Metabox N850HK Laptop Review

Metabox N850HK Laptop Review. We’re going to check out the N850HK laptop from Metabox’s Alpha series and find just how well it performs in games and various benchmarks. Metabox are an Australian company who specialise in high end custom laptops, basically you pick the model you’re after and then you can customize it to get it just how you want.

Inside the box we have the usual manuals and driver CD, power brick, and of course the laptop itself. Let’s start with the specs of the laptop, however keep in mind that you can customize most of the components when ordering online to suit your requirements, so you may end up with something a little different. In my configuration we’ve got an Intel 7700HQ CPU, which is a quad core Kabylake chip running at 2.8GHz that can turbo up to 3.8GHz.

Metabox N850HK Laptop Review
Metabox N850HK Laptop Review

For memory there’s 16GB of DDR4 RAM at 2,400MHz. For storage there’s a Crucial MX300 275GB SATA 3 M.2 SSD which is running Windows 10, and an additional 1TB 5,400RPM hard drive for slower mass storage. For graphics there’s an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti with 4GB of GDDR5 memory, and the display is a 15.6” 60Hz IPS 1080p LED backlit panel with a matte finish. For network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port and an Intel 8265 AC dual band WiFi card which also provides Bluetooth.

All of this hardware is packed into a Clevo body which has a black metallic look to it, the overall build quality both looks and feels nice. The physical dimensions of the laptop are 37.8cm in width, 26.7 cm in depth, and 2.69 cm in height, so it’s just a little smaller than some of the other 15” laptops from Metabox that I’ve reviewed in the past.

The total weight of the laptop with battery is advertised at 2.5KG, however again this can vary based on the hardware you choose, this particular configuration weighs in at 2.97KG with the power brick and cable, which I wanted to note was one of the smallest bricks I’ve seen from Metabox so far. The laptop itself without the brick or cables is just 2.38KG, so not too heavy for its size.

Despite this I found that I wasn’t able to open the lid with one finger, it seems to be more weighted towards the back. As usual the screen looks great, and as mentioned it’s 1080p, however you can optionally upgrade to 4K. I’ve mentioned in the past that I can’t stand 4K screens at this size as Windows scaling still looks pretty bad, however I’d argue that doing so wouldn’t be the best idea considering the 1050Ti inside, more on that in the upcoming benchmarks.

The screen looks nice under normal conditions, and even in the dark. I did my usual backlight bleed test which involves making the laptop show a completely black screen in a dark room to help emphasize any bleeding around the edges. I then take a long exposure photo with my camera to help display this, so this really is a worst case scenario test. In this case we can see a little bleed around some of the edges however it’s only noticeable if you’re actually using the laptop in a dark room, I didn’t notice it at all during normal usage in a lit room.

The brightness can be adjusted quite a bit, and the viewing angles on the screen are pretty good, I can easily see details clearly from any sharp angle which has been the case with all Metabox laptops that I’ve looked at so far and is still impressive each time.

The surface of the screen has a matte finish to it which I prefer over a glossy screen, as you can more easily see what you’re doing regardless of the lighting situation as there’s much less distracting reflections shown. I also didn’t find much flex to the display, and there’s no G-Sync available with this model. Above the display is the inbuilt 2MP camera which is capable of full HD 1080p video. While the quality isn’t amazing, which seems to be pretty common with inbuilt laptop cameras, it’s good enough in a well lit room and should be fine for activities such as video chat.

The microphone also sounds fairly average. The keyboard appears to be the same or very similar to the one in the P650HP-G laptop that I’ve reviewed previously, which is awesome as I think it’s a pretty good laptop keyboard. The keyboard looks good and feels nice to type on. It’s a full sized keyboard with numpad included, and all of the keys are RGB backlit allowing you to customize how it looks, although you can only customize different groups of keys together rather than individual keys. I also found very little flex when pushing down hard on the keys which was nice, the whole thing feels nice and sturdy.

The touchpad works well, but the left and right buttons are a little different from the usual ones found on previous Metabox laptops that I’ve looked at. I found the buttons required a bit more pressure to click which took some getting used to. They were less clicky and didn’t push down as much which also made them quieter. As for the speakers, well, to be honest I didn’t know where they were until I started playing some music. In the past previous Metabox laptops have had large front facing Onkyo speakers that actually sound pretty decent, as far as laptop speakers are concerned, however that is not the case here.

The speakers are found under the front lip of the laptop and they sound very tinny with no bass at all, I’d definitely stick to headphones here. Now let’s have a look at the available I/O options. On the left there’s the power input, gigabit ethernet port, 2 mini DisplayPort 1.2 outputs, 1 HDMI 1.4 output, a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C port, a USB 3.0 Type A port, and 6 in 1 card reader. Over on the right there’s 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, a USB 2.0 Type A port, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen one of these on a laptop, the second USB 3.0 Type A port, air exhaust vent and kensington lock.

The front only features some basic status LEDs, while the back has nothing except some air exhaust vents. Underneath there’s some air intakes to help keep all the components cool, as well as some rubber feet which both stop the laptop from moving around on flat surfaces when in use, and also rise it a little to let cool air in. The rear section can be removed to easily take out and replace the battery which is a useful feature if you have a replacement on hand.

