Final Analysis And Verdict
It’s refreshing to see a system like the Sager NP8165. Its updated Intel Core i7-7700HQ grants the system additional performance in several of our synthetic benchmarks, including a notable improvement over the Acer Predator 17’s i7-6700HQ in single and multi-core performance in Cinebench. The 7th generation processor also demonstrates improved scores in workloads using PCMark 8’s Adobe Creative and Microsoft Office suites. Storage speeds are adequate as well, but the Sandisk X400 doesn’t deliver quite as much random read and write performance as the MSI’s SK Hynix drive, or the blistering sequential speeds of the Acer laptop’s LiteOn RAID 0 configuration.
The Sager NP8165 provides exceptional gaming performance for its price, and right on par with, or slightly better than the MSI Phantom Pro in almost every game. Nvidia’s GPU technology has improved to the point where previously demanding titles such as Metro: Last Light Redux can easily be run in excess of 60 FPS with minimal, or no graphical tweaking. However, as GPU technology improves, so does game quality and the demands of those more powerful game engines; our NP8165 struggled in new titles such as Rise of the Tomb Raider and Ashes of the Singularity.
The NP8165’s build quality is top notch as well. The brushed metal construction is solid and robust, but what’s most impressive is how rigid the plastic parts of the chassis are. We’ve found the bottom panels on several laptops to be points of weakness in the past, but the NP8165’s panel is quite sturdy. The only downside stems from one of its major upsides: the brushed metal finish easily attracts smudges and fingerprints.
One of the major compromises to owning a gaming laptop is battery life while gaming. A gaming laptop lets you play wherever you want, but a good gaming laptop lets you play for longer, and the upper limit we’ve found has been around 2 hours and 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the NP8165 delivers little more than 1 hour and 30 minutes, which is about as low as we've seen.
Another major consideration is the extra heat generated from the laptop’s closely packed components. A good cooling solution should be able to keep both the CPU and GPU cool, even at full load. The laptops we've tested use a unified cooling solution connecting heat pipes between both the CPU and GPU heatsinks and the exhaust fans, but the NP8165’s CPU and GPU cooling solutions are kept separate. This doesn’t appear to have any effect on GPU cooling during Furmark, but the CPU’s temperature skyrockets well into dangerous territory.
The Sager NP8165 has a decent Full HD IPS display with G-Sync. The display’s low black luminance and decently bright white luminance result in crisp contrast. However, RGB balance is slightly hampered by low green levels, making the NP8165’s display look more purple than normal. The grayscale and average color inaccuracies are rather high as well, and the gamma levels dip well below 2.2 at medium to maximum brightness.
The Sager NP8165 comes in at $1,600, making it a direct competitor to the MSI Phantom Pro, which is priced at $1,500. The two have nearly identical specifications, making performance strikingly similar. For an extra $100, you’re paying for the NP8165’s robust build quality, which the MSI laptop seems to lack, but you’re also sacrificing much needed storage space. The Sager has a 256GB SSD, which will fill up quickly, and while the MSI laptop only has a 128GB SSD, it also has an HDD for large media files and games. The Phantom Pro doesn’t have the best cooling or battery life either, but it is still significantly better than the NP8165 in that regard.
And such are the trade-offs at this price point.
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