The Bottom Line
Jul 16 2012 - The iBUYPOWER Valkyrie CZ-17 is a strong performer when it comes to being a gaming machine thanks to the new Intel Ivy Bridge processor and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M graphics processor. With prices starting around $1369, it certainly is also very affordable for this level of performance. The downside is that the display is not nearly as good as some of the competing 17-inch gaming laptops. Also, the base hard drive comes with some performance issues. Thankfully, iBUYPOWER offers a wide range of customization that can correct some of the issues but they will also drive up the price of the system.
- Strong 3D Performance
- Larger Number of Customization Options Available
- Display Not As Nice As Some of the Competition
- Base Hard Drive Offers Subpar Performance
- Slower 1333MHz Memory
- Intel Core i7-3610QM Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 17.3" WUXGA (1920x1080) Display With 3.0 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M Dedicated Graphics With 2GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Three USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, eSATA (shared), HDMI, VGA, 4-in-1 Card Reader
- 16.9" x 11.3" x 2.2" @ 7.9 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - iBUYPOWER Valkyrie CZ-17
Jul 16 2012 - iBUYPOWER's latest 17-inch gaming laptop is based around the MSI MS1762 whitebook laptop design. This is used by a number of other resellers such as Cyberpower in its Xplorer X7-8100 and also by MSI in its GT70 laptops. It is a dedicated gaming design that offers some solid features while also being relatively affordable compared to what many prestige companies ask for similarly equipped systems. The look it nearly identical to the MSI model but uses the iBUYPOWER logo on the back rather than the MSI name.
For the base configuration of the Valkyrie CZ-17, the new Intel Core i7-3610QM quad core processor is used. This provides a solid level of performance for just about any type of application whether it is gaming or desktop video work. iBUYPOWER offers several upgraded processors that offer more speed but it is a fairly high upgrade cost for the amount of performance that they offer particularly if you are getting the laptop for gaming. The processor is matched up with 8GB pf DDR3 memory which offers a smooth overall experience with Windows. For those wanting more memory, the system can go up to 32GB of memory thanks to the four memory slots available within the system although only two are easily accessible for those looking to do their own memory upgrades. One downside is that iBUYPOWER only offers the slower 1333MHz memory compared to the 1600MHz memory showing up in more premium and gaming laptops now.
The storage for the base configuration of the Valkyrie CZ-17 is a bit disappointing overall. It features a 500GB hard drive that provides a decent amount of storage but is less than most hard drive based 17-inch laptops. In addition to this, the hard drive spins at the more traditional 5400rpm spin rate compared to the 7200rpm desktop rate of many performance laptops. Thankfully, iBUYPOWER offers a wide range of options for the two hard drive slots including larger and hard hard drives and solid state drives. For those looking for performance but want to stay on a budget, a small SSD can be installed as the OS drive and a secondary data drive is probably the best option. External storage options are excellent thanks to three USB 3.0 ports and a shared eSATA port for use with high speed external devices. While many whitebox laptop designs have a fixed optical drive option, the Valkyrie CZ-17 comes with a based dual-layer DVD burner but an optional Blu-ray combo drive is available for playback of Blu-ray movies but it is a bit pricey at $99.
As this is a gaming laptop, the screen and graphics play a very important role. The screen uses the standard 17.3-inch size and features a native resolution of 1920x1080 for full 1080p HD video support. It is a decent screen but when compared to those from the ASUS G75VW or the HP Envy 17, it just doesn't offer the same levels of brightness, color or viewing angles. Still, for gamers it is probably sufficient enough. At least it uses an anti-glare coating that does help reduce reflections and glare in outdoor and difficult lighting conditions. The graphics are powered by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M graphics processor which was the tops until the recently announced GTX 680M. Still, this is one of the fastest graphics processor to be found in a laptop with a starting price of just over $1300. It should have no problem playing every game up to the panels native resolution. If you don't require that much performance, you can save a bit of money and downgrade to the GTX 670M but it drops to just 1.5GB of memory. Both options also provide a fair amount of acceleration for non-3D applications that use CUDA code.
One selling point of the iBUYPOWER Valkyrie CZ-17 is the inclusion of the Killer Networks gigabit Ethernet interface. This is a low latency network adapter that supposedly offers a slight advantage on multiplayer network games. The problem in my experience is that this is only useful for a local area network situation. In many cases, the internet connections beyond that first network segment will negate any performance gains. Thus it really is more of a marketing point for those looking to do lots of LAN gameplay which is less common now.
The Valkyrie CZ-17 uses the standard nine cell battery pack with a 87WHr capacity rating which is a bit higher than your typical 17-inch laptop. In video playback testing, this allowed the system to last for just under four hours before going into standby mode. This is better than the six cell equipped Cyberpower Xplorer X7-8100 but it still fall short of the six hours of the HP Pavilion dv7. Of course, the components here are much more demanding and gaming usage will result in much shorter running times.
In terms of the competition, the closest options in terms of price would be the ASUS G75VW, the Cyberpower Xplorer X8-8100, the MSI GT70 and the Toshiba Qosmio X875. Price wise, the Cyberpower and MSI are the closest as they share the same base layout and chassis. Cyberpower offers a better hard drive and customization but not as wide ranging as iBUYPOWER. The ASUS is more expensive but offers a much better display but is larger and heavier. Finally, the Qosmio offers more base storage and memory.