Reviews: Gaming

Aftershock prices Prime 15 to rock laptop rivals

Despite its slim profile, the Aftershock Prime 15 packs a mid-range Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip, which is just about capable enough to run graphically demanding virtual reality games.
Despite its slim profile, the Aftershock Prime 15 packs a mid-range Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip, which is just about capable enough to run graphically demanding virtual reality games.PHOTO: AFTERSHOCK

The notebook sells for nearly $1k less than a rival's 14-inch model with similar hardware

Aftershock PC wants a slice of the slim gaming laptop pie. The local PC boutique firm recently launched the Prime 15, a sleek 15-inch aluminium-clad notebook that weighs under 2kg and measures just 18.6mm thick.

Despite the slim profile, the Prime 15 packs a mid-range Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip, which is just about capable enough to run graphically demanding virtual reality games.

But the best part is the pricing. The Prime 15 starts at $2,272 with the latest Intel Core i7 processor, GTX 1060 and a 500GB solid-state drive (SSD). My souped-up $2,565 review set has a 120Hz display that is great for gaming because of its high refresh rate. But it is a twisted nematic (TN) screen that does not look as vibrant as an IPS display and costs an additional $145. For those who prefer better visuals, Aftershock also has a 4K IPS option for an extra $225.

In comparison, the equally portable 14-inch Razer Blade offers similar hardware at $3,199. Other slim gaming laptops from MSI and Gigabyte are priced in that range too.

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Like many boutique PC firms, Aftershock sources its laptop chassis from Taiwanese laptop contract manufacturer Clevo. Looks-wise, the Prime 15 appears fairly generic and plain, with an arrow-like lighting pattern on the lid. Aftershock says it plans to offer two additional designs for the lid in the future. In the meantime, Prime 15 buyers can request a custom paint job for a reasonable fee.

The Prime 15 may not win any awards for its looks, but it scores high in the functionality department. Its sides are bristling with ports, including two mini DisplayPort and two USB 3.1 Type-C connectors. Hence, it can connect to multiple external displays, as well as the latest USB Type-C devices.

Open its lid and the Prime 15 instantly becomes more eye-catching, thanks to its RGB LED keyboard backlight. This keyboard is tactile with good key travel.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $2,565

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5

    RAM: 16GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 3 x USB 3.0, HDMI, 2 x mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet port, SD card slot, audio jacks

    BATTERY: 55 watt-hour


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 1/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The Prime 15 may not win any awards for its looks, but it scores high in the functionality department. Its sides are bristling with ports, including two mini DisplayPort and two USB 3.1 Type-C connectors. Hence, it can connect to multiple external displays, as well as the latest USB Type-C devices.

It comes with the Flexikey app that lets users adjust the backlight colour and create custom macros. Meanwhile, you can use the Control Center app to switch between different power management profiles, as well as disable the touchpad and Web camera.

As expected of a slim gaming laptop, the Prime 15's internal cooling fans ramp up in speed and noise shortly after I loaded a game. The speakers located above the keyboard are loud enough to drown the fan noise, but they are lacking in bass performance.

You can cycle through various audio profiles using the preloaded Creative Sound Blaster Connect app. Besides the usual presets like movie and music, this app has custom gaming profiles for games like Counter-Strike and Overwatch.

It performs up to the mark for a gaming laptop with its specifications. In Crysis 3, it produced around 65 frames per second (fps) at Very High setting and 76 fps in Doom at Ultra setting.

• Verdict: Aftershock's slim gaming laptop undercuts its nearest rivals by a significant amount. It is also more customisable.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2017, with the headline 'Aftershock prices Prime 15 to rock laptop rivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe