Zepto 6625WD Review

by Reads (35,061)

by Jessica Gardner

Zepto is well known in Europe for offering supremely powerful gaming machines in small packages. Their recent 14.1" 6224W has proven to be a great performer in games offering the latest 8600M GT graphics card in a 14.1" package. The 6625WD is the bigger brother of the 6224W using a 15.4" platform and the same Santa Rosa platform with its associated hardware and also the same Nvidia graphics card. In the 15.4" market however the 6625WD will have to fend off a lot of competition especially from Dell, who are the other major manufacturer to offer such options for customisation at an accessible price in Europe.


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The above is driven by Intel’s most powerful mobile CPU, the Core 2 Duo T7700 at 2.4GHz with 800MHz FSB and 4MB of level 2 cache.

Zepto 6625WD specs as reviewed:

  • Processor: Intel T7700 cpu at 2.4GHz, 4MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB
  • Memory: 2GB (2x1GB) DDR2-667 ram
  • Hard Drive: 100GB 7200rpm HDD
  • Graphics: Nvidia Geforce 8600M GT 512MB GDDR2
  • Optical Drive: DVD-RW/DL
  • Wireless: Zepto Zpro (Atheros) ABG wireless
  • Screen: 15.4" WSXGA+ (1680*1050) screen
  • Slots: Card reader, Expresscard
  • Battery: 6-cell battery

Build and Design:

Design is always a matter of taste and Zepto’s recent designs split opinion on whether they are modern and chic or rather old fashioned. The 6625WD is a mix of Retro and modern, with cool blue lights instead of the traditional red orange and green LEDs. The design is basically simple and uncluttered with a mix of straight edges and small curves. Overall it reminds one of the Dell Vostro series especially in the shape of the screen assembly but has rather more character. The white keyboard will not be to everyone’s taste, the blue stickers dictating the function key commands reminding one of IBM keyboards of the early 1990s. Personally I like the design very much. The 6625WD certainly stands out amongst the crowd. The DVD drive placement is much more intuitive than the smaller 6224W sitting almost flush to the side of the machine.

In terms of size and weight it is very similar to most 15.4" machines, the only hint of it’s power being the imposing screen. Otherwise it’s reasonably thin, similar to that of my own Toshiba pictured later in this review and is also similar in weight to most 15.4" machines. Both these aspects are impressive given the power of the laptop.

What is rather less appealing is a rather obvious build quality issue in one area. The keyboard has a noticeable hump towards the left hand side of the middle making typing awkward and affecting the overall look of the machine. I would expect this is nothing more than an ill fitting part and Zepto could and hopefully will sort this problem quickly.

Other than this small blemish, the overall build is excellent. The base section submits to no flex whatsoever, a pleasing improvement over the 6624W. The exterior plastics are solid, robust and feel expensive. In terms of build the 6625WD in general feels much more IBM than budget, something that could not be said for the 6224W. Zepto have made some serious effort with this machine and it really shows.

Screen:

Simply put, the screen on the Zepto 6625WD is one of the best if not the best I have ever had the pleasure to use. One might expect that WSXGA+ resolution (1680*1050) on a 15.4" screen would make text and icons unreadable, especially in Windows XP but this is not the case at all. The excellent clarity and contrast of this screen makes viewing small text and icons no harder than it would be on most WXGA screens at a normal desk viewing position. The brightness of this screen is also very impressive. In games one feels that one is actually outside when the game situation is outside such is the brightness of the screen, however the excellent contrast means that the brightness is not overpowering. Colours are sharp, bright and vivid and the large resolution offers lots of space for photoshop work and multiple application windows making this a possible workstation or business machine as well. A comparison with a Toshiba Satellite with a matte screen shows the brightness and contrast of the Zepto’s panel.


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One small issue is that ripples are rather too easy to cause on the screen just by touching the assembly anywhere, but the lack of flex of the screen assembly belays any fears of bad quality in this area. The hinges lack any discernable wobble and the base of the laptop lifts up two or thee inches when the screen is opened without holding the base down.

Performance and Benchmarking:

With a Geforce 8600M GT 512MB and The latest and greatest Intel Core 2 Duo CPU the 6625WD will most likely be bought by avid gamers and power users. Performance and Benchmark tests will be done with that fact in mind.

wPrime

wPrime is a multi-threaded CPU benchmark calculating 38 million digits of pi using both CPU cores simultaneously.

Laptop/cpu Time (s)
Zepto Znote 6625WD (Core 2 Duo T7700 @ 2.4GHz) 38.077
Zepto Znote 6224W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 45.788
Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500) 37.705
Alienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz) 38.327
Hewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 38.720
Acer Travelmate 8204WLMi (Core Duo T2500 @ 2.0GHz) 42.947

Similarly to the 6224W, the 6625WD posts scores in wPrime that show the advantages of the new Santa Rosa Core 2 Duo CPUs over older versions of both Intel and AMD’s mobile dual core CPUs, however it falls behind when compared to other machines running the same or similar Santa Rosa CPUs. The Lenovo T61 and another with the T7500 have posted better scores than the Zepto with the T7700. Having said that the T7700 still provides awesome power, but due to heat considerations might not be worth the extra money.


