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PROS

  • 4K-busting gaming performance
  • Great screen
  • Solid keyboard
  • Sturdy build

CONS

  • Woeful battery life
  • Ultra-heavy and thick design
  • Middling trackpad

KEY FEATURES

  • 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K processor
  • 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
  • 17.3in 3,840 x 2,160 Nvidia G-Sync IPS screen
  • 16GB 2,133MHz DDR4 memory
  • 256GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2 SSD + 2TB HDD
  • Windows 10 64-bit
  • 2yr collect-and-return warranty
  • Weight: 4.3kg
  • 30mm thick
  • Manufacturer: Scan
  • Review Price: £2,550.00/$3,382.50

WHAT IS THE SCAN 3XS LG17 CARBON EXTREME?

Scan’s latest gaming laptop is a combination of all the latest developments in portable gaming tech, with the headline feature being the full desktop version of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 GPU.

That isn’t the only notable entry on the spec sheet: Scan’s system comes with a 4K screen with Nvidia G-Sync, and it also includes a full-fat desktop processor.

SCAN 3XS LG17 CARBON EXTREME – FEATURES

The mobile version of the GTX 1080 is remarkable. I’m used to laptop GPUs arriving with familiar names but underwhelming specifications, but the efficiency improvements in the Pascal architecture mean that there’s virtually no difference between the GTX 1080’s mobile and desktop versions.

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The mobile GPU has 2,560 stream processors and 8GB of 10,000MHz of GDDR5X memory – the same as the desktop card. The mobile version’s base and boost clocks sit at 1,556MHz and 1,733MHz, and Nvidia’s revised GPU Boost means Scan’s laptop dynamically overclocks those figures – so my sample ran at 1,582MHz and 1,771MHz.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a laptop with a 4K screen, but it’s the first time a laptop GPU can do justice to that many pixels. It’s a matte panel, and its Nvidia G-Sync works at refresh rates of up to 60Hz. That means the screen’s refresh rate matches the GPU’s frame rate, which results in butter-smooth gaming.

The processor takes its cue from the desktop world. The Core i7-6700K is a chip part that runs at 4GHz, giving it oodles of power.

Scan has included the Core i7-6700K because it’s popular among enthusiasts, and because this particular variant of the chip has higher stock and Turbo speeds than the standard Core i7-6700. However, don’t think about overclocking this CPU – the cooling gear just won’t be able to handle it.

The rest of the specification is more mobile. The 16GB of DDR4 memory is clocked to 2,133MHz – fine, if a little slow – and the 256GB Samsung 950 Pro is paired with a 2TB hard disk.

Connectivity is good, with Killer Ethernet and dual-band 802.11ac wireless. There are also plenty of ports: four USB 3.0 connectors and two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, four audio jacks, an SD card slot, and both mini-DisplayPort and HDMI outputs. SoundBlaster audio is included, too.

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As ever, the specification can be changed. Cheaper Core i5 desktop processors are available, and memory and storage offer huge versatility – they can be cut back to save cash, or made more extravagant. A 1080p screen can be chosen, although I can’t imagine why anyone would.

The Scan’s incredible specification sees it challenge two recent gaming monsters. The CyberPower Fangbook 4 SK-X17 is a 17.3in beast with a GTX 980 desktop GPU, a powerful Core i7 processor, and a Full HD panel with G-Sync. The Asus ROG GX700 is a unique gaming notebook – the 17.3in machine comes with a separate water-cooling module that helps overclock its CPU and GPU.

They’re both equipped with last year’s GTX 980 GPU, but future hardware will see these machines step up, so while the Scan might have a performance advantage for now, comments on noise and build quality will be relevant when comparing it to older models. The new Asus ROG GX800 will be landing later this year and will include two GTX 1080 cards, while the spring will see CyberPower refresh its range with GTX 1080 hardware.

SCAN 3XS LG17 CARBON EXTREME – DESIGN

This laptop’s exterior is built by Clevo. Its older efforts were a little bland and flimsy, but this isn’t a criticism I can level at its latest offering.

Build quality is exceptional. The wrist-rest barely moves, and the thick screen hardly budges. As a result, there’s minimal chance for desktop damage; the underside is rock-solid, too.

