The Clevo P870DM2 / Mythlogic Phobos 8716 Laptop Review: DTR With GTX 1080by Brett Howse on October 27, 2016 2:00 PM EST
This desktop replacement really puts the spotlight on performance, but the lack of premium materials in the case may dissuade some. Mythlogic and Clevo have still offered up a design that is pleasing to the eye, without being adorned with a lot of the excessive furnishings that are on many gaming laptops. The color scheme is simply black, with black vents on the back, a black top, and black chassis. The exception to this is the RGB backlit cross hatches on the top, which can be set to seven colors, or turned off, through the MYTH Control Center. The software also allows you to set pulsing lights, random colors, and more. The design isn’t going to win awards, but for a device that doesn’t need to be in your hand very often, it is certainly functional. The black plastic is fairly resilient to fingerprints, and the chassis itself is nice and rigid, although at almost two inches thick, I suppose it should be.
The same MYTH Control Center handles the keyboard duties. Here there a lot more options to customize the keyboard. There is full RGB backlighting on the keyboard, and with the help of a color wheel, or manual entry of the RGB values, you can select any color you like. There are no per-key choices here, but the keyboard is split into three zones, with left and right of the keyboard, plus the number pad, and all able to be set to different colors. The software shows a clean break between the zones, but there is quite a bit of light bleed between the zones, so in the middle the colors are a bit mixed. I don’t mind this on the keyboard, but it would be nice if the number pad was able to be separated. Also, and this is a list of personal preferences, I would rather have one zone for the keyboard, one for the number pad, and then one for the WASD keys if they are going to do zones. There are also modes to have the keyboard flash and do other funky things, much like other companies have. These modes would be ok for a demo, but are not very suitable for day to day use.
Let’s talk about the keyboard itself. For those that recall our last Clevo DTR review, the P750ZM, the keyboard in this version is pretty much identical. The keyboard is much more old school than most of the island style we would see these days, and overall it’s not a great experience. I tend to focus a lot on the keyboard, perhaps more than others, but this keyboard is really sub-par by today’s standards. The key travel is very shallow, which is even more puzzling considering how thick this laptop is, and the key shape makes it difficult to determine the edges of keys when touch typing. I really think Clevo could do a better job here. Even though this is a DTR, plenty of people are likely to use this keyboard even if they don’t use the trackpad, so some engineering here would go a long way.
The Synaptics track pad is by far less important on a device like this, since I would assume most buyers would be using it with a dedicated mouse most of the time. But the track pad is usable, with a decent surface that I had no issues tapping or doing multi-touch gestures on. The dedicated buttons make it a bit more serviceable for gaming as well, even if they do take up space that could otherwise be used for the touch surface. The most interesting feature on this trackpad though is the integrated Windows Hello capable fingerprint reader. It is a touch model, not a swipe, and although I would prefer it to be a bit larger, it works quiet well and makes for a quick login. I think this is a great way to get a fingerprint reader into a laptop, and I hope others take note.
As mentioned on the first page, there are an abundance of ports on this notebook, meaning you pretty much can use it ask a desktop if needed. The inclusion of not one but two USB 3.1 Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 means there is plenty of expandability if needed, but there are also five additional Type A ports for more common devices, along with plenty of video outputs and audio inputs. There are also two Ethernet ports, and a SD card slot which does hold the card completely inside the laptop, so it can be used permanently if needed.
For some, the exterior is important, but for other buyers, it’s going to be internal access which is a deal breaker, and happily Clevo offers a pretty nice layout for upgrades. The bottom can be removed for access to the MXM cards, and a couple of the RAM slots. The keyboard can be removed to access the other two RAM slots, as well as two M.2 SSD slots, and there is also room for two 2.5-inch SATA drives as well. This kind of expandability should help to extend the longevity of the device.
Overall the Mythlogic Phobos 8716 / Clevo P870DM2 does not hit the high bar of more expensive devices when it comes to design and premium materials, but it is very expandable, and even upgradable.
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DanNeely - Friday, October 28, 2016 - linkI know there aren't any officially published numbers, I was hoping you could measure power to get approximate ones.
