This is one desktop replacement that might actually find itself leaving the house from time to time. The Enpower ENP780 is the thinnest and lightest 17-inch laptop we've laid hands on to date. Where most laptops in this class hover around the 9-pound mark (and Dell's XPS M1730 breaks the scale at 11.1 pounds), the ENP780 comes in at a trim 7.5 pounds. And measuring 1.4 inches thick, it's about a half-inch thinner than other desktop replacements that typically measure just above or below the 2-inch mark. Despite its relatively svelte dimensions, it still feels sturdy and able to withstand daily abuse. Inside, our $1,789 ENP780 review unit serves up a good mix of components for the price, including a Core 2 Duo chip that sits toward the high-end of Intel's line and a midrange Nvidia GeForce graphics card. While Gateway still has the best desktop replacement deal going with its P-6831FX at $1,249, the Enpower ENP780 offers better overall performance with a more balanced mix of components while weighing nearly 2 pounds less. We strongly recommend it for nongamers looking for a well-appointed yet affordable and trim desktop replacement laptop.
|Price as reviewed / starting price||$1,789 / $1,599|
|Processor||2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7700|
|Memory||4GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||250GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Premium|
|Dimensions (WDH)||15.5x11.0x1.4 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||7.5 / 8.6 pounds|
Note about the memory: although the system has 4GB of memory, 32-bit Windows recognizes only 3GB. Though upgrading to 4GB costs a very reasonable $90, you will only be utilizing another gig on top of the 2GB default allotment. The other upgrade our review unit included was a $100 bump up to the T7700 CPU from the default T7500. The only difference between the two chips is 200MHz in clockspeed, which in our view isn't worth the cost.
Draped in glossy black, the overall design lends an upscale look to the ENP780. The laptop feels sturdy, too, with very little flex in the lid and keyboard tray. There are four buttons above the keyboard, but volume control is mapped to the Function keys, and media control keys are absent. We also appreciate it when a desktop replacement provides dedicated volume and play, pause, and track forward and back buttons. We'd happily trade the number pad for such functionality. Despite the large chassis, the number pad is squeezed in to the right of the keyboard and unfortunately forces some heavily used keys--Enter, Shift, the period, and the four arrow keys--to be shortened. The other nitpick we have is with the case itself--the mouse buttons below the touchpad are very stiff and clacky.
The screen features a fairly typical 1,680x1,050 native resolution and a glossy coating that benefits movie watching and game playing with crisp, smooth images and vivid colors, but it can be distracting in a brightly lit room. For an entertainment-minded laptop, however, we'd probably opt for the glossy screen coating, but graphic artists and other design professionals eyeing the ENP780 as a productivity machine might not enjoy it. The other option we were somewhat disappointing to see not offered was an upgrade from the DVD burner to a Blu-ray drive.
|Enpower ENP780||Average for category [desktop replacement]|
|Video||VGA, HDMI||VGA-out, S-Video, DVI or HDMI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||Three USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, three-in-one memory card reader,||Four USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, mulitformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||ExpressCard||PC Card or ExpressCard|
|Networking||Modem, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||Blu-ray or DVD burner|
The Enpower ENP780 offers the standard assortment of ports and connections. HDMI is becoming a standard feature on desktop replacements, but we are still happy to see it included here. What was surprising was the audio output. Rarely, if ever, do we hear passable audio from a laptop's integrated stereo speakers, but the ENP780 delivers crisp, unmuddled sound, even at high volume. You won't fill a large room with its output, but we listened to entire albums without reaching for headphones. Above the display sits a 1.3-megapixel Webcam.
In the labs, the ENP780 kept pace with a much pricier Dell XPS M1730 and surpassed a more expensive Toshiba Satellite X205. It clearly outclassed Gateway's P-6831 on all of our application tests, showing that Gateway's odd pairing of a low-end Core 2 Duo CPU and high-end GeForce card provides superior frame rates at the expense of overall application performance. As a mobile gaming system, the ENP780 will suffice with older games and lower resolutions. Gamers looking for a big laptop won't find a better deal than the P-6831FX, but the added money put toward the ENP780 will net you much improved application performance while shaving nearly 2 pounds off the weight.
Since the Enpower ENP780 is about the most portable 17-inch laptop you'll find, we were happy to see its battery run for nearly two hours on a single charge--impressive for such a large laptop. It ran for 1 hour and 54 minutes on CNET Labs' demanding DVD drain test. In anecdotal testing, it ran for roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes during typical Windows use with brightness set to the highest level.
PC Club, owner of the Enpower brand, backs the ENP780 with an industry-standard, one-year parts-and-labor warranty. The company's online downloads and FAQs are paltry, though there is a helpful user forum, and if you live in one of the eight states with a PC Club retail store (western states and Oklahoma), you have the option of carrying your system in for service.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)