If you want the "latest and greatest" technology then the AVADirect Clevo P270WM delivers the goods.
Clevo's much-loved X7200 notebook has been put out to pasture but the nearly identical P270WM is here with the new Intel X79 chipset and the latest NVIDIA graphics. Take a look inside the most powerful gaming notebook we've reviewed.
If you're a newcomer to the world of custom gaming notebooks then one of the first things you should know is that there are a number of custom PC builders (often called "resellers") here in the United States and overseas. The reason these Custom PC shops are sometimes called "resellers" is that they don't design and fabricate their own laptops like Dell or HP. Instead, they buy notebook chassis from companies like Clevo, MSI, OCZ or ASUS. These custom shops then add the processor, graphics card and other internal components that you want and "resell" the notebook to you at an additional cost to cover the expense of their work.
AVADirect, a custom reseller based here in the great state of Ohio, is the company that was kind enough to send us one of their latest and greatest configurations of the Clevo P270WM gaming notebook. The P270WM is essentially an updated version of the X7200 chassis we've reviewed previously and is based on Intel's X79 chipset with support for six-core Intel Extreme Edition processors and dual graphics cards (only NVIDIA GeForce or NVIDIA Quadro graphics at the time of this writing).
Build & Design
We said it about the Clevo X7200 and we'll say it about the P270WM as well: This notebook freaking HUGE. Even if you know nothing about modern gaming notebooks, the first thing you'll notice about the build and design of this custom Clevo is the size. In the case of this AVADirect version of the Clevo P270WM, the next thing you'll probably notice is the thick aluminum-covered lid with a "tribal" tattoo symbol with blue LED backlighting. Move down to the main body of the notebook and you'll find nice aluminum-covered palm rests, more blue LED indicator lights above the keyboard and attractive blue LED backlighting behind the keyboard itself.
Overall, you have to look closely to see the differences between this new Clevo and last year's 17-inch Clevo chassis. This is good for custom resellers like AVADirect because it makes it easy to install whatever components customers want, but it means that customers get a somewhat "boring" laptop in terms of modern notebook design.
Despite the old school design the build quality is quite good and feels rugged enough for what was essentially an empty shell before AVADirect packed it full of goodies. The screen cover gives plenty of protection to the display, preventing ripples or other distortion from impact on the back side. The main chassis of the notebook is made of thick plastic with metal reinforcements. Inside, the notebook is fairly rigid without any flex on the palm rest. The keyboard tray feels better seated than the old X7200, so it's good to know Clevo is improving build quality even if the design is largely unchanged.
The P270WM is very easy to upgrade, a benefit of Clevo designing this for resellers who install virtually all internal components. All the primary internals are accessible through panels on the bottom of the notebook. After removing a handful of screws you have access to the processor, graphics card(s), heatsinks, system memory, wireless cards and three hard drive bays. Those four giant circular grills on the bottom of the notebook (see the image on the left) are actually air intakes for the cooling fans although one of the grills is blocked; probably to give users a place to rest the notebook on their leg in the event they are crazy enough to use this almost 14-pound machine as a "laptop."
Ports and Features
The Clevo P270WM includes just about every modern port available on the market today; including two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a combo eSATA/USB 3.0 port, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort, audio jacks, Ethernet and more. The only expansion ports missing on the P270WM are an ExpressCard slot and a Thunderbolt port. Still, if you are going to complain about a lack of ports on this notebook you should just give up and buy a desktop. All descriptions for the photos below are listed from left to right.
Front: SD card slot
Back: Four fan exhaust vents and the power jack
Left: DVI, ethernet, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, eSATA/USB 3.0 combo port, FireWire, USB 3.0, and optical drive
Right: S/PDIF, Optical out, microphone, headphone jacks, two USB 2.0 and security lock slot
Screen and Speakers
The Clevo P270WM has a 17.3-inch screen with a 1080p (1920x1080) resolution and LED backlighting. It is a fairly standard TN panel with slightly above average image quality. Brightness is pretty average at 209 nits as measured with our Gossen light meter. The contrast ratio on the other hand is quite good; we measured it at approximately 1280:1. The matte screen coating helps prevent reflections that might otherwise be distracting during game play. The LED backlighting is generally uniform with little in the way of noticeable bleed around the edges. The viewing angles are typical for a TN panel: horizontal viewing angles are good, but when you move the screen forward or back past 20 degrees off-center vertically, the colors appear distorted.
The P270WM has five built-in speakers: four under the display and on either side of the keyboard plus a small subwoofer underneath the chassis. The sound output is reasonable but not particularly impressive when you consider the size and weight of this machine. That being said, these are among the best speakers you'll find on any Clevo notebook.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The P270WM has a traditional keyboard layout with flat key surfaces similar to a Chiclet or island-style keyboard but without the extra space and inner trim between each key. The keyboard was very comfortable to type on and feels firm under our fingers while typing. At long last Clevo decided to add a LED backlight under the keyboard to help you see the keys while gaming in a dark room. This might not be a "must have" feature for every gamer but it is something you expect to find when you have to pay more than $2,000 for a notebook. Individual key action was smooth and required very little pressure to activate any particular key. Key wobble was at a minimum and wide keys like the space bar, enter key, and shift key engaged without any binding.
The touchpad features a matte surface that makes it reasonably easy to slide your finger across it. The touchpad buttons aren't as impressive thanks to a shallow press and a loud click. The touchpad buttons aren't as loud as the ones on the old X7200 but there's room for improvement here. The touchpad supports some multi-touch gestures such as two-finger scrolling and circular scrolling. There is a biometric fingerprint reader between the touchpad buttons, which works as expected but it's also easy to accidentally trigger the fingerprint reader when you're trying to press the touchpad buttons during the heat of a game.
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