Notebookcheck

Review Schenker XMG A523 (Clevo W350ST) Notebook

Florian Glaser (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 06/15/2013

There is something for everyone. Schenker's XMG A523 offers cutting edge hardware in a plain casing. While the GeForce GTX 765M is not removable, the other components can be configured to one’s liking. This new Clevo barebone upgarde for the new Intel processors and chipset is put through its paces for you readers.

XMG logo

For the original German review, see here.

Like the devices from the P-, U-, S- and W-series, the XMG A523 can be configured according to personal preferences. Schenker's homepage discloses dozens of components that does not make buying any easier.

We will begin with the screen. The buyer can opt for a glossy model or one featuring a particularly high gamut of 95% rather than the non-glare Full HD screen. A quad-core from Intel's Haswell generation takes care of basic processing. Schenker offers the higher clocked, 47-watt Core i7-4700MQ (2.4 - 3.4 GHz), Core i7-4800MQ (2.7 - 3.7 GHz) and Core i7-4900MQ (2.8 - 3.8 GHz) models besides the energy-efficient 37-watt Core i7-4702MQ (2.2-3.2 GHz). As the test of the One K56-3N2 revealed, the two more expensive processors aren’t a necessary choice - at least not for gamers.

It is also unnecessary to upgrade the DDR3 memory to the maximum either. Most can make do with a maximum of 8 GB of RAM for most applications and gaming. The three memory banks can theoretically be equipped with 24 GB (3x 8.192 MB). There are even more combinations possible with hard drive options on the website. The gaming laptop not only has two standard 2.5-inch slots but also a small mSATA slot. Consequently, an SSD/HDD array is very much possible and recommended for most people.

Movie fans will be happy about the optional Blu-ray drives that are available for around 40 to 50 Euros (~$50 to $65). The basic configuration only sports a DVD burner. The buyer also has to choose among various wireless modules. Schenker relies on Intel's Centrino Wireless-N 2230, Advanced-N 6235, Ultimate-N 6300 and the Qualcomm Atheros Killer Wireless-N 1202 and 1103 modules for options. The keyboard and the operating system are available in several languages.

The final price is very dependent on your configuration. Prices add up very quickly hitting 1500 Euros (~$2000) when option in Windows 8, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and a 480 GB SSD but the base configuration start at around 1049 Euros (~$1400).

Case

A fake brushed Aluminum finish
Plastic with aluminum looks

Nothing has changed in the case design. There is a strong resemblance to the last generation Clevo found here. Instead of using the W350ET barebone (HM77 chipset), Schenker now relies on the W350ST barebone (HM87 chipset). Apart from the XMG logo on the lid, the laptop makes a rather unobtrusive addition to any desk. The buyer will not find any daring design elements.

One of the biggest modifications is found on the wrist rest that is now no longer rubber-coated and less receptive to greasy fingerprints. Clevo unfortunately has not replaced the display's glossy bezel with a matte alternative. In contrast to the 15-inch P150SM (Schenker W503) and P157SM (Schenker XMG P503), the bezel is extremely susceptible to scratches. Just careful polishing quickly leads to small discernible cosmetic damage. The brushed aluminum looks of the lid can only compensate for this flaw to a certain extent.

The quality of the case is pretty good if you ignore (with some difficulty) this design flaw. The laptop does not feel cheap even if it is shrouded in tons and tons of cheap plastic. When we disregard the lid and vents as the obvious points of weakness in the chassis, the overall stiffness is more than decent. The base unit barely yields even under higher force. The laptop case is stiff even when you consider the height of the base section at around 44 mm which is not very surprising when you consider high-performance machines from other vendors too. But you can find a few thin pieces that go against the norm of ‘fat and ugly’ machines like the Samsung's 770Z5E (Radeon HD 8870M) which is only about half as thick. It is generally possible to carry the XMG A523 quite comfortably. This is also due to the slim power supply (147 x 75 x 26 millimeters) that is much smaller and lighter than the one in the W350ET barebone (462 vs. 742 grams). We would have liked to see a new hinge design as the chassis is prone to wobbling and both hands are absolutely needed when you need to open the lid.

Connectivity

Interfaces

No modifications have been made in connectivity. It is possible to use an external mouse on both the left and right owing to the positioning of ports at the back. In addition to the usual interfaces such as a Kensington lock, card reader, RJ45 Gigabit LAN port and USB 2.0 port, Clevo also installs three audio jacks (headphone, microphone, S/PDIF), two video outlets (VGA + HDMI) and three USB 3.0 ports (one is an eSATA combo).

Most buyers will likely be satisfied with the port distribution although we would have preferred to see a few lateral ports placed at the rear - particularly the HDMI and network socket.

