Review Schenker XMG A501 Notebook (Clevo W150HRM)

Florian Glaser (translated by Vinay Pradhan), 05/23/2011

A Breath of Perfection. The Schenker XMG A501 may look plain, but it has great aspirations: taking the best attributes notebooks have to offer, integrating them into a single laptop, and creating the perfect all-round laptop. The matt display and Optimus graphics switching technology promise great mobility, and the integrated Nvidia GeForce GT 555M is sure to excite gamers. Does the competition stand a chance?

Schenker XMG A501 (W150HRM)

Schenker, the German "Barebone" provider, has started the next round in the fight for the best all-round laptop. The 15 inch XMG A501 (based on Clevos W150HRM case) is available starting from 749 Euro for a variety of configurations which can all be found at mysn.de.

The hardware installed in the XMG A501 is all high-end. Schenker offers the latest Intel Sandy-Bridge processors for the notebook and the buyer can choose between a dual-core CPU  (from a Core i3-2310M to a Core i7-2620M) or a quad-core CPU (ranging from Core i7-2630QM to Core i7-2820QM). The two memory slots in the laptop are designed for the fast DDR3 RAM modules and can hold up to 16 GB of memory. The manufacturer also offers a variety of storage solutions for the notebook, which include: HDDs (250 to 750 GB), SSHs (320 to 500 GB) and SSDs (40 to 512 GB).

The graphics card cannot be chosen by the buyer. So the user will have to be satisfied with the Nvidia GeForce GT 555M an upper middle-class graphics card. Buyers can choose between Blu-Ray and DVD for the optical drive. Film fans should get the Blu-Ray player or the Blu-Ray player/burner, instead of the typical DVD burner. Schenker also offers the keyboard in a few variations, which will be sure to make buyers happy. The OS is not included, but if the buyer wishes, Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate can be installed.

We will look at a few other features closely in our review. At the time this article was written (look at the data sheet on the right), the notebook cost exactly 1208 euro. Buyers who choose a hard disk drive (with 750 GB) instead of a solid state drive will land at the attractive price of 1000 Euro. 

Case

Simple Design
Simple Design

The XMG A501 will definitely not win any prizes for its design. The 15 inch case is very plain - perfect for the office. The matt black finish and the excellent workmanship speak for themselves. Fingerprints will not be found anywhere on this case, except maybe on the susceptible display border.

The sturdiness of the XMG A501 is very good. The base unit gives way slightly when a lot of pressure is applied. The notebook cover also bends inwards slightly if subjected to immense force. However, the hinges in this model have poor functionality. For example, the notebook has to be opened with both hands and if the base unit of the laptop shakes then the display will also wobble slightly. The case is about 5 centimeters thick and has a weight of 2.7 kg, which is a bit much for the 15 inch category, but this should not hinder frequent transportation.

Connectivity

USB 3.0 Performance
USB 3.0 Performance: Transcend StoreJet TS500GSJ25D3 500 GB USB 3.0 HDD

Connectivity

The ports offered on the laptop will be sure to satisfy most of the users demands. Two ports, a FireWire and an ExpressCard slot, are missing. On the left side, two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, one eSATA, one HDMI, one VGA and one RJ-45 Gigabit LAN port can be found.

The front portion of the right side has three sound jacks (microphone, headphones and S/PDIF) as well as a second USB 2.0 port. The front of the notebook is completely free of ports, and the back of the notebook holds the power output and the Kensington Lock.

For left-handed users, the use of an external mouse with the XMG A501 will not be optimal. The ventilation shafts will lead to an uncomfortable warming of the mouse hand, and the various connected cables will be sure to get in the way of the mouse and restrict the space available for use.

Communication

Schenker offers three different wireless modules currently for the XMG A501. As the Wireless Lan Killer N 1102 Bigfoot is still somewhat expensive and has no Bluetooth, we recommend choosing a cheaper module. Our test model had an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 module, which has two antennas and offers support for WLAN a/b/g/n as well as Bluetooth 3.0.

Left side: VGA, RJ-45 Gigabit-Lan, HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, eSATA, USB 3.0, 9-in-1 card-reader
Left side: VGA, RJ-45 Gigabit-Lan, HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, eSATA, USB 3.0, 9-in-1 card-reader
Back: Kensington Lock, Power output
Back: Kensington Lock, Power output
Right side: 3x Sound, USB 2.0, optical drive
Right side: 3x Sound, USB 2.0, optical drive
Clean Installation
Clean Installation

Pre-installed Software

Unlike many big manufacturers, like Acer, Asus or Toshiba, Schenker does not install annoying "Bloatware" on its notebooks. The system is clean and well-organized, so that the user can start working right away, instead of having to first deal with a mess of unnecessary software and popups.

