The PA70ES-G is a new laptop from Metabox, a company here in Australia who sell custom gaming laptops. This model has some pretty crazy specs, including an overclockable i9 CPU and Nvidia 1070 graphics, so let’s check it out and see how well it performs.
Metabox are using the popular Clevo chassis here, which gives us a fair amount of customization when ordering, so I’ll start with the specs in my unit and also briefly mention other available options.
Starting with the CPU you can pick either the i7-8750H or the i9-8950HK, and I’ve got the i9 CPU here which basically just has faster clock speeds and can be overclocked. For the memory the two slots support up to 32GB in dual channel, which is what I’ve got here running at DDR4-2666, but you can also pick 8gb or 16gb configurations at different speeds.
For storage it’s got two M.2 slots which both support NVMe PCIe based storage with the option of RAID 0 or 1. There’s also a single 2.5 inch drive bay, and mine is populated with a 1TB hard drive, although there are quite a lot of different storage options to choose from.
For the graphics there’s an Nvidia 1070 with 8GB of memory, and which powers the 17.3” display. I’ve got a 1080p 144Hz screen with G-Sync here, although it’s also available with a 1080p 60Hz screen, 1440p 120Hz screen, or 4K 60Hz screen, so there are a few options.
Finally for the network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port, support for 802.11ac WiFi, as well as Bluetooth version 5, but the WiFi card can also be customized. The interior, lid, and base of the laptop are an aluminum alloy, so it feels quite sturdy, really nice build quality and it has a black matte finish.
The dimensions of the laptop are 42cm in width, 28.7cm in depth, and 2.5cm in height, so about what you’d expect for a 17” laptop, although on the thinner side considering the specs inside. The barebones weight of the laptop is listed as 3kg, but the total will depend on the selected components.
Mine weighed around this, and then with the 230 watt power brick and cable for charging the total weight increased to over 4.1kg, so starting to get a bit heavy. As mentioned the screen here is a 15.6 inch 144Hz 1080p panel with G-Sync.
The viewing angles were good, still perfectly clear on all angles. The panel gets bright enough at 298 nits at full brightness I’ve also measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 96% of sRGB, 69% of NTSC and 74% of AdobeRGB, so fairly decent results, but this will likely vary between the different panels.
I’ve taken a long exposure photo in a dark room as a worst case backlight bleed test, and there was a little bleed towards the bottom, and in dark scenes in games this was occasionally noticeable, but again this will vary between laptops and panels.
The screen was quite sturdy while flexing it, thanks to the metallic lid which had its hinges out towards the far corners. It can be opened up quite easily with one finger, demonstrating a fairly even weight distribution.
Above the display in the center is a 1080p camera. The camera quality was really good, at least for a laptop, same with the microphone, both were really excellent, but you’ll be able to judge both for yourself.
For the keyboard you’ve got two options, the default keyboard option has RGB backlighting and can be controlled in 3 separate zones, or there’s also the $89 upgrade that I’ve got here which is an RGB keyboard with individual key backlighting, so you get more effects and customization options available through the software.
The sides of the keys are clear as well, so the light shines through nicely, overall the keyboard was good to type with, and here’s how it sounds to use. There was a little keyboard flex, but I think that’s just because the keyboard is removable, overall it felt quite solid.
The touchpad worked well and uses Synaptics drivers, it’s got a smooth texture with two physically separated left and right click buttons with a fingerprint scanner in the top left corner. Moving onto the I/O on the left just after the air exhaust vent there’s the power input, HDMI 2.
0 output, two mini DisplayPort 1.3 outputs, a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support and two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports. On the right there are 3.5mm headphone, microphone and SPDIF jacks, SD slot, two more USB 3.
1 Gen1 Type-A ports, and gigabit ethernet port followed by kensington lock, so there’s a fair bit of I/O available. The front just has some status LEDs towards the left hand side, while the back just has some air vents.
Up on the lid there’s the Metabox logo in white in the center. Fingerprints show up fairly easily on both the lid and matte interior, although as a smooth surface I had no problems with cleaning. Underneath there’s heaps of vents for air intake and the subwoofer, as well as some rubber feet that did a pretty good job of preventing it from sliding around while in use.
