The N850EK is a new laptop with Intel’s 8th generation CPUs from Metabox, an Australian company who specialise in custom laptops, so let’s find out what their newest models have to offer. As you can customize the hardware when ordering I’ll first cover the specs of my unit here.
For the CPU we’ve got Intel’s latest 8th gen i7-8750H 6 core CPU which can turbo up to 4.1GHz in single core workloads or 3.9GHz on all core workloads. There’s 8GB of DDR4 memory running at 2,400MHz in single channel, but the two slots support up to 32GB at 2,666MHz.
For storage there’s a single M.2 slot which supports NVMe PCIe based storage, in my case it’s populated with a 128GB M.2 SATA SSD. There’s a single 2.5 inch drive bay which in this unit has a 1TB 5,400RPM hard drive installed, but again that’s customizable.
For the graphics there’s an Nvidia 1050Ti 4GB which powers the 15.6” 1080p 60Hz IPS panel, although you’ve got the option of upgrading to 1080p at 120Hz or 4K, and we’ll see how this performs soon in the benchmarks.
Finally for the network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port, support for 802.11ac WiFi, as well as Bluetooth version 4.0, but the WiFi card can also be upgraded. The dimensions of the laptop are 37.
8cm in width, 26.7cm in depth, and 2.69cm in height, so not too thin but that should help with cooling as we’ll see later. The base weight of the laptop is listed as 2.5kg with the battery included, and I found mine to weigh less than this even with the 2.
5 inch drive bay populated. When we add the 120 watt power brick and cable for charging the weight increases to just under 3kg, so still pretty portable. As mentioned the screen here is a 15.6 inch 60Hz 1080p IPS panel, no G-Sync available here though.
I found the viewing angles to be pretty good, images are still perfectly clear even on sharp angles but there was a bit less brightness when not looking front on. The panel doesn’t get super bright, but it’s enough for inside use at up to 280 nits at 100% brightness.
I’ve also measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 62% of sRGB, 44% of NTSC and 46% of AdobeRGB, exactly the same as the Dell G5 that I reviewed recently so it’s not that great, definitely fine for gaming and office use but for professional content creation you might want to look elsewhere, and keep in mind the 120Hz and 4K panels will differ.
I’ve performed my usual backlight bleed test on the display, which involves having the laptop show a black screen in a dark room to help emphasize any bleeding. I then take a long exposure photo to display any bleed, so this is a worst case scenario test.
The results are quite good, the camera does show some extremely minor differences but to my own eyes it looked perfect, however this will of course vary between laptops. The screen was fairly sturdy while flexing it, not too bad thanks to the hinges that are out towards the far corners of the lid.
It can’t quite be opened with one finger, demonstrating that there’s more weight up towards the back, which I’ll show when we open it up later. Above the display in the center is a 1080p camera.
It actually looks pretty decent for a laptop camera, still a little grainy but definitely a lot better than the majority of other laptops I’ve tested with 720p cameras. The microphone sounds pretty good too, although it does seem to pick up a little fan noise.
The keyboard has RGB backlighting and can be controlled in three separate zones, as is typical with other Metabox laptops I’ve looked at in the past. The sides of the keys are clear which allows more light to shine through, and there are a few different effects available through the included Flexikey software.
Overall I found the keyboard good to type with and had no issues to call out. The key presses felt a little clicky and were quiet, here’s how they sound to try and give you an idea. There was only a little bit of keyboard flex, even while pushing down fairly hard it was quite solid.
The touchpad worked alright too, it’s got a slightly grippy feeling to it from the matte texture with two physically separated left and right click buttons with a fingerprint scanner in the middle. Moving onto the I/O on the left there’s the power input, gigabit ethernet port, two mini DisplayPort outputs, one of which is version 1.
2 while the other is 1.3, HDMI 1.4, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C and Type-A ports, no Thunderbolt support unfortunately and SD card slot. On the right there’s separate 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks, USB 2.0 and 3.
0 Type-A ports, air exhaust vent and kensington lock. There’s nothing on the back other than an air exhaust vent on one side, and on the front there’s just some status LEDs towards the left. Up on the lid there’s only the Metabox logo in white towards the bottom, the matte black finish which is the same as the interior does a decent job at hiding fingerprints, but they’re easy to wipe away.
