Notebookcheck's Top 10 Multimedia Notebooks

Redaktion (translated by Martina Osztovits), 04/19/2014

April 2014 update. Here you will find the current best multimedia notebooks reviewed by Notebookcheck in the last few months. Our list of top models is regularly updated, maintained and commented on and should assist in purchase decisions.

For the original German article, see here.

Every month Notebookcheck reviews numerous notebooks of all kinds. Many of them are multimedia devices. We call laptops of 14-inch size or bigger multimedia laptops if they feature a dedicated graphics card.

Where do the recently tested devices range in comparison to the top models of the last few months? Which of the devices stands out in the crowd with an especially good performance and deserves our Editors' Choice Award? Are there products with an especially good price-performance ratio that can win our Best Value Award?

Notebookcheck Multimedia Notebooks Chart as of April 2014

Top 10 of the previous 8 months at the time of writing - current articles are listed first

#Date%ModelWeightDisplayCPUGPURAMDrivePrice/Buy
new04/1475%Asus X550LD-XX023H2.3 kg15.6-inch 1366x768 glossyIntel Core i5-4200UNvidia GeForce 820M4 GBHDDstarting at 592 Euros
new03/1475%Schenker S403 FHD/GT745M1.8 kg14-inch 1920x1080 matteIntel Core i5-4200UNvidia GeForce GT 745M8 GB

SSD
/HDD

starting at 1079 Euros

Further tests of each month

Editors' Comments

1st: Dell XPS 15 (9530, Late 2013)
1st: Dell XPS 15 (9530, Late 2013)
2nd: Dell Inspiron 15-7537
2nd: Dell Inspiron 15-7537
2nd: Samsung ATIV Book 8 Touch 880Z5E X01
2nd: Samsung ATIV Book 8 Touch 880Z5E X01
New: now with Haswell and non-reflective display - Samsung ATIV Book 8 870Z5G
New: now with Haswell and non-reflective display - Samsung ATIV Book 8 870Z5G
3rd: known device with new hardware - Asus N56JR-S4080H
3rd: known device with new hardware - Asus N56JR-S4080H
New: Acer Aspire E1-572G-54204G50Mnkk
New: Acer Aspire E1-572G-54204G50Mnkk
6th: Gigabyte U24T
6th: Gigabyte U24T
6th: HP ProBook 470 G1 E9Y75EA
6th: HP ProBook 470 G1 E9Y75EA
New: Lenovo IdeaPad U530 Touch
New: Lenovo IdeaPad U530 Touch

Although it is not May yet, it's all new: The update of our rating system to version 4.0 brought some changes to our Top 10. Many familiar devices remain, since the best multimedia notebooks cannot suddenly become bad. We reevaluated the formerly best devices of this category with version 4. New thresholds and a better differentiation between sufficient and very good resulted in a lower rating for all devices. As all devices are affected, at least the comparison remained the same here.

The Dell XPS 15 (9530, Late 2013) is still leading our Top 10. The 15-incher easily achieved that since it does not have serious disadvantages apart from the relatively high waste heat under load. The high temperatures are not surprising since a GeForce GT 750M and an Intel Core i7-4702HQ work inside the slim case. Important for gamers: The GeForce features GDDR5, which ensures a good gaming performance (upper mid-range). However, the QHD+ resolution of the IPS panel (3200x1800) cannot be used in games. Even Full HD is sometimes too much. The tester compared the XPS 15 to the current MacBook Pro 15 and both devices got the same rating since the Dell delivers a first-class IPS display, a whisper-quiet fan, a high performance and a battery life of nearly 9 hours (WLAN test). Dell demands a steep price of 2060 Euros (~$2848) for the test model.

Dell's Inspiron 15-7537 with powerful hardware, premium chassis, and excellent display is second. The elegant aluminum device performed masterfully in almost all aspects. Only the connectivity is rather poor (rating: 66%). But, the Inspiron 15-7537 is definitely worth its high price of 1200 Euros (~$1659) for the deluxe configuration, as it features a Full HD IPS panel and a GeForce GT 750M for gamers and a simple aluminum finish for design enthusiasts. The rating of its 17-inch counterpart is that different as it does not feature such a stable case and does not come with an IPS display.

The ATIV Book 8 Touch 880Z5E X01 is an update of the older Samsung Chronos 770Z5E-S01DE. They are technically identical. Samsung simply used a new name. "Chronos" is out; all Windows devices are now called "ATIV Book." Its Ivy Bridge quad-core (3635QM) CPU still performs very well. So, an update is not necessary. The 15-incher still features a very good display with high contrast and decent viewing angles. The MVA display (like IPS) is glossy, as it is a touchscreen model. Gaming is powered by an HD 8870M. However, only a few current titles can be played in Full HD.

The Asus N56JR-S4080H is already familiar to us since we reviewed the popular predecessor, the N56VZ-S4044V (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GT 650M). In our update test, we checked what the new model with Haswell quad-core CPU and GeForce GTX 760M is capable of. In particular, gamers might be interested in the premium multimedia notebook because the price is not exorbitantly high for the offered performance and the build quality of the aluminum case is good. The tester emphasized the very good system and gaming performance. In addition, the Asus features a bright, contrast-rich TN panel with above-average viewing angles. The Asus N56JR features the strongest GPU in the multimedia category. We usually find GTX models in the gaming range.

