Introduction & Product Tour
We’ve reviewed quite a few extravagant laptops lately, ranging from the notorious $9,000 Acer Predator 21 X to the more affordable (but still pricey) Max-Q Asus ROG Zephyrus, AVADirect approached us with a refreshing change of pace: a gaming laptop with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. The AVADirect Whitebook 16K2 is a yet-to-be-released, thin, light, portable gaming laptop that should have the power to play modern games comfortably without breaking the bank.
The AVADirect Whitebook 16K2 arrived in a brown cardboard box, which in turn, housed another brown cardboard box. Neither box has much going for it; the outer box has a handful of warning labels, while the innermost box has a generic illustration of a laptop and “NOTEBOOK” printed in black on the front and backside. The inner box also has a plastic handle on the top for easy carrying.
The front of the box flips open to reveal the interior compartments. First and foremost is the laptop compartment, which secures the Whitebook with two slabs of closed-cell foam. Above the laptop compartment is a cardboard shroud containing the AC power cord. To the left you’ll find another compartment for the 180W power adapter. No manuals or booklets were included with our test sample, but those should be included in retail samples.
The packaging is straightforward; you could even call it plain. We’ve encountered this type of packaging from boutique vendors, and the Whitebook 16K2 is no exception. One vendor that stands out in this area is Origin PC, which uses its own branded packaging and even offers the option to ship in a wooden crate. Although packaging makes little difference, first impressions can be important to some buyers.
Contrary to its name, the Whitebook is black. The lid is constructed out of sleek matte aluminum, which is pleasing to the eye and to touch. The downside to the crisp texture is how easily it picks up oils, so fingerprints and smudges will be abundant unless you constantly clean the lid. The middle of the lid sports AVADirect’s silver and black logo. The silver is slightly reflective and has a brushed texture, which contrasts the matte black letter bordering.
The surface surrounding the input devices also has a matte black metal finish, although it’s noticeably smoother than the lid’s surface. In fact, we noticed that blemishes imparted much easier on this surface, but they were also much easier to wipe off. Perhaps the lid’s rougher surface makes smudges harder to see, but also retains oils more readily, making it harder to clean. Either way, keep a microfiber cloth handy. Just above the keyboard is a row of perforations for air intake. A power status symbol is illuminated in orange while the system is booting and red when it's idling.
The Whitebook 16K2 is a thin-and-light notebook, so its bezel is also fittingly thin. The top and sides of the bezel are 0.65” thick, while the bottom of the bezel is 1” thick. The bezel deviates from the rest of the metal build with black plastic construction. A shallow rubber border surrounds the bezel to prevent the display from touching the rest of the laptop. The webcam is found on the top bezel, and a sticker logo is located on the bottom bezel. The sticker is rather peculiar considering that laptop vendors typically use a solid metal or plastic logo.
The edges are constructed out of aluminum and feature exhaust vents for the Whitebook’s cooling fans. There’s one vent on each side and three vents on the back. The rear exhaust has two vents on the right side to accommodate the GPU, while the CPU only has one set of vents; stylized indentations are located next to the CPU vent for symmetry. In between these two vents is a thin, reflective strip of plastic. The front edge has red LED indicators for sleep, storage, number lock, caps lock, Bluetooth, network connectivity, and charging status. Finally, the power button is located inconspicuously at the front of the right edge.
The hinge grants the Whitebook’s display an excellent degree of movement, over 180° in fact. This means that the laptop can be laid perfectly flat.
The bottom panel starkly contrasts the rest of the laptop’s crisp, metal finish with a velvet lining, a texture you probably wouldn't expect on a gaming laptop. The velvet has been cut strategically to allow room for the exhausts, air intakes, rubber feet, speaker grilles, and info logos. There are three intake grilles: one for the CPU and two for the GPU. False indentations have been cutout next to the CPU intake for symmetry, similar to the rear exhaust. There are nine triangular rubber feet near the edges and in the middle of the panel to keep the Whitebook stable.
Near the front of the bottom panel, you’ll find four cutouts for the speakers. They produce decent sound up until around 90% volume, where they get distorted. Unfortunately, the speakers are downward facing, so the audio quality will be muddled unless you want to hold your laptop in the air while using it.
The right-side I/O consists of a USB 2.0 port, Thunderbolt 3 over Type-C, an HDMI 2.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort 1.4, and the power jack. The left side includes a Kensington lock, an RJ-45 LAN port, an SD card reader, three USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, and a microphone jack.
Overall, the build quality is decent, with the highlight being this laptop's lid. Weak points include the area surrounding the input devices and the bottom panel, which flex if you put a slight amount of pressure on them. The Whitebook appeared rather familiar, and if you look it up on AVADirect’s website, you’ll find that it’s actually based on MSI’s GS63VR Stealth Pro. The major difference between the two is the lid construction; The Whitebook’s lid has a matte finish and streamlined shape, whereas the MSI has a brushed aluminum finish and aggressively shaped accents.
The AVADirect Whitebook 16K features a standard 15.6” Full HD (1920x1080) matte IPS display with a 60Hz refresh rate, which perfectly complements the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. You can connect additional displays through HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt 3.
Because the Whitebook is based of the MSI Stealth Pro, you can expect the input devices to be similar. The laptop accommodates a full-length keyboard with a number pad, which is impressive for a thin-and-light 15.6” gaming laptop. The keys are well spaced out and have a satisfying travel distance. No complaints here.
The function row has several predetermined functions: F2 opens the Project menu, F3 disables the touchpad, F5 toggles power modes, F6 turns the webcam on and off, F7 launches a predetermined application of your choosing, F10 turns on Airplane mode, and F12 puts the laptop to sleep. Using Fn with the left and right arrow keys adjusts the volume, while 0 on the number pad mutes the audio. Function plus the up and down keys adjusts the display’s brightness. Finally, Function plus “-” or “+” on the number pad adjusts the keyboard backlight level.
The touchpad has a smooth surface, not unlike the metal finish surrounding it, but it also has a speckled finish. It’s also bordered by a silver lining. The surface allows your fingers to glide easily, and has very little drag. However, the tracking experience is rather mediocre, and you’re better off using a mouse.
The bottom panel is secured to the laptop with 14 screws. Once the screws are removed, pull the bottom panel off the front lip and swing it upward to loosen it from the rear lip. Looking down from the top with the rear facing towards you, you’ll find three fans, two for the GPU and one for the CPU, which expel heat from the rear and side lips. You can just make out a glimpse of the heat pipes from an empty ridge between the fans and motherboard. You can also see where the CPU and GPU are mounted from the back of the motherboard.
On the top right you’ll find an empty slot where you can mount 2.5" SATA drives. Right next to it is the 3-cell 64.85Wh lithium ion battery. A speaker is placed on the top right corner and the other one is wedged between battery and the front lip. Between the battery and GPU fans you’ll find an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265, which handles wireless networking and Bluetooth connectivity. Unfortunately, the SODIMM slots are located on the other end of the motherboard, and are inaccessible unless you tear the entire laptop down.
The AVADirect Whitebook 16K2 utilizes System Control Manager (SCM) to manage a handful of options. From SCM, you can toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, Webcam status, display brightness, volume levels, power profiles, and display power.
The keyboard’s RGB backlighting is handled with the Keyboard LED Manager, and from here you can adjust the lighting effects: Dual Color cycles in and out between two colors, Wave pushes a wave-like effect from left to right, Breathing slowly pulses the lights on and off, Audio acts like an EQ visualizer and reacts to whatever audio is being played on the laptop, Gaming illuminates the left portion of the keyboard, and Normal keeps all of the lights on.
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