Sager Notebook call themselves “The Portable Power People”. This is right on, as Sager provides some of the strongest, most powerful notebooks around. As a bonus, they provide these colossal machines at dirt cheap prices compared to other boutique notebook companies. The notebook I’m reviewing today will be the Sager NP9750V. Equipped with the latest graphics cards, dual core 64 bit processors, optional dual optical drives, dual hard drives in a RAID array, all on a gorgeous 17 inch screen with resolutions up to 1920×1200, the 9750 is a beastly giant in the top gaming notebooks of today.
Here are the specs of my 9750 as reviewed:
- OS: Windows XP Pro
- Display: 17″ WUXGA+ (1920 x 1200) Active Matrix , Glare-Type Display
- Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ (2.2 GHz; L2 Cache: 1MB x 2)
- Memory: 2048 MB DDR SDRAM Dual Channel @ 400 MHz
- Graphics card: nVidia GeForce 7900 GTX with 512 MB
- Hard Drive: 200 (2×100) GB 7200 RPM in RAID 0
- Optical Drive: 8X DVD R/RW / 4X+Dual Layer / 5X DVD-RAM / CD-RW Multi Drive (Pioneer DVR-k16)
- Chipset: VIA K8T890 + VT8237A
- Dimensions: 15.5″ x 11.75″ x 1.95″
- Weight: 12.5 lbs. w/battery
- Built-in PC Camera: 1.3 Mega Pixels
- Network: Built in 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet / LAN Network Card
- Wireless: WiFi Lan Card 802.11g (54 mbps)
- Bluetooth: Internal Bluetooth
- Card Readers: 7 in 1 Card Reader
- PCMCIA: 1 PCMCIA slot
- Battery: 12 cell Smart Lithium
Reasons for Buying:
Research and Alienware
Before purchasing my laptop I went through months of research. At first, I told myself I’d only spend about $2,000. I was first going to buy a Tablet PC. As an art student I thought a Tablet PC would be convenient for me. I would have my Wacom tablet right on my laptop! As I continued my research, however, I got more and more obsessed with power and decided that I was just going to get the biggest, meanest, and toughest rig I could. Plus, Tablet PCs are stilled geared more towards traditional college students and business people. They are still not built for or very good for art majors and their purposes. So, I actually first purchased an Alienware Aurora m7700 for $3500 (I won’t get into my horrible experiences with Alienware). A few weeks later, of course I learned about Sager. Sager’s 9750 is the same computer as the Aurora m7700. Both are built on the Clevo D900K. The only difference was, for UNDER what I paid for the Alienware, I could actually nearly max out every option available on the system. So, I sold my Alienware on eBay for more than the purchase price and brought my business to Sager. With similar configurations, I saved over $1,300 by not sticking with Alienware.
Future Proofing and Power:
Future proofing to the best of my ability was a major concern of mine as well. I was spending over $3,000.00 on my computer and wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be totally obsolete in two months. The 9750 provided me with a graphics card that was so up to date, I actually had to wait two weeks before it was even released on my machine. The processor is dual core and ready for the future of multi threaded processing. Also, the Athlon 64 X2 is already 64 bit and Windows Vista ready. This was a major factor in choosing the 9750 over the Sager 5760 because I didn’t want to have to spend extra time and money to upgrade the 64 bit Core 2 Duo (Merom) when it came out.
I am an Illustration Major at the Ringling School of Art and Design. I need to run a lot of taxing programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter, and other art based/media programs (yes, I know…art students usually get Macs. I hate Macs though). Also, I’d be doing a little gaming as well. Not too much gaming, but I thought I’d like to be able to if I ever so chose to do more hardcore gaming (I’m quite interested in trying out F.E.A.R) Basically, I need a tough computer that’d be able to run all my art programs and run some games on the side without hesitation. Add that with my hunger for more power and there was no other choice than the Sager NP9750V. I gave Mathew at www.discountlaptops.com many calls and finally, my dream machine was ordered.
Build and Design:
In holding, handling, picking up the 9750, I could immediately tell that it was a solid machine. This is one tough notebook. I pressed down with some force all over the notebook and there was minimal to no flex about it. It feels like I’d have to take a hammer to it for it to bust. Though it still feels strong, the screen does flex a little more than I’d like, however. This is probably due to the fact that it’s a very large 17 inch screen with only two hinges. This problem would probably be solved with a third hinge in the center to accommodate the large widescreen display.
