Sager 5720 Review (pics, specs)

by Reads (15,772)

by Artem, California USA

The notebook under review here is the NP5720-C by Sager, a “boutique” notebook manufacturer. The company was established in 1985 and offers top-of-the line systems at bargain prices. This desktop replacement laptop is geared towards gamers who demand top performance in the latest games along with the ability to carry the notebook on their back or shoulder without injuries.

Sager 5720 (view larger image)

Here’s the specifications of the Sager 5720 being reviewed:

  • 17″ WSXGA+ LCD (Glossy 1680 x 1050)                         
  • Pentium M ( 770 ) 2.13 GHz  533MHz
  • nVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX w/ 256MB GDDR3
  • 2GB PC4200 533DDR2 RAM
  • 80GB 7200RPM SATA HD
  • Pioneer 8x Combo with DVD+R DL
  • Windows XP Professional SP2
  • Lithium Ion 8Cell battery
  • Intel PRO Wireless a/b/g
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • 1 Year Sager Warranty
  • 2 Year Accidental Coverage

Reasons for Buying

Here’s how I decided to choose the Sager 5720. I was looking for a laptop under $3,000 with the following qualities: good design and build quality, good gaming performance, a 15.4″ or 17″ WSXGA+ screen, and a weight of under 10lbs. I also wanted to avoid a flashy laptop that would scream “gamer!” whenever I whip it out.

I started looking around at different models in December of 2005. My first choice was Acer Ferrari 4006WLMi. It had most of the things I wanted in a great looking package from a reputable manufacturer. I was set on buying the Ferrari for a while…until the TravelMate 8200 series notebook was announced!  The 8204WLMi (current high end offering for the 8200 series) had a better CPU (Intel Core Duo), ATI X1600 graphics, and bigger hard drive than the 4006WLMi — the 8204WLMi was the perfect laptop for me. I told myself that would be my final choice and stopped researching while I waited for Acer to release the notebook.

One day I was at the local bookstore and happened to see the latest PC Gamer magazine issue with the best games of 2006.  I picked it up and started flipping through the pages and there it was — Sager’s ad for their lineup. When I saw the 5720 I ran home to get online to find out more about the laptop. After looking at the specs and reading about it on NotebookForums.com I pulled out my credit card and configured my 5720 that night!

Sager 5720 top view closed (view larger image)

Where and How Purchased

I ordered my Sager 5720 from PCTorque.com after looking up their ratings on ResellerRatings.com.  The online configuration and ordering process was a breeze.  The total came out to $2,683 plus the second 1GB of RAM from NewEgg for $85.  I placed the order on Sunday, January the 28th and received it on Friday, February 4th. Thanks PCTorque for the fast service!

Build & Design

When I pulled the 5720 from the box, my first impression was to notice that it is built like a rock. It really feels solid — there’s no flex in any part of the construction. The hinges look and feel very strong and the notebook opens/closes with reassuring resistance and no wobbling.  The top cover gives adequate protection to the screen — I had to push pretty hard on the back to get any ripple on the screen. Overall, the case looks and feels high quality.

Screen

The screen is one of my favorite features of the laptop! The WSXGA+ is the perfect resolution for a 17″ screen — it gives you enough room to multi-task without having to squint. Also, I can play most games on the native WXSGA resolution, whereas if I’d chosen a WUXGA resolution screen not many games would be as playable at max settings or even support such a resolution.

Desktop view (view larger image)

The fact that the screen is glossy is also great in most cases. It really brings out the contrast in photographs, movies, and games. Everything looks more “intense” compared to a matte (anti-glare) screen. The only downside to this is the glare you get from bright light sources in the room or outside.

Notice the glossy screen is brilliant, but does have a fair amount of reflection (view larger image)

There is absolutely no light leakage on the bottom of the screen like you would see on most Dell Inspiron 9300’s. The screen is evenly lit throughout.

I also like the 1.3MP camera built in above the screen, it’s great for video chat through MSN Messenger.

One complaint I have is that I got mine with one dead pixel in the center area of the screen. It’s not a huge deal and I did not send it back because it’s only visible if you look for it; otherwise it does not bother me at all.

Speakers

The sound out of the speakers is decent. The SRS really helps with the surround effect, but I like the sound on an HP dv8000 I tried better than the sound I get from the 5270. Also, it seems that the left speaker puts out more volume than the right with the balance in the middle. Not sure why that is.

I did receive my 5720 with the infamous hissing noise in the headphones (this is a known issue for the 5720 series notebook, as reported by most owners), but I was prepared with my Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro — a small USB audio card that looks like a thumbs drive. This solution works like magic to get rid of headphone hissing, and it only costs $23.

Processor and Performance

The Pentium M 2.13GHz, 2GB RAM, and the 7200RPM HD provide very responsive performance. Windows boots up very quickly, new applications start instantaneously, and it never hangs for more that a couple seconds when performing intensive tasks.

CPU-Z (view larger image)

Now the good part — the 7800 GTX graphics card! It blows every game away on max settings and native resolution. So far, I’ve played Half-Life 2, FEAR, and Battlefield 2. I was able to play HL2, Counter-Strike: Source, and Battlefield 2 at native resolution (1680×1050) with everything set to high and 8xAA! Those three look fantastic! I didn’t like FEAR and uninstalled it after playing for 20 min, but it was smooth as butter as well at max settings. Also, the 7200RPM hard drive really speeds up the load time for the games as well.