The bottom panel can be removed by using a phillips head screwdriver, inside we get access to the WiFi card, battery, two M.2 slots, two memory slots, and single 2.5 inch drive bay. The two speakers are found just below the screen, they sounded pretty good for a laptop, although I expected more bass from the subwoofer underneath.
As a result of the speaker placement under the screen you can still clearly hear them with the lid closed. Powering the laptop is a 4 cell 66 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 3 hours and 58 minutes.
That was with the Intel integrated graphics in use, and you can’t use G-Sync with this enabled. To make use of G-Sync you need to swap it over MSHybrid to Discrete in the control panel or through the BIOS which requires a reboot.
Doing so will however mean that the Nvidia 1070 graphics are always in use, so the battery will drain faster outside of gaming, and in the exact same test the battery lasted about an hour and a half less.
While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 56 minutes and was able to sustain 30 FPS the entire time, some others I’ve tested aren’t able to do that and drop frame rate on battery.
Overall the battery life seemed alright considering the high powered specs. Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 18 degrees celcius, it’s cold here as it’s winter in Australia, so expect warmer temperatures in a warmer environment.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that as the CPU and GPU share heatpipes a change in one component may affect the other. At idle, shown by the light blue bar at the bottom of the graph, it was actually running fairly cool.
Moving up into the gaming results shown by the green bar the temperatures rise a fair bit while playing Watchdogs 2 with high settings. Once the fans are maxed out in yellow the temperatures drop back a little though.
With a -0.150v undervolt applied to the CPU, and all CPU cores overclocked we start hitting thermal throttling, shown by the red bar. The stress tests were completed by running Aida64 and the Heaven benchmark at the same time, in order to try and fully utilize both the processor and graphics.
The dark red and pink bars gave the same results, because under this test the fans had already maxed out by leaving them set to automatic. When the CPU is undervolted, shown by the purple bar, the temperatures drop a little and performance increases as we’ll see in the next graph, and then with the CPU power limit boosted in dark blue thermal throttling was again reached.
These are the average clock speeds while running the same tests for the temperatures just shown. In the gaming results the CPU clock speed rises quite a bit with the undervolt applied, shown in red. In the stress test with the undervolt applied in purple the performance increases by around 400MHz, and then a little more once we boost the power limit up from the default 45 TDP limit, although still not able to reach the full 4.
3GHz all core turbo speed of the i9 in this worst case scenario due to thermal throttling. These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load. At stock it was power limit throttling, as shown in the blue bar.
With a -0.150v undervolt applied the clock speeds rose as shown in the green bar, but there was still power limit throttling at the default 45 watt TDP. The power limit of the i9 CPU could be raised though, I just set it to 100 watts so it wouldn’t be an issue, and as shown in the yellow bar we’re now capped at the default 4.
3GHz all core turbo speed of the i9 CPU. There was intermittent thermal throttling at this point though, so once we apply a CPU overclock, shown in red, there’s not really that much of an improvement, even with the fans maxed out we can’t get higher multicore speeds than this.
This was nice to see, many other gaming laptops with the lower i7 CPU can’t even reach the full 3.9GHz turbo boost speed of that chip, so although we can’t do serious overclocking here due to thermal limitations I think this is still a pretty good result for a 6 core laptop compared to many others I’ve tested.
Here are some Cinebench CPU benchmarks to outline what we’ve just seen, just for comparison I’ve got a reference i7-8750H down the bottom. At stock the i9 wasn’t quite performing as well in multicore performance due to the power limit throttling so you’ll probably want to make some tweaks, although single core performance is higher than the i7 as it can actually hit the higher single core clock speeds no problem.
With some undervolting and boosting the power limit though we can actually get a nice boost in performance, although as just discussed overclocking under a full multicore workload doesn’t really improve things further due to thermal throttling, but the single core speeds do see improvement here which may be beneficial in some tasks such as gaming.
These are the average clock speeds of the 1070 graphics under a graphical stress test, with a 175MHz overclock applied shown by the green bar the average rose quite a bit, and we’ll see how this affected gaming performance soon.
As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle the keyboard area was in the high 20s, fairly standard. While gaming it rose into the mid 40s, again fairly typical, and not too much of a difference with the stress tests running, a little cooler as the fans were going faster now.
As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle it was only just audible, and while gaming it wasn’t that different compared to many other lower specced gaming laptops I’ve tested, maybe even a little quieter, but once the fans are maxed out it did get a little loud as expected.
