NP9860 Feature Overview
-Dual HDD & Dual ODD coexisting
-SATA150 Interface (dual internal SATA with hardware RAID 0 and RAID 1 support)
-PCI-Express 16x modular NVIDIA® GeForce™ Go 6800 256MB (removable)
-Intel 915P + ICH6 Chipsets supporting LGA775 processors
-Four So-Dimm sockets supporting Dual Channel DDR2 400/533
-Intel High Definition Audio, 4 speakers and subwoofer integrated
-Front Panel Audio DJ with MP3 compatibility
-Mini-PCI TV-Tuner with Remote
More General Details:
Intel® Pentium® 4 3.0/3.2/3.4/3.6GHz (LGA775, 800FSB) w/HT
1024KB On-die L2 Cache
Intel® 915P chipset + ICH6
Dual Channel DDR2 400/533 (2 or 4 DIMM required for Dual channel mode)
4MB Flash ROM BIOS
- Hard Disk Drive
PCI Local Bus Interface
2x Detachable 2.5” 9.5mm SATA150 or ATA100 Hard Disk Drive
- Hardware Raid-0 or Raid-1
- Floppy Disk Drive
Ext. USB 3.5” 1.44MB Floppy Disk Drive
- Built-in 7-in-1 Card Reader (MS/MSPro/SD/MMC/CF/MD/SM)
17” WSXGA+ TFT 1680x1050 (Glare-Type)
256MB DDR2 Video Memory
PCI-Express 16x Modular Video Card from ATi or NVIDIA
Dual-View Display Capability
Built-in Mini-PCI TV-Tuner with Multi-Function Remote
DVD or CD-ROM Drive
2x Optical Drive Bay
Interchangeable with DVD/CD-RW Combo drive or DVD±R/RW Combo drive
Built-in 8ch Azalia Sound System (with 8 external speakers output without Ext. decoder)
S/PDIF Digital output
SRS WOW support
Audio DJ Access Front Panel with MP3 playback compatible
1 Built-in Microphone
4 Built-in Speakers
1 Built-in Subwoofer
PCMCIA 3.0 Standard Compliant
1 Type II PCMCIA Slot
Integrated Touchpad With Scroll Up/Down Slider
Full Sized Keyboard with Numeric Keypad
Windows 95 2 Hot keys
Integrated with Hot Keys for LCD Brightness, Suspend, Panel/CRT Display
3 Hot Keys for E-Mail, Web Browser. And AP-Key
Infrared Communication, FIR, SIR and ASK Compliant
1 16c550 Compatible Serial Port
1 Parallel Port, with ECP/EPP Support
1 External Keyboard Port
1 DVI Port
4 USB 2.0 Ports
4 multi-function Audio Jacks
1 RJ-45 LAN (10/100/1000Mbps)
1 RJ-11 Modem
2 IEEE 1394a Fire Wire
1 S-video TV-Out
1 S-video Video-in
1 Lithium-Ion Battery
Full Range Auto-Switching 100V/240V AC Adapter
System Management Mode (SMM)
Suspend to HDD / DRAM
Full features of SMI Power Management, Doze, Sleep, Suspend/Resume Mode
15.5”w x 11.75”d x 1.95”h
The unit we tested weighed in @ 13lbs with dual HDs and optical drives.
Internal 802.11g Wireless LAN Mini-PCI interface
Internal 802.11g & Bluetooth combo card Mini-PCI interface
Build-in Digital Video Camera
Standard USB floppy drive that came with the test unit.
The air exhaust is on the left side toward the front and on the back side toward the right. Above you see the card reader with the dust cover removed and below is the TV tuner/capture with its dust cover removed. The TV tuner is from AVERmedia, and it is multi-regional, both PAL and NTSC. Your coaxial cable for cable TV plugs right into the back of it and it will let watch cable TV with an included remote control.
Very nice front-panel DJ. The buttons are recessed so it's difficult to turn it on by accident. This is how the front-panel DJ works: when the computer is powered off, you can turn the front panel on which will power up the media drives and let you play CD music and listen through the speakers or the headphone jack. For those long plane rides it saves batteries and allows you to listen without firing up Windows. You can play from both media drives and the DJ will total up the tracks. Also, it plays MP3s!
Hot keys at the top from left to right:
email, internet, audio, and power by default.
Pictured from left to right: Acer 1712, Sager 9860, Sager 8790, and Sager 5690.
