SavRow Blade B-65 review
We’ve seen some impressive systems from SavRow come through our labs – fast PCs with exotic cooling, and more recently some well-built, surprisingly fast notebooks, such as the Razor. A small company based in London, SavRow claims to offer a more personal experience than the big multinationals – buyers even get told the names of the engineers who built their machine.
But we must admit to being surprised when we saw this chassis, because it doesn’t immediately exude quality in the way a higher-end notebook should. The looks are there, but smaller details are less impressive, such as the speaker grille on the left-hand side being attached slightly askew; the somewhat tacky quality of the silver trim bar below the keyboard; and the fact that the case tends to creak a little when picked up.
However, it has a mind-blowing widescreen 1,920 x 1,200-pixel TFT display. Even though it’s only a 15.4in panel, there’s enough real-estate to fit two pages of a Word document side-by-side at 100 per cent scaling. A default Excel spreadsheet squeezes in 61 rows and 29 columns (up to column AC). You’ll need pretty sharp eyes to read the fine print and icons without scaling, but if you don’t mind that, you’re rewarded with a stunning amount of detail in documents and images. On the downside, maximum brightness is a touch disappointing, and the backlighting a little uneven.
Our panel also suffered from pressure points behind the display, so take care not to press on the lid when carrying it. It isn’t suitable for a regular traveller though, weighing in at 3.5kg. Even so, SavRow bundles the excellent messenger-style AirBag Tigra (www.coluco.com/airbag), normally worth £55 inc VAT on its own.
We have no complaints about the components inside the B-65 – or its performance. Intel’s 1.8GHz Pentium M 745 CPU provides the muscle, and it’s backed by 1GB of DDR SDRAM.
Together, these components propelled the B-65 to a cracking 2D speed of 1.93 in our benchmarks, helped by the speedy 7,200rpm, 8MB buffer Hitachi hard disk. It isn’t huge at 60GB but you can burn off data using the dual-layer DVD+/-R/RW drive if it starts to fill up.
The 3D performance isn’t in the top league, but a 128MB ATi Mobility Radeon 9700 is no slouch either, and SavRow slightly overclocks the standard chip to gain a little more speed. It will handle older games without breaking into a sweat, managing a very playable 49fps in Unreal Tournament 2004 at 1,280 x 1,024. It will find the latest games more strenuous, but we managed to squeeze 24fps from Doom 3 by turning down the resolution to 1,024 x 768.
It’s also got endurance: our B-65 came with a 12-cell battery, stretching to five hours, eight minutes under light use at medium brightness, and an incredible four hours, two minutes when crunching through a heavy workload at full brightness. Bear in mind this battery sticks out of the back by roughly 11mm, and it raises the back off the table by 10mm. The flush-fitting six-cell pack in the standard configuration is £100 cheaper and 320g lighter.
In spite of the extra width from the 15.4in screen, a standard-sized keyboard is used. Spacing is good over most of the board, but the punctuation keys and Enter are smaller than normal, giving it a slightly cramped feel. Positioning also isn’t perfect, with the Control key inboard of the Function modifier, and Delete inboard of Pause, but at least the Windows key is in the right place at the lower-left.