CyberPowerPC FangBook X7: An Alternative to Clevo Whitebooks

We’ve reviewed quite a few Clevo notebooks over the years from a variety of vendors: AVADirect, Eurocom, Mythlogic, Origin, and Sager, to name a few. While there are certainly reasons to go with a branded Clevo notebook, it’s always good to have other options, and one of the most noteworthy is MSI’s G-series. CyberPowerPC has offered MSI-derived designs for a few years now, along with Clevo and Compal offerings. They’ve recently updated their MSI models to include support for the latest and greatest CPUs and GPU.

The new models now carry the FangBook X7 brand (also spelled FANGBOOK, FANGbook, and Fangbook depending on which email or web page you’re reading), with support for quad-core Ivy Bridge processors including the i7-3940XM and GPUs up to the GTX 680M. The combination makes for a potent gaming notebook, albeit with most of the usual caveats: large size, potentially loud fans, and less than ideal battery life (the X7 measures 16.85”x11.34”x2.17” and weighs “under 8lbs.”) The only other GPU option currently available is NVIDIA’s GTX 675MX, which is the Kepler-based replacement for the GTX 675M (a rebranded Fermi GTX 579M). We have yet to test the 675MX, so we’ll try to see about getting a review sample from CyberPowerPC.

MSI’s chassis also offers a few interesting perks that are worth mentioning. Dual 2.5” hard drive bays on 17.3” notebooks are nothing new, and even mSATA is quite common, but this is the first I’ve heard of a dual-mSATA notebook with dual 2.5” bays. That means you can configure an mSATA “Ultra RAID” RAID 0 drive for the OS and apps (up to 2x240GB in size)—interestingly, CyberPowerPC doesn’t even offer non-RAID mSATA options right now. Dual mSATA drives will provide potentially higher performance (up to 900MB/s read speeds), though the Intel 525 drives they’re using cost quite a bit more than some of the other options (e.g. Crucial m4 256GB mSATA can be had for $190 each compared to $722 for 2x240GB Intel 525). The FangBook also supports four SO-DIMM modules, so configurations up to 32GB (4x8GB) are still reasonably priced ($229 extra for DDR3-1333 or $317 for DDR3-1600). A matte 17.3” 1080p LCD comes standard, as does Windows 8 64-bit (though you can select Windows 7 if you prefer).

In terms of pricing, that’s one area where the FangBook X7 tends to make the most of the MSI platform. Even with the custom FangBook cover, the base model X7-100 includes an i7-3630QM, 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 memory, a GTX 675MX 4GB GPU, and a 750GB 7200RPM hard drive. All of that will set you back $1299, and while that’s quite a bit of money, a similar configuration using a Clevo P170EM chassis tends to start at $1500 (or more). $1499 gets you the base X7-200, which doubles the RAM to 4x4GB and adds a 64GB SanDisk SSD; the $1799 bumps the GPU up to the 680M and adds a Blu-ray combo drive. All of the models are configurable, of course, so you can mix and match components as you see fit.

The new FangBook X7 notebooks are available for order, with a current estimated ship date of 2/25/2013. If you’re not in a hurry, there’s a 5% discount available via the “NORUSH” coupon, which brings the starting price down to $1234. Also worthy of mention is that since the FangBooks all use NVIDIA GTX GPUs, the latest  $150 in F2P game currency promotion applies.