Metabox Prime-X P750TM-G: Australian Review

Image: Gizmodo

I reckon we've turned the corner on gaming notebooks. And not just gaming -- the likes of ASUS, Acer, MSI, Gigabyte and more are pumping out models from the ultrabook to ultrabrick with performance that rivals their desktop counterparts. The problem is, few -- if any -- are configurable. Enter Metabox, with its customisable range of notebooks. Today, we're looking at the company's Prime-X P750TM-G, which packs enormous grunt in the form of an 8th gen i7-8700K and an NVIDIA GTX 1060.

What Is It?

In comparison to Metabox's Alpha N850HK we checked out last year, which neatly balanced size, weight, price and performance, the P750TM-G is well inside the territory of desktop replacement. In exchange for a GTX 1060 over a 1050 Ti, we get a chunkier body with improved cooling, upping the weight from 2.3kg to 3.6kg.

That said, it's still quite portable, though I wouldn't want to lug it around for more than a few hours.

So, if we're going heavier and bigger, how much of a step up is the 1060 from the 1050 Ti? While the 1050 Ti has 32 render output units, 768 shading units and 48 texture mapping units, the 1060 comes with 48, 1280 and 80 respectively. This translates to a theoretical 70 per cent boost in memory bandwidth and 55 per cent increase in floating-point and texture rate performance.

It's enough to push 1060-equipped notebooks into the "I'm playing everything on Very High or Ultra quality" space, as long as you keep the resolution to 1920 x 1080.

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It should be noted that, because Metabox allows you to tweak components, your mileage may vary. To give some context, here's the hardware that came with our unit:

  • 15.6" FHD IPS 60HZ G-Sync Matte LED
  • NVIDIA GTX 1060 OC 6GB GDDR5 G-Sync
  • Intel Hexa Core i7-8700K
  • 16GB DDR4 2400MHZ (1 x 16GB)
  • Crucial 525GB M.2 SSD
  • Intel 3168 AC Dual Band WIFI/BT
  • 1 Year Platinum + 1 Year Premium
  • 3.6kg (with battery)

Pricing starts at $2749, but once you start kitting it out with say, a 1070, a denser display and a fat SSD, it's scarily easy to add another $500-$1000. Fortunately, the base configuration gets you the important stuff, though I'd recommend opting for 16GB RAM and an SDD, as we did with the review unit. At the time of writing, this brings the cost to $2957.

What's It Good At?

Image: Gizmodo

Editor's note: All benchmarks were performed at 1920 x 1080 with G-SYNC and vertical sync disabled. "Balanced" was used for the power saving policy.

You want to play games? The Prime-X P750TM-G plays games.

I managed to dig up the 3DMark results from my Alpha review, so here they are side-by-side (red/top is the Prime-X, blue/bottom is the Alpha). You can click the images for enlarged views.

Image: Gizmodo

The Prime-X's overall score is 51 per cent higher, with the separate physics and graphics tests mirroring the gain. So yes, in practical terms, the 1060 is significantly gruntier than the 1050 Ti and matches pretty well to the hardware's improved floating-point and texturing speed.

But how does this difference translate into frames per second? I'll let Rise of the Tomb Raider do the talking, which includes a built-in benchmarking option.

The benchmark runs through three in-game areas and provides an overall framerate at the end, however, the individual tests give minimum, maximum and average results. From those, I've selected the "Syria" test for my data.

Image: Gizmodo

Even at Very High, the hardware managed nearly 70fps on average, with the situation only improving the lower you go. It's sufficient to say you won't have any problems running demanding games at maximum quality.

For our last benchmark, we fired up Cinebench R15 to give the CPU a workout. There were some unpublished numbers from the Alpha, which have been added for comparison purposes.

Image: Gizmodo

The i7-8700K spanks the i7-7700HQ, coming in at 56 per cent faster, but we're matching a six-core / 12-thread chip against a four-core / eight-thread one. The 8700K also tops out at 4.70GHz boosted, while the 7700HQ is capped at 3.80GHz. So on the CPU side, yeah, 8th gen is a massive improvement when the application can take advantage of the extra cores.

Next up is battery life. Something to note is, like similarly-configured notebooks, the integrated Intel GPU on the P750TM-G is disabled. This means the GTX 1060 is always on and you don't get the power-saving benefits of NVIDIA's Optimus technology. This is just a fancy name for the hardware's ability to switch between the dedicated and integrated GPU depending on the graphics workload.

That said, NVIDIA's done a lot of work in the last few years to bring the energy consumption of its chips down. On top of this, dedicated GPUs have been able to "clock-down" dynamically for a very long time, so having a tandem setup isn't as important as it once was.

This definitely shows in the battery tests. We used the "Balanced" power profile, along with 50 per cent screen brightness, to simulate a typical usage scenario.

Image: Gizmodo

For the idle test, the notebook was left running with no real workload, other than a few browser tabs open and a logging script. It managed to last five hours and 33 minutes, which is rather impressive given the specifications.

As for load, Unigine's Valley benchmark was looped until the battery gave out. Which it did, 90 minutes later. Nothing really to say here -- gaming requires a lot of juice.

On the cooling side, the P750TM-G is excellent, if rather loud. I mentioned before the thicker profile -- all 3.5cm of it (not including screen) -- is there to accommodate airflow through the unit.

Image: Gizmodo

According to GPU-Z, at no point during our benchmarks was the graphics chip limited by temperature, just voltage (which is normal), with the notebook's fans keeping the maximum at a toasty -- but by no means abnormal -- 73°C.

On the CPU side, the package temp reached a high of 80°C, well below the i7-8700K's T-junction of 100°C. Ambient temperature was around 23°C during testing.

What's It Not Good At?

I'm picky when it comes to displays and while the P750TM-G has an IPS panel, the spacing between pixels is a little big for my liking. Like the Alpha, it's not noticeable at a distance, but side-by-side next to my ASUS UX32VD, you can spot it straight away.

Here's a macro comparison between the ASUS (left) and the Metabox (right). As you can see, the Prime-X's grid is heavier and doesn't blend as well.

Image: Gizmodo

The fan noise is also quite something when the notebook is under load. It's not unexpected, given the specifications, but if you're looking for a cool and quiet (well, moderately quiet) beast, the P750TM-G isn't for you.

Should You Buy It?

At $2749, it's already beyond the $2500 mark that is the upper limit for some and while it is equipped with an 8th gen Intel i7, if you're willing to go for a 7th gen chip, you can easily save a few hundred dollars -- sometimes more -- and keep other specs the same.

As nice as it is to have the latest in CPU tech, I'm not convinced the premium is worth it -- at least for gaming. For demanding, multi-threaded apps, the argument is considerably stronger, as the Cinebench results show.

Past its budget notebooks, Metabox's strength is the ability to pick and choose components and if that's important to you, then the P750TM-G (and indeed, the company's entire lineup) is worth a look. My suggestion would be to shop around for the configuration you're after and if you can't get it, try your luck with Metabox.

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