Wireless Communication

The Centrino Wireless-N 2230 installed by default did a good job. The PCIe card does a good job with Wireless Display and Smart Connect technologies that are Intel product specific. According to Intel, data is transferred with a maximum of 300 Mbit/s and at a frequency of 2.4 GHz. The manufacturer specifies the Wi-Fi standard 802.11 b/g/n. Bluetooth 4.0 support is also available.

Miscellaneous

The laptop also sports a fingerprint reader, microphone and a 2.0 megapixel webcam.

Left: Kensington lock, USB 2.0, S/PDIF, microphone, headphone, optical drive
Left: Kensington lock, USB 2.0, S/PDIF, microphone, headphone, optical drive
Rear: VGA, power socket
Rear: VGA, power socket
Right: Card reader, 2x USB 3.0, eSATA / USB 3.0, HDMI, RJ45 Gigabit LAN
Right: Card reader, 2x USB 3.0, eSATA / USB 3.0, HDMI, RJ45 Gigabit LAN

Maintenance

Clevo barebones are extremely user friendly (most of the time). The larger cover on the bottom can easily be pushed back after removing three screws. The two DDR3 RAM banks, a 2.5-inch slot alongside the fan and CPU and GPU cooling construction is found underneath it. As mentioned in the introduction, the graphics card cannot be exchanged. Upgrading the processor could theoretically be possible.

The smaller maintenance cover allows accessing the second 2.5-inch slot. Access to the third RAM slot and the wireless module is a little more difficult to get to. You will need to pry out the speaker grille to get access to screws which allow you to remove the keyboard for maintenance. Please be careful when you do this from the left to the right with the help of a blade like object like an old credit/debit card.

Step I: Lever out the speaker grille with a flat object
Step II: Remove five screws
Step III: Lift the keyboard
Illustrated instructions for removing the keyboard
Pre-installed software
Pre-installed software

Software

This is a custom machine and the user will be pleased to receive a clean OS build with no additional software which we rudely term as bloatware. Most of the 20 entries in the Installation window are essential drivers that make the bits of the laptop operational.

Accessories

Clevo needs to keep costs down if it wants to compete with fellow OEMs in this cut-throat business. A buyer cannot expect much in the way of accessories other than the quick-start guides and driver toolkits. Schenker goes the extra mile and includes a Windows OEM disc that should make the tinkerer in you extremely happy. The same, 430 gram, 8 cell W370BAT-8 battery model is available with this laptop.

Warranty

The basic warranty cover is for 24 months. It is possible to upgrade to three years for an additional 100 Euros (~$130) or 200 Euros (~$260) for 4 years. This upgrade includes a pick-up & return service in Germany. Schenker also specifies a 6 to 24 month immediate repair service depending on the warranty type chosen.

Input Devices

Keyboard

Unlike the P series, the keyboards in the A series do not feature a backlight. The chicklet keys (also called a chocolate design) are functional at best. The keyboard quality is well made for the most part. The square keys are fairly well-sized at 15 mm and the keyboard is well reinforced at the bottom and exhibits no flex which is a very big advantage over older generations. The typing feel is also decent.

The ‘0 key’ in the four column number pad has been halved in size so that the arrow keys could be implemented in full-size. Apart from that, the layout is standard. Clevo could improve the typing noise. Like in the past, the keyboard sounds a bit too noisy for or liking. Nevertheless, it is still pretty good for large productivity tasks.

Touchpad

The touchpad is also largely satisfactory. The 92 x 47 millimeter area makes it easy to work with. Clevo slightly lowers the mouse replacement for better localization. That is also very necessary because the color and surface match that of the wrist area. In contrast to other 15-inch barebones, the manufacturer does not apply a rubber coating (P150SM) or provide a rough texture (W150ER) which has a positive effect on the gliding traits. It’s accuracy is compelling despite the slippery feel.

Another advantage is the multi-touch support. The practical gestures like zoom, scroll and rotate are usually implemented perfectly. Users who prefer the classic input method can use the horizontal and vertical scroll area at the edges of the touchpad. Opposing the current ClickPad trend, the manufacturer installs dedicated mouse keys. They are a bit loud but provide decent mechanics. Deactivating the touchpad in games is not necessary owing to its centered position.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Touchpad
Touchpad

Display

The laptop comes with a standard 1080p matte screen. If the user needs high color fidelity, we would recommend an upgrade to the better 95% gamut screen available in the options.