Delivery Package

Buyers should not expect a delivery package filled with luxurious extras when they order the XMG A501. The package includes the heavy 120 watts power adapter, the 6 cell battery, a short intro manual, and a driver and tools DVD. A Windows 7 DVD will have to be ordered extra.

Warranty

The warranty periods are 24 months (Basic), 36 months (Premium) and 48 months (Platinum). Inside of Germany, a "Pickup & Return" service is offered, but outside of Germany, the warranty only offers a "Bring-In" service.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The keyboard left a positive impression on us. The well-placed keys have a nice typing feel and the stroke distance is also good. The keys are sturdy and thanks to the good design of the keyboard, the user will get used to the keyboard quickly. A numeric block is also included at the side.

Some users might get disturbed by the loud typing noise. Special keys are also included. The Fn keys allow the user to control the volume and display brightness, and de/activate the touchpad, display, webcam and the wireless module.

Touchpad

The 90 x 44 mm touchpad left us with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the touchpad offers good precision, multi-finger input and the usual gestures (zooming, scrolling and turning) are supported. The horizontal and vertical scroll bars can also be found on the touchpad.

On the other hand, the rough touchpad surface can be a problem. The sliding properties are restricted and use over a long period of time will be uncomfortable. The mouse keys are both included, but, in our opinion, they require slightly more force than should be necessary to be clicked.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Touchpad
Touchpad

Display

The 15.6 inch display is available currently in the anti-glare HD+ variation (1600 x 900 pixels) and in a glossy Full-HD variation (1920 x 1080). We recommend the 1600 x 900 pixels version, as 1920 x 1080 pixels displays in the 15 inch category are usually overrated (good eyesight is necessary). Plus, modern games require high end graphic cards like the GeForce GTX 485M or the Radeon HD 6970M for maximum details. Still, the 16:9 format can be found in both displays and the typical film black bars are visible in a small way.

185
cd/m²
196
cd/m²
189
cd/m²
205
cd/m²
202
cd/m²
207
cd/m²
207
cd/m²
215
cd/m²
214
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Gossen Mavo-Monitor
Maximum: 215 cd/m²
Average: 202.2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 86 %
Center on Battery: 202 cd/m²
Black: 0.27 cd/m²
Contrast: 748:1

The picture quality of the HD+ configuration is first class. The low black value (0.27 cd/m²) allows the display to show dark scenes with a satisfying black. This is not the case in other notebooks, where dark areas often seem grey, and there are very few models which offer a black value lower than 0.5 cd/m². The contrast is especially high (748:1), which will allow a great depiction of any film or picture. Most notebooks have a contrast in the region of 200:1.

The illumination of 86% leaves no room for critique. The illumination of the displayed picture was also subjectively very even. Only the brightness of 202.2 cd/m² (modest) could have been better. Professional picture editors should look for an alternative. The sRGB colour space is not covered completely, and the XMG A501 is far from encompassing the AdobeRGB colour space. Still for a matt display, we found the colors to be relatively strong.

Schenker XMG A501 vs. sRGB (Grid)
Schenker XMG A501 vs. sRGB (Grid)
Schenker XMG A501 vs. MacBook Pro 17 (Grid)
Schenker XMG A501 vs. MacBook Pro 17 (Grid)
Schenker XMG A501 vs. AdobeRGB (Grid)
Schenker XMG A501 vs. AdobeRGB (Grid)

The biggest advantage of a matt display surface is the low reflections. Unlike most other notebooks, the XMG A501 spares the user from annoying reflections. Regardless whether the laptop is being used indoors or outdoors, thanks to the matt display, the user will not have to constantly prowl around on the search for an optimal spot with minimal reflections. Sadly, the laptop does not have enough brightness to allow working directly in the sunlight.

Outdoors use
Outdoors use

The viewing angles beat the cheaper 08/15 competition easily. Horizontally, there is nothing to criticize about. Vertically, a certain distortion in the picture becomes visible. Adjusting the display is almost never necessary. In short, the display of the XMG A501 is amazing, and one look is enough to make anyone fall in love with it.

