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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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