On the left is the Acer 1710 series AC adapter, in the middle is the Sager 9860 one, and to the right is the model used with the 8790, 5690, and previous models. Notice that Sager has gone with a power brick design that will allow you to connect your normal 3 prong power cord from a desktop computer, just like Acer. The new power brick also appears to have a much more solid design. It reaches about the same temperature as previous models, getting pretty warm to the touch when under heavy stress. The power supply weighs 2.4 lbs and it's 20V 9A.
In our test system Wintec PC4200 SODIMM RAM is used. The unit has four memory slots which, in theory, would handle 4GB of RAM-- but it's not so simple as that. The reason for four slots was to allow the user to achieve 2GB of RAM with four 512MB sticks, saving a lot of money over the equivalent two 1024MB sticks, while at the same time allowing those who ordered 1024 with their system (two 512 sticks) to upgrade without replacing two 512 sticks with 1024 sticks. Instead they can just add two more 512 sticks. Unfortunately, with the 9XX chipset design there are limitations on total RAM. If you put four 1024MB sticks into the system it will report 2.8GB available. Intel claims that it is not a hardware issue at all, but that the amount of RAM reported and used by a computer is dependent on the operating system being used.
The Intel manual in reference to RAM and this chipset.
The Graphics Card
PCI-Express 16x and able to be swapped. Removing four screws allows you remove the panel and removing four more screws allows you to take out the GPU heatsink by simply pulling straight up on it. The heatsink is expected to work with other GPUs, and ATI is also working to represent along with future NVIDIA and ATI GPUs.
The GPU (pictured) in the unit Sager is launching with is the NVIDIA® GeForce™ Go 6800. Don't spell it any other way or NVIDIA find you and kill you. Another picture of the GPU can be found below in the benchmark section.
Intel® Pentium® 4 3.0/3.2/3.4/3.6GHz (LGA775, 800FSB) w/HT
1024KB On-die L2 Cache. The test unit had a 3.6GHZ P4. Every 9860 is supposed to come from Sager with Artic Silver 5 applied to the CPU.
The Hard Drive(s)
The Sager 9860 has the option for up to two internal mobile hard drives of either PATA or SATA and they can be configured with RAID 0, RAID 1 or as two seperate drives without RAID. Raid 0 is known as "striping" and is for pure performance. What happens is the two drives look like one as far as storage goes and data is written/read from them both at the same time. The hard drive can often be the bottle neck in programs and when you have two drives that the system can write/read half the data each at the same time it can do it much faster than writing/reading all of the data from a single drive. If one drive fails, there's is no recovering data from the drive still good. In RAID 0, two 60GB hard drives would show up as a single 120GB drive in your Windows interface. The other is RAID 1 which is known as "mirroring" and is where one drive is cloned to the other one when writing data. This is for backup type purposes but keep in mind a virus will corrupt both drives so the main thing you can protect yourself with RAID 1 is if one of the drives physically fails, there's a chance the other can be your recovery drive. two 60GB drives in RAID 1 will show up as one single 60GB hard drive in your Windows interface.
With the 9860, multiple hard drives are arranged in a stacked configuration, one on top of the other. Depending on if you're using SATA or PATA drives, the appropriate flexprint/connectors are used. Both connectors are pictured here. Notice that the SATA drive connector is no different than the desktop version! Pictured are two SATA drives stacked in the bracket with the SATA interface on the left and the PATA interface on the right.
We tested with both 80GB 5400rpm SATA drives in raid 0 vs 60GB 7200rpm PATA drives in raid 0. The SATA drives barely won in PCmark04 testing, but only in the raid 0 configuration. This is due to the throughput of the SATA technology, when combined with the raid configuration. You can see the benchmark results below in the benchmark section.
Resolution 1,680 x 1,050 (SXGA+)
Aspect Ratio 16:10
Color Saturation(%) 6.5
Contrast Ratio 400:1
Viewing Angel 60deg above and below, 70deg left and right
The on-board audio output consists of four speakers and a subwoofer standard. This is a setup we've seen in many of the recent notebook releases, but from the sound of things, it was done with MAJOR improvement this time. My usual comments in the past have been, "four speakers and a sub, good sound, but it's still a laptop." Not this time. It actually sounds really good, with no tin can sound and none of the nasty vibrations you usually hear. While it's no live concert, these are by far the best sounding speakers I've ever heard in a laptop. If they don't do it for you, you still have the 8 channel sound system you can plug speakers into-- and if that doesn't do it, there's no hope .
Below you will see the 4 speaker and subwoofer layout:
The TV Tuner and Multi-Tasking
Below we have a 19" LCD attached as a 2nd display. There's a DVD movie playing, cable TV through the TV tuner, City of heroes video game, the wireless internet (checking the forums), and AIM. COH ran lag-free like this and I even opened up the camera at one point and put it on the 2nd display with no problems.
Hooking up your cable TV is very simple as shown in the 3 pictures below:
At this point you just launch Aver Media and it will auto detect and set your channels. The unit supports both NTSC and PAL without any hardware change required.
Here's a in program snapshot through AverMedia's capture software and watching cable TV:
You can take snapshots and record video saving it to your hard drive(s).
You can control your TV in full screen or windowed from a distance with the remote control it comes with:
Yes, our experinece has been that the remote also controls other features of the notebook such as booting up and shutting down. You can actually customize it to where you can do most everything incl mouse movement by remote. Pretty neat, but in most cases such as websurfing not very efficient.
The TV Tuner is an option and the S-video port next to it also has the ability to capture your input video.
Standard with all 9860 systems comes Nero for burning and WinDVD for DVD watching. With the TV tuner option comes AverMedia. Below is a screenshot of the software for both AverMedia (left) and WinDVD (right) with their versions and options. When you play a DVD you often get the pop up after you put it in asking if you want to install "Interactual" player. From my experience it runs like crap and never install it. Always run your DVD movies through WinDVD.
AverMedia has the options listed of 4:3 and 16:9 with the resolutions of 720X480, 640X480, and 320X240.
For sound, Realtek is used:
AutoMail Checker is a program on the drivers CD you can install and easily setup to watch for new email:
It pops up to tell you you have mail:
lol, "You Have 1 Mails!" Best information feature hands down!
Buying direct from Sager, the 9860 comes standard with Windows XP, but through most resellers there is no OS by default. The reason behind this isn't to allow people to save a buck and pirate their software it's for those that get the software on their own conditions (college and business discounts) and those that already have software they wish to install. Regardless of whether you buy it with an OS or not you get the current drivers CD. After you install the OS you need to load the drivers in order off the drivers CD which is set up as simple as possible shown in the pic below.
The manual can also be found on the CD in .pdf form.
If you order the system with Windows XP, it comes preinstalled with all the required drivers. You also get a Sager recovery CD which is basically a Windows CD designed for the Sager system. Using the Sager recovery CD is just like a regular Windows install and requires you load the drivers after the install. Currently they are issuing SP2.
300K USB 2.0 Bisoncam
The camera works @ 640X480 and can integrate with your favorite video conference program.
Here's a couple of snapshots from the built in camera in Windows XP:
Below are some screen shots of the 9860 Phoenix 4MB Flash ROM BIOS
The battery is a 12 cell Li-Ion 14.8V 6600MaH held in by 3 retaining screws and weighs in @1.5 lbs.
With DVD playback we were able to run 1 hour and 6 minutes. We ran a DVD using WINDVD off a full charge and no cycling. Gaming will get you less, but many other types of use will get you longer battery life.
The keyboard is a solid design with no play/flex/bounce that you often see in laptop keyboards. The numberpad on the right is something that's become standard with many of the Sagers and loved by many.
The media drives are as usual with laptops, sloppy and cheap feeling by physical design. Only the slot load ones are an exception but carry with them plenty of their own problems which is likely why you don't see them in many systems out there. The tested unit had dual media drives one being the NEC DVD +-RW – ND6500A and the other being the Toshiba DVD-ROM SD-R2512.
As you can see in the pic though they are set up for easy removal. Once you remove the hard drive cover, a single screw will allow the media drives to slide out.
The 9860 also comes standard with a USB floppy drive. It is required for installing Windows as Windows XP does not include the Promise 378 controller drivers.
Bluetooth is an option not yet available. It's expected to be available in December and is user upgradeable. It will be $49 for those that already have the wireless module.
New benchmarks are available in this thread:
http://notebookforums.com/showthread.php?t=58703 which show the ATI X800 vs the 6800 used in this review.
Driver and display settings.
250/600 Stock clock
340/680 are the core/memory speeds we used. We overclocked it in a 77deg room with no special provisions for cooling. It could have gone higher, but we were happy with this and it was stable through the testing.
