Sager NP8690 Review

by Reads (41,082)

Overview

The Sager NP8690 is a top-end 15.6-inch gaming notebook featuring an Intel Core i7 Extreme processor and Nvidia GTX 280M graphics card. How does the NP8690 measure up to other gaming notebooks? Read on to find out.

Special thanks go out to Justin at XoticPC.com for sending us this unit.

Our Sager NP8690 has the following specifications:

  • 15.6-inch 1080p (1920×1080) display with LED backlighting
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7 920XM processor (2.0GHz/3.2GHz Turbo Mode, 8MB L3 cache)
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M 1GB graphics card
  • 8GB DDR3-1333 RAM (2x 4GB)
  • 500GB 7200RPM hard drive (Seagate Momentus 7200.4/ST9500420AS)
  • Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5300AGN
  • Built-in Bluetooth 2.0+ wireless
  • 8X DVD burner
  • One-year limited warranty
  • 3-cell Li-polymer battery (3800mAh/42.18Wh)
  • Weight: 7.38 lbs
  • Dimensions: 14.75” (W) x 10.0” (D) x 1.65~2.0” (H)
  • MSRP: $3,249

The NP8690 starts at $1,704 however there are several very expensive options on our test unit that bring it north of three thousand. The 920XM Extreme processor commands a $755 premium over the base 720QM processor, 8GB of RAM is an additional $485, and Windows 7 Ultimate is $185. The Nvidia GTX 280M video card is standard.

Build and Design
The NP8690 is visually uninspiring and has a traditional rectangular shape based on the Clevo W860CU. This notebook appears to have been designed without any intention of making it physically attractive as the exterior is quite bland. It is unusually thick for a modern notebook at two inches high and looks chunky. The NP8690 is constructed entirely of plastic, which is slightly thicker than what makes up the construction of most consumer notebooks. The visible surfaces of the notebook and the back of the lid are non-reflective dark gray plastic; the non-reflective surfaces are welcome since they do not show fingerprints or dust like glossy plastic. There is only a small amount of glossy plastic on this notebook: the strip above the keyboard and the screen border.

The NP8690 generally exhibits little flex and the chassis is resistant to twisting. The lid is a weak point: it is easy to twist and ripples appear on the screen when pressure is applied from behind. The hinges are reasonably solid though it does not make up for the lack of strength in the lid itself. Fit and finish is good; all parts fit together with even spacing and there are no unfinished or rough edges.

The build quality is acceptable overall, but on a notebook starting close to $2,000 we would like to see some metal alloys used. Of course, the use of plastics helps the NP8690 remain relatively light at only 7.38 pounds. The bland styling is a dual-edged blade; for those that do not care or do not want to be noticed it is a plus, otherwise it can be a deal-breaker.


Screen and Speakers

The NP8690 has a 15.6-inch LED-backlit screen available in two resolutions: 900p (1600×900) and 1080p (1920×1080); our test unit has the latter. The display has a glossy surface which helps bring colors to life but suffers from reflections as a consequence. There is one word to describe this display: beautiful. Brightness and contrast are excellent; watching high definition videos and playing games are very enjoyable. Viewing angles are above average; horizontally they are near perfect, while from above and below the colors progressively wash out and darken, respectively. The NP8690 has one of the better quality displays we have seen on a modern notebook. The higher resolution is also appreciated; it is rare to find notebooks with more than 1000 pixels of vertical space in this day and age.

The NP8690s two speakers are located above the keyboard. They are typical notebook speakers, sounding tinny with little bass. The best way to enjoy audio is using one of the notebook’s many audio-out options, including HDMI, S/PDIF, and a headphone jack.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The NP8690 features a full-size keyboard with separate numeric keypad. It has one of the new ‘chiclet’ or island-style keyboards, where the keys are raised above the keyboard surface and have more-than-usual spacing. The keyboard has no flex unless significant pressure is used and is relatively quiet if typed upon lightly. It has an unsophisticated and plasticky feel, however the direct action of the keys make precision touch-typing possible. The keyboard has a harder feel than some may be used to; it is not rubbery at all. The keyboard is good for gaming since the keys have enough resistance to allow fingers to rest on them without depressing. We liked the key’s matte surfaces, which provide better traction than glossy keys.

The downside of this keyboard is the lack of dedicated home, end, page up, and page down keys, which are integrated as secondary functions in the arrow keys. If number lock is disabled they can exist as dedicated keys, but then the functionality of the number pad is lost. Speaking of the number pad, it has an odd three-column layout (as opposed to the standard four-column), however all standard keys are present.

The touchpad has a matte surface which is easy to track on with dry and damp fingers alike. The right side of the touchpad is a scroll zone. The buttons, separated by a fingerprint reader, register with a distinctive click are not loud but not quiet either.

Ports and Features
The NP8690 has an extensive array of input and output ports, including HDMI, DVI-I, and eSATA. All picture descriptions are left to right.


Left Side: 56k modem jack, USB, IEEE 1394 mini-Firewire, 7-in-1 media card reader, optical drive


Right Side: Headphone jack, microphone jack, line in, S/PDIF, USB, ExpressCard/54, eSATA, DVI-I


Back: Vent, Kensington lock slot, HDMI, power, 2x USB, Gigabit Ethernet


Front: Battery status, AC power indicators


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