Schenker may not be a household name over here in the UK but it has made quite a name for itself over in Germany, where it started operations back in 2002. Recently though the company brought its XMG brand of laptops to the UK, with a full UK support centre and comprehensive online shop, so we thought it was about time we took a look at what it has to offer.
We’re also taking the opportunity to get a full sense of what Haswell brings to the party when it comes to more powerful laptops. So far with Haswell, on the desktop side there hasn’t been all that much to shout about, while on the completely opposite end of the spectrum the latest ultrabooks and Apple’s new MacBook Air are claiming huge bumps in battery life and more performance. But what if you want a powerful gaming laptop – can we finally expect decent battery life and high-end performance?
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Today then we’re looking at the 15.6in Schenker XMG P503, a hefty high-end gaming laptop sporting an Nvidia GTX 780M graphics card and Intel Core i7-4800MQ CPU. And almost as importantly we’ve also got the previous generation P502 system in. This uses an Ivy Bridge Core i7-3630QM and an Nvidia GTX 675M. The difference in graphics card in particular means we’re not looking at a totally level playing field here but nonetheless the two machines will make for a very good indicator of how things have progressed.
Schenker is one of the many laptop manufacturers that uses chassis' designed by Taiwanese ODM Clevo. This particular model is based on the Clevo P157SM. Here on this initial version, and on the Clevo website, it sports black finish, a ‘tribal’ motif on the touchpad, and a plain lid but shortly it will have an XMG logo on the touchpad. Meanwhile the P502 sports a grey soft touch finish and it’s based on the Clevo P150SM.
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The XMG P503 is black, black and black all over.
The overall look of the P503 Pro is ‘none more black’ with soft touch matt black covering nearly all the surfaces. This gives a nice finish but it would be a stretch to describe the looks of this machine as anything other than utilitarian. Even once converted to the XMG branded finish, the vibe will be one of a machine comfortable being in the background. The two notable concessions to design are the clear plastic strip above the keyboard, into which are cut the grilles for the speakers, and the touchpad designs. The former isn't a positive addition, though we'll admit to having a soft spot for the glowing touchpad - particularly the XMG logo version.
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The XMG has improved styling over the P502 as pictured above.
All told, the likes of Asus’ G53SX and the reassuringly expensive Alienware 14 (they don’t do a 15in model) aren't going to be threatened by the P503.
Although it may be a shrinking violet in the looks department, the size of the P503 means being inconspicuous is not something it exactly excels at. While it’s still a step down from gargantuan 17in models, with dimensions of 375mm x 268mm x 22-45mm and weighing in at 3.3Kg, it is big and chunky, make no mistake. That is its purpose though – it’s all about packing in as many goodies as possible without having too large a footprint or price tag.