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Maximum PC Staff Mar 10, 2010

iBuypower M865TU

At A Glance

Stuart Smalley

Sophisticated looks; truly portable form-factor; improved G92 performance.

Stuart Little

Inferior to quad-cores in apps; 17-inch price; poor battery life.

A 15-inch gaming notebook that holds its own in bigger company

From the looks of it, you probably wouldn’t figure iBuypower’s M865TU for a gaming notebook. Its aesthetic is much more subdued than typical representatives of that class. The chassis is covered in a subtly textured black plastic, with tasteful silver trim around the edges and the touch pad. Unlike other gaming notebooks, backlighting is limited to the power button and an unobtrusive iBuypower logo on the notebook’s lid. Furthermore, the 15-inch M865TU is smaller than many gaming rigs and has a more streamlined formfactor.

But despite its smaller stature and no-nonsense appearance, the M865TU’s got game. That’s courtesy of the Nvidia GTX 260M GPU under its hood. Based on a reworked G92 chip, which uses a smaller, faster process (55nm vs. 65nm) and features slightly higher clocks, the GTX 260M proves more capable than previous-generation G92 mobile parts. For example, the M865TU performed almost 30 percent better in Far Cry 2 and Call of Duty 4 than the 9800M GTX-equipped Qosmio X305 we reviewed in June, with scores of 31.3fps and 58.3fps, respectively, at the notebook’s 1680x1050 native res and the highest quality settings. (This month, we jettisoned the games we have previously used for notebooks reviews in favor of FC2 and CoD4, which are far more indicative of a GPU’s prowess—expect to see these titles integrated into our benchmark chart going forward.)


If not for the tell-tale glossy screen, you might mistake the staid M865TU for a business notebook.

In the applications department, the M865TU is also competent. The rig’s 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo Mobile helped it handily whoop our zero-point notebook in the benchmarks by 30-60 percent. Granted, the story changes when you compare the M865TU to quad-core machines. The Core 2 Quad Mobile part in the Qosmio X305, while clocked at just 2GHz, beat the M865TU by 13-18 percent in the benchmarks that scale with cores (Premiere, Photoshop, MainConcept), although lost to the M865TU in Photoshop by four percent. Naturally, the Core i7 AVADirect D900F (reviewed in September) was even more punishing, winning the multicore-optimized apps by upwards of 60 percent and even Photoshop by 38 percent. Of course, the D900F is a mammoth desktop-replacement rig that costs twice as much as the M865TU—it should dominate.

What we like about the M865TU is that it provides decent application performance, a marked improvement in single-card notebook gaming, and a more portable size and weight—it’s lighter by two or more pounds than other gaming notebooks we’ve tested recently. Sadly, its battery life isn’t much better than the pack’s, lasting just one hour and 40 minutes when playing a movie in power-saving mode. Oh, and the speakers suck.
Specifications

iBuypower M865TU
CPU3.06GHz Core 2 Duo Mobile T9900
RAM 4GB DDR3/1,066MHz
Chipset
Intel PM45
Hard Drive
500GB Seagate ST9500420AS (7,200rpm)
Optical Toshiba TS-L633A CD/DVDW
GPU Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M
Ports DVI, HDMI, Ethernet, modem, three USB, eSATA/USB, FireWire, three analog in/out, 7-in-1 media reader, Express Card
Lap/Carry12 lbs, 0.4 oz / 14lbs, 15.6 oz
BENCHMARKS

Zero Point
iBuypower M865TU
Premiere Pro CS3 1,860 sec
1.320 (40.9%)
Photoshop CS3
237 sec
147 (61.2%)
ProShow
2,416 sec 1,504 (60.6%)
MainConcept 3,498 sec
2,702 (29.5%)

Our zero point notebook uses a 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo E6700, 2GB of DDR2/667 RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a GeForce Go 8600M, and Windows Vista Home Premium.

THE VERDICT

iBuypower M865TU

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