A 900p screen wouldn’t have looked out of place on a 15.6-inch laptop but it would have defeated the purpose of the machine as being a high-performance machine. The additional screen real estate is especially beneficial when you consider workloads that include general productivity and multi-tasking in multiple GUIs. Glossy screens generally output better colors but matte screens have caught up. Now they are generally ignored as they are susceptible to reflections.

232
cd/m²
222
cd/m²
204
cd/m²
222
cd/m²
238
cd/m²
205
cd/m²
232
cd/m²
253
cd/m²
221
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 253 cd/m²
Average: 225.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 81 %
Center on Battery: 238 cd/m²
Black: 0.45 cd/m²
Contrast: 529:1

Like in the XMG A522, the LG Philips LP156WF1-TLF3 screen comes standard. The results are quite similar to the previous test. While the brightness of 225 cd/m² is only middling, the contrast of 530:1 is impressive. Low-budget screens often fall short when it comes to contrast.

In return, the black level of 0.45 cd/m² could have been lower as it causes a certain grayish cast in dark scenes. This flaw will however only annoy very few buyers. The same is true for the relatively poor color space coverage (see screenshots).

Schenker XMG A523 vs. sRGB (grid)
Schenker XMG A523 vs. sRGB (grid)
Schenker XMG A523 vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
Schenker XMG A523 vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
Schenker XMG A523 vs. Schenker W503 (grid)
Schenker XMG A523 vs. Schenker W503 (grid)
Calman 5.1 Software: Grayscale
Calman 5.1 Software: Grayscale
Calman 5.1 Software: CMS Calibration
Calman 5.1 Software: CMS Calibration
Calman 5.1 Software: Saturation Sweeps
Calman 5.1 Software: Saturation Sweeps

This laptop is not suitable to be used in extremely bright environments due to the poor brightness levels of the screen. The user will find it particularly hard to read the screen content on extremely bright days or in direct sun light. You can have a look at the images of the laptop screen when used in such conditions.

Schenker XMG A523 outdoors
Schenker XMG A523 outdoors
Schenker XMG A523 outdoors

We are very aware that the screen is one of the places that costs can be cut to bring out a cheaper device. Cost savings in the form of the application of cheaper TN technology for the panel resulted in pretty poor viewing angles. Vertically, any change in the angle can cause extreme drops in image fidelity and brightness levels. Horizontal viewing angles are a lot more stable compared to the vertical viewing angles. But this level of performance is extremely poor when you compare it to better screen technologies like IPS or Samsung’s PLS panel technology.

Blickwinkel Schenker XMG A523
Blickwinkel Schenker XMG A523

Processor

Haswell
Haswell

The Core i7-4700MQ is the most interesting quad-core from Intel's stable solely considering the price-performance ratio. With frequencies of 2.4 - 3.4 GHz, it performs at the same level as the older Core i7-3630QM that also features 6 MB L3 cache and 1.4 billion transistors. However, the Core i7-4700MQ is a bit faster owing to the new architecture but this difference is rather insignificant.

Hyper Threading is an Intel technology that has become a standard feature in the last few generations. Each core is able to process two separate threads making it possible for the quad-core processor to handle 8 simultaneous threads. We also need to point out that the new Haswell processors have a slightly higher TDP compared to the last generation at 47 W (45 W for Ivy Bridge). The reason for this is likely the integrated voltage transformer. But the process technology remains the same with the Intel fabs churning out the chips using the 22 nm process technology.

Clevo relies on nVidia's Optimus technology to keep the power consumption as low as possible. Depending on requirement, it switches between the dedicated and IGP on the fly. HD Graphics 4600 is implemented in the processor and is absolutely sufficient for low performance applications.

System info CPUZ CPU
System info CPUZ Cache
System info CPUZ Mainboard
System info CPUZ RAM
System info CPUZ RAM SPD
System info HWiNFO
System info GPUZ (HD 4600)
System info GPUZ (GTX 765M)
System info CrystalDiskMark
System info DPC Latency
System information: Schenker XMG A523

Turbo Boost

The Core i7-4600MQ clock behavior is beyond reproach. While the XMG A522 could not use the Turbo when nVidia's GPU was active, the CPU in the XMG A523 usually runs faster than its default clock. Nearly 3.2 GHz in 3D intensive operations was impressive. Clevo has omitted the Turbo stop available in Ivy Bridge despite the higher graphics power.

Single-core rendering
Single-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
CPU & GPU load
CPU & GPU load

CPU Performance

When looking at performance, Haswell is only a small evolutionary step. The new models only place themselves marginally above their Ivy Bridge counterparts in benchmarks such as Cinebench R11.5.

