It’s easy to find a gaming laptop that maxes out performance and promises gaming domination, but finding one that delivers for less than two grand is more of a challenge. While we’ve seen plenty of good sub-2K gaming laptops in recent months, the CyberPower FangBook X7-200 offers some of the best performance we’ve seen, leveraging its Intel Core i7-3630QM processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 675MX to deliver a solid gaming experience, and earning our Editors’ Choice for entry-level gaming laptops in the process.
Gaming laptops rarely have subtle designs, and the CyberPower FangBook X7-200 is no exception, with a metallic finish and angular planes across the lid, which make it look like something from a sci-fi movie. The lid features a glowing red CyberPower logo, and the laptop chassis is accented with blue LEDs at the speaker grills and air vents. The chassis itself is mostly plastic, and the whole laptop measures 11.3-by-16.9-by-2.2 inches (HWD). Designed for gaming prowess rather than portability, this beefy laptop weighs a hefty 8.5 pounds alone, with a separate 2.2-pound power adapter.
Open the lid, and you’ll find a layout nearly identical to that of the MSI GX60 1AC-021US or the Maingear Nomad 17 Ultimate—boutique manufacturers generally source their chassis from the same suppliers, so it’s deja vu all over again. The full-size keyboard has a dedicated numeric pad, with red backlight and black chiclet keys, but the keys are very quiet when pressed, so there’s no extraneous sounds interfering with hearing the game. The accompanying touchpad is responsive and accurate, but it doesn’t offer multitouch gesture support—a stray finger tip brushing the trackpad during a heated gaming session would quickly disrupt gameplay if read as a two-fingered gesture.
The buttons, on the other hand, aren’t as well thought-out. The right and left buttons are two ends of a single button bar—a solution which is rarely as good as separate buttons—and the buttons are quite stiff, requiring a bit of pressure to perform what should be an intuitive click.
Above the keyboard is a capacitive strip with several touch controls, including two programmable buttons along with a fan boost, media player hotkey, airplane mode, display off, and soft eject button for the integrated optical drive. Set in the center is a physical power button, and two stereo speakers bookend the top strip of controls. Paired with THX TruStudio Pro audio enhancement, the sound is very good. The speakers are joined by an integrated subwoofer, which provides an additional richness to the sound. But while the sound and volume are good and the subwoofer a nice addition, you’ll still find better sound offered by a decent headset or set of external speakers. Topping off the whole system is a 17.3-inch display with 1,920-by-1,080 resolution, perfect for enjoying games and media in full-HD.
The FangBook X7-200 is outfitted with a decent array of ports and connectors. On the left are three USB 3.0 ports, a 4-in-1 card slot (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC), and audio connectors for headphones, mic, and speakers. On the right are two more USB 2.0 ports, along with a tray loading DVD+-RW multi-drive. On the back of the system, alongside the power connector, you’ll find an Ethernet port, eSATA for connecting older external hard drives, and both VGA and HDMI outputs for connecting a monitor or HDTV. Finally, for the next time you go to a LAN party, the FangBook X7-200 has a lock slot to physically secure it from theft.
The FangBook X7-200 is equipped with a Killer Wireless-N 1202 networking card, providing both 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. A combination of 64GB solid-state drive (SSD) for booting and 750GB, 7,200rpm hard drive for data provide plenty of storage for games and media while also providing zippy performance. CyberPower doesn’t fill the drive with preinstalled bloatware and trialware, just Windows 8 (64-bit) and drivers for the different components. CyberPower also covers the FangBook X7-200 with a one-year warranty with lifetime technical support.
For gaming prowess, the FangBook X7-200 is armed with a 2.4GHz Intel i7-3630QM CPU and 16GB of RAM—the same combination found in the Asus G75VW-DH72—along with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 675MX discrete GPU with 4GB of dedicated memory. The result is a potent mix of processing and graphics performance that can’t be topped for less than $2,000.
It cranked through PCMark 7 with a score of 5,884 points, on par with the Editors’ Choice Origin EON17-SLX (5,886 points) and ahead of top performers like the Maingear Nomad 17 (5,328 points). Cinebench tests were less even, with the FangBook X7-200 scoring 6.38 points, a close second to the Asus G75VW-DH72 (6.44) but falling behind the Origin EON17-SLX (7.44) and the Maingear Nomad 17 (7.19). For a better idea of what these results mean for non-gaming tasks, the FangBook X7-200 tore through our Handbrake and Photoshop multimedia tests in 37 seconds and 3 minutes 45 seconds, respectively.
Perhaps more important than general productivity is gaming performance. In Aliens vs. Predator, the FangBook X7-200 racked up a respectable 76 frames per second (fps) at medium detail settings and 1,366-by-768 resolution, and stayed at a playable 29 fps when resolution was dialed up to 1,920-by-1,080. When tested with Heaven, however, it scored 61 fps at medium settings and a nearly playable 25 fps at 1080p. While it won’t beat systems with multiple graphics cards, like the Origin EON17-SLX, which had triple digit scores thanks to two-way SLI, the FangBook X7-200 still offers competitive performance in any current game, though may need to dial back the eye-candy a notch or two.
Despite having a 9-cell, 87WHr battery, the FangBook X7-200 only lasted 2 hours 12 minutes during our battery rundown test. While this isn’t terribly short—the Origin EON17-SLX (2:21) and Maingear Nomad 17 (1:06) also had short battery life—but both the MSI GX60 1AC-021US (3:51) and Asus G75VW-DH72 (3:02) were able to break the three-hour mark.
While there are a couple things I’d love to change about the CyberPower FangBook X7-200—like the verging-on-tacky design or the short battery life—it still delivers great frame rates, fast performance, and a healthy array of features, all for less than $2000. Thus, it’s no surprise that the CyberPower FangBook X7-200 is replacing the MSI GX60 1AC-021US as our Editors’ Choice for entry-level gaming laptops.
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 675MX|
|Type||Gaming, Desktop Replacement|
|Processor Speed||2.4 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW|
|Screen Size||17.3 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||814 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc