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CLEVO (EVOC) PA71ES-G USER REVIEW (graphic designer)

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Posted · Original PosterOP
Hey everybody - thought some of you might be interested in a review I slapped together. I've recently moved from a desktop workstation to a completely mobile one, and after MUCH diligent (aka agonizing) research, I finally settled on this model for my nomadic designer lifestyle for the next few years. Happy to try and answer questions or accommodate other requests as time permits. Cheers~!
 
Specs are as follows:
 
EVOC High Performance Systems PA71ES-G 17.3" (42cm x 29.5cm x 2cm)
 
FHD 144Hz (AUO B173HAN03.1 w/ color calibration)
 
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 w/ 8GB GDDR5 + Intel UHD 630 (user switchable MSHybrid mode via CCC 2.0)
 
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut on CPU + GPU, and Stock thermal pads
 
16GB Crucial DDR4-2400 (CT16G4SFD824A.M16F) Single Channel SDRAM
 
(OEM) Seagate ST1000LM035-1RK172
 
(Aftermarket) WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD M.2 2280 (500GB)
 
Intel® Wireless-AC 9260 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n 2x2 NGFF w/ Bluetooth 5
 
RGB Per Key illuminated full size keyboard with numeric pad
 
Windows 10 Pro
 
66600 mWh Battery

230w Power adapter (16.5cm x 8cm x 3cm)
 
VIDEO REVIEW
 
[MEDIA=youtube]cQ65mqqUTVU[/MEDIA]
 
WRITTEN REVIEW
Great performance in an affordable package, with a few caveats. Benchmarks are at the end of the bottom.
 
SCREEN
The 144hz G-Sync ready IPS screen may not offer the best NTSC coverage at 72%, but it looks pretty flaunting what it’s got.  Having owned this machine for 2 weeks now, I’m happy to say that I’ve been very content with everything I’ve experienced on the display thus far. Design work, gaming, and general daily use all look fine straight out of the box. A bit surprisingly, there was no discernable difference between the professional color calibration profile and the default calibration after OS reinstall. Being an IPS though, you may want to minimize backlight bleed via your reseller if they offer it, as I bypassed that option and definitely have noticeable bleed in the top left corner which may annoy me into a screen upgrade in the future. It’s also worth mentioning that the inner panel cover is plastic, and the back is aluminum. The hinges feel smooth and sturdy and you CAN open this laptop with one finger, if that’s your thing.
 
WEBCAM
It’s a 2MP 1080p 30fps webcam, and it does the job fine. Most other options on the market have 720p, so I’m glad Clevo remembered it was 2018 and went full HD.
 
SPEAKERS
Stock speakers are invariably ‘meh’ unless you tweak them thru driver or software mods. I opted for the easier of these routes, and after some TLC via EqualizerAPO, they got noticeably louder, clearer, and more well-rounded in their frequency response. No matter what though, you will not get bass out of these things, so if you really want an upgraded audio experience, the addition of any kind of external speaker will be a (major) improvement. Don’t get me wrong, EQ APO + Viper4Windows working in conjunction make a great team, and squeeze a lot more performance out of them, but they’re still just tiny drivers at the end of the day, so just keep expectations low and you’ll be alright. My config files for both programs are available at the bottom.
 
KEYBOARD / TOUCHPAD / LEDS
The full RGB per-key backlighting looks nice, but as mentioned in the one line review, it is somewhat crippled by the (laughable) Clevo Control Center module used to control it. There’s no way to save configs, and the sleep timer has severe amnesia. The typing experience is OK: A little more stiffness/clickiness in keypress would be nice, but the travel feels good and typing pretty natural after an hour. What I really like about the per-key lighting is you can light the lettered-keys and arrows differently than the rest, so a quick glance down will allow you to (re)orient yourself if your fingers start to wander due to the full keyboard layout being offset from center. Also nice: ZERO flex thanks the structural integrity of the Al-alloy body. I typically use an external mouse, but the touchpad does just fine in a pinch, with gesture recognition and pleasantly clicky buttons below.
 
There’s also a group of 8 status-indicator LEDs on the front that add to the angular spaceship look + feel of this model, though no more than 4-5 of them are typically lit up during normal usage.
 
HEAT / FANS
The whole aluminum body stays cool enough while doing everything except gaming, in which case it heats up pretty quickly; especially the top-left corner. I never found it uncomfortable, but it was certainly noticeable, and that may detract from your gaming experience.The aluminum body + fans dissipate heat well enough, so the CPU/GPU temps are back down to idle range within a minute after ending your session, but the top left area of the faceplate will stay warm for much longer. On that note, the aluminum gets warm on the left side while using the keyboard after an hour or so of work too, so I’ll probably be using my external keyboard most of the time to avoid sweaty palms.
 
With fans on auto, they’re generally pretty quiet, but will ramp up to 80% as soon as you get into your game. For whatever reason, Clevo doesn’t allow for the customizable fan profiles to be set at 100%, so it’s 80% on auto or manually selecting 100%, which is a dumb caveat. I game-tested BF1 with all settings on high, and although my GPU never got above 72C, the CPU was at 85C after 30mins, at which time I threw the fans on maximum*, and the CPU + GPU dropped a few degrees and hovered around 80C / 65C, respectively for the rest of my session. All that said though, I did go with the TG Conductonaut re-paste from HID, so I imagine temps might be too high without, since they are packing all this power in such a thin chassis. I should also mention I have my laptop on a stand (https://amzn.to/2xKFU76) for max air flow, so your experience may vary. If anybody else is looking into stands, keep in mind the screen only opens to about 45 degrees, so you’re pretty limited in how much can angle it.
 
