- Excellent performance
- Good display
- Good build quality
- Decent speakers
- Odd keyboard layout
- Audible fan noise
This Clevo P157SM is available in customized configurations from AVADirect and other vendors. It is the fastest 15.6″ notebook available today featuring an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, Nvidia GTX 880M 8GB graphics card and up to three storage drives.
Build and Design
The P157SM breaks Clevo’s reputation for offering generic white box notebooks; it has a backlit keyboard in multiple colors, illuminated logo in the touchpad and a rubberized palm rest and lid. It won’t win any design awards but is a step in the right direction.
The chassis is big and blocky; it measures a generous 1.8 inches thick and tests the scales at 7.3 pounds. The build quality is about average; there is some flex evident in the chassis and the plastics used make a hollow sound when tapped. The lid’s hinges are strong but could use more protection; I was able to get ripples to appear in the display by pressing in on the back. Fit and finish on the other hand is good; the gaps between parts appear even and edges are finished smoothly.
Accessing the P157SM’s internals is a simple affair: the two panels under the chassis provide access to the storage drives, two SO-DIMM slots for memory, the wireless card and processor and graphics card heatsinks. This might be more of a “desktop replacement” than a “laptop” but at least you have great access for upgrades and DIY service.
Input and Output Ports
The P157SM has an exceptional selection of ports including USB 3.0, eSATA, HDMI, regular DisplayPort and mini DisplayPort. All picture descriptions are left to right.
Screen and Speakers
The one display offered on the P157SM is a 1080p (1920×1080 pixels) model with an anti-glare surface. It’s bright and plenty colorful with ample contrast. There’s plenty of resolution to work with two windows side-by-side and the anti-glare surface reduces unwanted reflections. The only downside of this panel is that it uses TN (Twisted Nematic) technology; the viewing angles as a result are limited. Look at this display straight on for the best viewing experience.
Two built-in speakers are located below the display; there’s also a small subwoofer on the bottom of the chassis. The setup produces fuller sound than expected from a notebook, enough to fill a small room.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The P157SM’s full-size keyboard has traditionally-styled keys and includes a separate numeric keypad. It is backlit with three separate lighting zones; the left, center and middle of the keyboard can be changed to any one of eight colors. The backlighting can also be set to fade on and off amongst several other patterns.
The keyboard has an overall positive feel; it’s slightly rubbery but quiet and there’s enough key travel to provide sufficient tactile feedback. There’s virtually no flex. Although Clevo is getting better at keyboard layout (this one has dedicated PgUp and PgDn keys), it’s still a little off. The Home and End keys are integrated as secondary functions into the dedicated PgUp and PgDn keys, but the Fn key which must be pressed in conjunction is located on the right side of the keyboard; it doesn’t make sense. The keyboard alignment is also off; I found myself missing basic shortcuts such as [Alt] + [Tab] to switch applications, hitting the spacebar instead of [Alt]. It took a while to get used to.
The oversized touchpad is located just left of center and includes two dedicated buttons. Its anti-glare surface provides stutter-free tracking and has a cool embedded backlit logo. The two dedicated touchpad buttons have the same rubberized coating like the palm rest and lid; their tactile feedback is sufficient, but avoid pressing them if you’re trying to maintain a low profile in a quiet environment since they make a loud click when pressed. An integrated fingerprint reader resides between the buttons.