So, the big question on many customer’s minds is: is it worth it to pay the premium to go up to the RTX 2070 Max-Q from the RTX 2060?

Well, that’s a bit of a complicated question. In current games, right now, results seem pretty well even. In the future? Who knows if the extra 2 GB will be necessary.

These results were taken on the Lenovo Legion Y740:

  • 256 GB NVMe drive
  • 16 GB RAM clocked at 2667 MHz
  • i7-8750H hexacore CPU
  • 144 Hz IPS display with G-Sync enabled
  • Undervolt of -125mV applied (no undervolt had thermal throttling in about 10 minutes of gameplay)
  • Nvidia 419.35 latest drivers

BENCHMARKS

Looking at benchmarks you get a weird picture. Firestrike scores put it low in the graphics department but once again, reality shows a promising card that far surpasses the 1060 that preceded it.

RTX 2060
RTX 2070 Max-Q

One of the more reliable benchmarks is userbenchmark.com where both cards take to overclocking quite well. By coincidence, both could be overclocked through MSI Afterburner by the same amount (+100 Core, +350 Memory). The 2070 Max-Q scores considerably higher and benches it above 100% at UFO standing.

RTX 2060
RTX 2070 Max-Q

COMPARISON IN GAMES

Apex Legends [Very High 1080p (4x ani)]
Anthem [Ultra/Very High 1080p (medium PP and vegetation)]
GR Wildlands [Very High/Ultra 1080p (16x ani)]
Overwatch [Epic (1080p120*)]
PUBG [Ultra Settings]
Witcher 3 [Ultra, Nvidia Hairworks On]

Now for the main attraction: the reality between the 2 cards in games *drum roll*

Looks pretty similar to me. Outliers include Overwatch and PUBG.

Okay, well then it must be that the thermals are so much better with the Max-Q GPU right?

Hmm nope, those results are all over the board too!

VERDICT

Framerates and temperatures all seem about the same. Apex Legends and Anthem seem to favour the 2070 Max-Q but the differences are not going to be all that perceptible. The 2060 operates at a slightly higher base frequency than the 2070 Max-Q, while the 2070 Max-Q has the extra 2 GB of GDDR6. It really does seem to be a wash between the two of them. As it stands, I cannot really recommend spending the extra money on the 2070 Max-Q unless benchmarks matter to you (they do to me). I ended up spending only $150 CAD more on the upgrade so the value is there for me with a little bit of futureproofing. If you wind up with the RTX 2060 though, you’re going to be very happy while gaming.

Little one likes the lights on the keybaord

So I received my Lenovo Legion Y740 last week and have been putting it through its paces and comparing it to my previous Alienware 15 R3. This laptop was a rather large departure for me as I have been a staunch Alienware owner for the past decade starting with the Alienware m11x, moving through the Alienware 17 R2, Alienware 14, Alienware 17 R3, and finally the Alienware 15 R3. Why didn’t I choose their newest m15 or m17? There are various reasons but ultimately it came down to too many compromises: thermal issues still persist, the design is gaudy, their lighting is a step backward from the per-key RGB lighting of the Alienware 15 R4 back to zone lighting, and the fewer customization options. Also, they are considerably more expensive as they are Alienware’s first true foray into thin-and-light gaming laptops. Suffice it to say with the lack of reviews and going with Lenovo, it was a leap of faith. I was looking for something lighter and more portable, same/better performance, an IPS screen with 144 Hz, RTX-series graphics.

  • i7-8750H hexa-core processor with HT (2.2 GHz base, 3.9-4.1 GHz boost)
  • RTX 2070 Max-Q with 8 GB GDDR6 (90W)
  • 16 GB DDR4 RAM at 2666 MHz
  • 15.6″ LG IPS 144Hz 1080p display with G-Sync
  • 256 GB NVMe SSD + 1 TB 7200rpm HDD
  • 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2, 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1x Thunderbolt 3, Mini DisplayPort 1.4, RJ45 Ethernet, 3.5mm combo jack
  • Corsair iCUE per-key RGB lighting
  • 230W AC Adapter
  • Dolby Atmos Speaker System
  • Killer Wireless 1550 card
A much smaller footprint allows it to fit easily into regular laptop bags/backpacks

Build

The Lenovo Legion has a much smaller footprint than the Alienware despite having the same 15.6″ screen. It’s considerably lighter as well.