The battery itself is a 6 cell lithium-ion battery, rated at 62Wh or 5300mAh. With a full charge and doing basic tasks such as web browsing and watching YouTube videos with the screen on half brightness, keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for just under 7 hours, pretty impressive, though of course that would be significantly less playing games. I also haven’t had any problems with heat, during normal use it stays quite cool, with an idle CPU temperature of 30 degrees celsius and an idle GPU temperature of 44 degrees celsius with an ambient room temperature of 18 degrees celsius.

During benchmarking with the same room temperature, the CPU reached a maximum of 71 degrees celsius and the GPU peaked at 72 degrees celsius. I left the tests going for close to an hour and the temperatures had stabilised by that time. Despite this the laptop wasn’t too hot to the touch. During normal operation the laptop is pretty quiet too, at idle it sat around the 30 decibel mark. While running my benchmarks it went up to around 55 decibels, and then when I manually maxed out the fans it peaked at around 57 decibels.

Note that I had the microphone pretty close to the exhaust vent of the laptop, at complete idle I could barely hear it at all, and even at maximum with my closed back headphones on I could barely hear the fan noise. Now let’s get into those benchmarks, I’ve been looking forward to doing this as this is the first laptop I’ve ever had with a 1050Ti and I was keen to find out how it performed.

First we’ll cover some gaming benchmarks followed by tests with various benchmarking tools. All tests were done with all Windows updates to date applied. The Nvidia graphics drivers were version 382.33 and also the latest available at the time of testing. In GTA 5 I’ve disabled VSync and tested with FXAA on with MSAA set to x8 with a 1080p resolution. Even with these settings we still averaged 54 FPS, likely as this game favours CPU. In the Witcher 3 I used the Ultra preset, disabled VSync and NVIDIA Hairworks, and again ran at a 1080p resolution. With these settings I was able to get an average of 34 FPS, so hardly playable.

Dropping the settings down to high increased the frame rate to 46 FPS, while decreasing to medium increased to 51 FPS which made things much smoother. While in Shadow of Mordor with ultra settings at 1080p we averaged 85 FPS, but again this game seems to favour the CPU. Now onto the benchmarking tools, while a useful indicator note that these results are less practical compared to the real world gaming results previously shown.

In Heaven benchmark with the quality set to ultra, tessellation set to extreme, and anti-aliasing set to x8 at 1080p, the laptop averaged 36 FPS. Valley benchmark wasn’t much different, with the quality set to ultra and anti-aliasing on x8 at 1080p, the laptop managed to get 39 FPS. The PassMark benchmark resulted in a score of 8706 for the CPU, 1263 for the 3D graphics, and 3461 for the overall score putting this laptop into the 77th percentile of results, not too bad.

I ran both the Fire Strike and Time Spy benchmarks from 3DMark and got scores of 6,777 and 2,508 respectively, not too great owing to the 1050Ti and these benchmarks are typically for more powerful graphics cards. While most games tested ran at acceptable frame rates you would definitely want to look at getting at least a 1060 for solid 60 FPS gaming with high settings in more graphical demanding titles, however the 1050Ti is capable of providing an acceptable experience.

I found the pairing with the Intel 7700HQ CPU to be a little odd, don’t get me wrong it’s a great laptop CPU, but that’s the thing, the 1050Ti seems to be more of a midrange graphics card. I can’t complain with the result though, it makes the laptop fairly lightweight and thin, it’s quite portable yet still powerful for everyday tasks and alright for gaming.

In Crystal Disk Mark the SSD performed around 532 MB/s in sequential reads and 510 MB/s for sequential writes. This is to be expected from a modern SATA 3 based SSD, you can optionally upgrade to a PCIe based SSD which should perform better. There’s also a 2.5” drive bay which as I mentioned previously contains a 1TB hard drive in this instance. It gets around 136 MB/s in sequential reads and 129 MB/s in sequential writes, so it performs about as well as you’d expect for a 5,400RPM drive.

The laptop comes with a 2 year warranty with the option of extending to 3 years, and in the past I’ve found dealing with Metabox support to be a great experience overall. They’ve been helpful over the phone when troubleshooting a problem. Overall the N850HK laptop is fairly powerful, it’s got a great CPU that won’t let you down in day to day tasks, and the 1050Ti graphics card is acceptable for gaming at around medium settings depending on your game. If you’re planning on gaming I’d recommend investigating how the particular games that you plan on running work with the 1050Ti, otherwise in general I’d suggest looking at a 1060 as I’ve found that to be a great sweet spot for 1080p gaming.

The N850HK laptop with default configuration is $1,579 AUD, so about $1,190 for my US viewers, however you can optionally remove the second 1TB hard drive to save $60, or drop down from 16GB of RAM to 8GB to save $69, taking the price down to $1,450 AUD, so there are definitely options available. Most of the components can be further upgraded to suit your needs, so the final price will depend on your custom selection. You can check out their website at metabox.com.au and customize your own laptop based on what you’re after, I’ve left a link in the post description for this specific model.

So what did you guys think of the N850HK Alpha laptop from Metabox? I’ve found it to be a fairly powerful yet portable laptop. Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments or simply leave a share on the post if it’s useful. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to bookmark for future tech posts like this one.

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