C ports support full 40 Gbs Thunderbolt 3, or are they limited in bandwidth as we see in the XPS 15?


    No. Usb c cannot supply enough power to this laptop since it is rated around 180 watts under full load, and usb c only supports ~60 watts max. As for thunderbolt 3, there is no mention of it, although I dont know why you would use a dGPU when you have a 1060 already.
    0
  • nibb0r
    Unfortunately, just looking at the laptop's load can't fully answer if it supports USB-PD. Yes, most chargers only support 60W or 65W but the specification does allow for up to 100W. And there exist gaming laptops that do lose charge when plugged in and under load, anyway, with the AC adapters they came with.

    I know that with a laptop using more than 100W there is no chance to indefinitely power the machine over USB-PD but idle usage is generally well under 30W on even high performance laptops, and so I would find the feature still very convenient.
    0