The 1.5 points that the Core i7-4700MQ achieved in the single-CPU test roughly correspond to the level of the 2.6 - 3.6 GHz Core i7-3720QM (1.47 points @ Fujitsu Celsius H720). For comparison, the Core i7-3630QM has an approximately 6% lower score (1.41 points @ Lenovo IdeaPad Y500). This looks similar in the multi-CPU test. With 6.57 to 6.37, the Core i7-4600MQ only surpasses the Core i7-3630QM by about 3% on average. Haswell is not exactly known for the large performance boost but for the power states that were introduced to make these chips that much more frugal when it comes to power utilization.

Cinebench R10
Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
24313 Points ∼68%
Core i7-3720QM
Schenker XMG P702
23615 Points ∼66% -3%
Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
22003 Points ∼62% -10%
Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
6565 Points ∼27%
Core i7-3720QM
Schenker XMG P702
6086 Points ∼25% -7%
Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
5821 Points ∼24% -11%
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
6565 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
24313 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
6829 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.5 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
6.57 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
59.13 fps
Help

Graphics Card

GPU info
GPU info
3D clock behavior
3D clock behavior

One of the biggest improvements is certainly the graphics card. Although the XMG A522 could boast a premium GPU from nVidia's Kepler generation, the XMG A523 has been bestowed with a very welcome (and significant) update.

Owing to twice the shader count (768 vs. 384 CUDA cores) and the increased core clock (850 vs. 835 MHz), the GeForce GTX 765M clearly places itself above the old GeForce GTX 660M. The narrow memory interface of just 128 bits is back in perspective with the modern memory model. 2408 MB of GDDR5 VRAM (2000 MHz) is still decent in 2013. Like the 600 series, the GeForce GTX 765M is based on 28 nm process technology.

nVidia has to be praised for the GPU Boost technology. This is dynamic overclocking that analyzes the temperature and the power consumption. In the case of the XMG A523, the chip clocks up to 902 MHz which is an advantage of about 6% over the base clocks. –The Turbo clocks are maintained at maximum load to and we applaud nVdia for getting it right the first time.

However, it is aggravating that we had to use the outdated GPU driver ForceWare 311.27, like in previous GeForce 700 articles. We did not try out the newer ForceWare 320.21 that nVidia provided us with due to the bad experiences we had with the MSI GT70 (black screens). The GTX 765M should perform a bit better when the new drivers are implemented after the problems are resolved.

6.7
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
7.9
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
7.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
6.7
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.7
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
8.1

GPU Performance

The GTX 765M is among the best performing GPUs of 2013 for the specifications that the card comes with. With an average of 35.6 fps, the card not only outperforms the GeForce GTX 670MX (34.3 fps @ Asus G75VX-T4020H) but also the GeForce GTX 675M (34.7 fps @ Schenker XMG P502) in Unigine Heaven 3.0 (1920 x 1080, high, default tessellation).

The graphics score in 3DMark 2013's Fire Strike test was really good. The GeForce GTX 660M could only achieve 2523 points (1751 points @ Schenker XMG P502). The GeForce GTX 760M falls behind by about 18% (2060 points @ Acer Aspire V3-772G). However, a Radeon HD 8870M falls behind by almost 14% (2169 points @ Samsung 770Z7E).

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M
Schenker XMG A523
4109 Points ∼26%
GeForce GTX 670MX
Asus G75VX-T4020H
3567 Points ∼22% -13%
GeForce GTX 660M
Schenker XMG A722
2369 Points ∼15% -42%
Unigine Heaven 2.1 - 1280x1024 high, Tesselation (normal), DirectX11 AA:off AF:1x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M
Schenker XMG A523
49.5 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 670MX
Asus G75VX-T4020H
45.2 fps ∼24% -9%
GeForce GTX 660M
Schenker XMG A722
32.5 fps ∼17% -34%
3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
19864 points
3DMark Vantage14870 points
3DMark 114311 points
3DMark Ice Storm71187 points
3DMark Cloud Gate12674 points
3DMark Fire Strike2363 points
Help

Storage Devices

AS SSD benchmark
AS SSD benchmark

Beside HDDs and hybrid models, Schenker offers several SSDs on its homepage. We used the opportunity to examine the brand new Crucial M500, to be precise, the 480 GB CT480M500SSD1 version.

Although the sequential read rate of just below 480 MB/s is not record breaking (many SATA III SSDs manage over 500 MB/s), the 2.5-inch drive does a good job when you consider where it positions itself in the market.

We were particularly impressed by the sequential write rate. 413 MB/s is 25% above the level of the cheaper Samsung SSD 840 MZ-7TD500 (331 MB/s @ One K56-3N2). The Crucial M500 handles small files much better than the budget Samsung 840. The access times are also excellent. Many rivals do not achieve 0.05 ms (read) and 0.07 ms (write).

