Our M4 as configured is readily equipped for gaming and other high-performance tasks. Its $513 worth of upgrades include the ultra-high resolution 3200×1800 display, Intel Core i7-4810MQ processor, and Windows 8.1 Pro. The oddity in our M4 is the slow 500 GB 5400RPM hard drive; we’d configure this notebook with a Solid State Drive (SSD) for better response times given a choice.
Lastly the Intel Core i7-4810MQ processor, while fast, isn’t worth close to $229 over the entry-level Core i7-4700MQ processor. We recommend opting for the latter as most users won’t notice a difference between the two, even when gaming.
The M4 stacked up well in our benchmarks especially in 3D performance. Off the charts, we put the M4 through its paces with Battlefield 4; running at 1920×1080 with a mix of high and ultra settings was plenty playable even in complex multiplayer maps.
- 13.3-inch display (3200×1800 resolution, IPS panel, glossy surface, non-touch)
- Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
- Intel Core i7-4810MQ quad-core processor (2.8GHz, up to 3.8GHz Turbo Boost, 6MB cache, 47W TDP)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M w/ 2GB GDDR5 memory
- 8GB DDR3L-1600 RAM (1x 8GB: 16GB max. supported)
- 500GB 5400RPM hybrid hard drive (Seagate ST500ML000-1EJ162)
- No internal optical drive
- Realtek RTL8723BE 802.11n wireless network adapter
- Integrated Bluetooth 4.0
- 6-cell li-ion battery (62.16Wh)
- Trusted Platform Module 1.2
- 1-year limited warranty
- Dimensions: 13.2″ x 9.08″ x 1.28″
- Weight: 4.4 lbs.
- Starting Price: $953
- Price as Configured: $1,466
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
A large exhaust vent spans about one-third of the M4’s left side; the copper heatsinks are easily visible within. The single fan is located under where the QWERTY keys reside; it primarily draws air from the underside of the chassis so you’ll want to avoid using the M4 on your lap while playing games. The fan comes on infrequently while running general non-demanding tasks such as web browsing; it’s audible when it does but is low enough to ignore.
The M4’s power consumption is low while performing those tasks because the dedicated Nvidia graphics card powers off and switches to the power-sipping integrated Intel graphics, courtesy of Nvidia’s Optimus technology. The Core i7 processor is also efficient and automatically resorts to a low power state when possible.
We found out just how powerful the M4’s single fan is while gaming and running benchmarks; it’s audible across a medium-size room at full blast and jets out a considerable amount of warm air out the exhaust vent. There’s fortunately little in the way of fan whine making it bearable for the person using the M4; we imagine however you’ll get a few looks should you pull the M4 out and start gaming in a quiet environment like a library or classroom.
The M4 does well heat-wise. The fan expels most generated heat from the chassis and keeps both the keyboard area and undersides from getting more than lukewarm. Again, we wouldn’t recommend gaming with the M4 in your lap due to the possibility of blocking its important bottom air intake.
We run our new Powermark benchmark in “Balanced” mode which runs a simulation of fairly intense user activity; it’s a combination of web browsing, word processing, video playback, and gaming workloads. This test is significantly more strenuous than a typical battery rundown test.
The M4 managed 3 hours, 51 minutes, which is in line with what we expect for a standard 13.3- or 14-inch notebook let alone one with all the power of our review unit. Expect to get up to an additional 2 hours of life on top of this number for just regular activity especially if you lower the screen brightness.