Slate 15 does a cool job at a good price

Fans of Aftershock and its competitively priced, custom gaming computers will be delighted to know that the local firm's latest Slate 15 gaming laptop is an entirely new design packed with features not found on Aftershock's older models.

These features, though, are the icing on the cake because the Slate 15 is powered by the latest computing hardware.

Buyers can choose among the three major variants of Nvidia's RTX 20 graphics chips (RTX 2060, RTX 2070 and RTX 2080), though the higher-end 2070 and 2080 chips are the Max-Q models with more conservative clock speeds.

They can also customise the amount of system memory (RAM) and internal storage. A fully tricked-out model can have up to 32GB RAM and 2TB of fast solid-state storage.

Despite the Slate 15 moniker, the laptop actually has a 16.1-inch screen and not the standard 15.6-inch display.

Aftershock says the slim bezel design of the Slate laptop is the reason it could fit the slightly larger screen while keeping a similar footprint as 15-inch gaming laptops.

  • SPECS 

    PRICE: $2,859

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-8750H (2.2GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 8GB GDDR6 (Max-Q)

    RAM: 16GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 16.1 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

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

    BATTERY: 62 watt-hour

  • RATING 

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4.5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 2/5

    OVERALL: 4.5/5

Its matte screen boasts a 144Hz refresh rate, which is useful for less-demanding games that can run at high frame rates. The colours look good and viewing angles are impeccable. It could be a tad brighter, though.

Its aluminium chassis is slim and portable, though its 19.9mm thickness and its 2.1kg weight are hardly remarkable in these days of ultra-slim gaming laptops. Aftershock has also bundled a relatively small power adapter with the laptop.

I like its clean design, without the automotive-inspired aesthetics of many gaming notebooks. You can rev up the bling factor by paying for a custom paint job from Aftershock.

A new feature is an optical fingerprint sensor embedded under the glass touchpad. It is similar to the ones seen on some smartphones - a fingerprint icon lights up to indicate where to place your finger. But I feel it is not as fast or as accurate as a traditional fingerprint reader.

The touchpad is a Microsoft precision touchpad, which means it natively supports multi-touch gestures in Windows 10.

Typical of a gaming laptop, the keyboard is backlit, with each key having its own coloured LED with millions of colours available. The keys themselves have a good amount of travel and a somewhat tactile feel, though they still appear more mushy than clicky to me.

More importantly, these keys do not feel warm while I am playing a game, which taxes the laptop graphics chip. Aftershock says the cooling system has been improved, with new fans that can spin at up to a relatively fast 6,000rpm.

In my testing, the maximum temperature of the graphics chip reported by a monitoring app was 74 deg C - lower than 80 to 90 deg C on some gaming notebooks.

The fans can become rather loud, though I soon got used to the constant droning noise. It helps, too, that Aftershock has put impressively loud speakers on the Slate 15. And they also sound deeper and wider than the speakers in previous Aftershock laptops.

My review set comes with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 (Max-Q) graphics chip and the latest six-core Intel Core i7-8750H processor.

In Crysis 3, it managed about 101 frames per second (fps) at Very High setting. In comparison, the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX701, which has a higher-end RTX 2080 chip, scored 128fps. The Slate was also second-best to the GX701 in Doom (Ultra setting), managing 115fps to the GX701's 130fps.

Its battery stamina is relatively good for a gaming laptop. It lasted 3hr 45min in our video-loop battery test with the screen brightness set to maximum.

• Verdict: Aftershock gets the basics right with the Slate 15, which has a good display and loud speakers, and runs relatively cool. It is priced competitively too.

Vincent Chang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2019, with the headline 'Slate 15 does a cool job at a good price'. Print Edition | Subscribe