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Maximum PC Staff Jul 24, 2014

iBuypower Battalion M1771-2 Review

At A Glance

iBuypower

Thin and portable; sleek design; good amount of ports for its class.

iSellpower

Poor battery life; TN panel; average peripherals.

When form trumps function

It’s really no surprise that most 17-inch gaming laptops are back-breakers. Large screens generally equate to large chassis, and beefy, enthusiast components just add to the bulk. But iBuypower obliterates that trend with the Battalion M1771-2—but not without a few trade-offs.

You can change the color of the LED backlight beneath the keyboard, but the letters don’t glow.

The relatively portable form factor really is the star of the show here. While the 16.4x11.2-inch laptop can consume a lot of desk space, the M1771-2 is mind-bogglingly thin at .85 inches, which makes it .3 inches thinner than the already-amazingly slim 14-inch Razer Blade that we reviewed in July. The M1771-2 is also impressively light for its class, weighing five pounds, 15.4 ounces, which is nearly half a pound lighter than even our “smaller” 14-inch Alienware 14 zero-point. Sexier still is the fact that the power brick is relatively compact, weighing less than 1.5 pounds (most gaming notebook chargers easily weigh more than two pounds).

Truth be told, the M1771-2 is actually eerily similar to Razer’s sexy 17-inch laptop that we reviewed in our Holiday 2012 issue. Although it’s not quite as eye-catching as Razer’s offering, the M1771-2 is made of the same sleek black metal, but features a full-size keyboard with number pad in lieu of Razer’s Switchblade UI. While you can change the color of the keyboard’s LED backlighting, the lighting itself is rather dim. Also, the logo on the back of the M1771-2’s display gets the sticker treatment, unlike the sweet-looking LED logo on the 17-inch Razer Blade.

Like the Razer, the M1771-2 lacks an optical drive, but it outdoes the Razer by offering a fourth USB 3.0 port, an SD card reader, and two Mini DisplayPorts. We didn’t think it was possible to cram so many features into such a slim laptop. Color us impressed.

All in all, however, the notebook is quite average. The M1771-2 uses a 17.3-inch 1920x1080-resolution TN display, and though the viewing angles aren’t bad for a TN panel, we’ve seen much better from the likes of Maingear’s Nomad 15 (reviewed February 2013). And, of course, it can’t compare to the viewing angles and color accuracy offered by an IPS panel.

We also weren’t blown away by the laptop’s speakers, as we thought they could use a bit more volume for noisy environments. The M1771-2’s Elan touchpad is serviceable and we like that it features multitouch gestures for two-finger scrolling, but you’ll definitely want to tweak the sensitivity settings. Furthermore, we would have preferred two separate physical buttons as opposed to having both integrated beneath the trackpad, so as to avoid any swiping and clicking confusion. The keyboard features chiclet keys that feel sturdy enough, but we do wish the buttons were a smidgen bigger given the large surface area that’s available.

Tucked compactly within the chassis is a quad-core 2.4GHz Core i7-4700HQ, 16GB of DDR3/1600, and a GeForce GTX 765M with 2GB of GDDR5. Aside from the Alienware 14’s Core i7-4700MQ processor, which falters ever so slightly in the integrated-graphics department, both the M1771-2 and our zero-point carry the same core components.

Despite being equipped with very similar CPUs on paper, however, the M1771-2 lagged behind in our ProShow Producer and Stitch processor tests by roughly 5–8 percent. iBuypower’s notebook was even slower in the multithread-heavy x264 HD 5.0 benchmark, falling behind by 10 percent. We suspect the thinner chassis can’t dissipate the heat as well as the Alienware, so the processor runs on Turbo Boost just a bit less. However, the iBuypower did fare better in our graphics tests. It was a wash in BioShock Infinite and 3DMark 11, but the M1771-2 was able to best our ZP laptop by 4 percent in Metro: Last Light. In our experiential gameplay tests of Battlefield 4 at its high preset settings and Call of Duty: Ghosts on its highest “extra” settings, both games garnered average frame rates in the high 30s at 1920x1080 resolution. While the games are playable, we recommend tweaking the settings a bit for a smoother experience.

We don’t have any kind words to say about the laptop’s battery life, unfortunately. iBuypower says that you should be able to squeeze three to six hours of juice out of the 6-cell 5400mAh battery, but we achieved a meager two and a half hours in our video-rundown test. We don’t normally harp on battery life too much for gaming laptops because they’re often desktop replacements, but considering how relatively portable the M1771-2 actually is, its small battery is an unfortunate quality. In this case, we wouldn’t mind a few additional ounces in exchange for a beefier battery that’s guaranteed for at least three hours.

Although the M1771-2 cuts some corners with its parts and peripherals, its large screen and super-svelte form factor make it fairly priced at $1,860. It’s not a perfect laptop by any means, but if you want a portable gaming laptop with a large screen that doesn’t break the bank, you won’t find a better option at the moment.

$1,860, www.ibuypower.com

Note: This review was originally featured in the February 2014 issue of the magazine .

Benchmarks
 Zero-point
Surface RT
Stitch.Efx 2.0 (sec) 9621,054 (-8.7%)
ProShow Producer 5 (sec)
1,6291,716 (-5.1%)
x264 HD 5.0
13.5
12.1 (-10.4%)
BioShock Infinite (fps)36.1
36.6
Metro Last Light (fps)30.431.6
3DMark 11 Perf4,170
4114 (-1.3%)
Battery Life (min)234143 (-38.9%)

Our zero-point notebook is an Alienware 14 with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ, 16GB DDR3/1600, 256GB mSATA SSD, 750GB 5,400rpm HDD, a GeForce GTX 765M, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. BioShock Infinite tested at 1920x1080 at Ultra DX11 settings; Metro Last Light tested at 1920x1080 at DX11 medium quality settings with PhysX disabled.

Specifications
CPU
2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ
RAM 16GB DDR3/1600
Chipset Intel HM87
GPU Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M
Display17.3-inch, 1920x1080 TN display
Storage1TB HDD (7,200rpm), 256GB SSD
ConnectivityEthernet, HDMI, 2x Mini DisplayPort, media card reader, 4x USB 3.0, mic input, headphone input, mic/headphone input, 2MP webcam, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n
Lap / Carry5 lbs, 15.4 oz / 7 lbs, 4.1 oz
THE VERDICT

iBuypower Battalion M1771-2

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