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Digital Storm xm15 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop Computer

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Digital Storm xm15 Gaming Laptop Review
Image Courtesy Digital Storm

The Bottom Line

May 4 2011 - The Digital Storm xm15 is a midsized 15.6-inch laptop that is suitable for PC gaming. With a full HD 1920 x 1080 display, using the xm15 hands-on was a pleasure. Although many games benefit from reduced settings, the level of gameplay was impressive, especially consider the Digital Storm xm15 retails for $1,039. For this price, the laptop also features a quad-core Intel Core i7-2630QM processor that is quite fast. The dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M 1GB graphics card provides enhanced gameplay without sacrificing portability and battery life thanks to Optimus technology.

Pros

  • Incredible Display
  • Fast Sandy Bridge Quad-Core Processor
  • Above Average Video Card for the Price
  • Lightweight and Thin
  • Excellent Overall Value

Cons

  • Keyboard Isn't Backlit
  • Lack of a Hybrid SSD Hard Drive

Description

  • 2nd Generation Intel Core i7-2630QM 2.0GHz Processor with 6MB of Cache
  • 6GB DDR3 1333MHz Dual Channel Memory (up to 8GB)
  • 15.6-Inch Full HD 1920 x 1080 LED-Backlit Display with Super Clear Glare Type Screen
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M Graphics Card
  • 500GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive
  • 8x DVD-RW
  • One HDMI, One VGA, Two USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, One eSATA Port
  • 3-in-1 Card Reader
  • Integrated Fingerprint Reader
  • 6-Cell Battery
  • Webcam
  • 14.72" x 9.84" x 0.98~1.46" @ 5.73 Pounds

Review - Digital Storm xm15 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop PC

For many gamers, hauling around a super heavy 17-inch notebook just isn't feasible. That's where the Digital Storm xm15 comes in. With an economical price of $1,039 as configured above and a weight of 5.73 pounds with the battery pack, this 15-inch laptop PC mixes portability with fun. It can easily run newly released games thanks to the dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M video card, and the slim design makes it a breeze to carry from place to place.

Upon unpacking the Digital Storm xm15, I was amazed that this lightweight system could be deemed a gaming rig. After all, with typical gaming units (even the more mobile ones), there is definitely an added weight over mainstream laptops. But the Digital Storm is less than 1.5-inches thick, and it has a nice feel to it with a glossy cover that sports the Digital Storm moniker.

But if the size and weight are impressive, nothing prepared me for the full HD display. The LED-backlit screen is simply gorgeous. It is a glossy display, but thanks to Super Clear Glare Type technology, I had no problem using the system in a variety of light levels.

The keyboard on the Digital Storm xm15 also has a nice feel to it with a full numeric keypad for those who crunch numbers when not in-game. The same holds true for the touchpad, which is smooth and responsive. Unfortunately, the keyboard is not backlit which might prove to be a detriment for those who like to play in the dark. Yes, the xm15 is an affordable laptop, but it has a nice build quality that makes you feel as if you spent quite a bit more.

In terms of components, the xm15 also packs quite a punch for under $1,050. The review unit arrived equipped with a 2nd Generation Intel Core i7-2630QM processor. While this quad-core CPU isn't quite as fast as the Core i7-2720QM, it is definitely a great value for the price. The chip features 6MB of L3 cache for added performance as well.

Also included in this particular system is 6GB of DDR3 1333MHz, which proved to be more than enough during a multitude of workloads, from running multiple tabs in Internet Explorer and FireFox to viewing several spreadsheets at one time while installing games. The Digital Storm xm15 does support up to 8GB, so if you feel you need you need to swap the 2GB stick for a 4GB memory module it is a possibility. To further illustrate the system's performance, the following memory and CPU benchmarks were achieved using AIDA64 Extreme.

AIDA64 Benchmarks

  • Memory Read: 14707 MB/s
  • Memory Write: 13806 MB/s
  • Memory Copy: 13693 MB/s
  • Memory Latency: 59.7 ns
  • CPU Queen: 32377
  • CPU PhotoWorxx: 36453
  • CPU ZLib: 197.8 MB/s
  • CPU AES: 31765
  • CPU Hash: 1639 MB/s
  • FPU VP8: 1611
  • FPU Julia: 12320
  • FPU Mandel: 6425
  • FPU SinJulia: 3467

This brings us to the video card. For a system under $1,050 it was a pleasant surprise to see Digital Storm include an NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M graphics card. This card only has 1GB of GDDR3 video memory, but the xm15 is available with the GT 555M 2GB graphics card on Digital Storm's website.

Digital Storm xm 15 Laptop ReviewImage Courtesy Digital Storm

However, I did not find the included GT 540M to be a huge bottleneck during gaming. I was able to run Rift and Dragon Age II with ease, although gameplay benefited with anti-aliasing turned off. For a glimpse into the performance of the GeForce GT 540M, here are benchmarks for a few popular games with various settings.

Resolution for all benchmarks: 1920 x 1080

Dragon Age II
Anti-Aliasing: Off
Graphics: Medium
Utility: FRAPS

  • Minimum FPS: 22
  • Maximum FPS: 40
  • Average FPS: 29.181

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2
Anti-Aliasing: Off
Graphics: DirectX 11 Tessellation
Utility: Internal Benchmarking Tool

  • Maximum FPS: 47
  • Average FPS: 33

Anti-Aliasing: 2x
Graphics: DirectX 11 Tessellation

  • Maximum FPS: 41
  • Minimum FPS: 27

Anti-Aliasing: 4x
Graphics: DirectX 11 Tessellation

  • Maximum: 38
  • Average: 25

As you can see, frame rates improved with anti-aliasing turned off. In fact, I was able to run Rift smoothly with the settings on Ultra when AA was disabled. Overall, I was quite impressed with the level of gameplay in a laptop this affordable. Battery life also is decent on the Digital Storm xm15. I squeezed a little over two hours from the battery.

In conclusion, the Digital Storm xm15 notebook is a top buy for the price thanks to a full high definition display and above average video card. The size and weight of the laptop make it a great option for those on the go, such as students and mobile gamers.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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