The Scan’s sheer size is its obvious disadvantage. The Carbon weighs 4.3kg, which makes it heavier than the CyberPower – and larger than the laptop portion of the Asus. But at 39mm thick, it’s slimmer than the CyberPower.

It’s hefty, sure, but I expect that when a laptop offers so much power. I also think it’s a worthwhile trade-off for a system that will largely stay rooted to a desk.

The design looks decent. The middle of the lid bears a Scan 3XS logo, and there’s smart brushed metal near the hinge. There’s more of the same on the inside, with a brushed metal section that holds the power button and the status lights. That’s flanked by two chunky speaker grilles.

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The rear of the system features large air vents, the keyboard has a blue backlight, and the area below the keyboard has a cluster of stickers. It isn’t the slickest or the loudest gaming laptop, but it’s smart and consistent.

The battery is removable, and the base is made from two panels. The smaller section lifts away to reveal a spare hard disk bay, while the second panel covers the rest of the components and cooling gear.

SCAN 3XS LG17 CARBON EXTREME – PERFORMANCE

There’s no question that Scan’s machine has the power to play modern games at 4K. With GTA V’s graphics options turned up and the resolution set to 3,840 x 2,160, the Scan still averaged 68fps. Then it ran through Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor at 59.8fps. In DiRT Rally it averaged an impressive 63fps.

That’s incredible performance, and it means there’s headroom for even more 4K gaming; more demanding graphics settings will still run smoothly, and future titles will run just as well.

The Scan churned out three-figure frame rates in 1080p tests, and then scored 16,232 points in the demanding 3DMark: Fire Strike benchmark.

Not surprisingly, it means the Scan easily outpaced the CyberPower Fangbook 4 SK-X17, which could manage only 8,861 in Fire Strike. The Pascal-powered Scan also beat the Asus ROG GX700, which boasted an overclocked and water-cooled GTX 980 GPU and topped out at 12,941 in Fire Strike.

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These are incredible scores, and activating Nvidia G-Sync didn’t have a noticeable impact on performance. In most of the test games there was no speed drop, with only a frame or two missing from a handful of titles.

The Scan’s incredible gaming grunt is bolstered by the desktop-class CPU. The Core i7-6700K managed 4,242 and 15,203 in Geekbench’s single- and multi-core tests – both better than the CyberPower. Those scores are up on the Asus GX700’s standard mode, with that machine able to surpass the Scan only once its overclocking was deployed.

I isn’t quite the standard bearer in application benchmarks, but this is still one of the fastest laptops I’ve reviewed – and it won’t get in the way of high-end games or intensive software. It’s quick when booting and loading: the Samsung SSD romped through sequential read and write tests at speeds of 2,098MB/sec and 1,534MB/sec.

Considering the high-end kit inside, I was concerned about noise and heat, but the Scan coped well. The processor topped out at 97°C in stress tests, which is only a few degrees short of its limits – but most users won’t run the chip at 100% load for extended periods.

The graphics card was cooler thanks to Pascal, with a peak temperature of 87°C. At that point it couldn’t make full use of GPU Boost, topping out at 1,683MHz. Those figures mean the Scan becomes hotter than the CyberPower, which has older and less-efficient hardware.

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The Scan’s fans produced a deep and consistent hum during tough tests – louder than the Asus and its liquid-cooling, and about level with the CyberPower. Only a little heat made its way to the base panel or the keyboard, with hot air vented through the back of the system. Scan’s machine does a good job: no matter what benchmark I loaded, it never became too hot or too loud.

SCAN 3XS LG17 CARBON EXTREME – SCREEN AND SOUND QUALITY

The 4K screen makes it necessary to deploy the Windows scaling options to make text and icons legible. My sample didn’t have any issues, and it’s clear this technology has come a long way.

The Scan’s initial brightness level of 354 nits is ample – better than the CyberPower, and not far behind the Asus – and that figure is paired with a 0.32-nit black point. This is close to both rivals, and it means the Scan delivers a contrast ratio of 1,106:1. As a result, games offer up plenty of punch across both deep and vibrant shades.