  • Y740 Dimensions: 14.2″ x 10.5″ x 0.88″; 5.1 lbs.
  • Alienware Dimensions: 15.3″ x 12″ x 1″; 7.7 lbs.
The wedge shape makes the front much smaller than its rear

Now, it is certainly lighter and some of that has to do with the thin aluminum chassis. While it is fairly rigid and robust, it is not thick at all. The magnesium upper and lower on the Alienware are thicker. The Y740 does not feel cheap but there is a little bit of flex around the keyboard if you are typing a little harder. It’s not a deal-breaker by any stretch of the imagination but a point to note. Typing on the keyboard is a breeze as there is a similarity to the Alienware with the offset layout due to the macros on the side. It took me no time to get accustomed to it; actuation is light and precise. I rarely make any accidental key-presses and the overall experience is pleasant and “clicky”. There is a slight sponginess/squeak to the keys occasionally but I don’t mind as it is not loud.

This laptop has an orientation that is a good mix between gamer and professional. The lights are a nice touch and you have full customization over them with the Corsair iCUE software. The speakers on this thing get quite loud! There is not much bass to it but the remaining frequencies are fantastic. Additionally, the simulated surround sound with Dolby Atmos is very good and accurate. In Apex Legends, I could identify where the enemy was simply by hearing the footsteps; that’s impressive.

Screen

Simply put: the screen is absolutely stunning. It’s a 15.6″ 1080p IPS display with G-Sync and a 144 Hz refresh rate and supports HDR streaming (yes, streaming only; there is a 500-nit display that is coming that will apparently be full HDR, but it is currently not an option). It is a LG IPS display (LGD05CF) and the colours pop, the viewing angles are fantastic and do not shift nor degrade. It is extremely smooth in motion and gets sufficiently bright (300-nit). I did get a little bit of backlight bleed on the left side but it is only noticeable in dark scenes and black backgrounds. It’s honestly not bad at all and something I can deal with.

Performance

Here’s the thing; after reading a bunch of reviews and seeing other laptops with the 2070 Max-Q performing at or around the 1070 Max-Q, I wasn’t really expecting much. I was hoping that it would be at least a bit of an upgrade from the full overclocked GTX 1070 in the Alienware. This RTX 2070 Max-Q performs incredibly well! It varies quite a bit between games but all of them saw an increase across the board in both average FPS as well as lowest 1% average FPS. This was surprising.

Increased FPS across the board. All settings were recorded and set evenly between the two laptops for 1-1 comparison.
The 1% low was the most dramatic increase.
No issues with gameplay in the newest games like Anthem (shown here).

Firestrike scores were a bit on the low side and don’t show the reality of the situation. As you can tell from the performance in game, the graphics score of 17,847 is not as good as the 18,890 that the Alienware achieved (15,003 overall). However, reality showed a vastly different situation than the benchmark.
A minor OC of +50 core and +150 mem does well with Max-Q.

I was surprised that there was that much of an increase in performance, while at the same time maintaining the same or lower temperatures that the Alienware (which is notorious for its thermals and I was only able to get under control with Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut and PCH mod). One anomaly I noted was that sustained gaming will actually put it at the same FPS as the 1070; which means that hours of gaming may heat-soak the laptop despite having lower temperatures. You can always activate max fans by pressing Fn+Q. Honestly it’s not that bad even at full scream; it’s half as loud as the Alienware and that’s a great thing. Both laptops are undervolted with -125 mV on the cores and cache.

Better temperatures but the thing will get heat-soaked.

Plus, this thing has great headroom as a stable overclock on the GPU of +100 memory, +300 core in MSI Afterburner puts this a the top end of the RTX 2070 Max-Q spectrum.

Benchmarks are one thing but reality paints a promising picture!

Battery life leaves a little more to be desired. With a relatively small 57 Wh battery, you won’t be away from the charger for long. With G-Sync on you’re going to see about 2.5 hours. Now, you also have the option of enabling Optimus with the Lenovo Vantage software by selecting Hybrid mode and restarting. With that you can see 3.5-4 hours on 50% brightness and low brightness on the back-lit keyboard. The 76 Wh battery that is alluded to will likely be released when the new display is revealed.

Verdict

Is it the thinnest or the most powerful? No; that honour would probably go to the Razer Blade 15 with its 2080 Max-Q. However, thermal performance would likely go to the Lenovo as it stays relatively cool while gaming and under load. iFixit’s breakdown reveal that the thermal paste Lenovo uses is actually very good (unlike Dell/Alienware) and it is incredibly easy to upgrade component’s or re-paste. Additionally, with eBates and a discount through Lenovo, you can get this laptop for under $2k CAD. You really cannot beat the price/performance ratio with this laptop. Lenovo has a real winner on it’s hands with this amazing laptop. I certainly can recommend it wholeheartedly.