I’ll also note that I didn’t hear any coil whine in my unit. Finally let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks. All tests were run at 1080p with the latest Nvidia drivers and Windows updates to date installed.
Fortnite was running quite well at all setting levels, even at epic it was averaging above 100 FPS and played quite smoothly, and the frame rates increase significantly at lower settings. Overwatch was tested playing with the bots, and again really good results at epic settings, even the 1% lows are close to the 144Hz refresh rate of the display, so it always felt super smooth while playing.
PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and it ran pretty well at all settings, I’d personally stick to high or below for the best experience though. CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical benchmark, and even at max settings the frame rates in this specific test are quite high for a laptop.
Far Cry 5 was tested with the built in benchmark, and the results in this test are pretty nice, above 60 FPS for the 1% lows at ultra so it should play pretty nicely. Assassin’s Creed Origins was also tested with the built in benchmark, and as a more resource intensive test the results here are again pretty good for a laptop.
Dota 2 was tested using a fairly intensive replay, so this should be a worst case scenario, these results are not the same as playing the actual game, this benchmark is more intensive than typical game play, so expect even higher frame rates in actual game play.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark and the average frame rates were quite high regardless of setting levels, even the 1% lows are fairly high so it should run pretty nicely. Ghost recon is a fairly resource intensive game, and even with the good specs here ultra settings aren’t giving great results, but pretty nice frame rates at all other setting levels.
Watchdogs 2 is another resource intensive game, although I don’t think it really needs a high frame rate to play. To me it played well even at max settings, although the frame rates can be improved quite a bit by lowering 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.
The results from the games tested were quite good, owing to the fairly high end specs in the laptop, namely the i9 CPU and 1070 graphics. Even if you go with the i7 CPU I wouldn’t expect too much of a performance loss, in most games the graphics will be the important factor, especially if you go with a higher resolution panel, and the 1070 is definitely a great choice when paired with a high refresh rate display like the 144Hz one I’ve got here.
As for overclocking, I’ve tested a few games with these settings to try and get the best performance, with all of this power though thermal throttling was the main limitation, as we saw earlier. PUBG was tested with the same replay, and at ultra settings there was an 18% improvement to average frame rates, pretty decent.
Far Cry 5 was tested with the built in benchmark, and at ultra settings there was a smaller 5% improvement to the average frame rates. Ghost Recon was also tested with the built in benchmark, and at ultra settings there was a large 18% improvement to the average frame rates, although this seems to be lower at other levels, just a 4% boost at low settings.
Rainbow Six Siege was again tested with the built in benchmark, and we’re actually seeing lower 1% low results at all setting levels but an improvement to the averages, just a 4% improvement at ultra.
With CPU undervolting, GPU and CPU overclocking there were some pretty nice improvements, although it depends on the particular game, in the ones I tested there was quite a bit of variance, which I suspect may have been due to occasional thermal throttling making things inconsistent.
In Crystal Disk Mark the 256GB M.2 NVMe SSD was giving some really nice results, but just keep in mind that performance will vary based on the drive you select. Here are the speeds of the 1TB 7,200RPM hard drive, about what you’d expect from this sort of disk.
Finally these are the results of the SD slot, tested with a V90 rated card, so the card shouldn’t be a bottleneck, and the results weren’t too bad. As for the price at the time of recording it starts at under $2,300 AUD, but the final price will depend on your hardware selection.
With the exact specs I’ve got here the price rises up to $3800 AUD, as I wanted to see how the i9 would hold up here, so there are quite a few things you can change. So what did you guys think of the PA70ES-G gaming laptop from Metabox? For the price it’s a pretty good option here in Australia, although if you select the i9 CPU the price does raise quite a bit.
Personally I’d probably stick with the i7-8750H option as that’s still quite a good CPU from my testing and plenty for me personally, paying more starts result in diminishing returns but the extra power is there if you need it, and you can actually get a fair bit of performance out of the i9 compared to other laptops I’ve tested like the Dell G7.
Otherwise although it was nice to have a thinner body, this does result in higher temperatures and thermal throttling issues under high levels of load preventing multicore overclocking for extended periods, although this may be less of an issue with the i7.
With the high refresh rate panel that my unit had combined with G-Sync it made for a pretty good gaming laptop. 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.
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