The Sager 9750 is made with some high quality, resilient black plastic. The lid of the display is made of what I believe to be more hard plastic made to look like metal. It’s a shiny metallic casing, contrasting the rest of the black of the notebook nicely. In the middle of the lid is a black bubbled square housing the brand name “Sager” inside. The look of the notebook has been growing on me, especially because I like the contrast of the metallic lid, but I must admit that after owning that Alienware, I’m a little disappointed in its looks. Of course, this is probably the most trivial issue.
This screen is delicious one! At 1920×1200 the resolution is the clearest I’ve seen in any screen thus far. It’s absolutely beautiful. The size of fonts and what not took a little getting used to since the resolution made it all so small. I did discover that you could easily up the size of fonts and windows without sacrificing resolution by increasing your DPI setting. I opted to stick with the normal sizes, however, because I like having more room on my screen. I was fortunate enough to have a screen with zero dead pixels. Light leakage was also not an issue.
Camera and Microphone:
One of the first things I did was play with the built in 1.3 mega pixel camera. I was psyched about it because it was an additional $200 for this screen with camera on the Alienware, and thus didn’t opt for it. I have an older web camera that I’ve had for maybe 5 years now. Seeing the difference of this camera was quite an experience. I couldn’t help but smile. The quality is so clear. It records beautifully, doesn’t skip, and has very minimal graininess. I was disappointed that I couldn’t take any still images with it though.
When I used my camera, I tried to record video and sound. I discovered the built in microphone wasn’t working and would need to be set up. After several minutes of figuring it out, I got the mic working. It’s a great extra option to have, though I do wish it captured sound a little better. The receiver is a little hole at the bottom of the screen and talking normally will give you a recording that sounds like you’re about 3 feet away from the mic. You really have to speak up to be heard clearly.
Processor Speed and Performance:
Initially, I was a little worried about my processor. AIM froze up on me twice and Black and White 2 hesitated for about 30 seconds when I tried to save it. These were all software issues though, which I easily fixed with updates for the respective programs.
My desktop has a 3.4 GHz Pentium 4 with HT. The Athlon 64 X2 4400+ blows my Pentium 4 out of the water. It took me a while to really understand my processor and its dual cores. I posted several questions about it (among other things) in the forums on NotebookReview.com and with the help of many, I learned a lot. Set to default power setting, both of my cores are defaulted to use only 1 GHz of speed to save power. However, whenever I run any taxing program where more speed is needed, my cores automatically shoot up to its full 2.4 GHz. This is an excellent feature. I ran Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter, AIM, MSN Messenger, Notebook Hardware Control, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Black and White 2 all at the same time and the 9750 didn’t miss a beat. It ran all of the programs efficiently and effectively. I am positive I could have run many more programs, but I couldn’t think of anything else to open!
Just to throw this in — with my Comcast Cable internet connection and this processor/computer, my downloads are averaging speeds from 400-600 KB a second. Now that’s fast.
Of course my performance was boosted by the hotfix I performed with the help and advice of forum member Gophn. The hotfix is meant to ensure you’re getting the most of your dual cores. His hotfix thread can be read here: http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=60416
I haven’t got many games thus far to benchmark, but I did run some standard 3DMark scores. My scores were nothing less than impressive. I ran 3DMark 05 and 06 nearly immediately after getting my computer without installing much of anything. At first I got very respectable scores of 8,389 in 3DMark05 and 4,660 in 3DMark06. I ran my tests twice afterwards. The first test you see will be with my 7900 GTX card’s visual settings set to Quality (Default setting), and the second will be set to Performance. I didn’t really see a difference in visual and speed quality from either setting, but my scores did rise with the setting set to performance.
Remember, the 3DMark scores were run twice. The First is under “Quality” and the second is “Performance”.
