Clevo W150HR: Like the Clevo P150/P151, Only Thinner and Lighter

Okay, let’s not get carried away: this is not a thin and light laptop by any stretch. However, it’s also not as bulky as the Clevo P15x laptops. At first encounter, they look strikingly similar, but when you start focusing on the details there are plenty of changes. Obviously, Optimus support is one change, though that shouldn’t require any major reworking of the motherboard. The bigger changes come in the areas of chassis layout and cooling.

We’ve got a few shots of the P151HM and W150HR together in the gallery below, and the most notable change is that the two exhaust ports on the rear of the P15x are gone, replaced by a single exhaust to the left. The chassis is also slightly smaller/thinner and weighs about a pound less. The reduced size and weight of the laptop means that the 55W i7-2920XM CPU is no longer an option, and the GPU tops out at the GT 555M we’re testing—as opposed to the GTX mobile parts offered in the P15x models. Obviously the lion’s share of the weight loss comes from the removal of one large HSF (heatsink + fan). With one less HSF and a less power hungry GPU, noise levels are down as well.

The overall shape of the chassis is less wedge-like than the P15x, and the overall design works well in our testing. Note that the original laptops we received for testing come with a glossy cover and LCD bezel; we asked MYTHLOGIC about this and they informed us they have switched to a matte cover, though the glossy LCD bezel remains. (Why, Clevo, WHY!?) That glossy bezel probably works well with the glossy LCD options, but there needs to be a matte bezel for the matte LCD upgrade. The palm rest looks like brushed aluminum, but it’s actually just a textured plastic; still, it does a good job at not picking up fingerprints (unless you have really greasy hands). MYTHLOGIC sent us some pictures of the matte cover as well, which we’ve included at the end of the above gallery.

Our complaints against the Clevo keyboard remain. I’ve covered this so many times that I’m simply going to quote what I said on the P150HM review:

Perhaps the most egregious flaw is the keyboard layout. I’ve gone off on this in the past, but every new Clevo system seems to continue the trend, so let’s be a more specific. We’ve still got the all-but-useless number keypad on the right, with the small-sized enter key where the decimal point belongs. Plus and minus are moved up top with the decimal point, which is where numlock, divide, and multiply should be. The zero key is half-sized and overlaps with the right cursor key, and finally there’s an extra row up top where the divide and multiply now sit. It makes the inclusion of the number keypad pointless for any touch 10-key typists.

If you move to the cursor keys, you’ll find that once again there’s no dedicated PgUp/PgDn/Home/End present if you’re using the number keypad. Instead, you have to use Fn+Cursor combinations to those shortcuts, and as someone that uses them all the time I find this highly annoying. The simplest solution for me was to eschew the use of Numlock and just use the 10-key for faster access to the other keys; besides, I can input numbers just as fast using the regular number keys as I can with the mangled 10-kay area. Given that there’s easily an inch of space Clevo could recover from the left and right of the keyboard area, why they can’t just ditch their tried-and-terrible layout and add put in a proper 10-key layout is beyond me.

I will say that I’ve grown slightly more accustomed to using Fn+Cursor to access Home/End/PgUp/PgDn (thanks to using Dell’s XPS 15z, whose layout is actually worse in my book than the XPS 15). I’d still prefer no 10-key with a column of document navigation keys to what Clevo has right now, but if you use the laptop long enough, you might get used to it—though I have yet to adapt to using their 10-key, given so many of the keys are in the “wrong” places.

Outside of the keyboard and gloss gripes, I don’t have too many major complaints. In the minor complaints division, however, the chassis is pretty much all plastic, which means it doesn’t provide me with a sense of solidity found in something like a ThinkPad T-series or Dell Latitude. Long-term, I suspect the chassis will start to feel a bit loose and creak when handled, but the same goes for most consumer laptops. The battery life also fails to meet expectations; clearly Clevo could do more work to optimize power use when unplugged. For reference, at idle running off the 62Wh battery, the W150HR draws around 14.4W; that goes up against Dell’s XPS 15 at ~9.6W and Alienware’s M14x at 9.7W, and even the large 17” Toshiba Qosmio X775 with a GTX 560M (Optimus) only draws ~10W. With Optimus, the GPU shouldn’t even be a factor for this test, so somewhere in the motherboard and other circuitry Clevo appears to be sucking down 40% more power at idle than competing solutions.