Viewing angles: Schenker XMG A501 (W150HRM)
Viewing angles: Schenker XMG A501 (W150HRM)

Performance

Turbo-Boost
Turbo-Boost

Processor: Intel Core i5-2410M

Schenker employs the efficient CPUs from the Intel Sandy-Bridge generation for the XMG A501. Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs are capable of delivering more performance thanks to the "Turbo Boost" feature. The standard Core i3-2310M does not have this feature, and has to make do with the 2.1 GHz if has. All the CPUs of the latest Intel generation have "HyperThreading" technology, which allows each core of the CPU to simulate a virtual core, and this gives certain applications more performance.

Intels integrated HD Graphics 3000 has gotten a lot of praise for good reason. Although this graphics chip can not run games with high resolutions and high details, it does allow notebook manufacturers to use the existing Optimus technology to reduce power usage. Thanks to the great performance per MHz ratio, the power usage of 35 W (dual-core) and 45 W (quad-core) is very much feasible. The manufacturing process is the latest with 32 nm.

Our test model came with a Core i5-2410M, which is very attractive due to its price to performance ratio. The CPU is dual-core and has over 624 million transistors, 3 MB L3 cache (Core i7: four to eight MB) and a clock frequency of 2.3 to 2.9 GHz. Strong CPU models will not be necessary for most users.

System information CPUZ CPU
System information HDTune
System information GPUZ
System information GPUZ
System information CPUZ RAM SPD
System information CPUZ RAM SPD
System information CPUZ RAM
System information CPUZ Mainboard
System information CPUZ Cache
System information HDTune
System information for the Schenker XMG A501 (W150HRM)

Performance CPU

We compared the performance of the Core i5-2410M with the cheaper quad-core. Intels Core i7-2630QM was installed in our last test model of the XMG A501. Both CPUs scored about the same (4631 points for the i5-2410M and 4569 points for the i7-2630QM)  in the single-core rendering test of Cinebench R10 64 Bit. Multi-core rendering is a problem for the dual-core i5-2410M because of its fewer cores: 9781 to 15297 points is the result, meaning the CPU lies behind by around 36%.

The CPU score of the Cinebench R11.5 64 Bit still showed a lead of the Core i7-2630QM by 4.36 to 2.61 points (67% more). However, the performance of the CPUs is usually around the same except in special benchmarks. The Core i5-2410M is a great processor which is sure to suffice the user for everyday tasks.

Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
3718
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
5364 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
9781 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
8063
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
4631 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
5430
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.61 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
32.61 fps
Help
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage10786 points
Help
HWiNFO
HWiNFO

Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GT 555M

The graphics card used in this laptop is DirectX 11 ready and from the upper middle-class. Nvidias GeForce GT 555M is produced in the modern 40 nm form and delivers good performance with 144 Unified Shaders (GT 540M: 96 Shaders) as well as 2048 MB DDR3-VRAM. Schenker has not tweaked the clock frequency of the card, and it still operates at the same speeds as provided by Nvidia: 590 MHz (core), 900 MHz (memory) and 1180 MHz (shader).

The small memory interface is a point of critique. Instead of the 192 bit model (see Dell XPS 17), the notebook uses a weaker 128 bit version. Modern games need a bigger interface, and thus, the 128 bit interface causes limitations. Using GDDR5-VRAM would have allowed this problem to be avoided. We tested the loss in performance in our game benchmark.

Nvidia is number one in the world right now thanks to the special features offered by its graphic cards. Although, the main competitor, AMD, also provides graphic cards which can decode high resolution videos, features like physics acceleration (PhysX) or stereoscopic 3D display (3D Vision, requires additional equipment) are only offered currently by Nvidia.

Nvidia Optimus
Nvidia Optimus

Nvidia Optimus

One of the most important features of the XMG A501 is without a doubt the automatic graphics switching via Nvidia Optimus, which calculates how much performance a certain program needs and then intelligently chooses which graphics unit to use (integrated graphics chip or the dedicated graphics card). The technology has been around for a few months now and we believe that it has matured enough (the system usually makes the right choice) to be able to be utilized correctly in consumer notebooks.

If a program is listed in the Nvidia system settings with a check box next to it, then the user can choose which graphics chip should run the program with a simple right click (see screenshot). Great: the case has a practical status LED which notifies the user about which graphics unit is in use. A key with the caption "VGA", allows the user to choose the Intel HD Graphics 3000 – ideal for long trips.

