Over at the bottom, we see four strategically placed rubber feet providing the friction to prevent the unit from sliding around and a few cut-out holes for the air intake. We also observe that the stereo speakers are downward firing, which probably explains why they are still so soft at full volume.
The same battery release latch also opens the back cover without the need for any masochistic screwdriver action, which is a lovely feature for upgraders and reviewers.
NERDGASMMM… after cleaning off the jizz from everywhere, we'll go through some of the configurable options and design decisions in the sections below.
Binary choice between decadent mechanical drives or load time zapping SSDs – Aftershock offers a 500gb 7200rpm Seagate drive as stock, and a reasonable $502 top-up gets you an award winning 512GB Crucial M4 SSD upgrade at the other end of the performance spectrum. We used our own Samsung 830 here for testing purposes.
Moving on to the CPU department, our review sample came with the Core i7-3610QM which is a 45W quad-core (8-threads with HyperThreading) that turbos up to 3.3GHz and has hardware VT extensions for a mobile virtualization utopia. Unless you are strapped for cash, this is an obvious $100 upgrade over the stock 35W dual-core. The enthusiast-grade TIM used is Arctic Silver 5, again with $25 option to use the marginally better IC Diamond thermal compound.
Our customization spree continues at the system memory department, where you can swap the criminally standard single-channel 1333MHz Kingston 4GB stick to a pair of XMP 1.3 enabled Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz CL9 memories, eliminating any memory subsystem bottlenecks, up to a whopping 16GB even (+SGD$148).
For those who have an conscientious objection to the factory Realtek 802.11N+BT mPCIe wireless module, a $39 top-up can be made to switch it to a seemingly more dexterous Intel Wireless N Advanced 6235.
The only bummer was that the GPU is soldered onto the motherboard, rendering future upgrades near impossible. Anyway the ASIC here is a Nvidia Geforce GT650M which is based on 28nm Kepler GK107 rated at 45W TDP and is the slower 128-bit wide GDDR3 instead of GDDR5 SKU. To put its performance into perspective, the Nvidia discreet solution is roughly 4.5x faster than the Ivy Bridge HD4000 IGP, which justifies its inclusion here for the demanding games and cracking wireless AP passwords with CUDA.
The cooling solution is a solo 0.4A blower augmented by an copper heatpipe block transfering heat from the CPU and GPU. We did not do any formal testing but the noise levels and efficacy was acceptable during intensive 3D gaming.
A large six-cell 62.16wh battery provides the electrical juice for the system while on the go. When tethered to the walls, a standard 90W power brick does the re-fueling.