The Scan’s colour benchmarks were mixed. Its Delta E score of 4.46 is mediocre – poorer than both competitors – and its colour temperature of 7,134K is cool. Those figures were improved by a 100% sRGB gamut coverage figure, but both rivals have better Delta Es.

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The Scan also improved when I turned down the brightness to 150 nits. After that simple change the colour temperature warmed to 6,876K and the Delta E averaged 1.28 – both excellent results. Contrast remained consistent, and the screen never lost more than 10% of its backlight strength in uniformity tests.

This laptop’s screen doesn’t falter in any department – and its 4K resolution makes everything pixel-perfect. That makes it one of the better panels I’ve seen on a gaming notebook, although its two competitors do offer similar levels of image quality.

The Scan has two speakers and a subwoofer, and the audio output is handled by SoundBlaster. At its default settings there’s plenty of bass, and that underpins a meaty mid-range with good detail. The top-end starts well, but the highest-pitched sounds present uncomfortable levels of distortion.

SoundBlaster’s app has modes for action, driving, FPS and RTS games, alongside options for movies and music. The latter is chosen by default, and the game-specified modes are a mixed bag. The action and driving options turn off the bass boost, which means the entire range lacks punch, while the FPS option turns on most of the effects for better balance and aural vibrancy.

The Movie mode is the best option, though. There was ample detail throughout the range and plenty of balance, with good volume, too – and this was the only mode that eliminated the high-end distortion. It’s a similar verdict to the CyberPower, which also featured SoundBlaster hardware.

SCAN 3XS LG17 CARBON EXTREME – KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD

Bucking the trend of most laptops, there’s no island-style “chiclet” keys here. Instead you get a more traditional design with the keys sitting closer together. The cursor keys aren’t set apart from the rest of the buttons, either – that’s my only tiny complaint.

The keys offer good travel and they’re aided by the rock-solid base. The buttons are consistent and comfortable, with a decent snap. They strike a decent balance between the firmer action of a proper mechanical keyboard and the softer buttons associated with laptops, and it means this keyboard is perfectly good for gaming. I prefer it to the flexing, low-travel unit on the Asus ROG GX700.

The trackpad is more mixed. Its surface is fine, but its buttons are a little too soft and press down a little too far – decent for a gaming laptop, but not as good as a proper USB mouse. The pad sits over on the left-hand side, which means my wrist occasionally brushed the cursor when I was gaming with the WASD buttons.

SCAN 3XS LG17 CARBON EXTREME – BATTERY LIFE

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Scan’s battery. On the one hand, Pascal GPUs are incredibly efficient – but, on the other, this laptop has a desktop Core i7 processor and a 17.3in 4K screen.

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I should have expected typical gaming notebook longevity. The standard battery test loops a video and simulates with the screen at 40% brightness, and under these conditions the Scan lasted for about two hours. This result puts it a little behind the Asus, and half the time of the CyberPower Fangbook 4 SK-X17.

My gaming test saw the Scan run out of juice following close to an hour of playtime. This isn’t long enough for a serious session away from the mains, and altering the screen’s brightness made only about ten minutes of difference to the result.

SHOULD I BUY THE SCAN 3XS LG17 CARBON EXTREME?

Scan’s latest laptop is built for gaming speed, and the GTX 1080 allows it to deliver an huge amount of gaming power. This it the first time that a single-GPU notebook has been able to go toe-to-toe with gaming desktops, and it means games run smoothly, despite the Scan’s 4K screen.

It’s hardly a slouch elsewhere, either. The desktop-class Core i7 processor puts it in the top tier of application performers, and it has a generous allocation of memory and a fast SSD. The screen is good quality, the keyboard is decent, and even the speakers perform well.

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Of course, it comes with the usual desktop replacement caveats: it’s huge and heavy, its battery life is poor, and it’s eye-wateringly expensive. But if you crave power and want to play at 4K, it’s a good option.

With all of that said, the latest Nvidia 10-series laptops have only just started to go on sale, and this is only the second unit I’ve reviewed. While its performance isn’t in doubt, if you want something sleeker, it might pay to wait a little longer for a more attractive design from rivals Alienware, Asus, MSI and others.

VERDICT

A powerful and power-hungry gaming laptop that’s ready for anything.