OCZ DIY Gaming Notebook 15"
Published: 11th February 2009 | Source: OCZ | Price: £500 (barebone) |Conclusion
While the ability to change the memory, hard disk and CPU in a notebook isn't exactly a groundbreaking feat by any stretch of the imagination, the very fact that the OCZ DIY Gaming Notebook is shipped from the factory minus these components changes the ball game all together. For the first time ever, enthusiasts and average users alike can take advantage of the cheaper hardware available online to build their dream notebooks at a greatly discounted rate. Priced at just shy of £500 over at Play.com, the DIY 15" comes in at a price similar to that of a low-end notebook. Throw in some lucky bids on eBay and a hunt around the bargain basement at your preferred retailer and you can expect to build a beastly notebook for a total sum of £700-750.
The build process is extremely easy and OCZ supply enough instructions to point you in the right direction but not overload you with unnecessary information. From unboxing, we managed to have a fully operational laptop in under 15 minutes, and as the video guide on page four will hopefully have shown, there really is nothing too tricky to contend with, especially if you've got previous experience in building desktop systems.
The notebook itself is very robust and doesn't feel like it's going to fall apart if held incorrectly or bumped about in a bag. The only exception to this, unfortunately, is the reflective black plastic lid that quickly picks up dirt, smudges and scratches making the notebook 'old' in only a matter of days. It is also a shame that OCZ didn't decide to add their branding to the DIY (on our model anyway) as the notebook does look quite bland and possibly even cheap without this.
Features of the DIY are extensive to say the least. Our model came fitted with a fingerprint reader, Bluetooth receiver and 2MP webcam, all of which worked perfectly during our week of testing. Additional options such as a Blu-ray drive are also available and will certainly make good use of the on-board HDMI port should you want to output to a TV/LCD. The only caveat in the DIY's multimedia capabilities is the on-board speakers, which are far from the quality of some other similar priced notebooks we've used and reviewed in the past.
Finally, the performance of the DIY is something that's extremely hard to draw a conclusion on as it is entirely dependent on the components installed by the user. We went for the highest we could possibly find available on eBay and ended up with a notebook that was extremely nippy, multitasking in the same league as any desktop. Gaming performance was also reasonably good for a notebook in this price range, with the ATI HD3650 GPU outperforming the Nvidia 8600M GT installed on the MSI TurboBook GX600 that we used for comparison.
Of course, all this performance does have a negative impact on the DIY's portability, restricting us to a maximum of 1hr 20mins 'light' usage (document editing) before the battery gave up. Luckily, there are higher mAh batteries available on the Internet should you not want to trade performance for battery life.
- Ability to spec and build your own laptop.
- Gain experience on how to upgrade in the future.
- Can work out cheaper if you buy components from the right places.
- Integrated fingerprint reader and webcam.
- Bluetooth receiver allows easy connection to mobile phones and HID devices like mice.
- HDMI output available.
- Robust casing. No 'creaking' or flexing of the main body.
- Fairly good GPU performance.
- Bright, clear screen.
- Notebook lid is a fingerprint and scratch magnet.
- On-board sound not too great.
- Plain appearance with no OCZ branding.
- Can be a tad fiddly to put together (especially without a magnetic screwdriver!).
- WiFi & Bluetooth On/Off functions should really be assigned to their own buttons.
- Poor battery performance when used with a high-end CPU.
- No overclocking options! Shame on you OCZ!
Please note that as 'Performance' is entirely dependent on components used, this part of the chart is to be substituted with 'Features'.
Thanks to OCZ for providing the DIY 15" for review. Discuss this review in our forums.