Benchmarks And Conclusion
We used a combination of synthetic benchmarks like PCMark 8, 3DMark Fire Strike, Unigine Valley and GFXBench to test the Mobius ES. We also ran some in-game metrics from Bioshock Infinite (to sample real-time performance on an often CPU-bound game) and Metro: Last Light Redux (for its GPU-intensive test).
We compared the Mobius ES to a few of the laptops we've recently covered, including the Acer Predator 15 and Lenovo Ideapad Y700-15 Touch. Both models employ different graphics hardware, but yield an interesting comparison due to their similar CPUs.
Synthetic Benchmark – PCMark 8
Our PCMark8 results for the Mobius ES are compelling. So much so, in fact, that we ran the benchmark several times to confirm we were getting accurate results. The Mobius ES beats both the Acer Predator 15 and Lenovo Y700-15 Touch on the Home and Work tests.
This is interesting because, on paper, the Mobius ES should fall in between the two. However, beating the Predator 15 (with its GeForce GTX 980M and 32GB of DDR4-2133) in those two tests could be indicative of Doghouse's tuning and optimization. The Creative test is more GPU-dependent, and the Acer Predator 15 rightfully generates a higher score than the Mobius ES. Despite besting a system with a more capable GPU in the Home and Work tests, productivity is probably not the reason you'd buy this notebook.
Synthetic Benchmark – 3DMark Fire Strike
Doghouse Systems' Mobius ES serves up the performance we'd expect in 3DMark's Fire Strike benchmark. The suite, graphics and combined scores are almost equally distant from both of the comparison laptops, solidifying the GTX 970M's place in the mobile graphics module hierarchy.
The physics test in 3DMark Fire Strike is CPU-limited, and the Mobius ES beats its competition sporting the same processor by over 100 points. Similar to our theory explaining the PCMark 8 results, this could be due to that "build to perfection" approach DogHouse Systems uses for tuning its machines. It could also just be luck of the draw on GPU Boost clock rates.
Synthetic Benchmark – GFXBench
We tested the Mobius ES at maximum screen brightness using GFXBench's built-in battery test, which loops a taxing scene, draining power until the battery hits 80 percent capacity. The software then calculates an estimated run time based on how long it took to burn through those first 20 percent.
DogHouse Systems uses a four-cell polymer battery, differentiating itself from most mainstream OEMs using lithium-ion cells. The company rates the 60Wh battery for up to 325 minutes (5 hrs and 25 min) of operation in UMA mode (embedded graphics only), and for 90 minutes of active gaming in performance mode with the screen brightness at 100 percent.
Although we didn't test it using the on-board Intel HD Graphics 530 engine, our results suggest that the Mobius ES can hang tough for around 135 minutes of gaming away from a wall socket. That's almost 45 minutes longer than DogHouse's estimation.
Synthetic Benchmark – Unigine Valley
The Mobius ES and its Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M perform almost exactly as expected on our Unigine Valley test, falling in between the GTX 960M-equipped Lenovo and the Predator 15 with its GTX 980M.
Gaming Benchmark – Bioshock Infinite
Our Bioshock Infinite benchmark demonstrates compelling results, similar to the PCMark 8 and Fire Strike tests. Looking at the overall chart, the Mobius ES reports a higher minimum frame rate than the GTX 980M-equipped Predator 15.
Diving deeper into each scene, it's apparent that something is definitely peculiar about the Acer configuration's performance; it's losing to a laptop with a less powerful graphics module in minimum frame rates in two different scenes, and the Mobius ES even attains a better maximum frame rate in one test.
Gaming Benchmark – Metro: Last Light Redux
Our results in Metro: Last Light Redux contain some of the same hard-to-explain numbers. The Mobius ES again hits a higher minimum frame rate than the Predator 15. However, its maximum frame rate also drops, succumbing to the GTX 960M-equipped Lenovo.
At least the averages make sense. They fall in line exactly as we'd expect from this range of hardware.
It's difficult to explain how the Mobius ES beats a laptop with a better GPU in certain metrics (mostly in minimum and maximum frame rates, along with productivity tests). Possible reasons include thermal throttling, memory timings, CPU binning or even just a lower ambient temperature allowing GPU Boost a little extra headroom. There could also be real truth to DogHouse Systems' claim of superior tuning.
We'll revert back to average frame rates, though, which is where the Mobius ES performs as we expect it to, beating the GTX 960M-equipped Lenovo and losing to the 980M-powered Acer. It will be interesting to compare the Mobius ES to other laptops that feature the same GeForce GTX 970M in the future.
It's hard to justify a laptop sporting a GeForce GTX 970M costing $2545 until you factor in the 1TB SSD and optional wireless-AC module. But even at a starting price of $1995 without those premium add-ons, we're still looking at an expensive platform. We understand that the 15.6-inch IPS panel is where a lot of the cost comes from, and the Mobius ES' mobile gaming experience is made better by having it.
The Mobius ES seems to have some magic in it, somehow besting a laptop with a better GPU in a number of our tests. It's a bummer that the LED-backlit keyboard isn't a fully-customizable RGB setup, but the keys are responsive and fit for a gamer. If you are looking for lightweight mobile gaming at 1080p, the Mobius ES offers an experience worth considering.