Ratman6161 - Thursday, October 27, 2016 - link"Clevo is one of the few laptop makers that is in the DTR market"
Not really true. Dell, HP, and Lenovo all make laptops in the 15 to 17 inch size with quad core CPU's, loads of RAM, NVMe drives etc. They are lighter, less expensive (generally speaking) and with better battery life. Of course the specs you have are saying they are using desktop CPU's instead of somthing like the i7-6700HQ, an actual quad core mobile CPU as used in the others. As workstation focused machines they also tend to use the Quadro GPU's rather than the gaming focused. But it doesn't take too much looking to find DTR class laptops.
eriri-el - Thursday, October 27, 2016 - linkI can't seem to find anywhere that a TI/Burr Brown DAC in in this thing. Sources below says audio is powered by an ESS Sabre DAC, which is known for its bad implementations by alot of manufaturers, making it sound way inferior compared to other DACs.
Hopefully you can clarify if it exists, where can get the TI/Burr Brown DAC edition, thx.
LaggLad - Thursday, October 27, 2016 - linkYes they have the ESS Sabre DAC and Burr Brown AMP.
Meaker10 - Thursday, October 27, 2016 - linkES9018 + LM49720 + OPA1622 ;)
df2rools - Thursday, October 27, 2016 - link"If so, fret not. The GTX 1080 does not too bad on this game."
That sure is some English right there. (dota 2 performance section.
boeush - Thursday, October 27, 2016 - linkI have a Clevo in the same chassis (built by Sager), bought early last spring - so I'm a little behind on components now, what with a 980M and only 16 GB of RAM -- but still with a 6700K. I might upgrade the GPU later in 2017, when the next-gen stuff comes out with HBM2, better power/perf/process optimizations, and/or what-not. But I'm stuck with a 1080p screen since the 1440p wasn't available for order back then.
Anyway, yeah some aspects of this rig are unnecessary or unrefined and garish. The LED highlights on the lid, for one. Why, indeed. The weird randomized keyboard backlighting on boot-up, with user-customized settings not kicking in until you log in and load the Windows desktop. Yeah, the touch pad is a little glitchy (on occasion it stops working; the workaround is usually to disable/re-enable it via a function key combo.) I had to get a Windows 7 Pro running on it for some work-related reasons, so I set up an MBR boot on the secondary SSD and have to manually toggle the UEFI boot off in the BIOS every time I want to boot into Win 7; after playing around I was able to get it all working but for whatever reason the Windows 7 boot under BIOS emulation sees only ~2 GB of the installed RAM (so after the OS takes its share, applications only have ~1 GB to play with.) I consider this a design bug, though probably not too many people would care at this point and so it's not likely to ever be fixed; plus, none of the drivers (including UEFI/BIOS firmware) for this machine have any updates available from Sager since October of 2015... (Maybe Mythlogic is better than Sager about that? Or maybe not; I wouldn't know...)
I do wish the keyboard was better, and that overall the user-facing design elements better leveraged the available real estate. There are huge - unbelievably and utterly wasted - margins around the keyboard; it would have been better if the keys were larger and/or better spaced out, with the keyboard spanning the entire width of the laptop. Ditto for display. The bezels are obscenely enormous; they could (and should!) have easily fitted in an 18"+ screen with thinner bezels.
Ascaris - Friday, October 28, 2016 - linkWhy would you have to disable UEFI boot and use MBR to boot Windows 7 on the secondary SSD? That would suggest it is the x86 version... would x64 not work with your work-related stuff?
boeush - Friday, October 28, 2016 - linkYeah, forgot to mention for work it has to be the 32-bit version of Windows 7, not x64 (yeah I know, it sucks - but one would still expect it to see/use 4 GB of the installed RAM, instead of just 2...) Anyway, Windows 7 won't even install on a disk unless it's formatted with MBR (you can't select GPT disks as targets in the installer UI - they are disabled/grayed out.) And unless UEFI boot is disabled, the machine automatically boots from the primary GPT-formatted disk (where the Win 10 install is that came with the machine and I otherwise use regularly.)
boeush - Friday, October 28, 2016 - linkBTW, you might think one possible workaround could be to just run the 32-bit Win 7 in a VM - but unfortunately I need hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to work correctly, and VMs still tend to have big problems with that even today.