Evesham Voyager C720DC Plus review

Price when reviewed

We’ve seen this silver chassis pass through our Labs many times. We’ve also seen the Voyager C720DC before, when it won a Recommended award for its Core 2 Duo power and superb gaming performance. But rather than resting on its laurels, Evesham has made some improvements.

Evesham Voyager C720DC Plus review

You may have noticed the significant price increase over the previous model – up from £1,191 to £1,489 – and there are two chief culprits for this. While we praised the C720DC for its Core 2 Duo CPU, we also lamented the fact that it was only the lowly 1.66GHz T5500. Its score of 0.98 was solid enough at the price, but was hardly groundbreaking. So it’s pleasing to see Evesham take heed, as the C720DC Plus comes with the blisteringly fast 2.33GHz T7600. Assisted by 1GB of memory and a 100GB hard disk, it sauntered through our benchmark suite with an overall score of 1.35. But if that isn’t enough to tempt you, Evesham has also upgraded the graphics. Out goes the GeForce Go 7900 GTX and in its place comes the 512MB 7950 GTX.

Obviously, helped by the additional performance of the fast CPU, the Evesham’s graphical power is a sight to behold. In our Far Cry test at the highest settings – 1,600 x 1,200 with HDR lighting and 8x anisotropic filtering – it produced an average frame rate of 46fps, and this barely changed when set to the native 1,680 x 1,050 with the same intensive settings. The story was similar in Call of Duty 2: at 1,600 x 1,200 and with 8x anisotropic filtering, 4x anti-aliasing and the memory-hogging Extra textures, it achieved an impressive 35fps.

So we know the Voyager C720DC Plus will handle pretty much anything thrown at it, but there’s one area that’s been slightly scaled back – you may have noticed among those 3D results that the resolution has fallen from the previous 1,920 x 1,200. On a 17in display, though, this isn’t the end of the world, and the screen itself is of high quality. Viewing angles constitute its principal weakness, with brightness dropping off beyond about 40 degrees to either side, but other than that we saw no problems in our DisplayMate technical tests. Colour reproduction is accurate and the contrast tests were excellent too.

The chassis is well built and offers plenty of protection to the screen, but the only real feature of note is the media strip, which protrudes at the front and allows the C720DC to be used as a CD player without booting up Windows. The speakers are nothing to write home about, but they’ll be fine for listening to the odd CD if you’re away from home.

Unfortunately, this is where the Evesham slips up, as those who travel a lot won’t find it the most suitable choice due to the poor battery life. In the old C720DC, we bemoaned the 1hr 53mins of use under light conditions, but the C720DC Plus lasts an even shorter time. We measured 1hr 36mins under light use, and 1hr 21mins when pushed. The fact that it weighs around 4kg means it isn’t the most portable machine anyway, but to its credit it charged to 95% in under two hours.

Elsewhere, the keyboard is well laid out and pleasant to use, and there’s a wide array of ports and connectors sensibly positioned around the edges of the chassis. DVI and S-Video outputs mean you can connect to external displays, and the mini-FireWire joins four USB 2 ports for peripherals. A serial port handles legacy devices and, as well as the integrated 802.11a/b/g WLAN, you get a Gigabit Ethernet port and a 56K modem, plus Bluetooth built in. A single Type II PC Card and plenty of formats of media card are supported by the slots on the right, and the DVD writer on the left will also write to dual-layer discs.

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