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Schenker XMG A523 Laptop Review

Schenker XMG A523

The XMG A523 is one of Schenker's brand-new gaming laptops. It uses the same Clevo chassis as the Scan 3XS Graphite LG115, but inside it's a very different laptop. Various configurations are available, but this review sample had a quad-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-4702MQ processor which can Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz when there's enough thermal headroom, and 8GB of RAM. This is more than enough power for everyday tasks, so you won't have a problem running sophisticated software such as video-and image-editing suites. It scored an impressive 82 overall in multimedia benchmarks. It's not quite as fast as the Scan 3XS Graphite LG155, which scored 91 overall, but it's still a cracking score for a laptop.

The XMG A523's graphics processor is a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M, which is one of the most capable mobile graphics processors we've seen. It breezed through Dirt Showdown tests, scoring a smooth 66.1fps at a resolution of 1,280x720 with graphics quality set to High. It's powerful enough to play games in Full HD, too, as we achieved an equally impressive 62.5fps in Dirt Showdown when we increased the resolution to its native 1,920x1,080 with the same quality settings.

The A523 also produced one of the best scores we've seen in our more demanding Crysis 2 test as well. With graphics quality set to Ultra a resolution of 1,920x1,080, it managed a steady 24.7fps, which puts it on par with the Scan 3XS Graphite LG155. It's still isn't comfortably smooth at this frame rate, but lowering graphics settings to High produced a perfectly playable 54.6fps at 1,920x1,080.

The Schenker XMG A523's chassis has plenty of connection ports. There are three USB3 ports (one of which doubles as an eSATA port), a single USB port, HDMI and VGA outputs for connecting the laptop to an external display, a multiformat card reader, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a DVD re-writer. It also has separate headphone and microphone jacks as well as a 3.5mm S/PDIF optical digital audio output. You'll want to make use of the audio outputs, as its integrated speakers are very tinny and produce hardly any bass.

Its springy keys gave plenty of tactile feedback, but the hard plastic edge of the keyboard tray tended to dig into wrists, making it uncomfortable to type on over a long period of time. The touchpad was much more pleasant to use. Its smooth surface was accurate and responsive, and no problem performing multitouch gestures and Windows 8 shortcuts. It also has two separate buttons instead of a single bar.

One disappointment was the XMG A523's 15.6-inch display. Blacks were truly deep, but the rest of the solid colour image tests lacked warmth and vibrancy. This is partly due to the screen's matt finish, which often makes colours appear slightly less vivid than laptops with glossy screens. Whites, for example, looked grey, even at maximum brightness, and reds, greens and blues all looked cool and muted. The laptop's contrast levels were equally mixed. Its deep black levels destroyed areas of darker shadow detail and this made photos look gloomy. Colours also looked cool, which making the test images look even more subdued.

Surprisingly, the A523's battery life was above average for a gaming laptop, and it lasted 4 hours and 47 minutes in light use test with the screen set to half brightness. We expect power-hungry gaming laptops to last closer to four hours, so we were with its score. Of course, playing games will drain the battery much faster, so this is still very much a desktop replacement laptop rather than a portable gaming machine.

The Schenker XMG A523 is certainly a very powerful gaming laptop, but its average display holds it back.

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