Medion Erazer X6811
Let's start with the obvious – this is a spec-heavy gaming laptop that packs the sort of hardware that you just wouldn't expect from a sub-£1,000, 15.6-inch laptop.
It's powered by an Intel Core i5-460M processor and boasts the super powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX460M graphics chip with a hefty 1.5GB of memory. There's also 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 640GB hard disk drive to handle all of your media and saved games. If that's not enough, there's room on board for another HDD, or you could use that space to put in a meatier subwoofer.
It's a spec that actually outstrips the Alienware M15x, and is more or less on par with the Asus G53 range – and we'll leave you to check the price differences between the Erazer and these machines.
And the performance doesn't disappoint. Its load up times are quick and it handles both gaming and high-definition video without any problems. We tested out its gaming prowess on both Kane & Lynch and Street Fighter IV.
1080p and 720p video from the web (iPlayer, HD Nation and YouTube HD) and across video file types were handled impeccably as well, with maybe a slight bit of lag with the BBC's HD service. However, this seemed to be corrected with an update to the latest Nvidia drivers - so this possibly indicates a problem with the BBC's video encoding rather than an issue with the Erazer.
You won't be getting a Full HD display though. The backlit, anti-glare screen has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. But although you'll be a few pixels short of 1080p you will be getting a bright, vibrant display with fantastic viewing angles.
So where is the compromise? Surely Medion is having to sacrifice something to have this sort of performance and also keep the price tag at three figures? It does – and its the chassis that suffers, although suffers is perhaps too strong a word. There's nothing wrong with the brushed dark metal look (although it's a tad plasticy), it's just that it doesn't seem to sit well within its genre. It feels solid enough but there's none of the OTT neon sharpness of some of its higher profile rivals, and none of the “aggression”.
Sure, it's got some rough edges and some minimal neon-blue gaming lights that you can toggle on and off using one of the two buttons closest to the screen (the other being a handy Windows button deactivator) but it doesn't feel “edgy”. It feels a bit safe. Which is not necessarily a bad thing – but it's hardly likely to impress your PC gaming buddies if they rock up with a machine that looks as though a radioactive T-Rex has taken a bite of it.
The keyboard is probably the X6811's weakest point. Again, it's not terrible, but it is awfully plasticy. It's an isolated design and contains both the standard QWERTY as well as a full numerical pad on the right hand side. As a result, the keys are a tad smaller than you'd usually find on a 15.6-inch machine (the tiny return key certainly takes some getting used to) and the keys have a bit more give than we would have liked. The touchpad is nice though, with a satisfying roughness to it, but there's no multi-touch support unfortunately.
Battery life on the X6811 isn't the greatest. We were told to expect up to 3 hours from the 9-cell battery with continuous use, but we found that a bit of video watching, a bit of gaming and some casual browsing and picture editing resulted in a life of around 2 hours and 5 minutes with the brightness turned up almost full and all of the connectivity (and light) options switched on.
Back to its strengths though and the X6811 boasts Dolby Home Theatre v3 certified high definition audio and has two speakers in a grill above the keyboard, as well as a subwoofer. The result is a very satisfying audio experience, with plenty of volume on board for both video watching and gameplay. We tested out the speakers to their max using a few of the Dolby test videos that can be found online, and we found the results to be consistently strong.
There's no Blu-ray on board (with an eye on that price-tag again no doubt), but there is a DVD-RW drive, as well as two USB 3.0 ports (and two more 2.0 ones), an eSATA port, HDMI-out, VGA-out, Bluetooth 2.1 and a built-in 3-megapixel camera with microphone, so you're hardly left wanting connectivity-wise.
The Medion Erazer X6811 is a high-performance gaming laptop that won't leave you disappointed when it comes to execution. The i5 CPU and the GTX460M smash through graphics-heavy games and high-definition video with ease, and the Dolby Home Theatre v3 sound fully immerses you in the action that takes place on the crisp, sharp 15.6-inch display.
In keeping to a budget though, Medion has had to make some sacrifices - although these are mainly cosmetic. Serious PC gaming fans might be a bit disappointed by the rather tame chassis of the X6811 (the game lights feel like a bit of an afterthought) and the keyboard has quite a cheap feel to it. The battery life isn't great either - and the power pack required to mains power this laptop is hefty to say the least (although this isn't an exclusive issue when it comes to big-hardware laptops).
These are minor quibbles, however, and are more than acceptable when you consider just how much money you'll be saving compared to similar spec'd machines (that do look and feel quite a bit better admittedly). But, if you're looking to get in on the laptop gaming action, without having to break the bank, then the Medion Erazer X6811 could be the perfect machine for you.
It may not look as bad-ass as some of its competitors, but when it comes to performance it won't let you down. The spec-sheet doesn't lie – this PC is a monster, and we were very impressed.