Price Analysis & Conclusion
There's only so much a laptop manufacturer can do to set its systems apart from the competition. Some offer low prices. Others rely on outstanding build quality and brand recognition. Even others still offer niche gimmicks and extras like RGB keyboards and lighting effects. Choosing the right approach can be difficult for new vendors. We believe Hyundai played it safe with the Kanabo 15. However, considering how well the similarly priced Acer Predator Helios 300 performs, is “safe” enough to win customers?
The Hyundai Kanabo 15 is a top-performer in our CPU-reliant benchmarks. It delivered excellent performance in 3DMark’s physics tests and Cinebench’s single core and multi-core tests. We believe our test unit contained a golden sample as far as i7-7700HQs go, so take the results with a grain of salt.
The graphical performance illustrates a more realistic picture, with the Kanabo delivering similar performance to the Acer Predator Helios 300 in Fire Strike and CompuBench’s Bitcoin Mining test. Our only area of concern is the Kanabo’s 128GB Phison SM280 M.2 SSD, which was both smaller and slower than the SSDs in the laptops we compared it to. If the Dell Inspiron 15 7000, the most affordable system in our roundup, can be equipped with the speedy Samsung PM961, then so can the Kanabo.
Synthetic benchmarks provide an estimation of how well a laptop will perform in real world usage, but gamers are primarily concerned with actual game performance. We’re happy to report that the Hyundai Kanabo provides adequate performance for the price. The GTX 1060 offers outstanding frame rates in most of our titles, especially undemanding games such as Alien Isolation and GRID Autosport. However, resource-hogging titles like Grand Theft Auto V and Rise of the Tomb Raider will push the Kanabo beyond its limits, and we would recommend turning down the graphical settings or considering higher priced models, such as the MSI GE63VR Raider.
Gaming laptops are often heavy, hulking monstrosities due to the amount of heat their components generate. Thankfully, the Kanabo 15’s bulk isn’t for naught; it maintained excellent temperatures thanks to its hefty cooling solution and adequate airflow. In fact, it matched the Acer Helios in this department. As mentioned, the Helios received our Editor’s Choice award for its outstanding performance, thermals included. Higher end laptops, such as the MSI Raider and GS63VR Stealth Pro, contain higher end components that generate more heat and therefore perform hotter than the Kanabo after an extended thermal stress test. The only system that can beat the Kanabo in thermals is the Inspiron 15. Even then, it only runs 1°C cooler despite its components generating less heat.
Battery life is yet another point of contention between the Hyundai Kanabo and Acer Helios. They both have essentially the same battery capacity and specs, resulting in the same amount of battery life. MSI’s higher end laptops have larger batteries, but these are offset by their more demanding power requirements. On the other hand, the Dell Inspiron offers additional battery life thanks to its larger battery and less demanding components. The Kanabo’s battery features a hot-swap function, making replacements seamless should the battery fail in the future. However, Hyundai might have been able to implement a larger battery had it taken an integrated approach, and this could very well have been the case considering how big the Kanabo’s chassis is. The MSI Stealth Pro, for example, is much thinner but supports a higher capacity battery.
Build quality is paramount in any gaming laptop; you’re carrying what’s essentially $1,000 of gaming equipment, and even the smallest accident can spell disaster. Gamers looking to buy a portable solution may be apprehensive towards a vendor who isn’t as well established as, say, Acer or MSI. On the contrary, you’ll be happy to find that the Hyundai Kanabo 15 has a robust chassis with few weak spots. The bottom panel is especially sturdy, and it might even survive a fall or two (don’t try this at home). The only area of concern is the aluminum lid, which flexes if a moderate amount of pressure is applied. When compared to laptops in this price range, the Kanabo’s build quality excels.
The Kanabo is normally priced at $1,600; however, at the time of writing, the laptop can be found on Newegg for $1,200, setting the Helios within its crosshairs. The two perform almost identically, with the Kanabo ever-so-slightly winning in thermal dissipation and battery life. The trade-off comes down to storage performance; the Helios has double the SSD space and much faster speeds. The Kanabo supplements its SSD with a 1TB HDD. The Kanabo also offers a customizable RGB keyboard, whereas the Helios does not. If you’re looking for value, the Acer wins hands down. However, if you’re willing to invest an extra $100 for easy upgradability and an RGB keyboard, then the Kanabo will serve you well.
Hyundai swung for the seats with its first gaming contender. The Hyundai Kanabo 15 offers solid performance and build quality for its price and features capabilities that differentiate it from the Helios.
MORE: Best Gaming Laptops
MORE: Gaming Laptop Previews
MORE: All Laptop Content