Hands-On And First Impressions
[Editor's Note: The following content is intended to be a first look, with some hands-on impressions and a few benchmarks. We will be conducting full reviews of gaming laptops soon enough, with a battery of exhaustive tests, including more thorough benchmarks (we're currently revamping our benchmark suite), and deeper analysis. But we wanted to get some of the newer models into the lab for some early testing.]
AVADirect specializes in building custom systems, including servers, workstations, VR-ready machines and, of course, laptops. While the company offers personalized configurations from popular vendors like Lenovo, Asus and MSI, it also has its own portfolio of mobile machines.
Today, we're taking a first look at AVADirect's Avant P750DM-G, a powerful platform configured with desktop-class hardware.
The Avant P750DM-G is equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700K processor and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980M graphics module. Our sample only sports 8GB of DDR4-2133 RAM, but the laptop's motherboard supports up to 64GB. Storage consists of a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SSD and a 1TB Seagate ST1000LM014 SSHD.
AVADirect's Avant gaming laptop line is based on Clevo barebones enclosures, and the P750DM-G uses the similarly-named Clevo P750DM-G. The shell's exterior is incredibly unassuming. From edge to edge, it sports a rubberized plastic finish that feels high-end to the touch. The only contrasting feature is a brushed silver "AVA" logo on the center of the lid.
The matte black finish is found under the lid as well. There, the surface collects smears from oils and dirt over time, but the rubbery material is easy to clean and finger oils are still less apparent on it than on glossier surfaces.
The trapezoidal power button is located at the top, adjacent to the speakers. Pressing it engages its green LED. Next to the power button are five more LED indicators showing the status of airplane mode, storage activity, number lock, caps lock and scroll lock.
The P750DM-G's display is supported by two hinges that swing back around 125 degrees.
Just below the display are the Avant's two speakers, which are hidden below a plastic mesh. The speakers offer excellent sound reproduction, reaching uncomfortably loud volumes without losing clarity.
Audio can be tweaked using the Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5 software. This suite offers multiple profiles for music, movies, voice and different game genres. The SBX Pro Studio tab offers quick EQ adjustments with on and off dials. The Scout Mode tab enhances footsteps in game. The Voice FX tab offers a range of effects, such as "Robot" or "Nasal" to alter your voice. The EAX Effects & EQ tab offers an extended equalizer and environments like "Amphitheater" and "Opera Hall." Finally, the Advanced Settings tab offers speaker and headphone surround configuration and speaker calibration.
Starting from the right, the P750DM-G has one USB 3.0 port, an S/PDIF output, a headphone jack, a microphone input and a Kensington lock. On the left, the P750DM-G features an Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, a combined USB 3.1 Type-C and Thunderbolt port, a card reader slot and a combined eSATA and powered USB 3.0 port. Around back you'll find an HDMI port, two DisplayPort outputs and a DC power input.
There are also vents on the back side for exhausting waste heat. These vents imbue a slightly aggressive aesthetic. While the Avant's exterior isn't the first one we think about when considering gaming laptops, that's certainly not a bad thing.
Gamers looking for a system with flare may still enjoy the P750DM-G's more enthusiast-oriented features, though. The Avant's ComboKeys software features fully configurable back-lighting for the keyboard and lightbar. Effects include breathing and cycling. There's also a Statistics tab that lets you monitor the most frequently-used keys. Last, the Macro tab enables custom key combinations triggered using hotkeys.
The P750DM-G is a 15-inch laptop, so it easily accommodates a keyboard with excellent key spacing and comfortable ergonomics. The caps aren't flat; instead, they sport an ever-so-slight indentation that hugs the curvature of your fingertips. This small addition isn't something you notice initially, but it makes quite a bit of difference over time as you type.
The trackpad features a smooth, matte surface without mechanical left- or right-clicking. Instead, you have to use the left and right buttons underneath. As a result, there are no uniformity issues when you click, and dust and debris don't find their way under the trackpad. However, this layout can be bothersome if you're accustomed to trackpads with mechanical or tactile feedback. There's not much to say about the trackpad itself; you get an adequate tracking experience from it.
The P750DM-G has a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920x1080) IPS display that provides accurate color reproduction and excellent viewing angles. The HDMI and two DisplayPort outputs also make it possible to support up to three external displays.