5.7
Windows 7 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
6.9
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
5.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
5.7
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.8
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
7.7

Performance GPU

The GeForce GT 555M performs relatively well despite the small memory interface. The XMG A501 processed the heavy load Unigine Heaven 2.1 benchmark (1280 x 1024, High, Tessellation normal) at 16.8 fps; almost as fast as the MacBook Pro 15 (17.3 fps), which uses a Radeon HD 6750M with GDDR5-VRAM. Similarly the GPU scores in 3DMark 11 (1280 x 720) were quite close. The Radeon HD 6750M was ahead by a mere 5% thanks to a score of 1159 to 1099. The GPU score in 3DMark Vantage (1280 x 1024) showed the Nvidia GPU as the better card with a result of 4750, while the Radeon HD 6750M fell behind at 4527 points ( -5%).

3D Mark
3DMark 0325865 points
3DMark 0518534 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
9839 points
3DMark Vantage5357 points
3DMark 111220 points
Help
Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW160G3
Transfer Rate Minimum: 66.1 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 153.8 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 145.5 MB/s
Access Time: 0.1 ms
Burst Rate: 124.9 MB/s
DPC Latency Checker
DPC Latency Checker: Hohe Werte bei Aktivierung von Bluetooth und Wlan

Verdict Performance

As long as a lightning fast SSD is installed under the covers of the XMG A501, the laptop is sure to score high in performance. The combination of Intels Sandy-Bridge processor and Nvidias GeForce GT 555M delivers sufficient performance for most programs. The buyer will receive a potent system, which has a great multimedia performance. Most users will not need more than 4 GB DDR3-RAM, or a better dual-core CPU than the Core i5-2520M or a quad-core CPU better than the Core i7-2630QM).

Gaming Performance

Wie wir testen - Leistung

Let us take a look at one of the most important aspects for users: the gaming performance. There are two questions which need to be answered for the reader to get a clear picture of how well the laptop system performs. First: how big is the performance difference between the "old“ XMG A501 (GeForce GT 540M) and the new model which uses the GeForce GT 555M. Second: how strongly does the relatively small memory interface impact the performance of the graphics card? To find the answers to this question, we used the results from the Dell XPS 17 as comparison (the Dell XPS 17 uses a GeForce GT 555M with a memory interface of 192 bit instead of 128).

To minimize the influence of the processor, which is low in middle-class GPUs anyway (see our test), we used high CPU load settings in the Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080.

Crysis 2

We start with one of the most high performance games. The ambitious Ego shooter game from Crytek Studios (based in Germany) takes everything mobile graphic cards have to offer and demands more. Resolutions higher than 1920 x 1080 or settings like "Extreme“ are out of range for the GT 555M. The intro sequence in the U-boat played at an unsatisfying 11.7 fps. The graphics card of the Dell XPS 17 is also incapable of fluidly displaying the video, although it does have a faster display rate: 13.3 fps (+14%). Only after we chose the "High" setting and lowered the resolution were we able to properly enjoy the game.

Crysis 2
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080Extreme11.7 fps
 1366x768Very High34.7 fps
 1024x768High47.4 fps
 800x600High71.9 fps

Call of Duty: Black Ops

The newest Call of Duty installation manages the available resources better. The XMG A501 managed to perform well in this game, even with "Extra" details, 4x anti-aliasing (AA), 8x anisotropic filtering (AF) and a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Under these settings, we could enjoy our fight in the Cuban streets at a good 35.6 fps. The GT 555M runs 27% faster than the GT 540M (28.0 fps), although it is still 17% slower than the GT 555M with a 192 bit memory interface (42.9 fps). For the optimal gaming experience, the quality settings and the resolutions need to be lowered slightly.

Call of Duty: Black Ops
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080extra, 4xAA, 8xAF35.6 fps
 1360x768high, 2xAA, 4xAF54.7 fps
 1024x768medium, 0xAA, 0xAF64.7 fps
 800x600low (all off), 0xAA, 0xAF72.7 fps

Starcraft 2

There are very few game producers who enjoy a fan base as large as that of Blizzard, the producer of the Warcraft and Starcraft series. Anyone who wants to run their latest game fluidly, needs to stay away from maximum settings. The processor intensive intro sequence for the mission "For the Swarm“, stuttered at 1920 x 1080 pixels and Ultra details clearly. The GeForce GT 555M (22.3 fps) placed itself noticeably ahead of the GT 540M (17.3 fps, -22%), but remained behind the stronger GT 555M variation (24.0 fps, +8%). We recommend high graphic settings.