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PCMark05

The 6625WD scored 5,123 PC marks. Check out the rundown of the score here:


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3Dmark05

Test run at 1024*768 resolution with no Anti-aliasing.

Laptop/Graphics Card Score
Zepto Znote 6625WD (Nvidia Geforce 8600M GT 512MB) 6,047
Asus G1 (Nvidia Geforce go 7700 512MB) 4,247
Dell Precision M70 (Nvidia Geforce go 7800GTX 256MB) 5,547
Clevo M570k (Nvidia Geforce go 7900GTX 512MB SLI) 10,515
Toshiba Satellite Pro P105 (Nvidia Geforce go 7900GS 256MB) 6,209
Asus Z84JP (Nvidia Geforce go 7600 512MB) 3,107

The 8000 series Nvidia cards seem to be worthy upgrades from the previous generation. The 8600M GT scores nearly double that of the equivalent model in the previous generation (Geforce go 7600) and is on par with some of the most powerful cards from the previous 7000 series cards, topping the 7800s and almost catching the 7900s.

See the full run down of the Zepto’s score here:


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3Dmark06

Test run at 1280*1024 with no Anti-aliasing.

Laptop/Graphics Card Score
Zepto Znote 6625WD (Nvidia Geforce 8600M GT) 3017
Zepto Znote 6224W (Nvidia Geforce 8600M GT) 3273
Zepto Znote 6214W (Nvidia Geforce go 7600 512MB) 2203
Samsng R70 (Nvidia Geforce 8600M GS 256MB) 2782
Dell Inspiron 1520 (Nvidia Geforce 8600M GT 256MB) 2984
Dell Inspiron 9400 (Nvidia Geforce go 7900GS 256MB) 3603

In 3dmark06 as well as 3dmark05 the 8600M GT shows significant gain over the previous model Zepto and previous generation Nvidia cards. The lower score than the 6224W is somewhat surprising, but this is because of the 1280*1024 reolution the basic test runs at. At 1280*800 the 6625WD clocks up around 3500 in 3dmark06.


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Game tests: Battlefield 2, F.E.A.R. Combat and Bioshock (demo)

The 6625WD shows the difference here between GPU and CPU dependant games. Whilst having the same graphics card as the 6224W, the 6625WD running with higher native resolution did not manage to equal the awesome FPS of the 6224W in battlefield 2. Maximum was just over 50fps and the game lagged a bit when there was a lot going on in close proximity especially when you get killed. Better to turn the settings down from maximum for BF2 or maybe just reduce the resolution to non-native. This was played at otherwise the same settings as on the 6224W namely maximum in game settings and 2x Anti-aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering.


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F.E.A.R. Combat however ran better than on the 6224W even at higher native resolution. The 6225WD managed over 40 fps in places with an average of 10-15 fps more than the 6224W. The T7700 CPU was very effective here. This was again played at Native resolution with maximum graphics settings and 2x Anti-aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering.


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The demo of Bioshock runs impressively on the Zepto. Anticipating some serious graphics I ran it at full at only 1280*800 and it still only managed between 10 and 20 fps. That is more Bioshock than the Zepto though, as the graphics in the game are very intense. What is more impressive is that even at such low fps the game felt smooth. It wasn’t laggy or jerky at all and looked fantastic. Bioshock is indeed very playable on the 6625WD. The game is reported to run somewhat slower than the demo though, so users should expect medium settings at 1280*800 running well.


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Keyboard and Touchpad:

As was noted above, the keyboard does suffer from a rather unfortunate build issue, at least on the test machine.


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The touchpad is similar to that of the 6224W, being part of the chassis of the laptop but in this case is slightly sunken in to the surface of the base. The rectangular shape is much more useful considering the widescreen format and the touchpad is large and sensitive with designated scroll areas (not that I think you would ever need them considering the screen resolution). The tough plastic of the chassis is none too kind on the fingers but this machine will largely be used with an external mouse so this is of little issue. The touchpad is of simple yet effective design and is intuitive and well thought out, with no settings needing altering after first boot.


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Input and Output Ports

The Zepto 6625WD offers everything one would expect and perhaps a little more in this area.

On the front edge of the laptop are the media buttons, placed in the centre. These have a pleasing click action and work well. Also located on the front is the IR receiver.


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On the left side of the laptop are two of the four USB ports, firewire, card reader, expresscard, wired LAN and modem ports. The blocked off port is for the optional TV card.


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On the right hand side of the laptop are the remaining two of four USB ports and sound controls, namely headphone and mic ports and the +/- buttons for the volume control. Splitting sound and USB is the DVD re-writer.