Next I will be looking to compare it to the 2060 Lenovo Y740 that is coming this week. It will be interesting to see how it compares to the 2070 Max-Q. The frequency is slightly higher on the 2060 so we shall see if that translates to a performance boost or is the 2070 Max-Q more than adequate to remain as king? Check back soon.

The Good:

  • The gorgeous display
  • The performance
  • The sound
  • Customization
  • Thermal handling
  • Headroom for overclocking the GPU
  • Bluetooth, despite being 5.0 is compatible with 4.1 headphones I have

The Bad:

  • Battery life
  • Only one M.2 slot
  • Killer software suite and McAfee need to be uninstalled immediately

After posting about the new laptops that were announced last month at CES 2019, I took the plunge and ordered a new one. So which one did I get out of the ones that I posted about?

*Drum Roll*

None of the ones that I posted.

I actually ended up going with the Lenovo Legion Y740 15″ laptop.

Now why did I go with this one? Simple. It checked all the boxes I was looking for while also not breaking the bank (being a parent isn’t cheap!).

This one has the i7-8750H, RTX 2060, 16 GB of DDR4 2666 MHz RAM, 15.6″ 1080p 144 Hz IPS display with G-Sync, 256 NVMe SSD (with an empty 2.5″ bay for another – larger but slower – SSD), per-key RGB keyboard and fan-lighting with Corsair’s iCue technology, and all the ports I could want including a Thunderbolt 3 port. This, in a package that’s much smaller and lighter than my current offering (Alienware 15 R3). As well, it has an understated aluminum build that does not scream, “Look at me! I’m a G-A-M-E-R!!!”. I went with this Lenovo mostly because Lenovo offers a generous military discount so kudos to them! If you’re interested in learning more about how to get the best deal, hit me up.

Why didn’t I go with a RTX 2070 Max-Q? While benchmarks certainly show that the 2070 Max-Q can perform, in reality (games) it performs about the same as the RTX 2060. When it comes here in a week, I will do an unboxing and first impressions prior to a full review after a few weeks of use.

So the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) will be officially kicking off tomorrow in Las Vegas but the leaks and early announcements are already starting to come in. The biggest news so far is the industry-wide shift to mobile RTX GPU’s. Here are a few of the new laptop announcements.

01. Alienware  M17

So I game and do mostly everything on my Alienware 15 R3. Dell/Alienware has not yet released information on the exact specs yet but it should be approximately the size of the 15 R3, with a 17.3″ screen; this is good news because the smaller bezels will be an improvement. The new M17 will come with the newest processors up to a Core i9-8950 (with the official Dell website posing a i9K processor, I doubt this product will be MXM) and mobile RTX processors starting with the RTX 2060, RTX 2070 Max-Q and the RTX 2080 Max-Q at the top tier.

I am not a huge fan of the new design as you do sacrifice the lighting capability of the current generation, but this laptop is going to be a thin powerhouse. Now here’s hoping they have managed the thermals (I still have to clean the fans, repaste and repad the processor in mine (i7-7820HK) every couple months). While sites have shown that it will have either an 1080p IPS display or 4K display at 60Hz, you can guarantee that there will be a 1440p 120Hz TN panel (the one I would choose) as the current Alienware 17 has well.

02. Alienware Area 51m

  

Back to basics…

Long before Dell bought Alienware, the laptops that Alienware made were big, hulking behemoths with MXM chips that could be easily swapped out. While not confirmed, and most leaked information has since been retracted, it will likely be announced tomorrow at 10:00 am. This massive laptop will likely retain the 17.3″ display as sourcing an 18″ panel would limit potential customization which would go against the ethos of this device. It will be 1.6″ thick so it is not thin by any means; but that thickness will allow the full desktop MXM chips to breathe. The issue I see with the thermals is the fact that it still uses the same cooling technology instead of Vapour Chamber technology which combines liquid cooling and a small form-factor. I’ll update this post when I know more.

 

03. Asus Mothership GZ700

This is the biggest departure of a traditional gaming laptop as I’ve seen in a while. Having a detachable keyboard and the components behind the screen and upright should theoretically allow for heat to do its thing and rise out of the case in a more natural fashion; using natural thermodynamics is an interesting thing. Though it will remain to be seen how sturdy it will be in use, the components housed within are spot-on: i9-8950HK and a full RTX 2080 will make this thing a real beast. It’s also relatively thin at 29.9mm (for reference, my Alienware 15 is 25.4mm thick). Again, I will update the post when I know more information.