StarCraft 2
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080ultra22.3 fps
 1360x768high42.4 fps
 1360x768medium57.5 fps
 1024x768low198.4 fps

Mafia 2

Although Mafia 2 is not as amazing as its predecessor, it still delivers an amazing, action-packed story. The integrated game benchmark tired the XMG A501 significantly at high details, 16x anisotropic filtering, and Full HD resolution, but the laptop persevered and delivered a frame rate of 26.1 fps. While the GT 555M with a 192 bit interface (27.1 fps, +4%) places itself slightly ahead, the GeForce GT 540M falls behind significantly (20.9 fps, -20%). A lower resolution of (1600 x 900) allows the gamer to enjoy fluid gameplay.

Mafia 2
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080high, 0xAA, 16xAF26.1 fps
 1360x768high, 0xAA, 16xAF43.4 fps
 1024x768medium, 0xAA, 8xAF55 fps
 800x600low, 0xAA, 0xAF71.1 fps

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Players who want to enjoy the multiplayer battles of Bad Company 2 need to get used to the medium level graphics. The XMG A501 did not respond well to 1920 x 1080 pixels, high details, 4x anti-aliasing, and 8x anisotropic filtering. The boat scene at the start of the single player campaign was displayed at a poor 19.6 fps. On a GeForce GT 540M the game stuttered even more at these settings (15.5 fps, -21%), and the GeForce GT 555M of the Dell XPS 17 had a lead of 14% with a frame rate of 22.4 fps.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080high, HBAO on, 4xAA, 8xAF19.6 fps
 1366x768high, HBAO on, 1xAA, 4xAF38.5 fps
 1366x768medium, HBAO off, 1xAA, 1xAF52.7 fps
 1024x768low, HBAO off, 1xAA, 1xAF70.2 fps

Risen

A game of the RPG genre has to be in our test. Although the game is not visually exceptional, Risen still managed to make the XMG A501 sweat. The notebook ran the game at 21.9 fps, with high details, 4x anisotropic filtering, and Full HD resolution, but this performance is not enough for gamers to properly enjoy the island world of the game. The 192 bit version of the GeForce GT 555M delivered 22.7 fps (+4%) which was just as unsatisfying. The GT 540M is beaten once again hands down (17.2 fps, XMG A501: +27%). As games in the third person perspective start running fluidly at around 25 fps, choosing a moderate resolution and high details is enough.

Risen
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080high/all on, 0xAA, 4xAF21.9 fps
 1366x768all on/high, 4xAF33.5 fps
 1024x768all on/med, 2xAF48.2 fps
 800x600all off/low, 0xAF79.8 fps

Metro 2033

The Ego shooter Metro 2033, which is based on the book with the same title by Russian author, Dmitri Glukhovski, belongs to one of the three most resource intensive titles (GTA IV and Crysis 2 are the other two). Gamers should not expect anything more than low details and DX 9 mode on the XMG A501. A combination of 1920 x 1080 pixels, DX 11 mode, very high details, crushed the laptop without mercy.  The GeForce GT 555M placed itself between the  GT 540M (5.2 fps, -17%) and the better GT 555M (7.5 fps, +19%) with a score of 6.3 fps.

Metro 2033
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080Very High DX11, AAA, 4xAF6.3 fps
 1600x900High DX10, AAA, 4xAF17.9 fps
 1360x768Normal DX10, AAA, 4xAF34.7 fps
 800x600Low DX9, AAA, 4xAF62.5 fps

Dirt 2

The final game is one of the most visually astonishing titles on the market. In Dirt 2, the limitations of the small memory interface of the graphics card became clearly noticeable. The XMG A501 (20.0 fps) delivers two-thirds the performance the XPS 17 (31.8 fps) delivers at very high details, 4x anti-aliasing, and Full HD resolution. Still the GT 555M is much faster (+27%) than the GeForce GT 540M (15.7 fps). Tip: medium details will run in high resolution nicely.

Colin McRae: DIRT 2
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x1080Ultra Preset, 4xAA20 fps
 1360x768High Preset, 2xAA40.8 fps
 1024x768Medium Preset, 0xAA77 fps
 800x600Low Preset, 0xAA92.7 fps

Verdict Gaming Performance

The XMG A501 has a good gaming performance. In the HD+ resolution of 1600 x 900, most of the latest games can be played at middle or high details fluidly. The use of antialiasing and anisotropic filtering will improve the image quality considerably. Full HD resolutions of 1920 x 1080 pixels should be avoided as these put the graphics card at its limits very fast.