All said, we can definitely recommend buying the Crucial M500. Users who have experienced the speed of an SSD will never again want another mechanical hard drive.

Crucial M500 480 GB CT480M500SSD1
Sequential Read: 468.3 MB/s
Sequential Write: 436.4 MB/s
512K Read: 425.9 MB/s
512K Write: 423.9 MB/s
4K Read: 22.85 MB/s
4K Write: 112.9 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 354.4 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 341.8 MB/s

System Performance

The XMG A523 achieves outstanding system performance when equipped with a solid state drive. For example, our test device achieved 21412 points in PCMark Vantage. This score places the premium laptop close to the P150SM barebone (22008 points @ Schenker W503) and the P157SM barebone (21140 points @ One K56-3N2). The XMG A522 did not achieve over 20000 points. Note that the scores can vary considerably depending on the hard drive used in the tests.

PC Mark
PCMark Vantage21412 points
PCMark 75944 points
Help

Gaming Performance

High details are often playable
High details are often playable

It is possible to enjoy newer games at high or even maximum graphic settings at native resolution when anti-aliasing is disabled.

Most modern games will be able to run at maximum settings but there are some hardware busters like Metro: Last Light, Crysis 3 or Far Cry 3 that force the user to lower settings to enjoy better frame rates. There are no issues with artifacts or tearing when the screen resolution is lowered to 900p and compromises are made with the settings.

The GeForce GTX 660M easily outperforms the GeForce GTX 660M. Its advantage is approximately 40%. The GeForce GTX 670M also loses in a direct comparison, but the difference shrinks to about 10%.

Graphics Card Overall Performance
GeForce GTX 765M Base (average of 15 games)
GeForce GTX 670MX -8 %
GeForce GTX 660M -27 %
low med.high ultra
Battlefield 3 (2011) 60.321.7fps
Anno 2070 (2011) 35.5fps
Alan Wake (2012) 46.423.8fps
Mass Effect 3 (2012) 57.9fps
Diablo III (2012) 111.7fps
Max Payne 3 (2012) 38.629.4fps
Guild Wars 2 (2012) 60.722.4fps
Fifa 13 (2012) 232.4fps
Medal of Honor: Warfighter (2012) 64.125.5fps
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) 35.5fps
Assassin´s Creed III (2012) 69.222.4fps
Far Cry 3 (2012) 44.413.8fps
Dead Space 3 (2013) 68.2fps
Crysis 3 (2013) 3514.1fps
SimCity (2013) 37.423.2fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 72.156.934.418.2fps
GRID 2 (2013) 144112.5101.823.9fps

Emissions

Casing fan
Casing fan

System Noise

Like in most gaming laptops, the noise development is one of the biggest drawbacks. Almost 44 dB in 3DMark 06 and 49 dB during full load make the laptop one of the noisiest we have come across. It can get on the nerves without a headset or high speaker setting.

Users will not notice system noise in games like First-Person-Shooters, racing simulations and the like but consider quieter games which need stealth or strategy games which include city building and you will realize the always-running fan in the background. The 15-inch P150SM and P157SM barebones are affected by the same issue. Despite its much stronger GeForce GTX 780M, the MSI GT70 is slightly quieter at about 41-47 dB.

The XMG A523 is agreeably quiet when performing basic tasks. Only noise levels of 29-31 dB is heard depending on the energy saving plan, GPU activity and hard drive configuration. However, the fan sometimes speeds up suddenly and without reason like other designs from the Clevo house. We believe that the fan management will be optimized a bit in the next weeks and months.

Noise Level

Idle 29.4 / 30.7 / 35.9 dB(A)
DVD 35.6 / dB(A)
Load 44.0 / 48.9 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test (Furmark & Prime)

The temperatures do not give reason for complaint. The laptop finished the idle test with a surface temperature of approximately 30°C.

The average temperatures increase very marginally in 3D operation. We measured 31°C on the top and 33°C on the bottom after a multi-hour stress test. The wrist rest and WASD area did not reach unpleasant temperatures even during longer gaming sessions. The measurements of the XMG A522 are not directly comparable since we tested the precursor in much warmer surroundings.

The verdict about the components is divided. Although the Core i7-4700MQ and GeForce GTX 765M settled to just over 70°C during full load, the CPU's moderate temperature is made possible by throttling to 800 MHz (2.7 GHz without Furmark). However, seeing that our stress test is an unrealistic scenario, there is no need for concern in practical use. The benchmarks did not indicate throttling.

