Superb gaming performance for a sub-£1,000 laptop, but it’s bulky and plain
Processor: Quad-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7 4710MQ, RAM: 8GB, Dimensions(HxWxD): 42.7x374x250mm, Weight: 2.7kg, Screen size: 15.6 inches, Screen resolution: 1,920×1,080, Total storage: 1TB hybrid hard disk
Scan’s 3XS Graphite LG155 was one of our favourite mid-range gaming laptops during 2013, and the company has stuck with the same tried, tested and powerful formula with the LG156. It has taken the best parts of last year’s machine and increased the specifications without increasing the price.
Scan has opted for a modest processor upgrade in the 15.6in machine, swapping the 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ for the Core i7-4710MQ, which has an increased stock clock speed of 2.5GHz and boost clock speed of 3.5GHz.
The LG156 also has 8GB of Corsair Vengeance memory and a 1TB Seagate hybrid hard disk, which combines SSD performance with the large capacity of a mechanical hard disk. All of this meant that the 3XS Graphite LG156 blitzed through our processor-intensive multimedia benchmarks with gusto, scoring 89 overall. This is a superb score for a device of this price, and is on par with the Scan 3XS LG155. In real terms, it’ll have no issue with tasks ranging from everyday email to video editing, providing desktop level performance in a small form factor.
The Scan 3XS LG156 uses the Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics processor, and it’s a big step up from the GTX 700-series graphics processors in terms of power efficiency and performance. We weren’t surprised, then, when the LG156 demolished our laptop Dirt Showdown benchmark with super-smooth average frame rate of 104.7fps. This benchmark runs at a resolution of 1,280×720 with High graphics quality and 4x anti-aliasing. Even when we increased the resolution to 1,920×1,080, the 3XS LG156 managed a seriously impressive 89fps.
In our more challenging Crysis 3 benchmark, with graphics quality set to High and resolution to 1,920×1,080, it achieved an excellent average frame rate of 40.3fps. At these settings, Crysis 3 looks gorgeous and is more than smooth enough to play. During more action-packed sequences, the frame rate dropped to 27fps, so you may want to reduce quality settings if you need the frame rate to remain above 30fps.
These results show that the 3XS LG156 is more than capable of handling the latest games at High or Medium graphics quality, and that should remain the case for some time to come.
We must say that we’re fairly happy to see the return of the chunky, metallic silver chassis. While the chassis is far from being a design icon, it’s inoffensive and feels reasonably well-built, although the plastic palm rest and the top of the lid did flex a bit. It weighs a reasonable 2.7kg and it’s 42.7mm thick, so it isn’t the kind of thing you’d want to carry around every day. If you do, you’ll want to invest in a decent two-strap backpack.
One benefit of the 3XS LG156’s large size is the amount of space in which you can fit connection ports. There are two USB3 ports, a combined USB3 and eSATA port and a USB2 port. You can attach external displays to the HDMI and VGA outputs, and you can attach headphones and a microphone to the separate 3.5mm audio jacks. You’ll probably want to attach the 3XS LG156 to desktop speakers, too, as the LG156’s built-in speakers sound hollow and tinny, and not worthy of the high specification games you’ll be playing on it. A further feature is a DVD writer, but you can upgrade this to a Blu-ray drive via the configuration pages on Scan’s website.
We were certainly impressed with the LG156’s keyboard. The keys are springy and responsive, and provided excellent feedback when typing and gaming, although we did find the sharp edges of the palm rest to be a little uncomfortable during longer sessions. The trackpad, while not suited to gaming, is responsive enough for general navigation tasks. There’s also a fingerprint scanner between the two trackpad buttons for added security.
Fan noise was audible but acceptable for our tastes, although we were less than pleased with the slight hissing emanating from the speaker grille when the processor was under load. It’s not a major annoyance most of the time, and will only be noticeable when you’re not gaming or watching videos.
As is the case with gaming laptops, the 3XS LG156’s battery life was fairly unremarkable, and the machine lasted 3 hours and 8 minutes. Of course, this isn’t a laptop you’ll use when travelling; the 3XS LG156 is much more of a replacement for your desktop PC.
The only slight concern we have with the Scan 3XS Graphite LG156 is its screen. While the 15.6-inch Full-HD display is by no means bad, the way Windows 8.1 handles user interface scaling on smaller screens is still not brilliant, and some text appeared a little blurry. This, combined with fairly narrow viewing angles, meant finding the perfect viewing position was more difficult than we would have liked.
We had high hopes for the Scan 3XS Graphite LG156 based on the performance of the 3XS LG155. With only minor changes within, in addition to a great price, fantastic processor and graphics performance, it’s one of the best gaming laptops you can buy for under £1,000.
If, however, you have around £200 more to spend, you should also consider the MSI GE70 2PE Apache Pro. It uses the same graphics chip as the LG156 but has a slightly more powerful processor and 16GB of RAM, which meant it was able to produce a higher score in our benchmarks. It’s also worth noting that you can customise the LG156 on Scan’s website, switching out the processor for an Intel Core i7-4810MQ for £149 more and doubling the RAM for £50 extra.
|Quad-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7 4710MQ
|Memory slots (free)
|Creative Sound Blaster Cinema
|Touchpad with fingerprint scanner
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M
|1TB hybrid hard disk
|Optical drive type
|PORTS AND EXPANSION
|2x USB3, 2xUSB2
|Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi
|Memory card reader
|SD, MMC, MS
|Windows 8.1 Enterprise
|Operating system restore option
|Recovery USB stick
|Parts and labour warranty
|Price inc VAT
|3XS Graphite LG156