The most obvious compromise of this being a small laptop is its lack of an optical drive. The debate on whether discs have had their day is still raging but considering the size of this laptop we’d say it’s a more than sensible decision, especially as just about every other feature you could care to mention is available here.
Starting externally, you’ve got three USB 3.0 ports and a USB 2.0 port, HDMI and VGA video outputs, Ethernet and both headphone and microphone sockets (none of those silly combined sockets here). These are all ranged down the left and right sides while finishing things off is the front mounted card reader slot. This is a slightly awkward position as compared to having it on the side but again it’s a small point.
The main cooling exhaust is also mounted on the left, with the intake on the bottom. This can be a problematic arrangement, especially if you like to game on your lap, as the vents can get blocked more easily than if mounted on the sides or behind the keyboard.
Also on the bottom are the speakers. Again this isn’t exactly ideal compared to having them top mounted but once again we’d consider this a sensible compromise as headphones are always likely to provide the best audio experience for gaming, and for music listening a machine of this size was always going to be bettered by even a relatively modest external speaker.
Opening the lid up we’re greeted by a 1920 x 1080 (1080p) IPS screen with a matte finish. Unlike the P503 this is the only option available for the P303 but with that spec you’d be mad to want anything else.
Above this is a 2.0megapixel webcam while below is the keyboard, which offers a chiclit-style layout with separated keys and also features adjustable white backlighting.
Moving onto the all important internal specs, the one fixed component is the graphics card which is that Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M 2GB. Almost everything else is configurable, including a choice of Intel Haswell CPUs, starting with the Intel Core i3-4300M and ending with the Core i7-4900MQ for an extra £362. As ever, XMG makes a point of noting that it uses Artic Cooling MX-2 thermal compound to maximise heat transfer to the cooler.
The processor is joined by a pair of SO-DIMM slots that can be configured with anything from one stick of 4GB DDR3 to a pair of 8GB modules (£139 extra). Then there are two mSATA slots and a 2.5in drive bay, allowing for some hefty storage configurations – 2TB of SSD storage, anybody?
You can actually specify whether to leave out WiFi/Bluetooth for a saving of £12, as well as choose from a variety of wireless card options, including a dual-band AC WiFi option for £21. The default Wireless N / Bluetooth option should suit most though.
Similarly you can specify to have no operating system if you already have a transferable license, or choose from the full selection of Windows 7 and 8 options.
XMG also offers a number of extra such as security software, office software, an external optical drive and USB memory sticks, but again all can be left out if not required.
All told, with a starting price of £663 and such a great selection of hardware, we know of no other laptop that could be configured to suit so many people. That is, of course if the performance of the GeForce 765M holds up, which we’ll be taking a look at on page 4. First up, though, how does this laptop actually feel to use…