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Updated Puget Traverse Laptops

Written on April 8, 2013 by Matt Bach
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Introduction

At Puget Systems, we are constantly updating our products to ensure that what we are offering matches the needs of our customer's. Recently, the 15 and 17 inch laptops in our Traverse line received a slight upgrade from the manufacturer. This new version has better graphics and better battery life, but also includes a small price increase. So while we want to evaluate these new models to ensure they are right for our customers, we also decided to take this opportunity to evaluate a laptop that removes the NVIDIA graphics completely and only uses the Intel graphics that is integrated into the CPU.

By removing the NVIDIA graphics, the price of the base unit is reduced by a pretty large margin. If the lack of NVIDIA graphics was the only difference, we would add this model pretty quickly. Unfortunately, it also has a smaller screen resolution (1366x768), although the lower screen resolution should help improve the battery life of the unit. Overall, it should be a great choice for our customers who want a laptop for work and home, but don't need the gaming power that our laptops traditionally offered. 

Laptops are very complex as they are essentially a combination of a chassis, motherboard, video card, power supply, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and many other pieces of hardware that is bundled into a single unit. Because of this, the testing we put new laptops through goes above and beyond even our normal exhaustive testing. Some of the most important additional things we test involves real-world battery life estimates and thermal performance readings, both of which we will be presenting later in this article.

With all this being said, let's take a look at these new models!


The V552i and V752i utilize NVIDIA Optimus technology which lets the laptop choose which video card to use. In most situations, the laptop will use the low-power Intel graphics but will switch to the more powerful NVIDIA graphics as needed. This is a great way to extend battery life when the laptop is not being used for intensive tasks, yet still gives you the power when you need it. One of the nice additions to the V552i and the V752i are the LEDs that show which video card (Intel integrated or NVIDIA GT 660M 2GB) is actively being used. While the previous models had the GPU Switching button that allowed you to either lock the laptop to only using the Intel integrated graphics or allow it to choose between the Intel and NVIDIA graphics, unless you ran monitoring software you would not know which graphics the laptop was actually using. With these LEDs, you can easily see which one the laptop is using.

Hardware Specifications

  B550i  V552i V752i
Chipset Intel HM76 Intel HM77 Intel HM77
CPU Compatibility Intel i5/i7 Mobile Intel i5/i7 Mobile Intel i5/i7 Mobile
Screen Size 15.6" 15.6" 17.3"
Screen Resolution 1366x768 1920x1080 1920x1080
Supported RAM DDR3-1600 DDR3-1600 DDR3-1600
Ram Slots 2 3* 3*
Onboard Graphics Intel Integrated Intel Integrated +
NVIDIA GT660M 2GB
Intel Integrated +
NVIDIA GT660M 2GB
2.5" Drive Bays 1 2 2
mPCIe Slots 1** 1 1
Fingerprint Reader No Yes No
Closed Dimensions 14.7x9.8x1.3 in. 14.7x9.8x1.7 in. 16.2x10.9x1.8 in.
Weight 5.07 lbs. 6.4 lbs. 7.1 lbs.
 
 

**Third RAM slot requires a quad core CPU
*Unit has only two antenna, so wifi cards are limited to 300mbps

As far as the specifications go, these units are fairly standard. The V552i and V752i have a slightly updated chipset, faster GPU, and the ability to install a third stick of RAM. For most purposes, the chipset upgrade on the V552i and V752i is not going to be relevant as the HM77 only includes a few minor features over the HM76 including Intel Smart Response Technology, Rapid Start Technology and Small Business Advantage. The only feature that may be useful for some users is the ability to use SSD caching to improve the performance of standard platter hard drives.

The B550i is a bit different than the laptops we traditionally offer as it does not have a NVIDIA or AMD video card. Instead, it simply uses the video processor integrated onto the CPU. In most cases, this has plenty of power for basic tasks like browsing the web, watching movies, or editing documents; but is not great for anything beyond light gaming. Also, to go along with the weaker graphics capability, instead of a 1920x1080 resolution screen like the other units, the B550i only supports a resolution of 1366x768. The tradeoff for losing the NVIDIA graphics and the higher resolution screen is a much more budget-friendly price, and the fact that it is about 37% lighter than the V525i.

