If you’re looking for a well equipped 17″ notebook then the Everex StepNote XT5000T just fit your needs. This laptop is virtually identical to the Fujitsu Amilo XA 1526 sold in Europe. It has an AMD Turion X2 processor and Nvidia Go 7600 card, all for about $900.
What you get
The Amilo does offer configuration options whereas the StepNote comes in one configuration. However with the Fujitsu line only available in Europe in the US your options are limited to the one StepNote configuration. Which consists of:
CPUAMD Turion 64 X2 Dual Core TL-50 @ 1600mhz per coreOSGenuine Windows Vista Home PremiumRAM1 GB of 533mhz DDR2 occupying a single slot, leaving 1 slot availableDisplay17 WXGA+ 1440×900 Diamond Brite screenGraphicsNvidia Geforce Go 7600 with 256MB DDR2 dedicatedAudioRealtek ALC885 High-Definition Audio CodecHard Drive100GB (5400RPM) with a slot for a second hard drive also availableOptical Drive8x DVD+/-RW Dual LayerI/O Ports
- 3 x USB
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x TV-out (S-video)
- 1 x Mic-in
- 1 x Headphone in
- 1 x Infrared – IrDA
- 1 x Modem – RJ-11
- 1 x RJ-45 LAN
- 1 x Express Card
- 1 x Firewire – 1394
- 4-in-1 Card Reader for SD, MMC, MS, and MS Pro
15.7 x 11.8 x 1.3 -1.6 (L x W x H)
8.45 lbsBattery/Power 6-cell, 2.5 – 3 hours
Design and Build
The casing seems to be a pretty durable material for a consumer laptop. It’s not going to compare to the business laptops such as the Lenovo and Dell Latitudes, but it will serve end consumers very well. I really like the coloring of the system with the subdued silver and black coloring.
There is a full keyboard and number pad on this machine, although some of the layout choices are a bit odd. For example the Home, and End keys are on the number pad, so if the number pad is turned on you cannot use these keys. This isn’t a huge deal but it is a little annoying for the times when you’d like both. Another odd choice is the fact that there are three keys spread around the keyboard. What several people have done is remap these keys to extend the shift and enter keys. However, two of the are linked so if you try to extend the shift key you lose two and are left with none if you’ve remapped the third to . Overall the keyboard has a very good responsive feel it just has a weird layout.
keyboard view (view large image)
The 17″ screen is very nice and bright. The screen shows video games and movies flawlessly as long as you are not in a very bright space. The size of the screen is also very nice with the extra screen real-estate afforded by the widescreen. However, I do wish that you could bump up the resolution another notch, but the 1440×900 resolution is not bad. One thing to note though is that there is a slight amount of bleed through at the base of the display from the back lighting on brightly lit scenes. This hasn’t bothered me at all and I only notice it when I’m looking for it, but it is something to be aware of.
Processor and System Performance
The AMD Turion X2 TL-50 is a very capable processor but the option of a higher one would definitely be much appreciated. Each core does run at 1600 MHz at full power but can drop to half voltage and half speed when you do not need the power, or when you are trying to get the most out of your battery. This computer runs Vista very well, but Vista is a resource hog so you’re 1GB of memory is more like 512mb with Windows XP. It is worth considering buying another stick or two of memory considering this computer will run up to 4GB of dual channel 667 MHz memory. As it is though, the Aero interface performs flawlessly on this system.
Aero running on the XT5000T (view large image)
The Nvidia Go 7600 256MB video card in this machine is really the bare minimum to get good gaming performance in modern games. While lower cards will let users play casual games it really is necessary to have a better card to play pretty much any modern game. I have been able to play BF2142, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Source, and Halo CE with no issues. I am sure from other reports that given a memory upgrade the settings in BF2142 and CS:S could be upped to a higher setting, but they are still enjoyable at the settings that can be run with 1GB of RAM.
I was unable to get PCMark05 to run on this machine, but I did run through several other benchmarks, including SysMark 2007’s burn-in test for twenty-four hours without a single hitch. All of the following benchmark results reflect default factory settings:
- Game Tests 3DMark Score: 7002
- GT1 – Wings of Fury 156.6 fps
- GT2 – Battle of Proxycon 54.7 fps
- GT3 – Troll’s Lair 45.9 fps
- GT4 – Mother Nature 43.3 fps
- CPU Tests CPU Score 815
- CPU Test1 71.1 fps
- CPU Test2 17.7 fps
- Feature Tests
- Fill Rate(Single-Texturing) 1424.4 MTexels/s
- Fill Rate(Multi-Texturing) 3361.8 MTexels/s
- Vertex Shader 24.5 fps
- Pixel Shader 2.0 83.5 fps
- Ragtroll 30.8 fps
- 3DMark Score 2189 3DMarks
- SM 2.0 Score 877 Marks
- SM 3.0 Score 827 Marks
- CPU Score 1036 Marks
- Graphics Tests
- 1 – Return to Proxycon 7.241 FPS
- 2 – Firefly Forest 7.382 FPS
- CPU Tests
- CPU1 – Red Valley 0.359 FPS
- CPU2 – Red Valley 0.478 FPS
- HDR Tests
- 1 – Canyon Flight (SM 3.0) 6.826 FPS
- 2 – Deep Freeze (SM 3.0) 9.717 FPS
- Total Score 33,532
- 5355 GFX
- 4484 CPU
WinSat (Built in Windows Vista Benchmark)WinSAT Score4.4Processor4.6Memory (RAM)4.5Graphics4.8Gaming Graphics4.7Primary Hard Disk4.4SuperPI2m 08s
Windows Index Score
The XT5000T comes with plenty of ports that will satisfy pretty much anyone. Starting on the right side there are three USB ports, an RJ-45 port, a Firewire 1394 port, and an Express card slot. It would have been nice to have the USB ports spread out so that everything doesn’t come out the right hand side, but they are all secure and function correctly.
