Where this chassis does redeem itself somewhat is its features list. Most of the modern prerequisites are present, with a 2.0 Megapixel webcam above the screen and an HDMI socket on the side – eSATA is the only obvious thing missing. There’s also a Blu-ray equipped version available for around £600, though our version just has a DVD Rewriter drive.
Joining the HDMI socket on the left edge are two USB ports, an Ethernet socket, a 54mm ExpressCard slot, and an SD/SDHC/MMC/MS/MS Pro/RSMMC reader. Meanwhile the front is home to microphone and headphone jacks, which sit below the trackpad with its integrated fingerprint reader nestled between the left and right buttons – the left and right buttons that, just like the multimedia and power buttons, are horribly stiff and uncooperative. As for the trackpad itself, it is accurate enough, but the scroll section is too near the middle so it’s easy to accidently scroll rather than move the pointer and the scrolling action itself is far too sensitive.
One USB port on the right edge and a VGA socket, Modem socket, and Kensington lock slot on the back round out the connectivity.
Joining the aforementioned hardware on the inside, this notebook has Draft-N wireless and Bluetooth connectivity while the screen is a conventional CCFL-backlit TFT. It’s not the best screen we’ve ever encountered with noticeable backlight bleed, mediocre viewing angles, a lack of brightness, and generally a slightly washed out look. However, sharpness and colour accuracy are perfectly adequate for most everyday use.
Its 1,280 x 800 resolution is also a perfect match for the system’s graphics card meaning it can cope with many modern day games at native resolution. Indeed, putting it to the test by playing Call Of Duty 4 on high detail settings we managed to get 41fps. Crysis proved more of a challenge with us needing to scale back to medium settings to get even 24fps at the native resolution.
Obviously these scores were helped by the fact we’d stuffed our system with some extremely expensive hardware, but even if you used a more sensible CPU and a normal hard drive you’d get decent performance. Certainly, for the £700 or so you could build a system based on this chassis for, you’d be hard pushed to get significantly better gaming performance.
Being a gaming/desktop replacement oriented notebook, it should come as no surprise that battery life isn’t great, but we were disappointed to note quite how poor it was, with none of our tests pushing passed the two hour mark. The higher than normal power consumption of our CPU will have had some impact on these figures, though.
Perhaps the biggest problem for this particular model, though, is that literally as of today it’s end of line so you’ll be hard pushed to get hold of one. So, while we’ve included our original scores and fully assessed this particular model as though it were a full review, we would like you to think of it as more a proof of concept article. As such we feel OCZ is definitely on to something with the DIY line. Sure, it would be ideal if there was some way of upgrading the graphics as well but it’s still nice to have the other upgrade options. What’s of most concern is that this chassis is just a little to cheaply made for us to be satisfied. So when OCZ releases a new version, which we fully expect it to do, we’ll be hoping it has taken a step up the quality ladder.
Despite poor battery life and an inability to upgrade the graphics on this apparently self-serviceable notebook, OCZ has still proven there’s potential in an upgradable notebook. Certainly if you can source your other components cheaply, this could be exceedingly good value for a gaming notebook. It’s just a shame this particular model is no longer available so you’ll probably have to wait until OCZ release the updated version before having a go yourself.
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