Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini review

£899
Price when reviewed

Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini review: upgradability, connectivity and cooling

The Clevo chassis is purpose-built for easy upgrades. Remove the four screws on the laptop’s underside and the base pops off to give access to all the main components. Two chunky copper heatpipes draw heat away from the motherboard’s GPU and, unusually, the rPGA-947 CPU socket makes it possible to simply drop in a replacement CPU. Alongside it, there’s the dual-band 802.11n wireless card, an empty mSATA slot, a pair of RAM slots (both occupied by 4GB SODIMMS) and a single 2.5in HDD bay. We’ve never encountered a more upgradeable 13.3in laptop.

Connectivity is great. There are three USB 3 ports, an SD card reader and both VGA and HDMI video outputs. It’s a touch disappointing that the wireless card only stretches to single-band 802.11n, but as we’ve said it’s easy (and cheap) to replace, and you also get Gigabit Ethernet for wired networking.

Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini

The Clevo chassis gets the bare essentials right, too. What the backlit keyboard lacks in feel, it makes up for with a spacious, uncluttered layout, and the touchpad’s light, clicky dedicated buttons (something of a rarity these days) are a joy. Edge-swipe gestures are far too easy to activate by accident, but you can disable the feature completely in the settings.

Cramming top-end components into a smaller chassis does have some downsides, but battery life isn’t one of them. With the display’s brightness dimmed to 75cd/m2, the Defiant 2 Mini lasted for 6hrs 52mins in our light-use battery test. Pushed flat out, the powerful components emptied the 62Wh, 5,600mAh battery in little over an hour.

It’s a tad noisy. The Clevo’s 50mm cooling fan spins up audibly when everything’s running at full pelt, but it isn’t as intrusive as some we’ve encountered. Compared to the rather high-pitched cooling fans of the Gigabyte P34G v2, it’s much easier on the ear.

The cooling fan does a reasonable job of keeping temperatures in check, too. The CPU temperature rarely peaked above 92°C, and the GPU stayed below 82°C during the longest gaming sessions. However, push both flat out with artificial workloads, such as those imposed by Prime95 and FurMark, and temperatures quickly soar to unhealthy levels. We saw CPU temperatures quickly approach the 100°C mark under this kind of strain. There’s clearly a limit to how much heat the fan and heatpipes can dissipate, and the powerful CPU and GPU here are approaching the limit of what the W230SS chassis can handle.

Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini

Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini review: verdict

There are a few niggles, then, but the price is very reasonable at £899. Before you jump for your wallet, though, bear in mind that this same Clevo W230SS chassis is available from several other UK PC manufacturers. For instance, Scan is currently selling one with the same specification for £837 inc VAT, albeit with an inferior two-year return-to-base warranty and only one year of cover for the display – Chillblast supplies a two-year collect-and-return warranty as standard, with an additional three years of cover for labour costs.

Ultimately, though, the Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini serves up enough power for both demanding applications and games, and the top-quality display and upgradeable chassis are major plus points. If you’re looking for serious gaming power without paying a big-brand premium, this laptop is a force to be reckoned with.

Details

Warranty

Warranty 3yr on-site

Physical specifications

Dimensions 330 x 227 x 32mm (WDH)
Weight 2.100kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-4710HQ
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M
Graphics card RAM 2.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 1.00TB
Hard disk Seagate hybrid SSHD
Optical drive None
Battery capacity 5,600mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
USB ports (downstream) 1
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.9mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 52min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 1.02
Responsiveness score 0.98
Media score 1.07
Multitasking score 1.00

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
OS family Windows 8

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