The Bottom Line
Jan 10 2012 - With a base price just under $1100, the iBUYPOWER Battalion 101 W170HR is certainly going to an attractive option for those wanting a large gaming laptop but are on a tight budget. The system overall has a good set of features that does make it for a decent gaming system but power gamers will be disappointed by the graphics processor that can't always handle the 1920x1080 resolution LCD panel. In addition, the storage and memory systems offer less overall performance that some of the competition. These can be upgraded by buyers but it would be nice to see them as standard rather than upgrades.
- Affordable 17-inch Gaming Laptop
- Lots of High Speed Peripheral Ports
- Just 4GB Of Memory With Poor Upgrade Options
- Graphics Processor Can't Quite Game At Full Display Resolution
- Below Average Running Times
- Intel Core i7-2670QM Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 17.3" WUXGA (1920x1080) LED Backlit Display With 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M Dedicated Graphics With 2GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 2.0, Two USB 2.0, eSATA (shared), HDMI, VGA, 9-in-1 Card Reader
- 16.4" x 10.9" x 1.6" @ 6.8 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - iBUYPOWER Battalion 101 W170HR
Jan 10 2012 - iBUYPOWER has based their affordable 17-inch gaming laptop around the Clevo W170HR chassis that the system derives its name from. For the most part, the system uses the default setup from Clevo with only a few options for customization of the system.
Powering the Battalion 101 W170HR is the quad core Intel Core i7-2670QM processor. This is a good overall choice that can offer some solid performance. Now, most games won't take advantage of more than two cores. There is no option to downgrade the processor to a dual core processor to save a bit on the cost. The processor is matched up with 4GB of DDR3 memory. This is a bit disappointing as most laptops priced over $1000 come with between 6 and 8GB of memory. Now for gaming, this probably won't impact the performance much but it can impact the amount of multitasking or demanding non-gaming tasks such as desktop video. Upgrading the memory has several issues. First, the 8GB upgrade from iBUYPOWER is a bit on the high side. If buyers want to upgrade the memory themselves, they will have to remove the two existing 2GB modules to replace them with a pair of 4GB ones.
Storage for the Battalion 101 W170HR is a bit disappointing considering its price range. The system features a 500GB hard drive that is a bit on the small side now for laptops over $1000. In addition, it spins at the more sedate 5400rpm rate that limits its performance for loading data. This is apparent when loading levels on various games. Now, iBUYPOWER does offer a number of upgrades to the drive including a variety of solid state drives. For the most part, they are quite expensive and will drop the overall storage as there is only room for a single drive. Those on a budget wanting extra performance should look into the 7200rpm drives. There is a dual layer DVD burner for handling playback or recording of CD and DVD media. No option for a Blu-ray compatible drives is offered. If you need external storage, the laptop does feature two USB 3.0 ports and a shared eSATA port with one of the USB 2.0 ports.
The laptop features a 17.3-inch display panel that features a high 1920x1080 resolution for full 1080p high definition video support. Line most laptops, it features a glossy coating that is nice for contrast and color in darker lighting but can cause glare and reflections when used outdoors or in bright light. The graphics are handled by the NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M graphics processor. This is the highest of the GT series graphics processors and offers a good level of 3D performance but some gamers might be disappointed that it will struggle to produce many modern games at the full resolution of the LCD panel. Instead, many games may have to have their detail levels or resolution turned down for smooth performance.
The Battalion W170HR offers a unique form of switchable graphics between the NVIDIA and Intel graphics. It has the NVIDIA Optimus technology built-in to automatically switch to the dedicated graphics when a compatible program is detected. This is good for helping improve battery life when the faster graphics are not needed but there are times when the detection doesn't always switch properly. For this, there is a separate graphics button switch on the laptop that allows the use to manually set the state of which graphics processor should be used.
While many gaming laptops are quite large, the Battalion W170HR offers a relatively slim and lightweight profile. In order to achieve this, the system uses a smaller six cell battery pack that features a 48WHr capacity rating. This is well below most gaming specific laptops and more inline with low cost consumer 17-inch laptops. In DVD playback tests, the system was able to run for just over three hours before going into standby mode. Now, if the system is used exclusively for gaming on the battery, the running time is going to be well below two hours. Typical usage will yield just unfer four hours which is below average for a 17-inch laptop.
The closest competing system to the Battalion 101 W170HR is the Cyberpower Xplorer X7-7500 which is based on a similar Clevo W170HN chassis. The differences are fairly minor between the two but the base features for each are slightly different. At roughly the same price, Cyberpower is offering 8GB of memory and a larger 640GB drive. Cybepower also offers more customization options but iBUYPOWER seems to be slightly more affordable for those upgrades.