The Equinox features Intel’s new 8th-generation Core i7-8750H, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q design, 16GB of DDR4-2400 memory, a 500GB M.2 SSD and a 15.6” FHD IPS display with a 144Hz refresh rate.
This is the first laptop we’ve tested with an Intel Coffee Lake CPU, so we don’t have any apples-to-apples comparisons to make just yet. In this review, we’ll be comparing the Equinox to a handful of Kaby Lake-based laptops released at around the same price point.
Now for the competition.
The closest comparison we can make is against the Gigabyte Aero 15X, a fellow Max-Q GTX 1070 laptop. It contains a Core i7-7700HQ, 16GB of DDR4-2400 memory, a 256GB M.2 SSD and a 15.6” FHD IPS display. We've praised the Aero 15X for its stellar performance, especially in battery life.
We’re using the Acer Predator Helios 300 as our lower-end alternative. It’s equipped with a Core i7-7700HQ, a GTX 1060, 16GB of DDR4-2133 memory, a 256GB M.2 SSD and a 15.6” FHD IPS display. The Helios is yet another highly recommended laptop due to its outstanding value.
Raising the stakes, we’re throwing in the MSI GE63VR Raider, which features a traditional GTX 1070 graphics card. On top of this, it has a Core i7-7700HQ, 32GB of DDR4-2400 memory, a 512GB M.2 SSD and a 15.6” FHD display with a 120Hz refresh rate. This comparison will illustrate the graphical performance between the Equinox’s Max-Q GTX 1070 and a regular one.
Finally, the highest-end system in our roundup is the Acer Predator Triton 700, which houses a beefy Max-Q GTX 1080. It also contains a Core i7-7700HQ, 32GB of DDR4-2400 memory, a 512GB M.2 SSD and a 15.6” FHD IPS display with Nvidia G-Sync.
3DMark’s graphics benchmarks act as a prelude to our gaming benchmarks. The Equinox delivers outstanding graphical performance comparable to that of the Aero 15X, although neither stack up to the GE63VR Raider’s standard GTX 1070. However, the Equinox exhibits outstanding performance during the CPU-bound physics tests thanks to the Coffee Lake’s higher core count.
If 3DMark’s benchmarks best highlight GPU performance, then Cinebench is its CPU equivalent. The Equinox’s i7-8750H delivers outstanding rendering scores, delivering 11%-17% and 32%-34% faster than the i7-7700HQ-based laptops. However, Cinebench’s OpenGL shading test is GPU-bound, so the Equinox’s frame rate falls short of the MSI Raider and Acer Triton.
CompuBench has a platform-based Video Processing test and a GPU-bound Bitcoin Mining test. The Equinox’s 6-core CPU grants it a slight edge in VidProc against the Aero 15X and GE63VR Raider, but the Triton 700’s Max-Q GTX 1080 keeps the Equinox from first place. Furthermore, the Equinox lags behind the GE63VR Raider and Triton 700 due to the former's weaker GPU.
We perform an IOmeter test on each laptop’s primary drive to measure basic random and sequential read and write speeds. The laptops contain the following SSDs:
Acer Predator Helios 300 - Micron 1100 256GB
Acer Predator Triton 700 - SK Hynix Canvas S300 256GB * 2 RAID 0
Digital Storm Equinox - Samsung 960 EVO 500GB
Gigabyte Aero 15X - Samsung SM951 256GB
MSI GE63VR Raider - Samsung PM871 512GB
The Equinox’s 960 EVO exhibits outstanding 4K random (QD2) speeds comparable to the Aero 15X’s SM951, allowing it to run application-based tasks with ease. However, it doesn’t deliver the raw read speeds that the Triton 700’s RAID configuration does. Similar results can be seen in 128K sequential speeds, although the 960 EVO far outperforms the RAID configuration in write speeds.
We use PCMark 8’s Microsoft Office and Adobe creative tests to simulate a common workday workload. These tasks are platform-based, so systems with powerful CPUs and fast storage solutions perform best.
If you’re looking for a concrete performance increase from the i7-8750H’s extra cores, look no further than Adobe Creative applications. The Equinox outperforms even the Triton 700 by a longshot thanks to the i7-8750H. It exhibits a slight boost in Microsoft Office performance, but this is a slim gain, and you likely won’t notice much of a difference while typing Word documents or using Excel spreadsheets.
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