Asus designed the N750 and the N56 multimedia notebooks for the same customers as Samsung its ATIV Book 8 Touch 880Z5E or Dell with its Inspiron 15-7537. Those looking for a high-end, really good-looking case with aluminum finish and high build quality have to choose between Asus, Samsung, and Dell. Asus was faster updating their models to Haswell and used a GeForce GT 750M. Depending on the game, Nvidia could perform better, but this should only be a minor aspect when deciding between Asus and Samsung. The competitors offer a good balance of display quality, performance and sound and do not differ much. Asus included a small external subwoofer while Samsung incorporated such.

The ATIV Book 8 870Z5G with Haswell chipset and Nvidia GeForce GT 750M recently joined the 15-inch 880Z5E mentioned above. Only the technology changed, while case, input device and connectivity remained the same. This is not true for the display, which is non-reflective and brighter now. Positive: The colors are already well-calibrated in factory state. Another calibration does not bring further improvements. All things considered, a contrast-rich and bright Full HD display, a noble aluminum case, and strong gaming performance are pros of the ATIV Book 8 870Z5G. The Asus N56JR-S4080H is a strong competitor. Not only is it cheaper but its Nvidia GTX 760M's gaming performance is better.

Dell's Inspiron 7737 CN77304 is a noble 17-inch laptop with an aluminum case. It features an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M, which is already commonplace in this category. It only comes with a ULV CPU, which would also be apt for a 13-inch laptop. The big cooling system ensures that the CPU and GPU can use their maximum Turbo clock. The battery life is impressive (up to six-and-a-half hours in the WLAN test). Unfortunately, this is not true for the build quality: While the material is noble, flexural rigidity and the weak feedback of the keyboard are not. Although the HD+ panel is only a TN type, it is very bright and contrast-rich.

Acer's Aspire E1-572G-54204G50Mnkk is a new offer and one of the first devices with an AMD Radeon R7 M265. You can run games with medium to high settings on the Full HD panel, but this is not possible in Full HD resolution. In our in-depth gaming test, it is about on par with the GeForce GT 740M and the Radeon HD 8750M. Ambitious gamers should still select a GT 750M or higher. Apart from high performance, the E1-572G unfortunately has quite a lot of disadvantages. The most annoying ones are very narrow viewing angles and only a single USB 3.0 port.

Lenovo's IdeaPad U530 Touch combines entry-level hardware (GT 730M) with fast components (SSD). However, the manufacturer was not so ambitious in terms of display. Customers also get a TN display with HD resolution in budget devices. However, the Lenovo features a touchscreen. The U530 shines with its battery life of 11 hours and very low emissions. The good input devices would have been suitable for an office notebook, but the dark and glossy display is not.

Gigabyte laptops are rarely reviewed by us. However, the U24T (just under 1200 Euros, ~$1659) proves that the Taiwanese know their craft. The compact 14-inch multimedia all-rounder combines gaming-capable hardware (Nvidia GeForce GT 750M) with a fast SSD (128 GB), a big 750 GB hard drive, and even 16 GB of RAM. Because of its powerful hardware, the U24T gets somewhat loud, but the temperatures remain low. While the battery life of four-and-a-half hours (WLAN test) would be low for a subnotebook, it is alright considering the powerful hardware of this slim 14-incher (1.78 kg). Unfortunately, the low-res, relatively dark TN-type HD display is unsuitable for the ambitious concept. In addition, the keyboard is clattery.

The HP ProBook 470 G1 features a Haswell configuration (Core i5-4200U) now. The ProBook is a solid office companion with good input devices in a stable case. The easy maintainability and relatively many interfaces (no docking port) complete the outside. The 4xx models are the entry level devices into the ProBook series. So buyers should not expect the perfection of EliteBooks. The battery life of four-and-a-half hours is alright for a 17-incher and the emissions remain low despite powerful components (standard voltage CPU, Radeon HD 8750M).

These did not make it into our Top 10

Asus X550LD-XX023H
Asus X550LD-XX023H
Schenker S403 FHD/GT745M
Schenker S403 FHD/GT745M

These devices missed our Top 10 because they did not achieve a better rating. The Asus X550LD-XX023H houses good entry-level hardware in an unremarkable mainstream case. The performance of the GeForce 820M is significantly lower than the AMD Radeon R7 M265's and the AMD Radeon HD 8750M's. Good colors and a non-bluish display are positive aspects. Schenker tries to jump into our Top 10 with a 14-inch laptop. The S403 features a matte FHD display, a GT 745M and an SSD+HDD combination. Please refer to our review for information about how suitable this is for a slim case. Beside its performance (no throttling), we like the good viewing angles and colors as well as the fact that it can be very easily maintained and configured. Because of quite poor input devices and high emissions it did not make it into our charts despite a battery life of five hours.

Awards of the previous months in this category


 
 
 

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Notebookcheck's Top 10 Multimedia Notebooks
Author: Redaktion, 2014-04-19 (Update: 2014-04-22)