External Ports:
 

  B550i V552i V752i
USB 2.0 1 1 1
USB 3.0 2 2 2
ESATA/USB 3.0 Combo - 1 1
Cardreader Yes Yes Yes
LAN (RJ45) 1 1 1
Audio Out 2.1 5.1 5.1
Audio In Microphone Microphone Microphone
DVI - - -
VGA 1 1 1
HDMI 1 1 1
DisplayPort - - -
 


Externally, the available ports are very similar on all of these models. The only one that differs at all is the B550i which lacks an ESATA/USB 3.0 combo port and only has 2.1 analog audio out capability. One nice thing for each of these units is that each retains a single USB 2.0 port. That may not seem like a great thing at first since USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices, but what you need to remember is that Windows 7 and older operating systems do not have native USB 3.0 support. So if you have a USB drive with the drivers you need in order to install an OS, you need to have an actual USB 2.0 port available or else the USB device will not even be detected until after you have installed the drivers.


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Tags: V552i, V752i, B550i, Clevo, Pro-Star, Sager, W370ET, W350ETQ, W25AEU
marc

Nice improvements! What about touch screen functionality? Pro's and con's anyone? Thanks.

Posted on 2013-04-10 11:40:25

We don't have touch-screens on any of our laptops, and while a few people have asked about it the interest seems minimal. I think touch screens make far more sense when they are the primary input, as on a tablet, rather than on a system where a keyboard and mouse are always present - in such settings it ends up being another option, but one that is rarely better. However, Microsoft is pushing touch screens pretty hard with Windows 8... if we start to see more of a pickup in people wanting that OS then I expect the requests for touchscreens will also increase. So far, though, only a small percentage of people are going for the new OS: most still prefer Windows 7 (http://www.pugetsystems.com/bl....

Posted on 2013-04-10 19:58:25
Marc

Thanks William. It seems like they are trying to blend the useability of a tablet and llaptop with some manufacturers making a touchscreen that can be flipped around and placed in various configurations(might be good for a graphic artist?)_ but perhaps thats just good advertising and not really that practical. Is the cost of the touchscreen a factor as well for Puget?

Posted on 2013-04-11 12:17:48
Preston_B

I've conversed with many photographers who would like a laptop as a desktop replacement. One subject that always comes up is screens, so here's a few things related to the screen that would be 'nice-to have's':
1. Matte screen to reduce reflections.

2. An IPS or PVA wide-gamut panel. Many photographers work in wide-gamut color spaces such as Adobe RGB or ProPhoto. A screen that would display at least 96% of these gamuts would nice.

3. A screen with a monitor LUT of at least 10 bit that would support hardware calibration.

I know these specs would likely mean a pretty large increase in price for a system that has them, assuming such things are available, but a professional or serious amateur photographer would be vary happy with such a system.

The updated Traverse line looks pretty sweet. I really like my V550i that I ordered in February of this year, so I can atest to the quality of the Traverse laptops.
--p

Posted on 2013-04-12 17:25:21

We have the ability to offer matte and wide-gamut on many of our units, I'll put some work into that!

Posted on 2013-04-12 17:29:53

As Jon noted, our suppliers for laptop hardware do have matte and increased color gamut screens for some sizes - but it is a bit of an odd situation. Usually the default screen will already be either glossy (currently on 15" models) or matte (on 17"), but then if you want the higher color gamut it reverses: the 15" wide gamut is matte, but the 17" wide gamut is glossy. Further, they don't reveal a lot of deeper specs like the screen type (TFT, PVA, IPS, etc) or brightness. Maybe Jon or the folks in our Labs department can do some digging to uncover that, so that our customers can make the most informed decision possible :)

Posted on 2013-04-12 17:36:53
Preston_B

William and Jon,
Thank you! That would be excellent, indeed.
A high quality laptop screen that is durable, has excellent viewing angles and is easy to calibrate would be a boon.
Thanks again for all that you do!
--P

Posted on 2013-04-13 04:18:19