PCMark05 Comparison Results
Sager NP9750V (AMD Turion X2 2.2GHz)
|Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo)||3,487 PCMarks|
|Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60)||5,597 PCMarks|
|Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||3,637 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron e1405 (1.66 GHz Intel T2300)||2,879 PCMarks|
|Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400)||3,646 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite M70 (Pentium M 1.86GHz)||1,877 PCMarks|
Super Pi Comparison Results
Sager NP9750V (AMD Turion X2 2.2GHz)
Asus W3H760DD (2.0 GHz Pentium M)
Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo)
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)
Toshiba Satellite M100 (2.00GHz Core Duo)
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo)
Dell XPS M140 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
Internet myth will have it that since the 9750 has desktop processors and desktop level video cards, the machine will run VERY hot. Obviously this is untrue. This machine actually runs quite cool. Notebook Hardware control tells me that my computer stays an average of 44 C when power settings are at Portable/Laptop and my cores run at 1Ghz, which is most of the time. When my cores kick in to 2.2 GHz, the temperature bumps up to about 52 C. Still, not that hot. I even hold the notebook on my lap sometimes and it never makes my legs or arms very hot. It gets warm of course, but any notebook I’ve ever held got warm after some time of holding it when it’s powered on. My fans barely ever even have to kick in, and when they do it’s just for a short second or two. Myth put to rest, the 9760 runs cool.
The 7900 GTX card is located right under the left palm rest. The vent for it blows air down and out the left side. This can, however, get a little warm. It’s not necessarily HOT, but it can get pretty warm. After playing Black and White 2 for a couple hours, I noticed that the surface my notebook was on was quite hot. This was due to the CPU’s air vents pointing down (as to not blow hot air in your face). This was to be expected though, with such a powerful GPU and playing a video game for several hours straight. Even then, it was not unbearably hot.
Usually I don’t even notice the noise coming from the computer. It’s such a soft and light whirl sound that it’s typically just dismissed. It’s actually sort of soothing in a sense. In any case, as I said before, my fans RARELY have to turn on and when it does, it’s just for a second or two. When the fans turn on, the noise is more noticeable but not loud. The 9750 is a cool and quiet machine.
I love this keyboard. I never really liked typing on notebook keyboards, but for some reason I got used to this keyboard quickly. It’s a full sized keyboard. That’s right; it actually has a full number key pad, unlike most notebooks. I love the number key pad. The keyboard has a bunch of other optional features as well. Those three silver buttons you see in that image there next to the power button can be used for quick access to the internet, email, or whatever. The F number keys can use as quick function keys to change volume, LCD brightness, and so on. The 9750 keyboard makes doing lots of tasks much easier with all of nice little short cuts.
This is pretty standard stuff. Not much to talk about here. The touchpad is a mouse replacement. I only use it when I’m too lazy to whip out my mouse. It’s easy to use like any other touchpad, but no touchpad will be easier or more efficient than a mouse. I do like the up/down scroll on the left of the touch pad. This makes for easy scrolling in pages that are as long as I’m sure this review is. Also, something a little harder to figure out and use, but still a nice addition. If you press down for a second at the bottom of the touchpad, you can use that as a side to side scroller. I found that out by accident since it’s not a function that’s clearly marked. The left and right buttons are self explanatory.
I actually have some problems with this feature. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the audio DJ, and it does make it nice and easy to see the time on your computer, but the angle of the buttons makes it a bit hard to use. Unlike the 5760, this Audio DJ is completely vertical, following the rectangular shape of the notebook. Since it is vertical, it makes it harder to find the right button and use it. Also, the buttons are pretty flat against the surface so it’s hard to find the right button/’function in dim light. Once you get used to it though, you can really put the buttons to use. From left to right, on the left side of the display screen, the buttons are Power, Previous Track/Rewind, Next Track/Fast Forward, and Shuffle. On the right side they are Play/Pause, Stop/Eject, Volume Down, and Volume Up. A nice addition to the laptop, even if it is hard to use.
The 9750 is well equipped with input and output ports. There’s really not much to say about them, so I’ll just list what’s available and show some diagrams. I will say that the plug ins are upside down. Some people have complained that it’s confusing, but I don’t think so. I can’t say I understand why they did that, but who cares? It’s not that hard to flip your USB upside down. Half the time it takes me a second to find out which way I’m supposed to plug things in anyway. I’ve noticed no difference.
As shown in the diagrams, the 9750 comes with 4 speakers and a mini subwoofer. Two speakers are on the sides of the keyboard, two on the side of the Audio DJ and the subwoofer at the bottom of the notebook. Honestly, the sound quality isn’t that great. It’s not BAD though. I’ve never seen a laptop with built in amazing surround sound, so let’s be fair. The sound is a little grainy, I guess but clear enough. At max volume, the speakers won’t make your ears bleed, but they do get pretty loud. If you’re a music buff like I am though, I suggest you invest in some external speakers.
There’s been question about the quality of sound through headphones. So, I tested the jack out on two different headphones. I tried them on a pair of Sony headphones (the kind that wraps over your ear) and then Seinheiser headphones with attached microphone for online gaming. Both headphones gave the same results.
Some have said the headphones give off a hissing noise. This is untrue, yet not totally. I tested out the headphones with my favorite, metal. Then I tested them out with some simple classical music, blues, rock, and some others. The easiest to talk about are metal and classical. I found that it’s not the headphones or the jack that’s the problem. It’s the drum cymbals in the music that gives off that hissing noise.
In the classical music I listened to, there were no drums and I got no interference or hissing from this music. When I listened to anything with drums however, I heard it. I knew what it was almost immediately. You see the cymbals on drums have a high pitch and they will always ring a little for a while after being hit (vibration), unless manually stopped. That’s what the speakers/headphones picks up on.
The hissing noise is not really all that bad though. It’s something easily dismissed. I have a theory for a solution though. I can’t do it on my unit because I have the basic sound card, I think. But if you had a better sound card with some sound options, just turn down the treble a bit. This should get rid of some of that hissing noise produced by the drum cymbals.
The 9750 comes with a built in wireless card 802.11g (54 mbps). It’s very easy to use. My network was already set up in my home, so as soon as I turned my computer on I was connected to the internet.
I opted to have bluetooth in my system since, let’s face it; bluetooth will just keep becoming more useful and important in the future. I could only test my bluetooth with my cellular phone because as of yet, that’s the only other bluetooth device I have. It was very easy to connect my phone and computer via bluetooth. The bluetooth program pretty much walks you through it. As long as both devices have bluetooth turned on, it’s all gravy from there. It was a bit confusing at first to figure out how to send files from my computer to phone, but I got it soon enough. Sending files from my phone to computer however was child’s play. Really though, it’s all simple stuff that needs no explanation.
Other than the OS, XP Pro in my case, Bluetooth, and Wireless, the 9750 also comes with some other useful software. It comes with Nero Startsmart which is great for burning CDs and DVDs and InterVideo Win DVD which I have yet to try out. Other than that, Sagers come junkware free. How sweet is that? Unlike Dells or HPs, there’s no need to waste time deleting all that junk software that comes with a new PC like AOL.
Let’s be honest, if you buy this notebook you’re looking for a Desktop Replacement computer. That’s exactly what this is. This computer of mine is actually even BETTER than most normal desktops. Better than my old Dell Desktop at least. Much faster too. In any case, I let my notebook just sit there on battery power without doing much to it and it lasted over 3 hours, surprisingly. However, for normal use on battery power I got just over 1 hour and 38 minutes. Not the best for portability, but like I said…this computer is meant for power, not portability. It’s got all the power and at least it’s still 100 times more portable than your desktop.
Thus far I have been very happy. I haven’t had any problems. I spoke with Mathew mostly from discount laptops. I called him what must’ve been a hundred times prior to ordering my notebook. Each time he was very patient, friendly, and informative. I was very pleased. I had to call him a few times even after my order was placed and still, after already receiving my order, I was treated like a real special customer. This is unlike my Alienware experience, which again, I won’t get into.
Sager offers lifetime tech support and a standard 1 year warranty. Lifetime tech support? “That’s awesome!” I thought. I tried calling Dell two months after my warranty expired for some simple advice and they wouldn’t even speak to me unless I gave them some money!
If interested in Sager notebooks and interested in speaking with someone about buying one, I suggest you go through a reseller such as discount laptops. You’ll get better prices that way,
If you’re looking for one of the most powerful notebooks, a desktop replacement, and don’t mind carrying a little bit of extra weight, then I strongly recommend Sager NP9750V. It can get pretty pricey, but that’s expected with how much power this thing packs. With the configuration I have, I spent $3,200 total without any extra warranties. And that’s with it just about maxed out. This is still very cheap for what you get compared to other boutique notebook sellers like Alienware, Voodoo PC and Falcon Northwest. Sager is the cheapest boutique notebook dealer I’ve found, with top notch computers and top notch support.
- Unbelievable performance and speed
- Unrivaled (in notebooks) performance for gaming and multi-tasking
- Cool and Quiet
- Amazing Screen
- Great Customer Support
- Low prices for the quality
- Sager does not do the hotfix as explained by Gophn in his Multi Core config thread
- The Audio DJ is difficult to access
- The camera doesn’t take still images
- Microphone records sound poorly