An [H]-like site for laptops?

SamuraiInBlack

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Oct 10, 2003
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Sorry if this question has been asked before. Nothing relevant came up in the searches I did.

Is there any site that really puts laptops through the gauntlet like [H] did?

There's a couple sites I did find but the articles are frustrating to read. There's really no set way they review the laptops. Each review seems like it was written by a different person and they don't cover all the bases on it or even really go in depth on performance. And the layout also equally feels just as disorganized.
 

harmattan

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There's probably one or two others, but the only site I'm aware of that really seems to go deep on laptops is NotebookCheck.
Notebookcheck is a great resource, and has grown from a small German-based outfit to essentially the end all be-all enthusiast site for laptops (and other mobile tech). I remember having to get German friends to help me translate their reviews back in the day before Google translate was prevalent... Their benchmarks aren't as in depth as desktop sites on GPU performance e.g. they rely heavily on synthetics and simple game test runs, but nonetheless, they cover a huge gamut of stuff. Other aspects of their testing e.g. cooling and display tests are second to none.

The site is run by two brothers and is one of the few remaining independent, quality, objective text-based reviewers out there (so, similar to former [H] in that respect).
 

Aurelius

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Mar 22, 2003
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You might also want to look at Just Josh on YouTube. He reviews laptops beyond just the specs to include the harder-to-quantify things like build quality, noise, keyboard and trackpad feel, that sort of thing. He will consider performance, of course, but he's an antidote to the "specs are all that matter" crowd that would have you buy a very fast but shoddily made system.
 

schizrade

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There is a lot of shilling and fanboying with laptops. The Reddit crowd is 1000% focused on the spec sheet, and then cry when their spec'd out shit build machines shit the bed.
 
Joined
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You might also want to look at Just Josh on YouTube. He reviews laptops beyond just the specs to include the harder-to-quantify things like build quality, noise, keyboard and trackpad feel, that sort of thing. He will consider performance, of course, but he's an antidote to the "specs are all that matter" crowd that would have you buy a very fast but shoddily made system.
This guy is exactly the sort of reviewer I needed to know about a year ago, that's for sure.

Context: I got an HP OMEN X 2S at the local Micro Center for under $1,200 open-box. i7-9750H, RTX 2070 Max-Q, two SO-DIMM slots, two NVMe M.2 2280 slots, IPS 1080p 144 Hz G-SYNC main panel with another 1080p IPS 60 Hz touchscreen beneath, decent keyboard, discrete mouse buttons on the trackpad (only Apple does buttonless trackpads right), and build quality... honestly, I thought I got a great deal, all things considered.

Right up until I heard the speakers clipping easily at max volume (they're bad, but not Fujitsu T901/T902-level atrocious) and found out how putting Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut liquid metal on the CPU from the factory did nothing for the system's crappy thermals. Damn thing overheats like a Jeep with the AMC 4.0L in a Southern summer, and then I get to deal with intermittent framedrops when trying to play more demanding games like Doom 2016/Eternal.

Combine randomly throttled framerate with a really toasty underside, and I'm just really underwhelmed because this gaming laptop can't even do its job properly. I gotta find some kind of crazy cooling pad with a bunch of fans to try and make it usable for anything other than light gaming.

Also note that I'm a bit picky about keyboards and trackpads myself. Ideally, I'd have a TrackPoint-type mouse in the middle of the keyboard, but that's mostly exclusive to business-class laptops with their own share of setbacks, like 60 Hz panels (and sometimes abnormally atrocious TN panels like whatever HP used for ZBook 15 G2s) and BIOS/UEFI whitelists for certain components.

Josh is right - buying a laptop shouldn't have to still suck in 2021, and we shouldn't have to compromise on the less apparent things like build quality, comfort (good built-in input devices and thermals kept in check), speakers that don't suck, gaming/mobile workstation laptops that don't throttle hard under full load on both the CPU and GPU combined, etc. Good on him for pushing the industry to do more than just stuff Intel, AMD and NVIDIA's latest into yet another fancy clamshell package.
 

Aurelius

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 22, 2003
Messages
3,464
This guy is exactly the sort of reviewer I needed to know about a year ago, that's for sure.

Context: I got an HP OMEN X 2S at the local Micro Center for under $1,200 open-box. i7-9750H, RTX 2070 Max-Q, two SO-DIMM slots, two NVMe M.2 2280 slots, IPS 1080p 144 Hz G-SYNC main panel with another 1080p IPS 60 Hz touchscreen beneath, decent keyboard, discrete mouse buttons on the trackpad (only Apple does buttonless trackpads right), and build quality... honestly, I thought I got a great deal, all things considered.

Right up until I heard the speakers clipping easily at max volume (they're bad, but not Fujitsu T901/T902-level atrocious) and found out how putting Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut liquid metal on the CPU from the factory did nothing for the system's crappy thermals. Damn thing overheats like a Jeep with the AMC 4.0L in a Southern summer, and then I get to deal with intermittent framedrops when trying to play more demanding games like Doom 2016/Eternal.

Combine randomly throttled framerate with a really toasty underside, and I'm just really underwhelmed because this gaming laptop can't even do its job properly. I gotta find some kind of crazy cooling pad with a bunch of fans to try and make it usable for anything other than light gaming.

Also note that I'm a bit picky about keyboards and trackpads myself. Ideally, I'd have a TrackPoint-type mouse in the middle of the keyboard, but that's mostly exclusive to business-class laptops with their own share of setbacks, like 60 Hz panels (and sometimes abnormally atrocious TN panels like whatever HP used for ZBook 15 G2s) and BIOS/UEFI whitelists for certain components.

Josh is right - buying a laptop shouldn't have to still suck in 2021, and we shouldn't have to compromise on the less apparent things like build quality, comfort (good built-in input devices and thermals kept in check), speakers that don't suck, gaming/mobile workstation laptops that don't throttle hard under full load on both the CPU and GPU combined, etc. Good on him for pushing the industry to do more than just stuff Intel, AMD and NVIDIA's latest into yet another fancy clamshell package.
That's why I always wince when someone gets overly ambitious about a gaming laptop. The dream is that you'll play AAA games on the road, with the only sacrifice being a dip in frame rates. The common reality... well, you've lived it. It's hard to design a laptop that's both gaming friendly and doesn't exhibit glitches or make significant compromises.

It's also why I'm happy to stick with productivity laptops (in this case, a MacBook Pro). Better to use a well-made with a reduced scope than a do-it-all machine that struggles.
 
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That's why I always wince when someone gets overly ambitious about a gaming laptop. The dream is that you'll play AAA games on the road, with the only sacrifice being a dip in frame rates. The common reality... well, you've lived it. It's hard to design a laptop that's both gaming friendly and doesn't exhibit glitches or make significant compromises.

It's also why I'm happy to stick with productivity laptops (in this case, a MacBook Pro). Better to use a well-made with a reduced scope than a do-it-all machine that struggles.
Honestly, I think it'd be relatively easy to make a gaming/mobile workstation laptop with good thermals, if the industry would just get over its quest for thin. Make 'em thick, like my old Dell Inspiron 8200 or the WallStreet PowerBook G3, and that should permit room for a significantly better heatsink, as well as a noticeably bigger battery.

Of course, that compromises portability, but I suppose I'm looking for more of a luggable that I can set up on a table or desk with an AC outlet nearby if it has the sustained load performance that I seek. Nobody's really willing to make a laptop like that any more, especially not without paying used car money for the privilege.

The funny thing is, even though this laptop's a hot bastard, it's still an upgrade from my aging Fujitsu T902 in every respect other than being unable to draw on the screen - a feature I gave up because I have a separate Cintiq now, and the Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel and ConceptD 9 cost far, far too much. Better to keep those two things separate, I figure, because I was tired of convertible Tablet PCs gimped with Intel graphics (or very low-end dedicated GPUs) and dual-core CPUs, which sums up the vast majority of them before the aforementioned ConceptD mobile workstations, which instead hit you with an even greater combined price than that of a combined gaming/mobile workstation laptop and Cintiq. (The ConceptD 9 starts at $5,000, and $2,000-3,000 already gets you a very, very nice laptop. The leftovers can buy a Cintiq Pro or MobileStudio Pro with ease, or an iPad Pro + Pencil if that's what you prefer.)

The other reason I got it is because it'll be a long while before my workplace decommissions its fleet of HP ZBook 15 G3s and lets me snag up any of 'em for cheap.

There's a decommissioned ZBook 15 G2 I fixed up, but that one was optioned with an absolutely, awfully atrocious TN panel that is extremely washed out and has next to no contrast ratio. 1080p res and LED backlighting aside, I've seen better TN panels on old Inspirons and PowerBooks - it really is that bad, and not worth the cost to swap in an IPS panel since it's still a Haswell-era laptop with a weak Quadro K1100M that's difficult to find decent MXM-A upgrades for (the good GPUs use the MXM-B spec).

But for as much of an improvement as the ZBook G3s are, complete with two of ours having 4K DreamColor panels for some weird reason (but bafflingly only having 8-bit color options in the NVIDIA Control Panel), those laptops have a really baffling issue that doesn't affect any other model: fill up the RAM with lots of browser tabs or whatever, and you suddenly get hit with out-of-memory errors, occasional black screens from GPU driver crashes and even hard reboots. The G2s don't do this, the G5s don't do this, it's just the G3s, regardless of whether you use integrated, dedicated or hybrid graphics, and regardless of whether they're using the 1080p or 4K panel.

So yeah, much as I like business-class laptops for the build quality, serviceability, TrackPoint mice and being more likely to have keyboards that don't suck (especially ThinkPads), even they get hit with the most perplexing jank sometimes, and it's the sort of thing that a lot of reviewers seem to not notice in their tests.
 
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