All-in-all the GeForce GT 555M is designed primarily for gamers who do not need to play the latest games in the highest details. The GeForce GT 540M of the earlier XMG A501 lies far behind the GeForce GT 555M (+26%). It is unfortunate that the manufacturer chose a 128 bit interface for the memory as a 192 bit interface would have boosted performance by around 16% (see Dell XPS 17). Still the offered performance is above average and most users will be overjoyed.

low med.high ultra
F.E.A.R. 2 (2009) 16297.563.131.6fps
Anno 1404 (2009) 119.434.8fps
Colin McRae: DIRT 2 (2009) 92.77740.820fps
Need for Speed Shift (2009) 4549.230.2fps
Resident Evil 5 (2009) 93.356.833.4fps
Risen (2009) 79.848.233.521.9fps
CoD Modern Warfare 2 (2009) 137.655.645.229.7fps
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (2010) 70.252.738.519.6fps
Metro 2033 (2010) 62.534.717.96.3fps
StarCraft 2 (2010) 198.457.542.422.3fps
Mafia 2 (2010) 71.15543.426.1fps
Fifa 11 (2010) 323.2210.2151.590.8fps
Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) 72.764.754.735.6fps
Crysis 2 (2011) 71.947.434.711.7fps

Emissions

Cooler fan
Cooler fan

Noise Emissions

The high noise emissions were definitely the biggest weakness of our last XMG A501 test model (see review). Especially for 3D applications, the cooler fan operated at an uncomfortable level. In our new test model the noise emissions are still clearly audible, but it is not at an uncomfortable level as before.

The noise emissions in normal use really surprised us. When using low load applications (Office, Internet, Films, etc.) the cooler fan stops completely. Even when it does start back again for a short while, the noise emission remains quite low. The latest system leaves little room for improvement - no comparison to the previous test model.

Another plus point of the device is the whisper quiet SSD storage drive. SSDs do not make the clacking noises or vibrations that HDDs are famous for. The DVD burner could have been a bit quieter. However, to be honest, with the current trend towards digital media collections and online gaming platforms like Steam, an optical drive is being used less and less.

Noise Level

Idle 29.8 / 29.8 / 31.2 dB(A)
DVD 36.6 / dB(A)
Load 42.7 / 43.1 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft SL-320 (15 cm distance)
Temps Idle
Temps Idle
Temps Heavy load
Temps Heavy load

Temperature

The temperatures are also lower than in the predecessor model. When idle the case warms up very slightly. Our measurements showed 27°C. Under heavy load the device heats up, especially near the cooler fan. While the surface can reach up to 41°C, the bottom can heat up to 46°C. So playing games with the notebook on the lap would not be recommended. Sensitive users might be disturbed by the maximum 33°C warm hand rest regions.

Let us take a look inside: the results of the HWMonitor tool show that the Core i5-2410M and GeForce GT 555M heat up to 60°C when the laptop is idle. Under heavy load, the tool showed that the components can reach up to 90°C (CPU) and 80°C (GPU). High values but not unexpected. In the old XMG A501, the GeForce GT 540M almost went above the 100°C mark.

Throttling (lowering the clock speed of the individual components) was not noticeable in our stability tests (full load using Furmark and Prime benchmarks). So that the cooling works properly, we recommend cleaning the easily accessible ventilation openings and the fan every few months.

Max. Load
 41.3 °C38.4 °C23.0 °C 
 35.1 °C36.6 °C22.7 °C 
 30.5 °C33.2 °C25.6 °C 
Maximum: 41.3 °C
Average: 31.8 °C
22.7 °C26.4 °C46.1 °C
23.8 °C30.6 °C45.3 °C
25.3 °C31.2 °C41.6 °C
Maximum: 46.1 °C
Average: 32.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  41.2 °C | Room Temperature 19.5 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

The sound system still has ways to go. The two speakers integrated under the bottom of the case lack precision, volume and a balanced sound output. The sound seems dull and artificial. It also lacks a satisfying bass. The maximum volume is still somewhat good. The sound quality offered by the XMG A501 is miles behind the quality found in the Dell XPS 15 or the MSI GT663R. Without external speakers, music, videos and games will lose a lot of their quality.

Battery Life

Readers Test
Maximum Battery Life (Readers Test)
Classic Test
Minimum Run Time (Classic Test)

Thanks to the good 6 cell battery (62.16 Wh, 5600 mAh) and Nvidias graphics switching technology the battery life is decent. With minimal display brightness and maximum energy saving options, the notebook can last relatively long without needing to be recharged. In the Readers test from Battery Eater we recorded a good time of 4 hours and 45 minutes. Maximum brightness and modest energy saving options, will lead to 3 hours mobile use while surfing online using the WLAN.

