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Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini review

Michael Passingham
7 Aug 2014
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Chillblast Defiant Mini 2
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
899
inc VAT

The Defiant 2 Mini's attractively small chassis houses mid-range gaming power at a reasonable price

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710MQ, RAM: 8GB, Dimensions(HxWxD): 31.9x330x227mm, Weight: 2.1kg, Screen size: 13in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Total storage: 1TB hard disk, Operating system: Windows 8.1

Gaming laptops don't have to come in huge 17.6-inch chassis. Chillblast proved this last year with its Chillblast Defiant Mini, which provided superb gaming performance in a 13-inch case and easily won a Best Buy award. The Defiant 2 mini takes this already impressive laptop and raises the performance even higher.

One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the chassis, and we're pleased about that. Some Clevo chassis can look utilitarian, but this chassis has an angular, two-tone design that looks even better closed than it does open. The matt black soft-touch coating top of the lid looks great, although it does attract fingerprints, with greasy marks appearing almost immediately.

The Defiant 2 Mini is thick for a 13in laptop, though, being a little over 3cm. Even so, it’s still comfortable to type on. The keys are responsive, although they don't have a lot of travel when pressed and won't suit every typist. One thing that has been slightly improved is the touchpad. We struggled even to use simple gestures such as two-finger scrolling on the last model. While two-finger scrolling is now possible, we found we had to apply a little more pressure with our fingertips than we'd like in order for it to respond.

You’ll find three high-speed USB3 ports on the right-hand side of the Defiant 2 Mini, and a fourth USB2 connector on the left. Also on the left is a large heat vent and two 3.5mm jacks for audio input and output. There's HDMI and VGA outputs, too, which means you should be able to hook your laptop up to an external monitor if you want to game on a larger screen. There's also a gigabit Ethernet port and an SD card reader. An Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 chip is included for WiFi and Bluetooth, although it’s only compatible with the 802.11n standard rather than the newer and faster 802.11ac standard. You can, however, specify an 802.11ac adaptor for an extra £20.

The Defiant 2 Mini is fitted with a good set of components, including 8GB of DDR3 RAM. Only RAM one slot is occupied, so you can always add more memory later should you not want to specify it at purchase. As for storage, the Defiant 2 Mini’s 1TB hard disk has an 8GB SSD cache, so it’s faster than a traditional mechanical hard drive.

The Defiant 2 Mini’s quad-core Intel Core i7-4710MQ processor is a slight upgrade to the processor used in last year's Defiant Mini, as it runs at a base clock speed of 2.5GHz rather than 2.4GHz, and it can Turbo Boost to 3.5GHz. Thanks to the Core i7-4710MQ, the Defiant 2 Mini scored a superb 94 overall in our PC benchmarks. That’s just six points less than the score of our reference desktop processor, and it means you’ll have no trouble running your programs.

As is typical with gaming laptops in this price range, the Defiant 2 Mini comes with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M mobile graphics processor (GPU), which we like. The GTX 860M has 2GB of GDDR5 memory and a clock speed of 979MHz. It may not be the fastest GPU in Nvidia's 800 series, but it’s capable of running the latest games at Medium or High quality settings. In our 1,280x720-pixel High quality Dirt Showdown benchmark, the Defiant 2 Mini produced an average frame rate of 75fps, which dropped to 53fps when the resolution increased to 1,920x1,080. That’s a good frame rate for such as small laptop. Playing the gorgeous Crysis 3 at High quality, it could only muster an average frame rate of 27fps, which is a juddery score at best, with lots of stuttering when there’s lots of action.

In comparison, the larger but similarly priced Scan 3XS Graphite LG156, which has the same 860M GPU, managed an impressive 40fps. The Graphite LG156 is larger, though, and the extra ventilation and cooling probably has a more positive effect on performance. Nonetheless, it's a substantial improvement over last year's Defiant Mini, with its GeForce GTX 765M, and you should be able to play the latest games at decent quality settings for a couple of years.

Although it’s compact, the Defiant 2 Mini is not intended to be used on the move, and it lasted 3 hours 8 minutes in our battery test.

Happily, the Defiant 2 Mini’s 13-inch Full-HD screen remains excellent, and we measured a coverage of 84.9 percent of the sRGB colour gamut. Contrast levels are similarly impressive, at just over 1000:1. This means you should see details in murkier gaming scenes without having to tweak contrast too much.

The Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini remains a great choice for gamers looking for compact performance for under £1,000. It has an excellent screen, and performance has improved over last year, as has battery life, but we’ve seen similarly specified laptops with the same GPU perform better in our benchmarks. Even so, it readily deserves its Recommended award. If you want more power for a similar price, though, you should consider the Scan 3XS Graphite LG156, even though it's a larger and heavier machine.

Core specs
ProcessorQuad-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710MQ
RAM8GB
Memory slots (free)2(1)
Max memory16GB
Dimensions(HxWxD)31.9x330x227mm
Weight2.1kg
SoundVIA HD Audio (3.5mm audio input and output)
Pointing deviceTouchpad
Display
Screen size13in
Screen resolution1,920x1,080
Touchscreen?No
Graphics adaptorNvidia GeForce GTX 860M
Graphics outputsHDMI, VGA
Graphics memory2GB
Storage
Total storage1TB hard disk
Optical drive typeNone
Ports and expansion
USB ports3xUSB3, 1xUSB2
BluetoothYes
Networking802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet
Memory card readerSD, MMC
Other portsNone
Miscellaneous
Operating systemWindows 8.1
Operating system restore optionRestore partition
Buying information
Parts and labour warrantyTwo-year collect and return (three more years RTB)
Price inc VAT£899
Detailswww.chillblast.com
Supplierwww.chillblast.com
Part numberDefiant 2 Mini