Underneath there’s some air intake vents in the center and near the front. There’s also some thick rubber feet which do a good job at preventing the laptop from sliding around when in use. Towards the back you can remove the battery very easily without any tools, so if you have a spare you could quickly swap it in.
The laptop can be opened up easily with a phillips head screwdriver, and inside we can see the easily accessible 2.5 inch drive bay, two RAM slots, M.2 SSD and WiFi card. There’s also two separate heatpipes for both the CPU and GPU, we’ll see how these hold up soon in the temperature testing, spoiler, they do pretty well.
The two speakers are found underneath on the front corners, and they sound a bit tinny, I’d stick to headphones. Powering the laptop is a 6 cell 62 Watt hour battery, and with a full charge and just watching YouTube videos with the screen on half brightness, keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for 5 hours and 21 minutes, making it one of the best laptops I’ve tested.
It was using the Intel integrated graphics in this test thanks to Nvidia Optimus. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 57 minutes and was actually able to sustain 30 FPS the entire time, quite a few others I’ve tested aren’t able to do that and drop frame rate.
Overall the battery life was pretty good, many more expensive gaming laptops with similar specs I’ve tested have easily had half as much. Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 18 degrees celcius, it’s getting cold here as winter has just started, so expect warmer temperatures in a warmer environment.
At idle both the CPU and GPU weren’t too warm, 40 and 45 degrees celsius respectively with the default fan speeds. While playing PUBG at high settings the temperatures rise as shown by the green bar, but I think they’re pretty good.
If we apply a -0.140v undervolt to the CPU the temperatures drop back a bit, as shown in the yellow, and we’ll see how this affected clock speeds in the next graph. Fans were also manually maxed out here, although it’s worth noting the CPU fan was already at 100%, so the temperature drop here is from undervolting while the GPU drop is from the fan increase from 70% to 100%.
The full load stress test was tested with Aida64 and the Heaven benchmark running at the same time with the fans running at default speeds, and then again with the fans manually maxed out, and then finally again with the same CPU undervolt applied in purple.
Again as before the CPU fan was already maxed out in the stress test which is why there’s no change when the fans are maxed out in red, however the GPU fan was again at 70% so this does help the temperatures there.
No thermal throttling was present during any of these tests, so the dual heat pipes were adequate. As we can see here, the stress test without undervolting is again shown in orange, and then with undervolting in purple once more.
Out of the box the CPU was power limit throttling in this test, so not only do we drop 4 degrees on the CPU while undervolting in the stress test, the average CPU clock speed increases by almost 300MHz on all cores, still not quite reaching the all core turbo boost speed of 3.
9GHz though. This was possible with just CPU only tests with the undervolt applied. I was still seeing power limit throttling on the CPU without the undervolting under full CPU only load, which seems fairly typical with the 8750H CPU from my testing in other laptops so far.
As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle the body of the laptop is sitting in the mid 20s, quite cool. While gaming this increases to the mid 40s and is warmest in the center, it felt fine to the touch, and I saw a very similar result while running the stress tests, and things get a few degrees cooler with the fans maxed out, overall the whole keyboard and wrist rest area was fairly cool, as noted previously the temperatures aren’t getting too hot.
As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle the fan was only just audible, and while gaming it was actually a little lower than many other laptops I’ve tested, probably due to the lower powered 1050Ti graphics as most of the others run with 1060 or higher.
While under stress test and manually maxed out though the results are fairly similar to most other laptops I’ve tested, fairly loud but nothing some headphones won’t block out. I’ll also note that I didn’t hear any coil whine in my unit.
Finally let’s take a look at some benchmarks, we’ll first cover some real world gaming benchmarks followed by tests with various benchmarking tools. All tests were run at 1080p with the latest Nvidia drivers and Windows updates to date installed.
Starting out with Fortnite in general it ran quite well at high settings or lower, however the results greatly depend on where you are in game and what other players are doing, so take these with a grain of salt.
The 1% lows are a fair bit below the averages, and at times it did feel a bit stuttery at epic settings for me, no worries at lower settings though. Overwatch was tested playing with the bots, and even at epic settings it ran quite well with 1% low averages above the refresh rate of the display, but again the results will vary based on what’s going on in the game and the particular map for example.
