While the other laptops this issue focus on portability, battery life, sexiness and convertibility, the Metabox Prime P650HP-G is an entirely different creature. This chunky hunk of plastic forgoes artisan-crafted aluminium shells, or a chassis so thin that it can barely be seen side on. No, this laptop focuses on cramming in as much performance into a relatively simple chassis for a competitive price, delivering a gaming machine that won’t blow the bank yet is also just portable enough to be able to take on the road on a regular basis.
Ok, when we say portable, we may be stretching things a little bit. At 2.6kg it’s a long shot from the 1.2kg we’re used to with the other laptops we tested this month, but that’s to be expected when you’re packing real firepower into a gaming machine. It’s also considerably larger thanks to the 15.6-inch screen. The entire chassis is made of plastic to help keep the costs and weight down, but feels rugged enough to handle a rough night out at a long LAN. It’s also rather large, measuring 38.5 cm (w) x 27.1 cm (d) x 2.5cm (h); again though, for a gaming machine this isn’t exorbitant.
Unfortunately we had some confusion with the G-sync support of this machine. While the specs claim it has a 120Hz 1080p G-Synch enabled monitor, we could find no mention of G-sync in the Nvidia control panel. It was only after doing a bit of Internet investigating that we discovered that MSHybrid (another name for Nvidia’s Optimus technology) had to be disabled via the BIOS to allow G-Sync to work. Users simply shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of issue. We also had severe performance issues before running the Windows update – it would take around ten seconds to simply open a program such as 3DMark. Yet given the Intel 540S 240GB SATA 3 M.2 SSD and Intel Core i7 7700HQ Processor, these results simply shouldn’t happen – we implore suppliers of hardware to ensure their machines are up to date when they send them out.
Speaking of the CPU, it’ll cut the mustard for any of today’s games, with its four HyperThreaded cores peaking out at 3.8GHz under load. To our delight, the Prime was barely audible under load, even during the most demanding tests, so we couldn’t use our sound meter as it was below the ambient noise level. On the GPU side, we have Nvidia’s capable, albeit entry-level, GTX 1060. This is a fine, affordable part if you’re playing relatively basic games or high-end games on low-to-medium level; just don’t expect to laud it through Ghost Recon: Wildlands on the highest detail settings. As our benchmarks show though, it’ll give most modern games a good run for their money, though we do feel the 120Hz display will probably be a waste for most, as they’ll never come close to these framerates. Said display is surprisingly an IPS panel, and it delivers a very wide viewing angle as well as solid contrast and colour performance. It’s not in the same league as some of the other displays in this issue, but at this price it does well enough.
Given the added padding of this machine, it’s no surprise to see a veritable smorgasbord of I/O options. On the right-hand side we have three 3.5 mm stereo minijacks – one for headphones, one for S/PDIF and one for a microphone. There’s a total of five USB ports on both sides, with twin USB 3.1 Gen 2 port (Type-C), as well as 3 USB 3.0 ports (USB3.1 Gen1, 1 x powered USB port, AC/DC). Nvidia’s GTX 1060 also delivers excellent video output capabilities, in the form of one HDMI output port (with HDCP) and two Mini DisplayPort 1.3 output Ports, though we’re not sure which are powered by the CPU’s integrated GPU, and which are powered by the Nvidia discrete GPU. Networking is supplied via Intel 8265 AC Dual Band WIFI/BT chipset, along with a single Gigabit Ethernet port.
If there was one issue we had with this machine it’s the number of applications set to automatically start when this machine boots up. There’s no explanation of what they actually do, though their vague names do suggest it – GPU overclock, CPU/Mem overclock, etc. Instructions or manuals for said apps simply weren’t included. And that’s our biggest problem with this machine – combine the lack of any information regarding enabling G-Sync, along with a numerous overclocking apps that don’t include manuals, and Metabox really needs to lift its game when it comes to supplying technical documentation with this machine. Despite this, it’s still great value for the performance, but needs a little tinkering to get the most out of it.