In the shiny world of expensive MacBooks and lightning-quick Alienware laptops we frequently pay through the nose for power. Getting that all-out speed however doesn’t necessarily require a nasty dent in your bank balance. There are plenty of laptops out there which, whilst lacking in the build quality or design department, more than make up for it with their speed to cost ratio. The Medion Erazer X6813 is amongst the best of them.
A quick glance at the Erazer’s vital statistics and you might spot a few pieces of kit that clearly make the laptop punch above its price range. First up is that of a proper i7-2630QM processor, which will most definitely keep day to day computing ticking over at a fair old rate. Second is the inclusion of 4GB of RAM, plenty for multitasking. Third is the 80GB SSD and 750GB hard drive combo for quick system bootups and file access, something usually reserved for only the most expensive of laptops. Crucial however is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M with 1.5GB of GDDR5 memory. Without a good graphics card a gaming system is worthless and the 460M is more than enough to impress all but the most serious of gamers. Sure Nvidia might have announced a new 580M and there have been a few graphics cards in-between, but you are going to have to work to really push this notebook.
For those not massively familiar with all the joys of processor and graphics cards nomenclature, perhaps a better way of showing the Erazer’s power is pointing to the competition. Alienware for example might offer all the build quality bells and whistles but getting a 460M in one of its laptops will start at £1299, without anywhere near as much RAM or hard drive space.
At Pocket-lint we don’t like to go in for frame rates and complex system testing, what we want is games running smoothly and looking good. We tested things like Dirt 3 and even the system bashing Shogun 2 on the Erazer, both of which managed to stay clean on everything except for the most ultra of ultra settings.
There are of course some who want the absolute best possible graphics available which the Erazer, whilst close, can’t quite deliver. Getting hold of that pure performance however will demand you pay likely near to twice the price.
All that power does come with a bit of a design sacrifice. The laptop itself is incredibly bulky ... but then it would be, as there is a lot going on inside. The problem is that all this size doesn’t make things feel remotely solid. The metallic effect top is better than expected and the bare bones plastic approach to the base isn’t massively offensive, but it all just feels a bit flimsy.
If you can get over the slightly less than premium materials then the included connectivity more than makes up for it. A proper HDMI out, dual USB 3.0, card reader and eSATA port are all included in the chassis. There is also an Ethernet and conventional display output included on the back of the laptop.
Open up the gaming sandwich and inside you will find things get a lot more exciting. Medion has approached things with nothing but video gamers in mind, giving the laptop an incredibly hardy set of keys and a highly responsive trackpad. The WASD buttons are highlighted in red, as they are what is most commonly used to control movement in game, then arrows are also placed on the number pad and direction buttons.
A dedicated function button can be used to switch displays, turn off the screen, activate eco mode, start the webcam and control bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Brightness and volume are also controlled by the direction buttons.
Sadly Medion couldn’t resist adding a bit of under-lighting to the Erazer, this being activated by a button just below the screen. It looks decent enough, but only a select few we imagine will want their laptop looking like fallout from the Fast and the Furious.
Battery life is what you would expect from a laptop packing so much graphical power; not great. Run things in eco mode and you will likely get 3 to 4 hours out of the Erazer but don’t expect to get your game on for particularly long without power.
Moving onto the display, the first thing worth mentioning is that it reacts quite unlike any other Full HD LED backlit screen we have seen. Fire up the laptop and it is likely things will look flat and lacking in contrast. To fix this you are going to want to move both your head and the 15.6-inch display until you nail the sweet spot, such is the bizarre viewing angle on the Erazer. Once you get there though things are as bright and vibrant as any of the competition. Colours are nice and saturated and the screen is almost as light as an Apple alternative on full brightness. Black levels however could definitely do with some major work, being particularly noticeable when playing back Blu-rays.
In order to keep costs down Medion have clearly had to cut a few corners, its just a shame it had to be in the display department. Then again how often do you get to run the latest games at 1080p on a laptop? Not often, especially when the hardware costs £1099.
Having an HDMI out means you can, if you are so inclined, wire the laptop up to a big screen TV. Plug in an Xbox 360 controller and you have yourself an ultra powerful home gaming system, even more astonishing when you realise it is inside a laptop.
The price of the Medion actually acts in its favour on the bundled software department, meaning no nasty bloatware is included to keep things cheap.
You get Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, Cyberlink and a 90 day trial to Kaspersky internet security 2011. That is it. This means you can fire the laptop up and get straight to gaming without having to deal with signing up or uninstalling whatever bits are normally slapped on to more expensive laptops. It also keeps the processor and memory’s load as clean as possible so nothing gets in the way of gaming.
The tech snob inside us wants to trash the Medion for its money saving approach to design and its bulky feel. The problem is every time we boot the laptop up and get gaming, we realise none of that matters. What is important is power and lots of it. No one can argue with the Erazer in the specs department, for the cost it is pretty much unrivalled. Some may want to pay that little bit extra to get the quality that something like an Alienware brings, but personally we believe once you are staring at the screen it is all about how the game looks. For those in the market for a powerful gaming laptop or perhaps a portable cousin to a desktop, the Medion Erazer X6813 comes highly recommended.