Recently, a new brand EPIC Power Machines has appeared on the Ukrainian market, under which productive laptops for gamers and professionals are offered. Within the brand, there are two lines of devices – EPIC Pro and EPIC Gaming based on different configurations of Intel Core i7 and GeForce GTX 10. Plus a large amount of memory, an SSD drive, a high-quality screen, and even a keyboard backlight. Built by EPIC on the chassis of the Taiwanese manufacturer Clevo, which is a well-known OEM supplier for many companies. That is, we have really high-quality modern laptops, but with a more affordable price compared to first-tier brands.
One of these laptops fell into our hands, and we are in a hurry to introduce you to it. This is an EPIC Gaming 15 gaming model based on an Intel Core i7-8700 processor with a GeForce GTX 1060 graphics accelerator.
EPIC Gaming 15 (N950TP6-15.1060)
The description of the configuration of this laptop immediately attracts attention thanks to the Intel Core i7-8700 processor, because this is a full-fledged desktop model, and not a mobile version with low frequencies. Also, the user can order a configuration with a Core i5-8400 or even a Pentium G5400. Since the laptop is gaming, the powerful processor is complemented by the GeForce GTX 1060 video card, which is even slightly overclocked relative to standard mobile versions. Our variant has 16 GB of DDR4 memory, an NVMe M.2 SSD for the operating system, and a classic 1 TB hard drive for file storage. 15.6 inch Full HD IPS display.
According to the marking, this model is based on the Clevo N950TP6.
|Model||EPIC Gaming 15 N950TP6-15.1060 (Clevo N950TP6)|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-8700 3.2 GHz (up to 4600 MHz with Turbo Boost)|
|RAM||16 GB, DDR4-2666|
|Display||15,6″, 1920×1080, IPS|
|Video card||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6 ГБ|
|Disk subsystem||SSD NVMe M.2 120 GB Apacer AS2280P2, HDD 1 TB Hitachi HGST HTS541010B7E610 (5400 rpm, SATA 6 Gb/s)|
|I/O ports||2x USB 3.1, 1x USB 3.1 Type C, 1x USB 2.0, 2x Mini DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0, RJ-45, headphone out, microphone in|
|Communications||Intel Wireless-AC 9260 802.11ac, Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit Ethernet|
|Cartridge reader||SD (XC/HC)|
|Multimedia||Audio system 2.0, web camera|
|Power adapter, W||230|
|Dimensions, mm||378 x 267 x 40|
The body is approximately 38 cm wide, 27 cm deep, and the total height, including legs, is about 4 cm. The weight of the laptop is 2.8 kg, which by today’s standards is a bit much for a 15-inch device, but quite acceptable for a powerful gaming laptop.
More details about the design and technical parameters later in the review.
Contents of delivery
EPIC comes in a simple cardboard box. There is an EPIC Power Machines logo in the corner.
Inside the box in a separate bag there is a set of accessories. Unexpected is the presence of a disk with drivers – this is no longer the case, although the need for a disk may arise. That’s just the laptop itself does not have a drive for optical media. There is also an instruction manual, a set of two additional screws and a small tube of thermal paste. It is unlikely that any of the users will personally disassemble the laptop in order to change the thermal interface, but, of course, this is a useful thing.
Chicony A12-230P1A is included for mains power. This is the standard power supply for many Clevo laptops, so it should not be difficult to replace if necessary.
EPIC Gaming 15 is made of black plastic. The surface is smooth, but not glossy and not easily soiled.
The design is strict, but there are curves and visual elements that give a certain personality.
The case is quite rigid, as for plastic. Although the lid can bend with a little effort.
There are many ventilation holes at the bottom, which is good for air flow. There are large rubber feet.
There are two speakers at the corners of the case near the near edge of the laptop.
It turns out that the speakers are located under the user’s hands. More familiar when the sound source is above the keyboard. But this is unlikely to play any fundamental role for such a simple audio system.
At the back we see a honeycomb bezel instead of a grille and an air blowing zone on one side only.
This is due to the fact that another zone for blowing hot air is located on the left side of the laptop. On the same side, there are USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone audio jacks.
There are more connectors on the right side: USB 3.1, USB 3.1 Type C, two mini DisplayPort, HDMI, RJ-45 network port, power connector and Kensington lock hole.
Let’s see what the laptop looks like when opened.
The screen is mounted on two rigid hinges located at the corners. The maximum opening angle is standard.
The working surface is made of the same plastic as the main body. It is not easily soiled and pleasant to the touch.
The large power button is located above the keyboard.
The keyboard is full-size, there is a number pad. The key travel is small, the pressing is soft.
There is a backlit keys, which makes it easier to work in the dark. The brightness of the glow changes on the fly through the function keys.
The touchpad is moved to the left from the center. Below it are two buttons.
In the case above the screen, the webcam peephole is habitually located.
The laptop uses an LG Philips LP156WF6-SPK3 AH-IPS matrix. Diagonal 15.6 inches, working resolution is 1920×1080.
The screen surface is matte, which ensures the absence of unnecessary glare.
The sRGB color gamut is 57%. The color temperature is about 7400K in the main brightness range and rises sharply at minimum brightness. This causes the predominance of cold colors in the overall range. Gamma curves are close to the reference curve, the deviation is small.
Brightness from 20 cd/m² to 230 cd/m². The contrast ratio is stable at 480:1.
The average DeltaE color deviation is 5.41 units, the maximum deviation is 18.85.
Thanks to the IPS matrix, the screen has wide angles. Flickering was not observed.
As a result, we can say that this is a good screen on an IPS-matrix with ordinary characteristics. In terms of color reproduction and viewing angles, it will be better than TN in budget laptops. But the contrast is low, and the factory settings are not the most optimal.
It’s time to look under the hull. First of all, let’s remove the 5500 mAh battery, which is usually inserted as a separate unit and fixed with latches without requiring you to remove the cover.
When the cover is removed from the bottom, access to the RAM and drives is opened.
Two sticks of DDR4-2666 Kingston KVR26S19S8 / 8 8 GB memory are installed, operating in dual-channel mode.
As the main drive for the operating system, a 120 GB NVMe M.2 Apacer AS2280P2 SSD is used.
The secondary bay contains a 1TB Hitachi HGST HTS541010B7E610 hard drive.
You can also note the presence of a wireless adapter Intel Wireless-AC 9260NGW.
Implemented separate cooling for the processor and graphics accelerator. Each has a copper base design, two heat pipes, plus a heatsink with a blowing fan. Moreover, each “turbine” is directed in different directions. This is a smart approach, since a heavy load only on the processor or only on the graphics will have a weaker effect on the temperature regime of other components.
It is worth noting that the laptop provides for a replacement processor. It is enough to unscrew the screws around the socket, fold down the cooling, and then you can insert any LGA 1151 processor.
The Intel Core i7-8700 processor itself has a TDP of 65W. Its base frequency is 3.2 GHz, but in Boost mode it reaches 4.6 GHz. And since this is a desktop processor without strict power limits, high frequencies will be observed often. Consequently, the performance will be at the maximum level.
The Core i7-8700 processor is based on the Coffee Lake core with six cores that process 12 threads.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 is responsible for the graphics. And if the standard mobile version provides for an average Boost Clock of 1670 MHz (Max-Q is even lower), then here it is 1733 MHz with a base value of 1455 MHz. In terms of the number of computing units, the mobile version is identical to the desktop version. 6 GB GDDR5 memory with an effective frequency of 8 GHz. For the mobile GeForce GTX 1060, a TDP of 80 watts is declared. The Intel Core i7-8700 has integrated Intel UHD 630 graphics. This graphics core is used under light load in 2D, under heavy load the system switches to the GeForce GTX 1060.
As noted above, the main drive is Apacer AS2280P2 with a capacity of 120 GB for the NVMe interface. The optional 1TB Hitachi HGST HTS541010B7E610 hard drive runs at 5400rpm and supports SATA 6Gb/s interface.
Networking is provided by Gigabit Ethernet on Realtek RTL8168/8111 and WiFi 802.11a Intel Wireless-AC 9260. Audio is based on the Realtek ALC269 codec.
