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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Scan 3XS Graphite LG156 review - a good choice if you need a solid gaming laptop on a mid-range budget


It's starting to look as though the real star of nVidia's new GTX 800M series is the mid-range 860M graphics processor. It enables laptops such as Scan's 3XS LG156 here to provide strong gaming performance at more competitive prices than ever before. (See also: best laptops)

The 3XS Graphite isn't terribly exciting to look at. Its dark grey 15.6-inch casing is from the Clevo shelf again. It looks decidedly generic and this one lacks the glowing lights and go-faster stripes of gaming rivals such as Alienware and Republic Of Gamers from Asus.

Compared to some it's not so heavy, weighing in below 3 kg but at a still uncomfortable 2.7 kg and 42.7 mm thick. So that's in between the old-school millstones like the Alienware 17 and Asus RoG, and the scaled-down Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini and chassis-rationed Gigabyte P35W v2.

The build quality is good, and we liked the firm feel and travel of the keyboard. The trackpad's a bit small, but gamers will often use it with a mouse so that's not a major issue.

The 15.6-inch screen provides 1920 x 1080 resolution and is very bright and colourful. Its viewing angles aren't what you'd find from an IPS display but we've seen worse on laptops costing more than this.

The speakers have a bit of a metallic edge to their sound, but they're reasonably loud and adequate for playing games or music without needing external speakers. Scan also includes some useful bonuses, such as up-to-date 802.11ac wireless for high-speed Wi-Fi, and an S/PDIF interface for digital audio output. They're even throwing in a free copy of Watch Dogs as well at the moment.

It's good value for money too, costing just £899 with a Haswell-generation Intel Core i7 running at 2.5 GHz, 8 GB of Corsair Vengeance gaming RAM, 1 TB hybrid drive; and of course, the GTX 860M for graphics.

That hybrid drive isn't ideal, but it's an acceptable compromise to keep price down. The 3XS Graphite's score of 4846 points in PCMark 7 is about as good as you'll get without a dedicated solid-state drive.

The mid-range GeForce GTX 860M graphics processor also provides very good gaming performance. As we've seen before, the GTX 860M can hold its own against top-of-the-range rivals when running games such as Batman: Arkham City and Tomb Raider at their default settings, and also when we step up to High settings on both games.

It's only when you push Batman to his Maximum that the GTX 860M slows down a little to 38 fps, while Tomb Raider's Ultimate setting dips to a smidgen under 30 fps.

Even so, those scores provide decent performance that will keep most gamers happy, while still allowing you to enjoy maximum eye-candy for well under £1000. (See also: best laptops for games.)

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