A couple months back we had the chance to review MSI’s GT70 Dragon notebook, a high-end gaming system sporting the brand spanking new Haswell Core i7-4700MQ with a just as new GeForce GTX 780M graphics chip. What we found was that performance didn’t impress us quite as much as we were expecting. Mythlogic wanted to show us “GTX 780M done right”, more or less, so they shipped their Pollux 1613 (Clevo P157SM) system for review sporting similar hardware to the GT70 Dragon…and performance once again wasn’t quite what we were expecting in games. It’s not that either system was slow, but we simply expected to see more of a difference.

Gallery: Clevo P157SM

After some emails back and forth with NVIDIA and Mythlogic, we ended up with a second CPU for testing: the Core i7-4900MQ (not to mention some overclocking of both the original 4700MQ and the 4900MQ processors). NVIDIA has also sent two new MSI GT70 Dragon notebooks for testing, one configured the same as the original review (and it no longer hits 95C or higher temperatures during testing) and one with i7-4930MX. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’ll look at the CPU scaling performance of GTX 780M in a future article, but for now let’s talk about the Mythlogic Pollux 1613, a customized build using a Clevo P157SM chassis. Here’s the specific configuration we’re testing:

Mythlogic Pollux 1613 / Clevo P157SM Test Configuration
Processor Intel Core i7-4700MQ
(Quad-core 2.4-3.4GHz, 6MB L3, 22nm, 47W)

Intel Core i7-4900MQ
(Quad-core 2.8-3.8GHz, 8MB L3, 22nm, 47W)
Chipset HM87
Memory 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 11-11-11-28 timings
Max RAM: 4x8GB
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5
(1536 CUDA Cores at 771+ MHz, 5000MHz GDDR5)

Intel HD Graphics 4600
(20 EUs at 400-1150/1300MHz, 4700MQ/4900MQ)
Display 15.6" Anti-Glare TN 1080p
(AUO B156HW01 v4)
Storage Samsung 840 Pro 512GB mSATA SSD
Optical Drive DVDRW (TSSTcorp SN208DB)
Networking Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8111/8168)
802.11ac WiFi (Intel Wireless-AC 7260)
(Dual-band 2x2:2 300Mbps/867Mbps capable)
Audio Realtek HD ALC892
Stereo Speakers
4 x audio jacks
Battery/Power 8-cell, ~14.8V, 5200mAh, 77Wh
180W Max AC Adapter
Front Side N/A
Left Side Flash Reader (SD/MMC/MS)
1 x USB 3.0/eSATA Combo
2 x USB 3.0
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x Mini-FireWire 1394B
Right Side Optical Drive
4 x Audio jacks
1 x USB 2.0
Kensington Lock
Back Side 2 x Exhaust Vents
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x mini-DisplayPort
AC Power Connection
Operating System Windows 8 64-bit
Dimensions 14.7" x 10.55" x 1.38-1.77" (WxDxH)
(375mm x 268mm x 35-45mm)
Weight 7.26 lbs (3.3kg)
Extras Fingerprint Reader
HD Webcam
102-Key Colored Backlighting Keyboard
Carbon Fiber wrapped LCD Lid
CPU Overclocking Support in BIOS
Pricing Starting at $1543 (GTX 770M)
As Configured: $2400-$2739 (780M, i7-4700/4900MQ)

Most of the items are pretty much what you’d expect from a high-end notebook, with a quad-core i7 CPU and GTX 780M providing the raw horsepower for any games or other computationally intensive tasks. As mentioned above, we tested with both the i7-4700MQ and the i7-4900MQ, including overclocking via Mythlogic’s customized BIOS. We also requested a single large SSD for our review unit and Mythlogic obliged and equipped the notebook with a 512GB Samsung PM841 mSATA SSD. The choice of SSD was less about performance than it was about convenience; I have found that 240/256GB SSDs just aren’t quite large enough to hold everything I want. Bumping up to the 512GB class fixes this shortcoming, and there’s still plenty of spare area available for future games and applications—and you can always add an additional HDD if needed for mass storage of data files. If I were buying a high-end laptop right now, I’d definitely splurge and get a 512GB class SSD.

Going through the rest of the list, most of the items are well-known quantities by now. The AUO B156HW01 v4 LCD is a TN panel, but it’s one of the best 15.6” TN panel out there, with a wide color gamut and good (post-calibration) accuracy, as well as viewing angles that don’t immediately wash out in off-angle viewing. RAM in our unit is “only” 8GB of low-voltage memory, but you can equip the P157SM with up to 4x8GB RAM if you need more, and Mythlogic’s pricing for RAM upgrades is pretty reasonable. (The 32GB setup mentions that it requires the use of Windows 7 Pro/Ultimate according to Mythlogic’s configurator; Windows 8 64-bit supports 128GB and the Pro version supports 512GB, so this is likely a note for Win7 users.)

The connectivity and I/O options cover just about everything you could want. There are three USB 3.0 ports, including an eSATA combo port. A single USB 2.0 port is also present for legacy/compatibility reasons (I’ve noticed that trying to install Win7/Win8 from a USB 3.0 port often creates problems). Clevo even includes a FireWire 1394b port for those that need it, and on the display side there are three digital connections: one full-size HDMI, one full-size DisplayPort, and one mini-DisplayPort. VGA and DVI users will need an adapter, but given where we’re headed I think going with two DP connections is the best choice for most users. For wireless, we were very pleased to discover that Mythlogic equipped their notebook with an Intel Wireless-AC 7260 adapter; the configurator has now moved on the Advanced-AC 7260, which adds Bluetooth 4.0 support. Regardless, the ability to transfer data over WiFi at up to ~45MBps is something I’ve been longing for; range of 802.11ac won’t be as good as 2.4GHz networking, but since you get 2.4GHz and 5GHz support it’s not really a concern.