The playback of a DVD is also mastered decently by the XMG A501. The laptop can play DVDs for 2 hours and 40 minutes, and this should suffice for most users. Even under heavy load, with maximum brightness and minimum energy-saving options, the laptop lasts nearly two hours. Note: a different configuration of this notebook might have slightly different emissions, battery life and power usage.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
4h 45min
WiFi Surfing
3h 08min
DVD
2h 40min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 50min

The power usage is appropriate for the performance delivered by the notebook. With the GeForce chip active, and under heavy load, the notebook uses between acceptable 84.4 to 107.3 W. When idle the integrated graphics chip takes over, and the power usage sinks to low values like 14.1 to 18.5 watts. The 15 inch Asus N53SN shows similar values.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.9 Watt
Idle 14.1 / 18.1 / 18.5 Watt
Load 84.4 / 107.3 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC-940

Verdict

Schenker XMG A501 (W150HRM)
Schenker XMG A501 (W150HRM)

The new interpretation of the XMG A501 comes surprisingly close to being a perfect all-round notebook. The laptop scores high in our review thanks to its modest and resistant case, which has superior workmanship, the great connectivity it offers (2x USB 3.0) and good input devices. However, its best feature is the anti-glare HD+ display, which users are sure to fall in love with thanks to its low black value and high contrast.

The above average performance fits perfectly with the other great features. Intel's Sandy Bridge processor and Nvidia's GeForce GT 555M make an amazing duo, which will provide enough performance for most users, except maybe hardcore gamers or professionals. The SSD hard disk improves the program performance and is sure to make the XMG A501 a worthy opponent for other high-end laptops.

The buyer does not need to fear poor mobility. Although other 15 inch devices are easier to transport due to their lower weight, the XMG A501 can be transported pretty easily too. The decent battery life will be sure to keep users entertained. Plus the barebone's emissions have also been worked on. The laptop is now noticeably quieter in normal use.

The list of negative features is rather short. The temperature and noise emissions can rise high when the laptop is under heavy load. The heavy power adapter and the modest sound quality offered by the speakers are other minuses. Still these are just a few small flaws in an otherwise perfect device.

Basically, the XMG A501 has managed to convince us completely. Schenker has done a great job creating this all-round notebook. There are very few laptops as well-rounded as the XMG A501 on the market, and multimedia users should definitely take a look at this laptop. Thumbs up!

In Review: Schenker XMG A501 (W150HRM)
Im Test:  Schenker XMG A501 (W150HRM)

Specifications

Schenker XMG A501 (W150HRM)

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM65
:: Memory
4096 MB, 2x 2048 MB DDR3-RAM (1333 MHz), two slots
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M - 2048 MB, Core: 590 MHz, Memory: 900 MHz, Shader frequency: 1180 MHz, DDR3-VRAM, ForceWare 266.40
:: Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1600x900 pixel, AUO11EE (B156RW01 V1), HD+, LED-Backlight, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW160G3, 160 GB
:: Soundcard
Realtek ALC269 @ Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, Audio Connections: Headphone, Microphone, S/PDIF, Card Reader: MMC,RSMMC,MS,MS Pro,MS Duo,SD,Mini SD,SDHC,SDXC, 1 Fingerprint Reader,
:: Networking
JMicron PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (10/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 (a b g n ), 3.0 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
Optiarc DVD RW AD-7710H
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 47 x 374 x 250
:: Weight
2.73 kg Power Supply: 0.73 kg
:: Battery
62.16 Wh Lithium-Ion, 5600 mAh, 6 cell
:: Price
1208 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 2.0 Megapixel, Netzteil: 120 Watt, Manual, Drivers- and Tools-DVD, Microsoft Office Starter 2010, 24-48 Months Warranty

 

