As any savvy gamer will know, the graphics card is the single most important element in any gaming rig. You can get away with a fairly underpowered CPU and just 4GB of RAM, but the graphics card needs some serious muscle to play the latest titles as they were intended. Thankfully, the dual-GPU AMD Radeon HD 6990M is ridiculously buff, but is it enough to finally play maxed-out Crysis on a single laptop card?
In fact, AMD claims the 6990M is “The World’s Fastest Single Mobile GPU”. This doesn’t always hold true against Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 580M, as the two generally trade blows depending on the title. However, the Radeon card is a whopping £200 cheaper! This leaves smoother integrated/discrete switching plus more comprehensive 3D support as Nvidia’s only real trump cards, and neither is worth that difference.
Thanks to the 6990M’s power, the Vector Elite laughed at our regular gaming benchmarks. At 720p and Medium Detail, it achieved a 161fps (frames per second) average in TrackMania Nations Forever and 127fps in Stalker: Call of Pripyat. Just for reference, 30fps is the standard for most console games and 60fps is considered excellent. Clearly, it needed a little pushing, so we turned Stalker’s settings up to full whack and the resolution up to the screen’s native 1080p. The Elite didn’t break a sweat, giving us 63.7fps average with a 27.6fps minimum.
Time to move on to Crysis. Despite being quite long in the tooth by now, Crysis still sets a standard that has rarely been exceeded in gaming graphics. It scales very well, but with everything at maximum we haven’t yet found a single-card laptop that could play it smoothly. The Elite passed with flying colours at High Detail 720p, with a 51.7fps average. However, maxing the settings out at 1080p, the average dropped to 26.3fps. This is just about playable, but when the action got frantic, the minimum frame rate dropped too low for comfort.
It can't quite manage smooth 1080p, but the Radeon 6990M is the first single card to play Crysis at maximum settings on 720p.
So can it play Crysis in all its glory? Not quite, but drop the resolution down a notch and the answer becomes ‘yes, it can’. This means Wired2Fire’s laptop will handle all but the most demanding games currently available with consummate ease, and only a few titles may require minor compromises.
Surprisingly, despite all this CPU and GPU goodness under its hood, the Elite stayed remarkably cool and quiet while under load and gaming. Clevo has obviously taken great care with its chassis design, and while not as quiet as the Asus G73, the Vector Elite holds up very well indeed.
Battery life is usually a touchy subject for gaming laptops, which tend to do rather poorly thanks to their powerful components and large screens. Despite a high-capacity 8-cell, 5200mAh/76.96Whr battery (albeit drawing up to 14.8V compared to the 11V of most laptops), the Vector Elite fell 10 minutes short of three hours in our low-intensity test – and that’s using Intel’s integrated graphics, so expect battery life to take a significant hit when using the Radeon HD 6990M.
Last but not least we get to the question of value, and here Wired2Fire’s £1,577 Elite gaming machine doesn’t quite make the grade. For example, PCSpecialist offers the exact same configuration in the same chassis for £30 less, throws in a superior warranty, and gives you more options into the bargain - like an optional matt screen finish, greater choice of drives and drive configurations, optional second battery, damage insurance, and more.
All this considered, there seems to be little reason to choose the Vector Elite over alternatives. Speaking of, if you don’t need the mobility a gaming laptop provides, a desktop will give you far more power, flexibility and upgrade potential while making fewer demands on your wallet.
The Wired2Fire Vector Elite is a powerful 17in gaming laptop that will handle even the most demanding titles with minimal compromise thanks to AMD’s dual-GPU Radeon HD 6990M, backed by a quad-core Core i7 CPU paired with 8GB of RAM and a 160GB SSD plus regular HDD combo. It shows it all off on an impressive Full HD screen, stays cool and quiet, and is fully configurable. However, other manufacturers offer exactly the same specs in the same chassis for less money.