As far as the spec sheet goes, there really aren’t any problem areas to discuss. You can custom configure pretty much whatever your heart desires, within reason. The P157SM chassis supports two mSATA drives, two 2.5” SSD/HDD drives, and if you want to forego the optical drive a caddy allows the use of a third 2.5” SSD/HDD. There’s a very similar notebook that’s also available, the Clevo P150SM/Mythlogic Pollux 1613-Black; the major difference is that it only supports a single 2.5” drive (with a second via the optical drive bay/caddy). It weighs a bit less than the P157SM and has a slightly different design on the hinges and multimedia panel above the keyboard, and no backlit trackpad, with a price that’s around $20 less. (It’s basically the last generation Clevo chassis but with an updated chipset/motherboard and other components.)

Mythlogic Pollux 1613 / Clevo P157SM Subjective Evaluation
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  • rpgfool1 - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    They do sound like reasonable tradeoffs. I might as well get the P170SM or P177SM then. Now to look at Clevo resellers that has reasonable prices...
  • GTVic - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    I doubt you can connect AC power to the back as listed in the spec on page 1, there must be a power brick, which according to a quick search may weigh as much as 1.8lbs. The size and weight of that should be listed in the specs since you are definitely going to have to cart that around.
  • MDX - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    I'm tired of the hideous and fat clevo cases. If I wanted a fat gaming laptop, the alienwares have way better styling. If I wanted a slim gaming computer, the razers have way better styling. I'm not going buy a somewhat-chunky, black ugly laptop, regardless of hardware...
  • rpgfool1 - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    Don't people experienced problems with Alienware notebooks though? The Razer Blade and the Razer Blade Pro look very nice, almost like a Macbook Pro in design. Macbook Pros look very nice and sleek, but people pay for the Apple brand name. I don't know why premium PC notebooks get stuck with 1920 x 1080p screen when Macbook Pros are able to get 2560 x 1600 or 2880 x 1800 on 15" screens? I know they cost more and the panels are probably IPS.
  • MDX - Monday, September 2, 2013 - link

    Not sure about Alienware, but I have an XPS M1730 (dell's gaming line before they bought alienware) that lasted almost 6 years. I'm only now in the market for a new machine because of that, and it seems my only option is still the same size/formfactor as it was 6 years ago: fat and heavy. I was hoping to get something slimmer with some style that was still user-serviceable, but I can't, so I'm building a desktop instead.

    Razer's compromise on the screen, plus non-user serviceable hardware rules that out, and the alienware laptops just aren't portable. These clevo machines are too ugly and have too low resolution, MSI's new GS70 is also ugly and not innovate (except for the slimness) so that leaves me with nothing that entices me to spend money on it.

    If Razer would put a panel that does justice to their blade pro and ditched the chiclet keyboard (I can't stand chiclet keyboards), I'd be all on it!
  • woofblitzer - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    First off, let me thank you for your review. I have been EXTENSIVELY researching the Clevo P157SM and as Sager puts it with the improved 95% matte display NP-8255-S. It's just that damn tramp stamp...can that be removed and replaced? No reseller really looks to replace it, they all have it on their pages...(funny that they all price out to $2489 too...who is really making these behind the scenes that all sites price the same). I had been wondering about thermal issues and you mention the MSI series. I really really like the MSI 16F4 barebones, not quite cosmetically but comparable to the MSI GT60 2OD....the MSI barebones just looks better to me...but with your testing results of MSI products, are you predicting the MSI barebone will perform like it's parent? I cannot find any real review of the MSI 16F4 anywhere. I would much rather go with the MSI for looks and sound, but it seems the Clevo is cooler and for some reason runs benchmarks and Windows Experience Index faster, even when equipped with the same equipment.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    The only thing that might help the barebones MSI (or any of them) is if you put on better thermal grease, but that's a stretch to drop temperatures 10C. As for the tramp stamp, Mythlogic says they'll replace the backlit cover with a non-backlit option; you'll have to call and request it, though, as it's not listed in the online configurator. Other vendors might be willing to do something similar; I don't know. Hope that helps.
  • DanNeely - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    Is that different from just disabling the trackpad backlight, which they do have as an option in the configurator.
  • woofblitzer - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    Any theories on while similar equipped Clevo and MSI bare bones, why the Clevo seems to score a little higher? Is it driver or hardware related? Also, would you know, two questions...on the P157SM, if you get an msata, does in only fit in the HDD slots being fitted with the 2 x mstata adaptor or can you go say two msata and two ssd in the HD space? Maybe it is only having a third msata that breaks into HDD space? One last question since you have tested the closest to what I am looking at, but would you assume MSI bare bones do not come with the cooler and turbo boost that the non barebones come with? Ok, promise, one last question...if I am looking towards the future...should I be looking more at the P177SM, because I could add a second GPU someday or is the secondary GPU market pretty non existent outside ebay?
  • rpgfool1 - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    You can't even add a 2nd GPU in the P177SM. The P370SM and P375SM have the option of Crossfire or SLI 2 mobile GPUs.

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