Speaking of the GPU, I also have a concern there. Yes, this is NVIDIA’s single name menagerie. There are at least three different GT 555M configurations I’m aware of, and they’re all different enough to make it important to know what exactly you’re getting. At the top of the GT 555M performance heap is the 192-bit DDR3 model with 144 CUDA cores. That’s what we tested in the Alienware M14x, and even though the 3GB VRAM is excessive, performance is at least good. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the GDDR5 version with 96 CUDA cores, but only 16 TMUs and 4 ROPs (vs. 24 TMUs and 16 ROPs). It has more memory bandwidth but the castrated ROPs is a bad joke—stay away from this model! And just to make things exciting, there’s a third version with a 128-bit memory interface but with 144 CUDA cores. That’s what we have in the W150HR: 2GB instead of 3GB and 2/3 the memory bandwidth. 3GB VRAM for a midrange GPU is overkill, but the extra 64-bit memory interface certainly has potential to help, so we’ll have to see how the M14x compares with this W150HR GPU.

In the face of all these criticisms, the W150HR does offer one trump card: the LCD. I’ve looked at a lot of laptop LCDs over the years, and short of IPS panels (e.g. HP DreamColor), this is the best looking LCD I’ve encountered. It’s at the top of the TN panel heap, and being able to get it in matte or glossy depending on your personal preference is merely icing on the cake. The model number is B156HW01 v4 from AU Optronics, and you can get the same panel in Lenovo’s W510/W520. I’ve seen the AUO B156HW01 glossy in the Dell XPS 15, which appears to be the same as the 95% NTSC glossy panel. (We’ve also tested the B156HW01 v1, which is the matte in the P150/P151 and it doesn’t have a high color gamut, and the v6, which is frankly terrible by comparison.) It’s true that the high gamut can make some sRGB content look oversaturated, but I prefer that to the washed out look of the <50% NTSC displays that most other laptops use. Incidentally, the Lenovo W520 with similar components and a Quadro 2000M will set you back two large; I’d actually be inclined to make that upgrade if I were in the market, but $350 extra for build quality and a slightly faster GPU definitely isn’t chump change.

Overall, the Pollux 1400 is an amazingly snappy system, but any laptop with a good SSD and a 2720QM CPU should offer a similar experience. The price is reasonable, the features are all there, and MYTHLOGIC offers a wealth of customizations. Before we come to a final verdict, let’s hit the benchmarks and see just where the Pollux/Clevo W150HR stands relative to the competition.

Meet the MYTHLOGIC Pollux 1400, aka Clevo W150HR I7 Quad-Core + SSD FTW
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  • chinedooo - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    my hp dv6t blows this thing outta the water. Its thinner lighter, and the 6770m is a better card than the gt 555 Reply
  • bji - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    The HP dv6t is several hundred dollars more expensive at a comparable configuration, and I don't know if the screen is as good as the Clevo (not saying it isn't, I just know that the Clevo screen is one of the best, and I don't know anything about the HP). So I wouldn't say it 'blows the Clevo out of the water', it's better in some areas and worse in others (like price).

    That being said, the Clevo sucks for many reasons (see my previous comment) so it may be that in useability the HP does blow the Clevo out of the water; I don't know as I have never used the HP.
    Reply
  • lolthisisfunny - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    Just made an account so I could tell you that you are way wrong. The dv6t has REGULAR 30% coupons that bring the price of a 6770m laptop to as little as 800 bucks.

    I used to have a dv6t, sold it, but for 1000 bucks with tax I got:

    1080p matte screen
    quad core 2630qm
    amd 6770m

    You won't find a better deal for raw specs anywhere else.

    This mythlogic costs 1637. LOL
    Reply
  • bji - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    You are right, that is a better price. However, is the screen the same quality as the Clevo's screen? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - link

    Take your dv6t price, add $250 for the 120GB Intel SSD, another $150 to upgrade the CPU from the 2630QM to the 2720QM, and an additional $120 to upgrade from the AUO B156HW01 v1 to the v4 -- both are matte, but the v4 is 95% NTSC gamut with slightly better viewing angles and better overall color.

    You're at $1674 for the basic setup, minus a 30% coupon (if you wait around for one to show up), and you still have to pay $250 for the Intel 120GB SSD since you can't configure it from HP that way. Or, you can take the Clevo, drop the SSD, downgrade the LCD and CPU, and you'd be looking at closer to $1200.

    Basically, it's the same price minus the 30% coupon you mention, which isn't always available. As for the graphics... well, that's a whole different can of worms. 6770M is faster than GTX 540M, but against the 555M it's a toss up. NVIDIA's Optimus versus AMD's discrete graphics however ends up woefully lopsided in favor of NVIDIA, unless you don't care about battery life?
    Reply
  • GSNorby - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    Nice review on the Pollux 1400.
    I would point out one fundamental difference between the other Clevo customizers and MYTHLOGIC: The Phoenix Upgrade Policy is unique in my experience.