Samsung Odyssey Notebook

Intel i7-8750H, RTX 2080, 144Hz G-Sync display with a new cooling technology dubbed penta-pipe (usually there are 3-4 heatpipes so a 5th will definitely help if the 2080 is being utilized) all in a thin package that’s only 19.9mm thin. This one certainly checks the boxes so we will see how Samsung does with it’s first foray into a gaming laptop.

Razer Blade 15

The chassis was made a little more edgy in 2018 and impressively thin at 17.8mm, the newest Blade from Razer will now come with the new RTX series of cards and start with a 2060, followed by a 2070 Max-Q and 2080 Max-Q. I am keen to see if their new Vapor Chamber cooling will keep up with the thermal demands. Beautiful design with a 144Hz G-Sync display and impressive internals will make this a laptop the gaming-Windows-Macbook, including the price.

Acer Predator Triton 900

An interesting floating Ezel Aero Hinge that keeps it separate from the base is a novel idea that may allow for better thermals and multiple configurations. Why you would use it as a tablet is beyong me given it’s size and it does not come cheap at $4,000 USD. 

Acer Predator Triton 500

More reasonable in terms of price and more traditional in design, this 17.8mm laptop ticks all the right boxes in terms of a thin gaming laptop. i7-8750H and RTX 2080 Max-Q will make this one compete against the top-tier Razer Blade 15. 

 

Special thanks to Tech Radar and The Verge for pictures.

04.  Other Noteable Notebooks

 

Venom

2018

Staring: Tom Hardy,  Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate  

Type: Action/Comedy/Mild-horror

Bottom Line: Spawn (1997) meets Deadpool (2016)

Synopsis

Eddie Brock is a reporter who focuses on getting the truth out there by any means possible; regardless of who is hurt along the way (including himself). While reporting on The Life Foundation (Tesla/SpaceX) and revealing items that were privy to a select few, his antics wind up getting himself fired, alone, and a pariah. Meanwhile, The Life Foundation continues its human-testing trials for various treatments that tend to end in the patient’s death. Carlton Drake, the founder of The Life Foundation and modern day Hank Scorpio/Elon Musk, discovers the symbiotes when his astronauts return from a comet. He obviously wants to use them and be able to travel to their world and nothing will stop him. Venom, one of the symbiotes, finds a perfect match with Eddie Brock when tries infiltrate the labs to report on their heinous activities. What ensues is a series of action-packed and entertaining sequences leading up to an explosive finale. Being Marvel, of course there is an end-credits sequence that any fan can see coming from a mile away.

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): The trailers do not do this movie justice.

 

 

 

Review

The trailers certainly made this movie out to be worrisome from a fan’s stand-point; the Bostonian-portrayal by Tom Hardy was not nearly as bad as the trailers made it out to be. In fact, he was actually very entertaining in the role. Michelle Williams was also great in her role. Riz Ahmed, while playing a fairly one-dimensional bad-guy, added a good flair to his role and is quite good at adding depth into his on-screen persona. 

The action sequences were quite well-done and were entertaining; and the director took a number of ques from previous action movies. It being set in San Francisco, of course there is a chase sequence on Filbert Street that will look familiar to anyone who has seen any action movie in the past 4 decades. Sometimes it can be a little hard to follow in the inevitable symbiote-on-symbiote fight, but overall it was enjoyable throughout.

While the story itself is quite predictable, it was a good ride; even my wife enjoyed it! What really made this movie though were the injects of comedy; it had a dry wit to it that was immensely entertaining (I know, you’re starting to see a theme). The humour was well-placed and lightened up what could have been a movie that took itself too seriously. The writing was well done in that certainly took queues from Deadpool in its comedic antics. 

All in all, this movie was very entertaining and worth a watch; especially if you’ve been a fan of Venom (the Lethal Protector comics immediately come to mind for this movie). While this movie does set up a sequel in the end credits; it’s one that you saw coming from a mile away. Some of the animation is not the greatest and lent itself to a Spawn-kind-of-feel but I feel like this movie will age better than that one did as it took itself far too seriously.

I enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to anyone that was disappointed with Venom’s portrayal in Spider-Man 3 (for shame, Sam Rami) and wanted to see him done justice; this is the movie for you.

Image result for 3.5 stars out of 5

I won advance tickets to see this movie courtesy of EB Games Canada; thanks again!

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