*I’ve heard lots of talk of unbearably loud/high-pitched Clevo fans, and maybe I’m blissfully ignorant due to not having anything to compare to, but even at maximum, the fans didn’t get in the way of my BF1 experience. If it does for you, some headphones or an external speaker will cover that distraction up with ease.
 
PORTS / LEDS
The PA71’s have a great selection of ports finding another machine at this price point with TB3 is nigh impossible without compromising something else. Nothing is future-proof, but at least you have the option for an external GPU or 4K monitor with this one in addition to 2 mini-display ports. I’ve had my FHD external graphics monitor taking up the HDMI + 1 of the USBs, and have yet to feel wanting for more. With my calibrated speaker software in place of the included SoundBlaster X suite, the headphones + bluetooth speakers sound great, and there’s even another 2-1 audio jack besides the dedicated headphone + microphone jacks, so it should have you covered on all fronts. There’s an SD card slot as well, but I didn’t have anything on hand to test with, apologies photog friends.
 
BATTERY
I think the battery on this beast is respectable enough considering it’s mid-range 66wH size. I put it to the test doing some light work in Photoshop, had a dozen tabs open in Opera browser, a music mix playing on Youtube in the background at 35% volume, display at 75% brightness (until battery hit 50%, then brightness down to 40%), dual displays running, keyboard lit up on lowest brightness setting, battery saver clicked on 25%, and I ended up squeezing out a little over 2 hours. If you were just browsing or movie watching, I’d figure you could get at least another half hour on that or more. Recharge time is about 1hr 30mins from 1%.
 
SERVICEABILITY / GENERAL PERFORMANCE
One of the main reasons I ended up going with this model besides the obviously attractive hardware, was the ease of access to the guts. I had all the screws out in a few minutes (HID even removed the screw under the keyboard for me ;), and the base plate popped off with zero hassle. A lot of the other big name-brand models I had this stacked up against didn’t seem as serviceable, so for those of you who like to switch out components, do DIY repairs, or just keep it clean, that’s all easily accomplished with the PA71 series. Only thing I couldn’t see was the speakers, as those are front firing on the top, which I actually think is a good design decision...if only they’d use slightly better materials or drivers in the first place.
 
The 6-core Coffeelake chomps through most tasks with aplomb. It handles my daily design routine (3 Adobe apps, a dozen browser tabs, and a handful of windows apps) like a champ. While the 8750U is not overclockable, you can undervolt it, which I may try down the line, and will update this review if I do. Judging from my gaming experience thus far, the laptop 1070 (NOT a Max-Q, mind you) in this machine handles heavy lifting dutifully, and will hopefully be sufficient for light forays into VR. If not, having that TB3 as a fallback option is real nice, I gotta say. My closing thoughts are that this thing is a great buy for the money, IF you get it repasted, can live with the sloppy Control Center AND the VERY VISIBLE FINGERPRINTS. It’s an absolute magnet, so keep your spray + cloth nearby. Benches are below - let me know in the comments if there’s something else you want me to run; if it’s free and I have the time, I’ll update as soon as I can. Thanks for reading~!
 
BENCHMARKS
 
EQUALIZER APO CONFIG
 
VIPER4WINDOWS CONFIG
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Have you tried undervolting?


Laptop recommender and enthusiast

 

My daily driver: Lenovo Legion Y530 [REVIEW]

How to undervolt CPU and GPU in laptops

 

Laptop Reviews:

Specs of my Y530:

Spoiler

Intel Core i5-8300H Nvidia GTX1050TI 2GB LP156WFG-SPB2 144Hz IPS 16GB 2666MHZ DDR4 RAM (2x8GB) Samsung PM981 256GB NVMe SSD+Seagate ST1000LM035 1TB 5400RPM HDD (spare)

My Phone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Snapdragon 625, 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM)

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I’m also interested in thermals, post-undervolt. I’d be fine with this guy maxing out at 85°, but anything above that makes me sad. The GPU's thermals seem awful good though! If there has to be a side that runs hotter, I'd prefer it to be the CPU side. 

 

Pro-star has a birthday promotion where you get $120 off if you call in and wish them a happy birthday. So after that, removing the O.S., and mechanical drive, I got one of these for $1650. I’m quite happy with that price. 

 

I wonder if there are any other battery options out there that would conform to this chassis and fill out the SATA3 drive's space too. That’d be lovely.

 

Thanks for doing this write up. There’s literally nothing else out there on this unit right now. 

 

 

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On 14/07/2018 at 8:16 AM, Xephrey said:

I’m also interested in thermals, post-undervolt. I’d be fine with this guy maxing out at 85°, but anything above that makes me sad. The GPU's thermals seem awful good though! If there has to be a side that runs hotter, I'd prefer it to be the CPU side. 

PA71 runs hot due to thin profile (<25mm)


Laptop recommender and enthusiast

 

My daily driver: Lenovo Legion Y530 [REVIEW]

How to undervolt CPU and GPU in laptops

 

Laptop Reviews:

Specs of my Y530:

Spoiler

Intel Core i5-8300H Nvidia GTX1050TI 2GB LP156WFG-SPB2 144Hz IPS 16GB 2666MHZ DDR4 RAM (2x8GB) Samsung PM981 256GB NVMe SSD+Seagate ST1000LM035 1TB 5400RPM HDD (spare)

My Phone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Snapdragon 625, 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM)

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