Half Life 2 Runs like a charm on the 5720

Benchmarks

Here are the results for the benchmarks I ran so far with ForceWare 81.94 drivers without tweaking or overclocking:

The program 3DMark05 was run to measure 3D Graphics performance results to other notebooks, as you can see from the table below, the Sager 5720 and its Go 7800 GTX card tower over the competition in terms of 3D performance.

Notebook  3DMark 05 Results
 Sager 5720 (2.13GHz Pentium M, nVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX 256MB)  6,830 3DMarks
 Lenovo ThinkPad Z60m (2.0GHz Pentium M, ATI X600 128MB)  1,659 3DMarks
ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)  727 3DMarks
 Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)  2,530 3D Marks
 Quanta KN1 (1.86 GHz Pentium M, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 128mb)  2,486 3DMarks
 HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)  2,536 3D Marks
 Dell Inspiron XPS 2 (2.0GHz Pentium M, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6800 Ultra with 256MB)  5112 3D Marks

The program Super Pi was run to calculate the number Pi to 2-million digits of accuracy, this is a good way of simply forcing the processor to do work to calculate a number and deriving performance from the time it takes to achieve the end goal.  Below are the results from running this program on the 5270 and how it compares to other notebooks.

Notebook Time
Sager NP5720-C  (2.13GHz Pentium M) 1m 40s
 Dell XPS M140 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 41s
 Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 53s
 IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s
 Asus Z70A (1.6GHz Pentium M)  1m 53s
 Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)  1m 48s
 Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  1m 52s
 Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  2m 10s
 HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 39s
 HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)  1m 53s
 Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s

Below are benchmark results gained from running PCMark04 and 3DMark05, the results of the XPS M140 are compared to an HP dv4000 15.4″ screen notebook with a dedicated ATI Radeon X700 graphics card.  Notice the dv4000 scores way higher on graphics related tests, highlighting the fact the M140 will not do well on graphics intense software.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is great — the keys feel smooth and solid. The layout took a couple days to get used to from using a standard keyboard, but there are no major complaints so far. I like having the num pad as well, this is quite rare to find on a notebook.

Keyboard view (view larger image)

Num Pad view

The media controls on the front of the notebook are a welcome addition. So far, I’ve only used the volume buttons, but I can see myself using the laptop to play CD’s without booting up at some point. One thing I’ve noticed is that those dedicated volume keys don’t work in games.

Volume keys

There are also three convenience buttons at top of the keyboard — one opens up your default email application, second is for the browser, and the third can be configured for a most-used program.

The touchpad quality does not match the rest of the laptop. The sensitivity seems very low and a pain to adjust, but I use my Logitec G5 Laser mouse 99% of the time, so it’s not a big deal at all.

Input and Output Ports:

  • Type II PCMCIA Slot
  • 4-in-1 Card Reader
  • InfraRed Wireless Interface
  • Speakers out / Mic in ports
  • 1 IEEE-1394 Port
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 S/PDIF out
  • 1 DVI out port
  • 1 RJ-45 port
  • 1 RJ-11 port
  • 1 S-Video TV-out port
  • 1 Serial port
  • 1 TV-in Port (with optional TV tuner)

Left and right side views of the 5720 (view larger image)

Front and back side views of the 5720 (view larger image)

Wireless

The 5720 uses Intel’s PRO Wirless card, which supports a/b/g networks. The speed is excellent with my LinkSys router that sits downstairs from my location when using the Sager 5270. IR is also included as well as the optional Bluetooth module I had installed.

Battery

I didn’t really expect to get good battery life out of this monster machine, nor do I need it. When I unplugged the power, the meter gave me 1:08 of life on the battery with the CPU running at 2.13. There are some options to have the CPU drop to a lower frequency when unplugged, but I have not played with those setting as I keep mine plugged in at all times.

Operating System and Software

Sager gives you the option to either have Microsoft XP Pro, XP Home, or no OS on the notebook at the time of configuration. I had mine shipped with XP Professional because that’s one of my school’s requirements. The 5720 came preloaded with all the necessary drivers for installed hardware and was mostly up to date with Microsoft’s Update application. There was no unnecessary junk that would require reformatting. The recovery CD was also included.

Customer Support

As I mentioned, the order process was a breeze through PCTorque. As for warranties, I kept the standard 1-year from Sager but added the 2-year Accidental Warranty for $155 just in case. I’ve never had to use a warranty on anything I’ve owned so I did not really read up on everything that’s covered, but the policy page on PCTorque’s website covers the details.

Complaints

  • The dead pixel was a bit of a disappointment after laying out $2700, but again, it’s not a deal-breaker for me.
  • The hissing noise from the headphone using the on-board sound card. I wish Sager would respond to this known issue by now.
  • Heavier than I would like
  • The volume controls not working in games, but I might be able to fix this with drivers when I have more time

Praises

  • Quick build time from PCTorque
  • Great build quality
  • Excellent screen
  • Best price for the components
  • Good keyboard
  • Screaming gaming performance
  • Fast HD

Conclusion

Overall, I am really happy with my choice. The Sager 5720 turned out to be everything I expected and more. I would recommend this machine to buyers who are looking to bust out the latest games without a professional looking laptop. 


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