Max. Load
 41.4 °C41.8 °C33.4 °C 
 28.8 °C28.3 °C27.5 °C 
 27.2 °C27.9 °C25.2 °C 
Maximum: 41.8 °C
Average: 31.3 °C
33.1 °C41.6 °C41.9 °C
31.3 °C33.5 °C33.0 °C
25.5 °C27.8 °C26.5 °C
Maximum: 41.9 °C
Average: 32.7 °C
Power Supply (max.)  55.2 °C | Room Temperature 24 °C | Voltcraft IR-550

Speakers

Sound Blaster Cinema
Sound Blaster Cinema

The sound system has only been slightly modified. Rather than the THX TruStudio Pro software, the newer Sound Blaster Cinema software comes pre-installed. Although the SBX Pro Studio technology is enabled by default, the sound quality from the speakers weren’t anything to write home about.

Both Onkyo speakers sound rather tinny, flat and artificial. Lack of volume, dynamics and decent bass has been issues that have plagued laptops for years and hasn’t changed in this one too. The deep pitches are generally neglected. Owing to the installed subwoofer, the 2.1 systems from the P series feature a higher-quality sound.

Nevertheless, we would not say that the speakers are a failure. The sound quality is actually decent for such a system and is sufficient for the casual user. We would however recommend using a headset or an external sound system. Users who want good sound from their laptop should take the weaker Asus N56VB or Samsung 770Z5E or wait for the new MSI GE60 that also features a GeForce GTX 765M.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption of the XMG A522 is clearly surpassed by this review sample due to the stronger components. With a measurement of 90-150 W, the load consumption is approximately 25% higher than the precursor's 76-118 W. The XMG A523 also needs roughly 25% more power when idling (15-26 W vs. 12-20 W). The recently launched Asus V3-772G gaming laptop exhibits much lower power consumption compared to the A523. However, the 17-incher sports a slower GeForce GTX 760M graphics card and a 37 W Core i7-4702MQ  CPU.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.7 Watt
Idle 14.7 / 20.4 / 26.0 Watt
Load 95.1 / 149.8 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

Reader's Test
Maximum battery runtime (Reader's Test)
Classic Test
Minimum runtime (Classic Test)

The 15-incher lasts for quite a long time without its power supply due to good battery capacity of 77 Wh (5200 mAh). Three hours of movie playback with 100% brightness was just as impressive as a four hour Internet marathon session via WLAN at 60% brightness.

We ascertained a minimum runtime of almost two hours. A charged battery should last for approximately 5.25 hours under ideal circumstances. The XMG A522 managed slightly better times but with lower performance parts.

It is praiseworthy that the graphics performance remains stable in battery mode.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
5h 15min
WiFi Surfing
4h 00min
DVD
3h 02min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 04min

Verdict

Schenker XMG A523
Schenker XMG A523

The XMG A523 aims at gamers who want a high performance but are unwilling to put out the extra cash for better parts. Users who prefer plain looks without flashy design and would like to configure the components to their liking will mostly be satisfied with this notebook.

Unlike many rivals, the understated looks might find it buyers who wish to get the best bang for their buck without caring for the aesthetics and the design. This is a practical and functional design that has the best hardware you can afford at lower price points.

nVidia has a swift and fairly energy-efficient premium GPU with its GeForce GTX 765M. The performance numbers can compete with a desktop PC owing to a quad-core from Intel's Haswell platform and a solid state drive. However, the graphics card would only be midrange GPU for a desktop card.

The XMG A523 is not just a performance demon. In addition to the matte Full HD screen, we found the input devices, connectivity, battery runtime and temperatures very interesting. The convenient maintenance options and clean Windows installation are a bonus.

We do pile on the criticism when it comes to the atrocious bezel design. We simply don’t understand why this would be the only glossy part on a completely matte laptop. The only other drawbacks that come to mind are the excessive system noise at load and the relatively poor speakers.

However Schenker's XMG A523 is generally a well-designed gaming laptop that will not disappoint most buyers.

