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CyberPower Fangbook EVO HX7-200 taps 4th-gen Core for high-end gaming

Mark Hachman | June 4, 2013
Buy now or wait and see? It's early in the Haswell lifecycle, but this machine offers a compelling combination of design and performance.

We can't report on battery life at this time, because we received the unit just a few days ahead of Intel's info dump. We'll update this review when we have that information.

A big, bulky notebook

Physically, the Fangbook EVO is on par with the Alienware M17x: it's not quite the biggest horse in the stable, but it's physically imposing nevertheless. It measures 16.85 inches wide by 11.34 inches deep and 2.17 inches thick. It weighs in at 10.75 pounds with power brick and accessories. That's heavy enough that you'll want to ensure you have a backpack large enough to truck it to LAN parties.

The Fangbook's keyboard layout is conventional enough, but at the top of the screen sit eight "quick start" buttons. Several only work after the user installs a special SCM application that comes bundled inside the box. Once installed, users can toggle overclocking, a fan boost which cools the notebook, airplane mode, and more.

On the left-hand side of the notebook sit two USB 3.0 ports and a USB 2.0 port, plus microphone, headphone, and audio I/O jacks.Two more USB 2.0 jacks hide on the right, plus a DVD+/-RW drive; sorry, Blu-ray only ships as an option. HDMI, DisplayPort, and an Ethernet jack are mounted on the rear.

The notebook includes THX TruStudio Pro for audio enhancement, although the included speakers sounded rather flat when playing a mix of classical, blues, and rock. Note that you can also connect dedicated external speakers for extra oomph, though.

CyberPower's build quality is good, although I noticed some flex in the panel.

Cyberpower skimps a bit on the basics

While the keyboard is actually relatively comfortable to type upon, it feels a bit cramped--somewhat surprising, given that there's more than an inch of extra space at each side. A reddish keyboard backlight is available, but must be toggled on and off using the hard buttons directly underneath the monitor. The FangBook EVO also includes a normal-sized number pad to the right. Granted, this is a gaming notebook, which means that a subpar keyboard may not be as important as, say, the graphics chip.

Given the fact that Windows 8 is installed, one can't help but paw at the screen when it's time to navigate within apps. That won't work, however, as the Fangbook does not include a touchscreen. In fact, the touchpad doesn't appear to support gestures at all, and the touchpad itself isn't clickable. All in all, the navigation is an experience you might expect to find in a notebook from a few years ago.

On the other hand, any gamer worth his salt will use a mouse and keyboard, and the expansive palm rest works fine for both WASD and numberpad control schemes. One more note: The Windows key is also in an awkward location to the right of the space bar, perhaps to avoid being accidentally struck by WASD gamers.

 

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