Since the introduction of the Pentium M, which was designed specifically to lower the power consumption and heat output in mobile computers, the laptop that incorporates a desktop processor has become an extremely rare species. But not extinct: the $1,800 Velocity Micro NoteMagix X25, available in a single fixed configuration exclusively through the Circuit City Web site and stores, is one such laptop. Its Intel Core 2 Duo E7600 CPU, designed for use in desktops, provides faster performance than almost any other laptop we've tested, at a lower price. It also drains the battery faster than almost any other laptop we've tested, and it produces so much heat that it requires a fan and large vents that add significant bulk to the otherwise average-size laptop. It's not a trade-off we'd advise for everyone--after all, what's the point of having a laptop if you're always tethered to an outlet?--but the Velocity Micro NoteMagix X25 does make sense for users on a budget who essentially want a portable desktop.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$1,800|
|Processor||2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6700|
|Chipset||Intel 945G Express|
|Memory||2GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||200GB at 7,200rpm|
|Graphics||512MB Nvidia GeForce 8600GT|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium|
|Dimensions (wide x deep x thick)||14.5 x 12 x 1.3 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.4 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||6.9 / 8.0 pounds|
Following current notebook design trends, the NoteMagix X25 features a glossy black lid with an extremely subtle pattern of black dots; the interior of the case is matte silver, with a black keyboard and black hinge. We love that there's no branding on the exterior of the laptop, and on the interior there's only a small badge beneath the display that indicates the system came from Velocity Micro. The NoteMagix X25 feels quite sturdy--there's none of the creaking plastic or flexible lids that you sometimes find on laptops from smaller companies. Though it falls within the range of midsize laptops, the NoteMagix X25's weight approaches that of desktop replacements with larger displays. The extra heft can largely be attributed to the fan unit (which is labeled "turbo engine") that's required to cool the desktop processor within the laptop case. The fan vents actually jut out 1.25 inches from the rear of the laptop and made it a bit difficult to fit the laptop in our bag. Even with the fan, the NoteMagix X25 runs too hot for literal laptop computing--best to avoid discomfort by keeping it on a desk. It's also far noisier than most laptops, sounding more like a desktop once the fan kicks on.
The 15.4-inch widescreen display on the Velocity Micro NoteMagix X25's features a sharp 1,680x1,250 resolution that renders lovely video and images but can make text and icons appear small. Unfortunately, the display's glossy finish produced distracting reflections when we were working under fluorescent lighting; there is no option for a matte finish. Above the display sits a 2.0-megapixel Webcam that rotates nearly 360 degrees, letting you snap shots in front of, above, or behind the laptop. Two microphones (one on each side of the camera) create a dual-mic array.
We like that the keyboard on the NoteMagix X25 feels solid, though key travel seems a bit shallow. Nevertheless, we were able to type this review on the laptop without any great discomfort. The broad touchpad offers a little more resistance than we'd expect, though this characteristic also means that we're less likely to accidentally misplace the cursor when our typing hands graze the touchpad. The metallic mouse buttons are amply sized; we don't like their shiny, fingerprint-prone finish, nor do we appreciate their loud clicks. A fingerprint reader between the mouse buttons makes it easy to log onto Windows and your favorite Web sites with just the swipe of a finger. The rest of the keyboard deck remains bare, with the exception of four buttons on the top right--two application-launch buttons, a touchpad on/off control, and a button to summon the help utility--and the power button on the top left. We like the minimalist look, though we'd have appreciated some dedicated volume controls.
|Velocity Micro NoteMagix X25||Average for midsize category|
|Video||VGA-out, S-Video, HDMI, MCX||VGA-out, S-Video|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, S/PDIF out, microphone jack||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||Three USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader||Four USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader|
|Networking||modem, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
Despite its smaller screen size, the Velocity Micro NoteMagix X25 carries many of the features you'd expect from an entertainment-oriented desktop replacement. These include HDMI and S/PDIF output, as well as a rare eSata connector for an external hard drive. However, the NoteMagix X25 lacks the highest-end features--such as a built-in TV tuner, HD DVD drive, and subwoofer--found on premium entertainment systems, such as the Toshiba Qosmio G45.
The NoteMagix X25 incorporates the 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 processor, a CPU designed for desktop computers, where performance takes priority over heat and energy efficiency. As you might expect, this processor led the NoteMagix X25 to impressively high scores on CNET Labs' application benchmarks. The laptop finished ahead of the high-end $2,275 Lenovo ThinkPad T61p workstation as well as the similarly featured $3,199 Toshiba Qosmio F45 (the Qosmio includes an HD DVD drive that adds significantly to its price). Yet despite posting some of the best performance scores we've seen, the NoteMagix X25 was beaten on all our tests by the HP Pavilion HDX. That system's status as a notebook is debatable, but the results makes us think that the HP's Core 2 Extreme X7800 processor, which was actually designed for use in laptops, would be a better fit in the NoteMagix X25.
On our Quake 4 and F.E.A.R. tests, the NoteMagix X25's discrete Nvidia GeForce 8600GT graphics card posted decent enough frame rates for casual gamers. Hard-core gamers should note, however, that the NoteMagix X25 doesn't pack the graphics punch needed to compete with the best gaming rigs, such as the Alienware Area-51 m9750.
No one expects much battery life from a notebook stocked with a desktop processor, so it's no surprise that the Velocity Micro NoteMagix X25 lasted just one hour, 12 minutes on our DVD battery drain test. That low score places it among the shortest-lived laptops we've ever tested. Clearly this particular system is designed for users who rarely stray from an outlet; users interested in actual mobile computing (rather than simply a movable computer) should consider the ThinkPad T61p or the MicroExpress IFL90, which offer slightly slower performance but last around three hours.
Velocity Micro backs the NoteMagix X25 with an industry-standard one-year warranty on parts and labor. The company skimps on phone support, however, offering toll-free access to a technician only between 4 a.m. and 8 p.m. PST Monday through Friday and between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. PST Saturday. Outside of those hours you can call the support line and leave a message describing your problem; if your issue is an "emergency" (e.g., failure to boot, total system failure), the company claims a technician will call back within 15 minutes. The Velocity Micro support site includes the expected downloads and FAQs a user forum, and the opportunity to chat live with a service technician.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)