For Comparison

Metro: Last Light - 1920x1080 Very High (DX11) AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
18.2 fps ∼22%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
18.3 fps ∼23% +1%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
14.3 fps ∼18% -21%
SimCity - 1920x1080 Ultra / High AA:on (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
23.2 fps ∼32%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
21.7 fps ∼30% -6%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
17.3 fps ∼24% -25%
Crysis 3 - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:2xSM AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
14.1 fps ∼23%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
13.8 fps ∼23% -2%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
10 fps ∼17% -29%
Dead Space 3 - 1920x1080 Very High Preset (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
68.2 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
66 fps ∼26% -3%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
49.5 fps ∼19% -27%
Far Cry 3 - 1920x1080 DX11 Ultra Preset (HDAO, Enhanced Alpha To Coverage) AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
13.8 fps ∼21%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
13.7 fps ∼21% -1%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
10.6 fps ∼16% -23%
Assassin´s Creed III - 1920x1080 Very High (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
22.4 fps ∼42%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
21.2 fps ∼39% -5%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
18.6 fps ∼35% -17%
Need for Speed: Most Wanted - 1920x1080 High / On (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
35.5 fps ∼59%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
29 fps ∼48% -18%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
23 fps ∼38% -35%
Medal of Honor: Warfighter - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4xMS AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
25.5 fps ∼32%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
25 fps ∼31% -2%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
20.8 fps ∼26% -18%
Fifa 13 - 1920x1080 High AA:4xMS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
232.4 fps ∼58%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
180.6 fps ∼45% -22%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
155.7 fps ∼39% -33%
Guild Wars 2 - 1920x1080 All Maximum / On AA:FX (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
22.4 fps ∼34%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
18.8 fps ∼28% -16%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
Schenker XMG P502
16.1 fps ∼24% -28%
Max Payne 3 - 1920x1080 Very High, DX11 AA:Very High FX AF:8x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
29.4 fps ∼35%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
24.8 fps ∼29% -16%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
One K73-2O
18.7 fps ∼22% -36%
Diablo III - 1920x1080 High AA:on (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
111.7 fps ∼43%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
89.5 fps ∼34% -20%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
One K73-2O
67.4 fps ∼26% -40%
Alan Wake - 1920x1080 High Preset AA:4x AF:8x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
23.8 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
23 fps ∼27% -3%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
One K73-2O
22.2 fps ∼26% -7%
Anno 2070 - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:on AF:4x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
35.5 fps ∼29%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
32.4 fps ∼26% -9%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
One K73-2O
20.9 fps ∼17% -41%
Battlefield 3 - 1920x1080 ultra AA:4x MS AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 765M / Core i7-4700MQ
Schenker XMG A523
21.7 fps ∼21%
GeForce GTX 670MX / Core i7-3630QM
DevilTech HellMachine
21.8 fps ∼21% 0%
GeForce GTX 660M / Core i7-3610QM
One K73-2O
18.4 fps ∼18% -15%

Comment this article:

In Review: Schenker XMG A523. By courtesy of Schenker Technologies GmbH.
In Review: Schenker XMG A523. By courtesy of Schenker Technologies GmbH.

