Cyberpower Xplorer X6-9120 review

For gamers on a budget that are content with playing in medium-quality settings, the Cyberpower Xplorer X6-9120 is a decent gaming laptop.
Photo of Cyberpower Xplorer X6-9120

The Cyberpower Xplorer X6-9120 belongs to the rarest of species: the affordable gaming laptop. In a class where a $3,000 price tag is the norm, its sub-$1,000 price tag ($832 direct, as tested) alone is enough to raise eyebrows. At this price, it’s only natural that some of the bells and whistles typical of gaming laptops—like a unique design, for instance—have to be sacrificed. Still, it’s a decent system, and, for gamers on a budget who are willing to overlook some of its shortcomings, it’s worth checking out. That said, better—though more expensive—options exist.

Design and Features
The Xplorer X6-9120′s chassis measures 1.1 by 14.9 by 10.2 inches (HWD) and weighs 6.2 pounds, making it one of the lighter gaming laptops available. By way of comparison, the Samsung Series 7 Gamer’s hulking, hernia-inducing chassis is over two pounds heavier at 8.4 pounds. From a design standpoint, the Xplorer X6-9120 can charitably be described as ho-hum, as it lacks the flashiness typically evoked in gaming laptops, such as the eye-catching multicolor backlit keyboard seen on the MSI GT70. Moreover, although it’d be unreasonable to expect a killer design from a sub-$1,000 gaming laptop, other aspects of the Xplorer X6-9120′s aesthetic leanings are a bit harder to fathom. In particular, the glossy piano black finish covering the entire chassis is highly susceptible to smudging, and within minutes of use the system looks as though it had been dusted for fingerprints. There aren’t any insignias or logos adorning the body either, save for a CyberPower sticker haphazardly plastered above the keyboard. Other than that, though, the Xplorer X6-9120 looks like a generic—albeit very shiny—system regardless of whether the lid is open or closed.

On the other hand, the matte-finished 15.6-inch 1080p (1,920-by-1,080) display is a welcome departure from the glossiness seen on the rest of the system. With its crisp colors and deep blacks, movies and games alike looked great, as demonstrated by a quick viewing of Gladiator on the Xplorer X6-9120′s built-in DVD burner. Sound is pumped out of dual 2-watt speakers housed beneath two circular grilles located directly above the keyboard, and it plays loud enough for one to two people to enjoy at close range, though it sounds a bit hollow and could benefit from more bass.

The keyboard, meanwhile, consists of matte-finish raised tile keys. It’s roomy enough to accommodate gamers with big paws and, like the Lenovo IdeaPad Y580, it sports a full-size numeric keypad. Unlike the IdeaPad Y580, however, the Xplorer’s keyboard isn’t backlit, so you’re out of luck if you prefer gaming in the dark. Either way, that’s a minor shortcoming compared to the shallow travel on the keys, which makes for a less than ideal typing experience. The touchpad feels equally awkward because of its tiny size, an odd design move considering the ample real estate available on the generously sized palmrest.

Port selection is average on the Xplorer X6-9120. A media card reader (MMC/SD/MS/Pro) is housed in the front of the system, while the right side features dual USB 2.0 ports as well as headphone and microphone jacks alongside the DVD burner. The left side of the system, meanwhile, is home to dual USB 3.0 ports, a full-size HDMI port, a DVI port, and an Ethernet port.

The Xplorer X6-9120 comes preloaded with Windows 7 Home Premium. As far as storage capacity is concerned, its paltry 120GB solid-state-drive (SSD) is by far the least capacious in its class. For hardcore data crunchers, a hard drive of this size invariably translates into a life full of flash drives and external hard drives. If that prospect doesn’t leaves a funny taste in your mouth, you’d be better off with any of the comparable systems, whose capacities range from 750GB ( Dell XPS 15 [Summer 2012]) to 1.5TB (Samsung Series 7 Gamer) – just be aware that it comes at a price.

Performance

Equipped with a 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM processor and 8GB RAM, the Xplorer’s PCMark7 score of 4,466 points led its entire class, with the MSI GT70 (4,375 points) trailing behind by a shade under one hundred points. The Xplorer X6-9120 also pumped out solid scores in our multimedia tests. It completed our Handbrake video encoding test in 1 minute 17 seconds, tying the Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 (1:17) and falling a mere second short of the class-leading Series 7 Gamer (1:16). The Xplorer X6-9120 performed similarly well in our Photoshop CS5 test, where its time of 3 minutes 25 seconds was again equal to the IdeaPad Y580 (3:25) and fell only seconds behind both the Series 7 Gamer (3:23) and the MSI GT70 (3:22).

The Xplorer X6-9120′s Nvidia GeForce GT 640M GPU allowed it to perform well in medium-quality settings on our gaming tests but it nonetheless failed to cross the 30 frames per second (fps) playability threshold in higher-detail settings. While acceptable for a typical mainstream laptop, it doesn’t bode as well for a system geared towards gamers. Accordingly, although the Xplorer’s performance in our Crysis benchmark tests (87fps in medium quality at 1,024-by-768 resolution; 11fps in high quality at native resolution) managed to outflank the XPS 15 in medium-quality settings, in high quality settings it was outflanked by all, including the XPS 15 (13fps) and the Series 7 Gamer (52fps). Similarly, the Xplorer’s Lost Planet 2 benchmark scores (45fps in medium quality at 1,024-by-768 resolution; 17fps in high quality at native resolution) were topped by both the MSI GT70 (86fps and 28fps, respectively) and the Series 7 Gamer (134fps and 46fps, respectively). The Xplorer’s 3DMark11 scores (3,135 in Entry-level settings; 590 in Extreme-level settings) were also handily outclassed by the MSI GT70 (5,113 and 963, respectively) and the Series 7 Gamer (5,572 and 1,134, respectively).

The Xplorer’s removable 47Wh battery is complemented by Nvidia’s Optimus technology, which, depending on the intensity of the application at hand, switches between the discrete 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M discrete GPU and integrated Intel HD 4000 GPU to preserve battery life. However, while its MobileMark score of 4 hours and 11 minutes was not the worst in its class—that dubious distinction belongs to the Series 7 Gamer (3:15)—the IdeaPad Y580′s battery lasted thirty minutes longer (4:41), and both the MSI GT70 (5:29) and the XPS 15 (7:28) easily managed to last for a significantly longer amount of time.

For gamers on a budget who are content with playing in medium-quality settings, the Cyberpower Xplorer X6-9120 is a decent system whose affordable price tag and great display overshadow its ho-hum design, small hard drive, and less than stellar battery life. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Still, users willing to shell out an extra $200 would be far better served by the Editors’ Choice-winning Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 which, despite its designation as a media laptop, actually exhibits better gaming chops while packing the same processor, a comparable graphics card, and a Blu-ray drive.

BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the Cyberpower Xplorer X6-9120

COMPARISON TABLE
Compare the Cyberpower Xplorer X6-9120 with several other laptops side by side.

More laptop reviews:

Specifications
Processor Name Intel Core i7-3610QM
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Weight 6.2 lb
Graphics Card Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE
Type Gaming
RAM 8 GB
Screen Size Type Widescreen
Networking Options 802.11n
2nd Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 4000
Processor Speed 2.3 GHz
Primary Optical Drive DVD+/-RW (Plus Minus)
Screen Size 15.6 inches
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 120 GB

Verdict
For gamers on a budget who are content with playing in medium-quality settings, the Cyberpower Xplorer X6-9120 is a decent gaming laptop whose affordable price tag overshadows its ho hum design, small hard drive, and less than stellar battery life.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc