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Scan 3XS-MGW-10 review

HardwareReviews
9/10
by James Morris, 20 Feb 2013Reviews
Scan 3XS-MGW-10 review
Best Buy

Scan has a great reputation for producing high-performance gaming PCs and 3D workstations. But the company is not so well known for its portable provisions. The 3XS-MGW-10 brings together Scan's usual combination of price and performance as its desktop systems. This notebook may be aimed at the portable workstation market, but it doesn't come with the cost normally associated with this kind of system. In fact, the 3XS-MGW-10 is very reasonably priced indeed for its specification, which can be customised at the company's 3XS Systems website.

Despite this system's low cost, its components are decidedly high end. The processor is an Intel Core i7 3740QM, which runs at a nominal 2.7GHz. You can also specify the 3940QM with this notebook, but this adds a hefty £506.35 to the price, and the 3740QM is pretty capable already. It's a quad-core CPU, with Hyper-Threading to split this into eight virtual cores for improved multi-threading  - essential in a system that will be called upon for rendering. The 3740QM also sports Turbo Boost 2.0 technology, allowing a single core to hit 3.7GHz when required, and all four cores to perform above their clock for short periods, although not by quite so much simultaneously. The Core i7 has been partnered with a very healthy 16GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 memory, with 32GB available for an additional £62.16.

The most novel component in the 3XS-MGW-10 is the graphics, however. This comes in the form of Nvidia's Quadro K3000M, which is a mobile version of Nvidia's latest Kepler generation. The K3000M has a rather excellent 576 CUDA cores, which compares very favourably to the previous generation Quadro 4000M's total of 336. However, it's worth noting that although the core runs at a faster 654MHz compared to the 4000M's 475MHz, the shader units run at the core speed too, rather than twice as fast, which was the case with previous Nvidia generations. The memory also runs at 700MHz on the K3000M, compared to 1,200MHz on the 4000M. So performance won't be quite such a leap forward as the number of CUDA cores might imply. There are also K500M, K1000M, K2000M, K4000M and K5000M versions, so the K3000M is the middle member of the range. Scan doesn't give the option for any of the other Quadro K-series mobile graphics range, though, so the K3000M is your only choice. The potent core is partnered with a decent 2GB of GDDR5 memory, too.

The storage provision is extremely generous too. It is possible to specify an mSATA drive for the main storage device in the 3XS-MGW-10, leaving two more 2.5in bays free, but our specification came with just a pair of 2.5in drives to start with. Well, we say "just", but this is hardly a limitation. The primary drive for operating system and applications is a 240GB Corsair Force GS solid-state disk, and the secondary drive for general data is a 750GB Western Digital Scorpio Black, which is a conventional hard disk. So the 3XS-MGW-10 offers fast booting and application loading times via its SSD, but also has plenty of room for assets on its HDD. Rounding off the storage is a Sony BC-5550H-01 optical drive, which combines Blu-ray reading with DVD rewriting, although a mere £18.51 extra will get you a Blu-ray rewriter instead.

The 3XS-MGW-10 sports a 17in screen, which has the expected 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. This is a decent screen, although it doesn't have the clarity and incredible viewing angles of the IPS panel in Dell's Precision M6700, although that laptop does cost a lot more than this one. The 3XS-MGW-10's display is certainly good enough for serious 3D work. Premium Onkyo speakers with a subwoofer supply audio, although the end result isn't as bass-laden as you might hope. In fact, audio quality is a little disappointing, but we doubt this will be of much importance to the intended professional 3D content creation market.

The backlit keyboard is comfortable, and sports a separate keypad on the right. The touchpad is a little small by today's standards, but it has discrete buttons, rather than building these into the trackpad surface. There is also a fingerprint reader in between them. The port allocation is comprehensive. On the left can be found four-pin FireWire, LAN, twin USB 3.0, a combo USB 3.0 and eSATA port, plus an SD card reader. Alongside the optical drive on the right is a USB 2.0 port, plus minijacks for digital and analogue line-out, microphone and headphones. All the external monitor attachments are located on the rear, including HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI-I. The latter can drive a VGA output with an appropriate adapter. The one omission is any form of CardBus expansion slot.

A mobile 3D workstation is primarily about performance, and the 3XS-MGW-10 doesn't disappoint in this area. The Core i7 processor powers it to a rather impressive 7.06 in the rendering portion of Maxon Cinebench R11.5. This is slightly behind Dell's Precision M6700, but not by a huge amount. The OpenGL result in Cinebench is similarly impressive, at 60.81, which is also slightly behind the Dell. The score of 2712 in 3DMark11 shows this is a capable system for DirectX acceleration, which is used by some professional 3D applications, for example 3ds Max.

Despite being in a large desktop replacement format packed with power components, the 3XS-MGW-10 doesn't have an outrageously short battery life, either. In our gruelling 100 per cent CPU and graphics test, it lasted 133 minutes, which is around an hour longer than Dell's Precision M6700. So you could enjoy as much as 2.5 hours of 3D work away from a power source, maybe over 3 hours. The Scan endured 241 minutes of Bapco's MobileMark 2007 Productivity test and a mere 166 minutes of DVD playback, neither of which are particularly amazing on a grand scale, but are again reasonable enough for a notebook in this class.

Verdict

The Scan 3XS-MGW-10 is an extremely powerful notebook. It's not particularly eye-catching, and weighs a pretty hefty 3.9kg. But what is really incredible about this notebook is the price. Dell's Precision M6700 is a high-quality product with some really killer features. However, you could pick up nearly three of Scan's 3XS-MGW-10 for the same money. With performance that is almost as good, and a generous specification, the Scan system is a bargain.

Specifications

Manufacturer and model

Scan 3XS-MGW-10

Processor

2.7GHz Intel Core i7 3740QM

RAM

16GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM

Graphics

Nvidia Quadro K3000M with 2GB GDDR5 memory

Hard disk

240MB Corsair Force GS solid state disk and 750GB Western Digital Scorpio Black 7,200rpm hard disk

Optical disc

Sony BC-5550H-01 Blu-ray rewriter

Display

17.3in LED backlit TFT with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

Networking

Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi

Interfaces

2 x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, combo eSATA and USB 3.0, FireWire, DVI-I, HDMI, DisplayPort, LAN, headphone, microphone, line out, digital line out, SD card reader

Width x Depth x Height

412 x 276 x 41mm

Weight

3.9kg

Warranty

2 years Premium Collect and Return

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