SavRow Blade 75 review

£1303
Price when reviewed

As the name suggests, SavRow specialises in tailor-made PCs and notebooks, but this usually comes at a price. As such, SavRow rarely threatens the mainstream manufacturer, which builds tens or hundreds of the same system to sell for as low a price as possible. That is, until now.

SavRow Blade 75 review

The Blade 75 is £70 more expensive than the Evesham Voyager C720, but SavRow offers a raft of extras to justify the price. First, there’s the increased resolution of the 17in widescreen TFT, up from 1,400 x 900 to 1,680 x 1,050. The extra Desktop space is great for every use, be it web browsing, working on a spreadsheet or gaming. Just like the Voyager, it has the increasingly prevalent glossy screen that adds richness and vibrancy to images, but will annoyingly reflect bright lights. And just like Evesham, SavRow will replace the whole unit if you happen to find a pixel defect within the first month of purchase.

But you also get SavRow’s new three-year Silver Spoon Warranty. This not only gives you three years of next-day collect-and-return cover, but also includes accidental damage, as well as hardware faults. If you spill coffee over the Blade 75, SavRow will pick it up for repairs the next day, no questions asked. It’s a huge improvement on the Voyager C720’s warranty, which only covers hardware malfunction and the first year as collect-and-return.

These two improvements alone go some way to justify the extra cost, but SavRow has gone even further by increasing the hard disk size over the Voyager to 100GB. It comes pre-partitioned to give Windows its own dedicated partition, with Windows itself tweaked to install applications and store data on the secondary D drive. Like the Voyager, the Blade 75 also includes XP Home Edition, but that shouldn’t affect many.

Just like the Voyager, there’s 802.11a/b/g wireless and Gigabit Ethernet onboard, and four USB ports scattered around the right and rear. A mini-FireWire, Type II PC Card slot and media card reader for SD/MMC, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro are also on the right-hand side.

Games are powered by the same nVidia GeForce Go 7800 GTX that Evesham uses. Currently the fastest mobile GPU available, it’s capable of running Far Cry with HDR and 8x AF at the native 1,680 x 1,050 resolution at a playable 44fps. You’ll need to sacrifice some resolution for the latest games (Call of Duty 2 at highest detail settings scored 23fps), but the resolution drop isn’t noticeable; it will still look fantastic. As it’s fitted into a PCI Express slot, the GPU is upgradable too. Once a better mobile GPU is released, and provided it remains within the thermal tolerance of the chassis, SavRow will fit it for the cost of the new part.

Elsewhere, there’s a full-sized keyboard with large keys and a separate number pad. It’s the same setup as the Voyager; the chassis are near identical. The only area of compromise in build quality are the mouse buttons. They felt a touch loose. Unlike the rest of the chassis, the mouse buttons feel a touch loose and our mouse finger veered into the integrated slider bar on the touchpad all too often, resulting in annoying moments when the mouse stopped moving. If you need to lug the 4.3kg Blade 75 around, the chassis is solid enough to withstand a few knocks, and there’s always the Silver Spoon warranty to reassure you.

The single compromise over the Voyager is the choice of processor – a 2GHz Pentium M 760 rather than Evesham’s 2.13GHz 770. All the other components remain identical, with 1GB of PC4200 RAM and the Intel 915 chipset. In our application benchmarks, the Blade 75 scored a respectable 0.89 to the Voyager’s 0.95. The difference isn’t noticeable in day-to-day use.

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