As usual CS:GO was averaging well above what the refresh rate of the display could output, the 1% lows drop quite a bit due to the smokes in this benchmark test, however it was more than playable, this game runs on just about anything these days.
PUBG was tested using the replay feature, but again take the results with a grain of salt, as like Fortnite it will depend on what’s going on in the game, so the results can vary quite a lot, as shown by the 1% lows which are quite a bit lower than the averages.
Despite being a less optimized game, it still ran alright on the 1050Ti at lower settings. I’ve tested Far Cry 5 with the built in benchmark, the results aren’t that great in this title, you’d probably want to look at running on low settings.
Dota 2 was tested using a fairly intensive replay, so this should be a worst case scenario, realistically you’ll probably get better results than this while actually playing, and even in this intensive test the results aren’t that bad compared to more powerful laptops I’ve tested.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and is another game that runs fairly well on most modern hardware, even at ultra settings the 1% lows are averaging 60 FPS. Battlefield 1 can also vary a bit depending on what’s going on in game, during the first campaign mission it ran pretty well for me at high settings or lower even during big fights, I did start to notice some chopiness at ultra though.
Ghost recon is a fairly resource intensive game, and was again tested with the built in benchmark. Based on this it’s probably not something you’d want to play with the 1050Ti unless you’re ok with minimum settings.
Now onto the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, and VRMark from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results.
I’ve only included a few resource intensive games here just to demonstrate that the 1050Ti isn’t generally upto running these unless you’re prepared to run minimum settings, on the other hand it’s still great for many less demanding games though as we’ve just seen.
Based on these results I don’t personally think there’s much advantage to be gained by upgrading to the optional 1080p 120Hz screen unless you’re primarily playing less demanding games like Overwatch, CSGO or Fortnite at lower settings.
As for overclocking, the 8750H CPU can’t be overclocked, but I was able to overclock the GPU core clock of the 1050Ti by quite a bit, so I’m not too sure if this is typical or good silicon lottery luck.
With a 250MHz core overclock applied it was stable running the Heaven benchmark for an extended period and this only raised the GPU temperature by 2 degrees. With both CPU undervolting and GPU overclocking applied we see a nice little boost in games, I’ve retested PUBG and we’re getting just over a 5% increase on average, although not really enough of a difference to justify retesting all of the games.
I’ve just quickly got some CPU benchmarks here, and we can see that the new 8th gen coffee lake chip is a decent step up from the 7th generation as we’ve got two extra cores with slightly faster single threaded clock speeds, and we can see there’s a nice boost with the undervolt applied, expect slightly better with dual channel memory configurations, as I’ve only got one stick here.
In Crystal Disk Mark the 128GB M.2 SATA SSD was getting above 500MB/s in sequential reads and under 200MB/s on the writes, but it’s worth remembering you can select different drives which will change these speeds.
The 1TB 5,400RPM hard drive went well enough on the reads but a bit lower than I expected on the writes. I’ve tested the SD slot with a V90 rated card, so the card itself shouldn’t be a bottleneck, I don’t think the speeds are too bad here.
As for the price with these exact specs it comes in at around $1,388 AUD at the time of recording, but this will vary based on specials and the hardware that you select for the laptop. Honestly I think this is a pretty good price for a laptop with these specs here in Australia, if you compare it to a similarly specced Dell G5 laptop for example you’d be looking at about $1,800 AUD, granted the memory is clocked faster and the SSD is double the size, but I doubt that warrants a $400 premium.
In fact you could upgrade the N850EK to 16GB of 2,666MHz DDR4 and a 250GB SSD to put it ahead of that Dell G5 and it’s still over $200 cheaper with the additional 1TB hard drive. So what did you guys think of the N850EK gaming laptop from Metabox? As shown here in Australia it’s definitely giving you great bang for your buck compared to the competition, you’ll be able to play many games, although be prepared to use lower settings in AAA titles with the 1050Ti, less demanding games like Overwatch for example should run well though.
For the price you’re getting decent build quality and a capable machine that I had no problems with. The screen quality isn’t the greatest, but for a budget gaming laptop like this I think that’s acceptable, and going back to the Dell G5 comparison again I actually got the exact same result in my colour gamut testing and that’s a more expensive machine.
Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments, and leave a like to let me know if you found the review useful. Thanks for watching, and don’t forget to subscribe for future tech videos like this one.