Right side (view large image)
Next on the back of the notebook there are only two ports not counting the DC-in, a DVI-I port and an S-Video TV-out port.
Back side (view large image)
On the left hand side we have the RJ-11 port and DVD drive.
Left side (view large image)
In front we have the Wireless On/off switch, your audio ports (line-in, mic-in, and headphone), the volume control for the headphones, the 4-in-1 media card slot and the latch for opening the notebook up.
Front side (view large image)
On the bottom you have a cpu/gpu/memory slot, the battery, and the hard drive slots for dual hard drives.
Overall I would say that there are tons of multi-media friendly features on here that will allow you to hook up your digital cameras, camcorders and memory cards with ease.
Unfortunately there are no options on batteries at the moment, all you can get is the 6-cell battery that gives okay battery life. While it would be nice to have an option, I don’t consider this to be too much of a draw back in a 17″ powerhouse notebook. Most likely people won’t be hauling this around constantly and pulling it out while on the train or anything as it is just too big.
Heat and Noise
The XT5000T has a pretty good graphics card and processor that can use a lot of power at full throttle. With all this power comes heat and a need to dissipate it. The air blows out the right side of the laptop and can get a bit warm. However, the keyboard and laptop have not gotten uncomfortable on the lap or hands. This machine can get slightly noisy when it is running at full speed. However, when all this power is being used there are generally things going on such as gaming in which case you won’t hear it over the in-game sounds. Whenever you do want to silence the machine completely and get some more battery out of the system there is a silent button you can press. This will instantly lock the computer at half speed and cut out the fan almost completely after the computer is safely cool enough to allow it. Thus this mode requires half the power for the processor and it doesn’t use much power on cooling. To exit this mode you would just have to press the button again and return to your normal settings.
The speakers on this machine are very good for a notebook. It has two speakers just below the screen that can put out a lot of noise. This machine also has a subwoofer on the bottom that does a descent job of adding bass to whatever is going on. There is a built in microphone that will get the job done, but it is really too far away and not sensitive enough to get good crisp sounds for voice-chat.
One of the things I really love about this machine is that it comes with pretty much no bloatware and almost no software other than the OS. The machine comes pretty empty of software which is a plus for me. In fact, other than utilities for the buttons and power management pretty much the only software this came with was a DVD player and a 90-day trial of the Norton suite. Also, the hard drive is partitioned into 2 pieces which are evenly split with the c: partition containing the OS and the basic software and the second partition being completely empty. For me this was also a good thing as I generally like to install most of my software on a partition that does not include the OS incase I have to reinstall or change the OS.
For the most part the wireless has been working flawlessly for me. However, every now and then it is not detected on startup and you have to power-down the system to get it to show up again. Also, I’ve noticed that sometimes coming out of sleep mode not everything wakes up right away, sometimes requiring a minute or two to work properly again. Overall the throughput and coverage of the wireless work very well.
Overall I’m very pleased with this notebook, especially for the price, which is between $699 and $899 depending on sales. The power this machine has for a gaming/multimedia notebook is very good and the price cannot be beaten.
There are however a few quirks that need to be considered. The keyboard is a bit screwy in its layout and I’m not quite sure why they put three keys on it. I also, would have liked to not have the Home and End keys on the number pad, but it is not a big deal. The wireless is almost never an issue for me and once it is back up it doesn’t randomly disconnect on me either. Again this is slightly annoying, but it is most likely a bad driver. Also, there is a slight amount of bleed through in brightly lit screens that I know some people cannot stand.
I do love the fact that there is one slot open for immediately adding another 1GB or 2GB stick without throwing out what you already have. I believe the inclusion of a single 1GB ADATA stick was a very good choice and is a great thing for consumers. I feel that the price and features in this notebook provide an excellent value and if you are looking for a 17″ notebook I would add this to the list of ones I was considering.
- Bright 17″ Screen
- Nvidia go 7600 256mb graphics card
- 1GB ADATA 533mhz DDR2 RAM on a single stick
- Good selection of ports for multimedia uses with USB, Firewire, and a 4-in-1 Card reader
- 2nd slot for another hard drive
- Heavy 8.45 lbs
- Keyboard layout, what is up with three keys?
- Wireless sometimes doesn’t show up right away
- Slight bleed through on the bottom of the screen in brightly lit scenes
Pricing and Availability
The Everext StepNote XT5000T is available for $899 via TigerDirect.comat the time of this writing.
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