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Katherine Stevenson Feb 13, 2013

CyberPower Zeus M2

At A Glance

Costco

Solid performance and features competitive price.

Walmart

Budget styling; disappointing battery life.

The more-affordable ultraportable

If it’s true that Ultrabooks aren’t meeting sales expectations because of high prices, CyberPower is making moves in the right direction by offering a trio of 14.1-inch models that break the $1,000 barrier. One of those is the Zeus M2 , which rings in at $850. That’s nearly half the cost of the Lenovo X1 Carbon . So what, if any, features and performance are sacrificed in the service of money savings?

There’s nothing flashy about the Zeus M2’s design, unless you count its glossy screen and brushed-metal lid.

It’s pretty clear that CyberPower cut some of its costs on materials and construction. The CyberPower Zeus M2 is nearly all plastic except for its brushed-metal lid. The body is not super rigid, exhibiting flex in the base when the notebook is held by one corner, and some mushiness under the keyboard. But the build doesn’t seem flimsy and the hinge feels solid. The keyboard and touchpad are in keeping with the budget motif—strictly serviceable, but thankfully free of any major nuisances in our testing. Similarly, the screen is an unremarkable TN panel with a 1366x768 resolution and a glossy finish. All in all, the overall quality is what you’d expect from the price tag.

But by keeping design flourishes to a minimum, CyberPower is able to outfit the Zeus M2 with a respectable loadout of internal components that doesn’t stray far from many pricier configs. For instance, at 1.7GHz, its i5-3317U CPU is clocked just 100MHz lower than the X1 Carbon’s proc (the same proc found in our zero-point, incidentally). The M2’s 120GB Intel SSD is just 8GB shy of the X1’s—what’s more, the M2’s drive achieved sequential reads that were 21 percent better than the X1’s drive and sequential writes that were 10 percent better in CrystalDisk Mark. On top of that, the M2 offers 16GB of RAM to the X1’s 4GB. The M2 also boasts a competitive array of ports, including full-size Ethernet and HDMI ports, two USB 3.0 ports (along with one USB 2.0), and a media card reader.

In our benchmark tests, the Zeus M2 held its own, performing even better against our zero-point rig than Lenovo's Carbon X1. Our battery rundown test was another story. Here, the M2 conked out in less than four hours. Since long battery life is one of the tenets of the Ultrabook mandate, this is a notable failing.

Still, we have to give CyberPower credit where credit is due. The M2 might fall short in the style and battery-life categories, but it succeeds in key ways that are crucial to the Ultrabook brand, by offering a thin and light portable with flexible features and competitive performance at a very competitive price. Budget buyers will be well-served by this device.

Price $850 , www.cyberpower.com

Note: This review appeared in the Holiday 2012 issue of the magazine.

Benchmarks
 Zero point
Premiere Pro CS3 (sec) 840960 (-12.5%)
Photoshop CS3 (sec) 102
105 (-2.9%)
ProShow Producer (sec)
1,113
1,201 (-7.3%)
MainConcept (sec)
1,9042,047 (-7%)
Quake III (fps) 430.8
438.5
Quake 4 (fps)7368.5 (-6.8%)
Battery life (min)315226 (-28.3%)

Our zero-point ultraportable is an Intel reference Ultrabook with a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3427U, 4GB of DDR3/1600 RAM, integrated graphics, a 240GB SSD, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.

Specifications
CPU 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U
RAM 16GB DDR3/1333
Chipset
Intel HM77
Display
14.1-inch1366x768 LED-backlit LCD
Storage Intel 120GB SSD
Connectivity
Two USB 3.0, USB 2.0, headphone/mic, 9-in-1 media card reader, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n, webcam, Ethernet, HDMI
Lap / Carry3 lbs, 6.9 oz / 4 lbs,3.7 oz


THE VERDICT

CyberPower Zeus M2

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