As with most gaming notebooks based on Clevo designs, the Digital Storm Triton offers a variety of storage options thanks to the previously mentioned storage slots. Our review unit delivered snappy performance thanks to its Samsung 840 EVO SSD. Windows boot time averaged around 19 seconds and system resume from sleep was almost instant.
The headline feature inside the Triton is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 970M discrete graphics. While not as impressive as the GTX 980M we recently reviewed inside the MSI GT72 Dominator Pro, the GTX 970M is one of the best notebook GPUs currently available both in terms of 3DMark benchmark scores and real-life gaming performance. The Triton has no trouble playing games like Battlefield 4 or Civilization: Beyond Earth at 1080p resolution and the highest detail settings. Average in-game frame rates exceeded 70FPS with 2x MSAA and only dropped to an average of 50-60FPS cranked up to 8x MSAA.
The fourth generation Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor in our review unit delivers reasonably impressive performance and good battery life. This quad-core Haswell chip has a TDP of 47 W but is more power efficient than the previous generation 45 W Ivy Bridge processors. While that makes a big difference for laptops running on battery power, the Haswell chips don’t offer much (if any) real-world advantage in terms of raw CPU performance over the previous generation Ivy Bridge chips.
It’s also worth mentioning Digital Storm recently started offering this configuration with a the slightly faster Intel Core i7-4720HQ CPU (2.6 GHz, 6 MB cache, up to 3.6 GHz max Turbo frequency). That said, the real-world performance of the i7-4710HQ and i7-4720HQ are largely identical. While the price of the Triton might appear a little more expensive than the base Clevo P650SE systems from other custom notebook builders, the price is quite competitive once you factor added hardware and Windows 8.1 costs that other vendors charge.
Our review unit of the Digital Storm Triton features the following technical specifications:
- Genuine Microsoft Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
- 15.6″ FHD TN Display (1920 x 1080 resolution, matte screen surface)
- Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU (2.5 GHz, 6 MB cache, up to 3.5 GHz max Turbo frequency)
- Intel HM87 Express Chipset
- Nvidia Geforce GTX 970M 3GB
- 8GB 1600MHz Memory
- 120GB Solid State Drive (Samsung 840 EVO)
- 750GB 7200RPM Storage HDD (WD7500BPKX-22HPJT0)
- Gigabit Ethernet LAN (10/100/1000 Mbps)
- 11 b/g/n wireless LAN + Bluetooth 4.0
- Built-in 2M FHD video camera
- 2 built-in 2W Onkyo speakers
- Sound Blaster X-FI MB 3
- Internal 4-cell Lithium-Polymer battery (60Wh)
- 180W AC adapter
- Dimensions: 15.16″ x 10.67″ x 0.98″
- Weight: 5.5 lbs
- Starting price (with GTX 965M and no SSD): $1,422
- Price as configured: $1,607
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
Heat and Noise
The Triton features reasonably good thermal management despite the thin chassis design, thanks to sizable copper heat sinks and dual cooling fans for the GPU along with a third cooling fan for the CPU inside. The GPU cooling fans vent hot air directly behind the notebook on the back right edge and the CPU cooling fan vents hot air to the left side of the notebook, so owners will want to be careful about where those vents are located when using the Triton as a “laptop.”
Exterior chase temperatures never exceeded 77 degrees Fahrenheit on the palm rests and 87 degrees on the bottom of the notebook during benchmarking, but the exhaust temperatures reached 106 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the exterior chassis temperatures are normal (as long as you don’t block the vents), serious gamers might want to invest in a laptop cooling pad to avoid overheating. Under standard use (non-idle) the CPU core temperatures typically floated around 50-55 degrees Celsius while the maximum reported core temperatures were more troubling at around 90 degrees Celsius during benchmarking and when playing CPU-intense games. The reported GPU temperatures never exceeded 67 degrees Celsius so we aren’t concerned about the lifespan of the Nvidia graphics being prematurely shortened from heat.
Fan noise is minimal when the Triton idling, but once the CPU and GPU start working the noise is more than you’d expect from a budget laptop that only has one or two fans inside. The fan volume isn’t muffled much by the thin chassis walls so the noise is almost on par with larger gaming notebooks like the ASUS G751 series or the Alienware 17.
The 180W (Chicony branded) power adapter included with the Digital Storm Triton is larger than a typical 15-inch laptop’s power supply, but that is the price of powering a high-end CPU and discrete GPU.
The power adapter stays relatively cool when the notebook is idle or running casual applications (web browser or Microsoft Office) but the exterior of the power brick gets quite toasty at around 95 degrees Fahrenheit while gaming.
The battery life of the Digital Storm Triton is on par with the latest gaming notebooks thanks to newer CPUs and GPUs that are more battery friendly than previous generation chips. The Triton’s internal 4-cell battery lasted 3 hours and 38 minutes during the stressful Powermark battery test which simulates a non-stop combination of web browsing, word processing, video playback, and 3-D gaming.
In real-world (non-gaming) use the Triton’s battery lasted for roughly six hours alternating between regular web browsing, word processing, and brief moments of idle time with the screen brightness set to maximum. Of course, discrete graphics are usually the worst offender when it comes to power consumption in a gaming notebook, so expect your battery life to drop off dramatically if you’re playing serious 3-D games without being connected to a power outlet.
As of this writing, the Digital Storm Triton is available from Digital Storm starting at $1,422.