    What this policy does is to assure people like me, who often agonize over component choices, that they won't be left in the cold when newer, better components come available. (In my previous experience, that happens about 26 seconds after the sale is final.) With MYTHLOGIC, you can upgrade very inexpensively, for the life of the system.
    From their webpage:
    ----
    You will be responsible for all shipping and handling charges (to and from MYTHLOGIC), plus our component cost plus 5% (limited to MYTHLOGIC approved hardware). All labor and testing is on us as part of owning a MYTHLOGIC computer.
    The PHOENIX Upgrade process also includes your MYTHLOGIC computer going through the assembly, pre testing, software configuration, benchmarking and recovery disk creation quality checklists.
    In addition your MYTHLOGIC computer will also receive extra pampering via interior and exterior case cleaning, software updates, driver and firmware updates and a fresh OS install topped off with a brand new Recovery Kit (At your option of course).
    ----

    I have never seen this sort of policy offered by any other vendor. It really adds value to the system, and is the difference between investing in a system and paying over and over for the base unit when new stuff comes along.
    Reply
  • bji - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    The shell and most of the components are identical to several other Clevo models; I bought and sold a very similar Clevo W150HN laptop recently. I bought it because, like the review mentions, it is hard to get better bang-for-the-buck value than with this generation of Clevos. The cost of the entire laptop is not much more than the cost of the constituent parts, and you are getting lots of horsepower and a great display for your money.

    I agree that the display is just incredible (I also got the 95% color gamut matte display and agree that it is among the best laptop displays available). And the laptop itself was fairly well built.

    However, that's just about all that I can say that is good about this generation of Clevos. They run a bit hot and have very annoying fan noise (although it is my understanding that the W150HR has better fan controller firmware and runs the fan quieter and less often than the ridiculous W150HN). The keyboard is TERRIBLE. I know these things are subjective but seriousy, I could not imagine a more flexy, squishy, looser and more awkward feeling keyboard than that on these Clevos. Also they have a really dumb number pad layout that is nearly useless and wastes real estate (from what I understand; I never use number pads anyway but I did find the placement of several keys that I do use like delete and page up/down annoying). The speakers are regarded as some of the worst available on any laptop. And the headphone jack, at least on my unit and running under Linux, was not able to drive my headphones more than maybe 1/2 normal volume at the highest volume setting. The touchpad has a very unpleasant feel and is so super sensitive that just having your palms above it while typing is enough to send your pointer randomly off into no man's land frustratingly often.

    Make no mistake, these laptops are ALL FUNCTION, and absolutely ZERO FORM. Meaning, that if you just need raw horsepower in the most ungainly package possible, then these are a really great value. If you care at all about the experience of using the laptop, then move on. These just suck. I was so disappointed that I sold mine after 2 months at a $400 loss. I was lured by the specs and excited to receive it but my excitement quickly wore off in the face of all of the useability issues with the laptop I found myself almost never using it, because it was so unpleasant.
    Reply
  • sablar - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    I bought the MSI GE620DX which is very similar in terms of specification (555m, 144, 128-bit, 1080p) and in being kind of a budget gaming notebook.

    Pretty happy with it overall. Mine settles in the low 80C and isn't very loud but I got the i5-2410 instead of i7 version for a good price so that kind of explains it. GPU is clocked higher and around same temp. Also has a good screen. Bad part is the touchpad which is awful with hard-to-press buttons and poor scrolling, you can't open it without voiding warranty if adding RAM or so, Could be an option for those looking at the clevo.
    Reply
  • JLM - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - link

    Had three criterea for a laptop. 15.6 inch FHD display. Fast graphics and a solid chassis.

    Bought an HP dv6t and returned it for a horrible flex on the keyboard and cheap tin-can design and material joins.

    Bought an XPS15 and returned it for a whimpy graphics card.

    Looked at Alienware and rejected immature design.

    Finally bought a Sager (this model) from xoticPC and could NOT be happier. Fast graphics, perfect display, no flex on the keyboard, no bloat, port positioning...

    As far as build, better than the HP by far, about on par with the XPS. Design is completely understated and businesslike. Pressing down on all spots of the keyboard there is no flex like the HP...

    Best of all, totally understated design. This thing could belong in an office environment no problem.

    I bought three years parts and labor warranty and had them put on arctic silver. I guess if it gets too hot they will have to fix it. I can play games with it on my lap. It does heat up on the left side, but doesn't burn.

    Highly recommended. Check out the notebook check review as well.
    Reply
  • bhima - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I have the 540m MYTHLOGIC version of this machine and its been running strong. You can't beat that 95% gamut matte screen, I don't think I'll ever go back to a crappy base-model panel again. Reply

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