The case is very plain.
The case is very plain.
The long battery takes up most of the back of the laptop.
The long battery takes up most of the back of the laptop.
An integrated webcam gives picture quality of 2 megapixels.
An integrated webcam gives picture quality of 2 megapixels.
Super: the user can easily know which graphics card is in use.
Super: the user can easily know which graphics card is in use.
The keys of the keyboard have a nice typing feel.
The keys above the keyboard have a nice typing feel.
The rough touchpad surface is one of the few weaknesses of the notebook.
The rough touchpad surface is one of the few weaknesses of the notebook.
Sadly the XMG A501 does not offer good sound quality.
Sadly the XMG A501 does not offer good sound quality.
A practical keyboard backlight is not installed in our test model.
A practical keyboard backlight is not installed in our test model.
The notebook supports THX TruStudio Pro.
The notebook supports THX TruStudio Pro.
The power output is placed at the back of the laptop.
The power output is placed at the back of the laptop.
A Kensington Lock offers additional security for the device.
A Kensington Lock offers additional security for the device.
The 15 inch notebook has a total of 4 USB ports.
The 15 inch notebook has a total of 4 USB ports.
Schenker offers a Blu-Ray optical drive (Player and Burner) for a premium.
Schenker offers a Blu-Ray optical drive (Player and Burner) for a premium.
The presence of the USB 3.0 ports will make most users happy.
The presence of the USB 3.0 ports will make most users happy.
Monitor with a DVI or DisplayPort interface can be connected using an adapter.
Monitor with a DVI or DisplayPort interface can be connected using an adapter.
Thanks to Optimus, the battery life is decent.
Thanks to Optimus, the battery life is decent.
The 120 W power adapter delivered alongside the notebook is rather bulky.
The 120 W power adapter delivered alongside the notebook is rather bulky.
Schenker offers a WLAN module for a premium.
Schenker offers a WLAN module for a premium.
Nvidias GeForce GT 555M is a graphics card of the upper middle-class.
Nvidias GeForce GT 555M is a graphics card of the upper middle-class.
The case surface is matt, with the sole exception of the display border.
The case surface is matt, with the sole exception of the display border.
Schenker did not put the big "XMG" logo on our test model.
Schenker did not put the big "XMG" logo on our test model.
Opening the laptop requires the use of both hands.
Opening the laptop requires the use of both hands.
The 15 inch barebone is more than 4 centimeters thick.
The 15 inch barebone is more than 4 centimeters thick.
The maximum display angle is around 130°.
The maximum display angle is around 130°.
The case does not to be turned to put in the battery.
The case does not to be turned to put in the battery.
Shaking the base unit of the laptop, will cause the display to wobble significantly.
Shaking the base unit of the laptop, will cause the display to wobble significantly.
The meek exterior hides the high performance potential within.
The meek exterior hides the high performance potential within.
The XMG A501 weighs around 2.7 kilograms.
The XMG A501 weighs around 2.7 kilograms.
On the left side, the ventilation opening cools the laptop.
On the left side, the ventilation opening cools the laptop.
The workmanship has is very good and shows no significant flaws.
The workmanship has is very good and shows no significant flaws.
Two flaps on the bottom hide...
Two flaps on the bottom hide...
...the hardware of the notebook, which can be easily serviced.
...the hardware of the notebook, which can be easily serviced.
A SSD works fast and is whisper-quiet.
A SSD works fast and is whisper-quiet.
The processor originates from the latest Intel Sandy-Bridge generation.
The processor originates from the latest Intel Sandy-Bridge generation.
Four GB DDR3 RAM will suffice most users.
Four GB DDR3 RAM will suffice most users.
The package contents included a short introduction manual and a drivers and tools DVD.
The package contents included a short introduction manual and a drivers and tools DVD.

Similar Devices

Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

Devices with the same GPU and/or Screen Size

Devices with the same GPU

» Review Asus N75SF Notebook
Core i7 2630QM, 17.3", 3.67 kg
» Review Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G Notebook
Core i7 2630QM, 18.4", 3.9 kg
» Review Alienware M14x Notebook
Core i7 2630QM, 14.1", 2.86 kg

Links

  • Manufacturer's information

Price Comparison

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Pro

+Most of the case surface is matt
+Good connectivity
+High performance
+Decent battery life
+Flawless workmanship
+Fast hard disk
+Great keyboard
+Amazing display
 

Cons

-Somewhat high temperature and noise emissions under heavy load
-Small memory interface for the graphics card
-Rough touchpad surface
-Heavy power adapter
-Okay sound

Shortcut

What we like

The matt display is a boon.

What we miss

Mainly a better sound quality.

What surprises us

The notebook does not have any major flaws.

The competition

Other 15 inch all-round laptops, based on the Sandy Bridge processors, include: Acer Aspire 5830TG, Acer Aspire 5750G, Asus N53SV, Dell XPS 15, Dell Vostro 3550 and Packard Bell EasyNote TS11.

Rating

Schenker XMG A501 (W150HRM)
05/08/2012 v2
Florian Glaser

Chassis
80%
Keyboard
82%
Pointing Device
76%
Connectivity
79%
Weight
77%
Battery
82%
Display
85%
Games Performance
88%
Application Performance
93%
Temperature
81%
Noise
84%
Add Points
86%
Average
83%
83%
Multimedia *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Schenker XMG A501 Notebook (Clevo W150HRM)
Author: Florian Glaser, 2011-05-23 (Update: 2013-06- 6)