Gaming laptops have suddenly started to get slick. Following in the footsteps of the 17-inch Razer Blade Pro and the Maingear Pulse 17 is another thin and light gaming laptop: the XMG C703, at 22mm thick and tipping the scales at 2.6kg.
XMG hasn't scrimped on features and power though - it boasts an Nvidia GTX 765M graphics processor, full HD 1080p screen and four USB 3.0 ports. It's impressive when you consider the cost of the the C703, which is extremely competitive at a starting price of £1,109.
XMG C703: Size and build
The C703 is a 17-inch laptop, so you're going to feel its presence when carrying it around. But compared to other laptops at this size, it's relatively light at 2.6kg - as a comparison, the Scan 3XS Graphite LG1710 is 3.9kg.
Eagle-eyed laptop aficionados may recognise that the C703 boasts the same chassis as the MSI GS70, which is no bad thing, as it's sleek and well built overall.
It's svelte at 418.5mm wide, 287mm deep and 21.8mm high, which really is very thin, while the brushed aluminium chassis possesses a premium look and feel. The bottom of the machine features an anti-skip pad and rubber feet, all of which keep it firmly rooted to the surface you're using it on.
XMG C703: Features
The large frame of the C703 affords the machine plenty of connections, including four USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI, two Mini DisplayPorts, gigabit ethernet and a card reader. What's notably omitted is an optical drive, which may be an issue for some, but it's one of the reasons the machine is so thin, and USB DVD drives are cheap if you do require this feature.
The C703 is highly customisable, apart from the Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M graphics, which come as standard. The base model costs £1,109 and comes with 8GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, a two-year collect-and-return warranty, but no operating system (Windows 8 costs £74 extra).
Our review model came with Windows 8 (£74) and a 500GB SSD, which is a £267 upgrade, but well worth the investment - it really makes the system feel snappy in general use. If you have the budget, you can add up to three hard drives in total, for up to 2.5TB of storage.
XMG has wisely included a couple of nice features that nod to gamers' high demands when it comes to networking, with a Killer Networks 2200 gigabit ethernet port, and the latest 802.11ac wireless from Intel. There's also a 2.0MP HD camera, which won't change the world of laptop webcams, but works well.
XMG C703: Screen
Like the chassis of the machine, the screen is one thatís used in other laptops in the form of the Chi Mei N173HGE-L11 panel with an anti-glare coating.
This is a great-looking display for gaming, with excellent contrast resulting in rich blacks, and a high brightness meaning you can easily use it outdoors. The resolution is also good at 1,920 x 1,080, but the Macbook Pro now goes way beyond this pixel density, which means it's better overall for photo and video editing.
XMG C703: Controls
The C703's keyboard features flat, well-spaced keys that are satisfying to type on, although could have used a slightly less stylised font for the lettering. The backlighting is subtle and features three adjustable settings from dark to light blue.
The trackpad feels smooth and is a good size, and is just a single unit that can be depressed anywhere for a click, with the bottom right corner used for a right-click. Two-finger swipes are used for scrolling, and Windows 8-specific gestures are supported too.
XMG C703: Performance
The XMG C703 is a powerful gaming laptop, with an Intel Core i7-4700HQ quad-core processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M, and 8GB RAM at its heart, the latter of which can be upgraded to 16GB at the point of purchase.
The base setup was the one we reviewed, and packs a decent gaming performance for a laptop.
Nvidia's GeForce Experience software, which automatically optimises game settings, recommends running this year's big shooters Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty Ghosts at 1,600 x 900 resolution with low-to-mid settings, while other games like Batman Arkham Origins and Grid 2 are ok running at native 1,920 x 1,080 resolution with high settings.
It's worth noting that the C703 can get quite hot during gaming - uncomfortably so if you have it on your lap. Hot air is blown out of both sides of the machine, with the fans whirring up to such high levels that it can be quite intrusive during gaming.
We'd recommend wearing headphones where possible during gaming, although the built-in sound is good for general Windows use. The bass is deep and the treble is crisp, although things do get a bit distorted at higher volumes.
The 59WHr battery is ample, providing four hours of normal use and just over an hour of gaming in our test. The laptop's Optimus technology automatically switches between the Intel HD 4600 graphics for Windows tasks and the Nvidia chipset for gaming.
XMG C703: Verdict
The XMG C703 is the best 17-inch gaming laptop around right now. It boasts great performance, lots of connectivity, an excellent screen, slim form factor and lots of customisable options, and starts at a very reasonable £1,109 (although that's without a copy of Windows, and the SSD option is definitely worth the investment).
The only real weaknesses is that it becomes hot and noisy during gaming, but those are alleviated by putting it on a surface and wearing headphones. Overall, the C703 is a good-looking gaming laptop that offers impressive performance at a very competitive price.
XMG C703 release date: Out now
XMG C703 price: £1,109 (version tested: £1,450)