Specifications

Schenker XMG A523

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM87 (Lynx Point)
:: Memory
8192 MB, 2x 4096 MB SO-DIMM DDR3-RAM PC3-12800 (1600 MHz), 3 slots, max. 24 GB
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M - 2048 MB, Core: 850 MHz, Memory: 2000 MHz, GDDR5, ForceWare 311.27, Optimus
:: Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, LG Philips LP156WF1-TLF3 (LGD0259), TN LED, Full HD, diagonal: 39.62 cm, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
Crucial M500 480 GB CT480M500SSD1, 480 GB SSD, slots: 2x 2.5 inch & 1x mSATA
:: Soundcard
VIA VT1802P @ Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
1 USB 2.0, 3 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, Audio Connections: headphone, microphone, S/PDIF, Card Reader: MMC,RSMMC,SD,mini SD,SDHC,SDXC,MS,MS Pro,MS Duo, 1 Fingerprint Reader,
:: Networking
Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 (b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
Optiarc DVD RW AD-7760H
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 44 x 374 x 250
:: Weight
2.7 kg Power Supply: 0.462 kg
:: Battery
76.96 Wh Lithium-Ion, 5200 mAh, 14.8 V, 8 cells, W370BAT-8, 0.43 kg
:: Price
1500 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 2.0 Megapixel, Speakers: 2.0 (Onkyo, Sound Blaster Cinema), Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, PSU: 120 watt, driver & tool DVD, quick start guide, 24-48 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
The case is mostly plastic...
The casing is made of plastic...
and has a matte.
and is largely matte.
The gray surfaces are quite resistant to dust, grime fingerprints and pressure.
The gray surfaces are quite resistant.
It is only the glossy display bezel that spoils it for us.
Only the display bezel smudges very quickly.
The bottom panels look well organized.
The bottom looks clearly arranged.
The A523 is one of the thicker laptops on the market at 44 mm.
The XMG A523 belongs to the thicker laptops with a height of nearly 4.5 centimeters.
The maximum opening angle is 135°.
The maximum opening angle is 135°.
The logo is well made.
The logo's implementation in the lid is first-rate.
The absence of a backlit keyboard is disappointing.
Too bad that the keyboard does not feature a backlight.
The build quality does not give much reason for complaint.
The build does not give much reason for complaint.
The A523 loses the rubber coating of its precursor.
The precursor still had a rubber-coated wrist rest.
The manufacturer relies on a single fan.
The manufacturer relies on a single fan.
The design is rather bland.
The design is rather bland.
The optical drive is on the left.
The optical drive is on the left.
Most interfaces are on the right.
Most interfaces are on the right.
The maintenance cover is easy to remove.
The maintenance cover is easy to remove.
It is possible to replace the memory and the hard drive/s.
It is possible to replace the working memory and the hard drive/s.
The 8 cell battery has a 77 Wh capacity.
The 8 cell battery has 77 Wh - a good rate.
The gaming laptop is very loud during load.
The gaming laptop is very audible during load.
A few components are hidden underneath the keyboard.
A few components are hidden underneath the keyboard.
Here are the WLAN module and the third RAM slot.
Here, the WLAN module and the third RAM slot.
The W350ST barebone comes from Clevo.
The W350ST barebone comes from Clevo.
A solid state drive speeds up Windows actions considerably.
A solid state drive speeds up Windows routine considerably.
Several processors can be selected.
Several processors can be selected.
Very few users need more than 8 GB of DDR3 RAM.
Only few users need more than eight GB of DDR3 RAM.
Unlike the CPU, the graphics card cannot be replaced.
Unlike the CPU, the graphics card cannot be replaced.
The device features an mSATA slot and two 2.5-inch slots.
The device features an mSATA slot and two 2.5 inch slots.
The glossy bezel is easily scratched and smudged by fingerprints.
The display's glossy bezel proves to be a harbor for fingerprints and scratches.
We don't have any complaints about the keyboard layout.
We don't have any complaints about the keyboard's layout.
Both right icons indicate which GPU is currently enabled.
Both right icons indicate which GPU is currently enabled.
A hot key for flight mode is handy.
A hot key for flight mode is handy.
Two speakers from Onkyo take care of audio requirements.
Two speakers from Onkyo take care of audio.
The chiclet design might not suit everyone.
The chiclet design is reason for controversial opinions.
The arrow keys also have decent size.
The arrow keys also have a decent size.
Optimus is a graphics switching technology.
Optimus is a graphics switching technology.
A fingerprint reader is not a matter of course.
A fingerprint reader is not a matter of course.
A few status LEDs are found on the front.
A few status LEDs are found on the front.
The ports are cramped.
The ports are cramped.
Only two interfaces are found on the rear.
Only two interfaces are found on the rear.
Exhaust vents are towards the back.
The air is discharged from the casing's rear.
Surround sound is possible via HDMI or S/PDIF.
Surround sound is possible via HDMI or S/PDIF.
The buyer now gets a chic black box rather than a brown, run-of-the-mill carton.
The buyer now gets a chic black box rather than a brown, run-of-the-mill carton.
The 120 W power supply is surprisingly flat.
The 120 watt power supply is surprisingly flat.

Similar Laptops

Similar devices from a different Manufacturer

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

Devices with the same GPU

» Review Schenker XMG C703 (MSI MS-1771) Notebook
Core i7 4700HQ, 17.3", 2.628 kg
» Review MSI GS70-65M21621 Notebook
Core i7 4700HQ, 17.3", 2.72 kg
» Review MSI GE70-i765M287 Notebook
Core i7 4700MQ, 17.3", 3.05 kg

Links

Compare Prices

Pro

+Many maintenance options
+Good connectivity
+Decent battery runtimes
+Reasonable temperatures
+Individual configuration
+Three hard drive slots
+Good non-glare screen
+Graphics switching
+No bloatware
+Slim power supply
+High performance
 

Cons

-Sensitive display bezel
-CPU throttling during full load
-High noise development
-No backlit keyboard
-Middling sound

Shortcut

What we likd

The XMG A523 is a balanced bundle.

What we'd like to see

Better noise management during load.

What surprises us

That Clevo continues to use a glossy display bezel despite the mass of complaints.

The competition

Gaming laptops based on Haswell such as the Asus G750, the Acer Aspire V3-772G, the MSI GT70, the One K56-3N2, the One K73-3N, the Schenker W503 or the Schenker XMG P703.

Rating

Schenker XMG A523
06/10/2013 v3
Florian Glaser

Chassis
82%
Keyboard
82%
Pointing Device
80%
Connectivity
80%
Weight
78%
Battery
86%
Display
84%
Games Performance
93%
Application Performance
100%
Temperature
86%
Noise
72%
Add Points
84%
Average
84%
86%
Gaming *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Schenker XMG A523 (Clevo W350ST) Notebook
Author: Florian Glaser, 2013-06-15 (Update: 2013-06-21)