Cooling System Efficiency and Noise Level
The laptop was operated in a room with a temperature of 23°C. During the tests, the temperature of the internal components was monitored and the temperature of the outer case was measured.
To create the maximum load, the AIDA64 stress test was first used.
With simultaneous stress on all components, operating temperatures are extremely high. The processor warms up to 99 ° C. When high temperatures are reached, throttling begins. The video card heats up to 87 ° C.
If you run a stress test with no load on the video card, then the average processor temperatures will drop a little, and throttling will decrease.
These tests create an extreme load. We also need to look at the temperatures in the game mode, which will be the main one for this device. Below are the monitoring results from a continuous 20-minute test of Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition at maximum Full HD quality.
The GeForce GTX 1060 peaks at 90°C, which is a lot. This provokes a decrease in Boost frequencies to 1640-1700 MHz. At the same time, the processor still reaches 99 ° C at the peak, although the average temperatures are at the level of 71–77 ° C, and the frequencies are higher. The average processor multiplier is x43 instead of x34-x36 in the processor stress test. It turns out quickly, but hot, and this is true for most gaming laptops. Yes, and we observe throttling in stress tests on almost every laptop with Core i5 / i7, even on economical mobile versions.
Also, all gaming laptops are noisy by default, but EPIC is unpleasantly noisy against their background. This is a clear minus.
You can evaluate the heating of the case in the heaviest mode with a combined load in AIDA64 according to the lower scheme.
The surface temperature in the processor area is approaching 50°C. In the normal game mode, it will be lower.
Any laptop is a complete device that is not designed for any freelance operating modes. And there are often no opportunities for overclocking. But EPIC on Core i7-8700 and GeForce GTX 1060 allows some manipulations.
High operating temperatures thwart any attempt at extra acceleration. Any increase in frequency will cause critical temperatures to be reached more quickly and this will negatively affect the durability of the device. But why not optimize the temperature regime? A processor without a “K” index cannot offer overclocking capabilities. But with the help of the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility, you can adjust the voltage and power limits. Increasing the constant and short-term TDP limit will increase the duration of the maximum frequencies in Boost mode, which will provide some acceleration. In conditions of high heat, this should be forgotten. But lowering the voltage will be useful for lowering temperatures and reducing throttling. In our case, we lowered the Core Voltage Offset by 0.15V.
Corrected voltage reduces power consumption and heat dissipation. As a result, the average processor frequency may increase under high load. This is clearly seen in the AIDA64 stress test. Below are the system parameters during the stress test of the CPU with factory settings.
And now a screenshot with a voltage reduced by 0.15 V.
In both cases, peak core temperatures reach 99°C. But if in the first case the average multiplier of cores is x36, then in the second case it is x41, i.e. core frequency increased! With a simpler load, there may not be such a difference in frequencies. Therefore, lowering the voltage does not guarantee ubiquitous acceleration. But it’s still a useful process.
The main problem with the video card is also the high temperature. But MSI Afterburner has the ability to fine-tune Boost. Through the corresponding menu (Ctrl+F) you can change the voltage value for certain frequencies. In our case, the corrected voltage/frequency curve looked like this:
With these settings, the video card switches to high frequencies at lower voltages, which reduces overall heating. At the same time, the base frequency of the core did not increase. But the memory is additionally accelerated – up to an effective value of 9200 MHz.
Now let’s see how the new settings for the processor and video card affected the temperature regime.
According to the results of a long test of Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition, the video card did not warm up above 87 ° C, and the core frequencies were in the region of 1800 MHz and higher. The peak temperatures of the processor were 74-76 ° C, no throttling was detected, and the average frequency was 4.3 GHz. Initially, there was also a frequency of 4.3 GHz, but with throttling. It turns out that we managed to reduce the heating of all components, get rid of CPU throttling and speed up the GeForce GTX 1060. An excellent result!
Since the main benefit from such procedures concerns the gaming load, but the accelerated EPIC tests were carried out only in games. In other tests, the laptop is tested in normal mode with factory settings.