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The rear edge of the laptop features VGA and S-video along with space for a lock.


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Audio and Speakers

Another point where the 6625WD excels is in sound. Laptops are rarely considered to have speakers or sound cards on par with desktop systems, however the 6625WD makes a good shot of it. The Realtek High Definition sound card is very impressive. With EAX enabled on Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield the card gives varying sound depending on the surroundings, for example echo in chasms, muffled sounds from far away. The card adds real atmosphere to games and is an excellent addition. My only complaint was the software control panel for the card, which I found rather fiddly to use.


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The speakers are much better than most laptop speakers. Sited just above the keyboard the usual tinniness is kept to a minimum and they offer impressive volume with only a slight lack of definition and bass letting them down, but this is to be expected with most laptops except perhaps the Acer 5920. Overall they give good quality and volume for such small units and one could easily use them for watching films and playing music, which although not at the best quality would be able to drown out background noise with ease. These speakers would certainly disturb people in the room next door if they were trying to sleep etc. which is something that can’t be said for many laptop speakers.

Wireless and Networking

Zepto offer three wireless network solutions with the 6625WD. The first is their own Zpro 300Mbit ABGN card, which came with the test machine. The others are Intel Pro wireless cards, 3945 ABG and 4965 AGN cards. The test machine was connected to two wireless networks during the test, a 64-bit WEP encrypted network and a WPA network and handled both connecting processes quickly and without fuss. It stayed connected throughout without dropping connections or giving any lag in online play.

An aspect of this that wasn’t so good was that the Zepto’s wireless seems to make my wireless access point drop its connection. My wireless setup has been used with three other wireless cards of varying types (USB, PCMCIA and internal mini PCI) and it has given no problems. The router is an older model though and may be struggling with the newer cards, but this was still rather mystifying and certainly very annoying.

Heat and Noise

Unlike the 6224W, the 6625WD was quiet straight out of the box. The fan is generally very quiet being eclipsed by my other notebooks and very rarely needs to work below minimum even during games. When it does come on at higher speeds it has the familiar turbine sound of modern fans but is not overly loud.

The T7700 CPU in the Zepto idles around 50 degrees C and goes up to 70+ degrees C under load. During the 1024M test of wPrime the CPU temperature went up to 82 degrees C but no higher with the fan on full speed. Even with the fan on full it was not overly loud, not being audible over the sound of the fan on one of my own laptops on full load. The hard disk stays around 44-45 degrees C after extended use and doesn’t appear to get any hotter even under load. Considering this is a very high-end CPU these temperatures are not surprising but the CPU temperature is cause for concern. Whilst this is still 15-20 degrees C under maximum this means that the laptop itself will get very hot and if one of the vents were covered it could easily overheat and shut down.


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OS and Software

Zepto offer both Windows XP and Vista on even their latest machines such as this. The 6625WD test machine reviewed here came with Windows XP Pro, but Home is also offered, as are all the versions of Vista n either 32-bit or 64-bit pre-installed. You can also opt for no OS to be pre-installed should you wish to use an OS you already have. This is an excellent display of flexibility and customisation options on behalf of Zepto and should be celebrated. All drivers supplied by Zepto for Windows XP worked perfectly even for the newer hardware.

There is also a distinct lack of bloatware with no utilities or managers etc. that one would find on a Toshiba. Zepto offer a modest selection of useful software such as CD/DVD writing and MS office on their website.

The only software related issues I have come across is resuming from standby and hibernation, neither of which work reliably. Hibernation fails utterly, halting the laptop and displaying a myriad of strange colours on the screen until switched off. Standby seems to work apart from the fact that the screen stays blank. These problems may well be addressed in a BIOS update.

Battery

On power saving mode doing basic tasks such as IM and browsing the Zepto managed two hours and 25 minutes on it’s six-cell battery. This is very impressive for such a powerful machine and some undervolting and careful power management could give even better results. This is still not quite enough for a full film as the optical drive takes up more power and gaming on the battery really shouldn’t be attempted, but Zepto do offer a mighty 12-cell battery which would give it good mobile flexibility for such a powerful machine.

Conclusion

The 6625WD is one of the most capable 15.4" gaming machines available at the moment. The customisation options in hadware and software make it one of the most flexible options for power users in Europe alongside Dell’s latest Inspiron 1520 and Vostro 1500. It is incredibly powerful, well made, looks great, has good support and will thrill gamers all over with it’s power and superb screen. There are a few small design issues which Zepto need to look into, but once these are sorted this will make an ideal package for mobile gamers everywhere.

Pros

  • Impressive gaming performance
  • Fantastic screen
  • Distinctive design
  • Quiet
  • Nice touchpad
  • Excellent speakers and sound card
  • Available with Windows XP
  • Solid general build quality

Cons

  • Prone to overheating
  • Keyboard build quality is low
  • WSXGA+ resolution is the only option
  • Standby/hibernation is temperamental


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