March 27, 2019 | 12:00
Manufacturer: PC Specialist
UK price (as reviewed): £1,649.00 (inc. VAT)
US price (as reviewed): N/A
It seems you have just as much choice these days when picking laptop specifications as you do for a PC thanks to features such as high refresh rate monitors, RGB keyboards, and the latest storage tech making their way to mobile devices too. PC Specialist's configurators for both its laptops and PCs are understandably option-packed, therefore, and today we're looking at the latest version of its 15.6" Recoil II gaming laptop, which landed in our lab with a cutting-edge specification that includes the Nvidia RTX 2070 GPU. Note that as is usual for PC Specialist reviews here (and elsewhere), the price here is promotional and applies only to the specific configuration we have here. You can use the customisation engine to pick different parts, but you'll lose the special value the company applies to reviewed products.
This is an update to the same model we looked at last year, with several notable upgrades both internally and externally. For starters the 15.6" IPS screen now comes exclusively with a 144Hz refresh rate, and this was immediately obvious with a smooth and fast motion everywhere from moving windows on the desk to games. Sadly there is no G-Sync, but it has a matt, anti-glare finish, and while some may scoff at the 1080p resolution, it makes perfect sense for a 15.6" gaming laptop, especially if you’ll be wanting to make the most of that high refresh rate. The bevels are relatively thin too with the top section only thick enough to house the the 720p webcam located here.
The Recoil II sports the RTX 2070 Max-Q, which is Nvidia’s mobile-optimised form factor that allows it to use a powerful GPU in a slim laptop chassis without seeing a huge cut in frame rates or battery life or having ear-splitting cooling. The result is a laptop that weighs in at 2.1kg and is 22mm thick at the deepest point, so it’s certainly going to make a handy partner for a 15" laptop rucksack and doesn’t weigh a lot more than basic non-gaming models with the same screen size – Dell’s discrete GPU-less Latitude 5590, for example, weighs about the same.
The touchpad is a reasonable size, and like most aesthetically-conscious laptops there are no separate buttons. The Recoil II (RTX) feels solid and like its predecessor has brushed aluminium on the keyboard surround and lid. It's not going to beat a MacBook or XPS, and there's still plenty of plastic involved, but the sleek shape, RGB lighting, and aluminium does look good in the flesh. The keyboard offers per-key RGB backlighting that’s configurable via software while the keys themselves are mechanical and felt pleasant and responsive to use in games as well as when chucking a few hundred words into a word processor. Cramming in a full UK layout means that unlike Dell’s XPS 15 you get a number pad, but we did find the keyboard a tad cramped for the first hour or so until we got used to it. It also offers the benefit of n-key rollover and between 20-50 million key clicks of durability.
The ports sit in an identical configuration to the previous model, with a USB 2.0 port, pair of USB 3.0 headers (AKA USB 3.1 Gen 1 or USB 3.2 Gen 1 - whatever the heck you want to call it), plus a Type-C port that operates under the same standard as the former too, so no true USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C speed or power here. The LAN port is potentially a bit tricky to deal with, partly due to the flip-open cover but also because if you're going to use it you're likely hooking up for a while, such as at a LAN gaming event, so it might be easier and neater to have it at the rear like the video outputs to keep the spaghetti gathered out of sight. Thankfully the audio jacks and trio of Type-A USB ports are on the sides as well as an SD card reader.
The cooling system is fairly hefty with four exhaust vents organised in pairs adjacent to each of the far corners. The intakes sit underneath the laptop, so you'll want to make sure this area is as clear as possible to allow unobstructed airflow. This not only has to deal with the RTX 2070, but also an Intel Core i7-8750H, which has six cores and 12 threads as well as a maximum boost frequency of 4.1GHz. This is the same CPU as the previous model, plus we've seen it used in several other laptops we've reviewed too. It's certainly a boon if you deal with content creation on the side - something that's been woeful on your typical dual-core and low-power quad-core laptop CPUs in the past - and it will no doubt serve the powerful GPU well in the latest games too, which regularly make use of more than four cores.
The rest of the specification reveals 16GB 2,400MHz DDR4 memory with both slots occupied while storage includes a 512GB Intel 760p NVMe M.2 SSD paired with a 1TB Seagate 7,200 RPM hard disk, which is a decent combo. As you can see from the lower left quarter of the image below, there's a second M.2 slot that's free, so there's scope for adding an exceptional storage array to the Recoil II. With plenty of the internal space being given over to hardware and cooling, the battery gets sacrificed in this chassis and is only a 46Wh model.
PC Specialist’s standard warranty terms cover three years of labour costs, but only one year for parts and, unfortunately, just one month for carriage. Thankfully, the Silver warranty with carriage covered for one year is available for just £5 extra.
September 16 2019 | 14:00