The real question is, of course, the performance that this thing can dish out. We grabbed a couple of real-world machines that the guys had been gaming on and felt they were about as good as it gets for the typical high end gamer. The test wasn't meticulously controlled to produce lab-quality results while matching every spec; we just used the highest-end machines we had sitting around, ones that are gamed on daily, so we could see if the 9860 could run with the big guys in the real world. Well, every game we loaded up and played on it the 9860 surprised us. With all this power displaying on probably the most beautiful LCD display I've seen, it produced big numbers while we produced drool. The GPU may look small with the PCI-E X800XT to the left of it and the AGP 6800 Ultra to the right of it, but it was ready for the challenge.
Tests show the 9860 with stock clocking (green) and the overclocking of the 9860 (dark red). All tests were done in Direct X 9.0c and SP2. The ATI drivers used were the 4.9s and the NVIDIA drivers were with the 66.xx drivers.
Below are old benchmarks from the original 6800 GPU and will be left for reference, to see the new benchmarks for the 6800 Ultra, go here:
The 9800 Pro and the 9800XT just did not want to run the Far Cry test for some reason, which is why they were left off.
Below we have the tests comparing 60GB 7200 rpm RAID 0 (PATA) vs 80GB 5400 rpm RAID 0 (SATA). We ran the tests many times and tried others also... we then wiped the drives, reloaded, tested again and the results still showed the same.
Don't read them wrong, one is not over twice the other, we just took the top of the scale on them.
Below is some screenshots from FarCry showing NVIDIA's 6800 feature of HDR (High Dynamic Range). Each screen shot shows the top without it on and the bottom with it on (no other setting changes):
Radio Shack geeks!
Of course we need to compare some sound and heat, because packing all this power into a laptop is going to bring the conspiricy theorists out by the millions. Is Sager attempting to take over the world by rendering people deaf and burning them alive at their desks? Well, the 9860 is very surprisingly cool and quiet, as for the Zalman headphones... did you say something?
We ran various programs in loops at the same time along with 3DMARK to get the system as hot as it could get with the fans on their maximum speed.
In the temperature test we measured all over the the area left of the touchpad and reported the highest temperatures for left palm rest, same with the right palm rest, touchpad, "W" key, and "ENTER" key. This, from our testing, is as hot as you can possibly get the areas you touch under extreme usage. It will of course be cooler for what some people call normal use... email, office, web surfing, a DVD movie all at once. The temperatures are in Celsius:
For the sound tests, we recorded directly from the point of the keyboard for the loudest numbers we could record with the fans running at maximum. Don't compare this to what some fan manufacturers "rate" their fans at because it's not going to compare to this. To hear it as it was recorded you would have to get the fans up to maximum speed and put your ear up against the laptop in a specific spot to get this db level. For reference we added a quick desktop fan measurement and Luke's begging so he understands we do listen to him.
If you didn't know the way the db scale works,, every increase of 3 db means a doubling of volume. So 53db is twice as loud as 50db.
The 9860 ran Doom 3 perfectly in high settings and nearly perfect/totally playable in ultra.
The 9860 ran EQII perfectly in high settings, but got low FPS when set to max (very high) when in city zones, which is something all the systems experienced.
The 9860 ran WoW perfectly in max settings.
Counter Strike Source
Take a guess
The 9860 had no problems with any of the settings we threw at it, which was the story for most every game.
City of Heroes
Running perfectly of course.
Far Cry pixel shader 3 support!
All of the above games except Doom 3 (no widescreen support) were run at the native resolution of 1680X1050.
Using the TV tuner we hooked up the Xbox to see how well it performed. We tried both the coax input through AverMedia and the S-Video input hookups Xbox offers. The coax input ran well but was grainy, the S-Video ran well and looked perfect. We noticed no lag:
I honestly feel that Sager/Clevo hit a home run with this system, or at least for the hardcore gaming community. To have internal hardware raid SATA drives, a swappable GPU (GO6800), DDR2, 17" WSXGA+, four speakers and a subwoofer, and all the little things such as TV tuner/remote, camera, card reader... You really do finally have a top performer you can take with you, and many will have no problem shoving their desktop in their closet once they have this machine.
Of course, this system will not fit well with some. Many people needing to do multiple hours of work at a time on batteries, and people needing a lightweight system, are going to hate the 9860 . If you enjoy skipping through the fields of flowers with your laptop in hand for hours at a time, don't use the 9860 or you will likely pull a ligament or tendon in your arm.
I'm very sorry for putting you through that if you're on dial-up . Let's hope that by the time you're reading this you've loaded all the images.
Discuss this review here: