Keyboard & Build Quality
The chassis exudes luxury and ugliness in equal quantities. The power buttons are finished in chrome and components such as the webcam and the trackpad are accented in the same shiny material. Much of the exterior is finished in a reflective, glossy acrylic finish and the whole thing shines like it’s just had a fresh coat of wax applied.
The problem is that it's huge - 397 x 298 x 51mm (W x D x H), and this, in conjunction with its angular edges and excessive use of grey plastic make the laptop feel like it’s been dragged kicking and screaming out of 1989. The badge on the chassis lid is a particular eyesore, with a font that would be less out of place on a cargo container rather than a high-end laptop. Compared to Alienware’s M17x
, this is one ugly beast.
On the bright side, as it's a 17in laptop there's plenty of space for a full keyboard with numpad and directional keys. The low-profile nature of the keys means they deliver the same sort of the action that you’ll get in most laptop keyboards of this ilk. The trackpad has a textured finish for grip and the buttons are large and responsive.
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Most gamers will want to use a USB mouse and so must be warned that the four USB 2 ports are right where your mouse hand would sit on the right hand side. If you were using a wireless model with a long receiver dongle, the likelihood of accidental and thoroughly annoying bumping into the dongle is high. The ports are spaced out nicely though, allowing for chunky flash drives and the like to be plugged in without blocking up neighboring ports.
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Thankfully, the rest of the I/O bits are more sensibly positioned. There’s an HDMI port, an eSATA port and a CATV port for an external TV card and a mini FireWire port. Hidden behind tidy blanking panels, you’ll find an SD Card reader and an Express Card slot. There’s also a DVI port at the back of the chassis.