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Updated Puget Traverse Laptops

Written on April 8, 2013 by Matt Bach

Test Hardware

For the V-series laptops we will be using the same hardware for both models. For the B550i we will be using a slightly slower i5 CPU since we would consider that unit to be more of a budget-friendly laptop that will very seldom be paired with a high-end Core i7 CPU. As for the RAM, we simply used as many RAM sticks as possible in our testing (two in the B550i and three in the V552i and V752i) and used both standard Kingston RAM and Low Voltage RAM. The Low Voltage RAM is faster, so we wanted to make sure that these laptops would correctly detect and use the RAM at its rated speed. For our battery life testing, however, we want to test using the standard RAM which uses slightly more power. The Kingston SODIMM DDR3-1600 standard RAM is easily our best-selling laptop RAM at the moment, so using that RAM will provide more realistic battery life measurements for the majority of our customers.


Stability and Compatibility Testing

Our extended testing procedure for motherboards (see below) may at first glance seem short, but in actuality is very extensive. What you need to keep in mind is that the very first item - running the test system through our standard build process - is in itself a 98-point checklist.

The majority of the other checkpoints are designed to verify that the motherboard will function properly with a wide range of hardware. For that reason, we test using the largest quantity of RAM (either 2 x 8GB or 3 x 8GB) and with the fastest SODIMM RAM currently offered by Puget Systems (DDR3-1600MHz).

Test B550i V550i V750i
Run test system through the Puget Systems build process
Review Device Manager to ensure all drivers loaded correctly
Loop test system through >50 reboot loops
Loop test system through >50 standby loops
Verify standby functionality using supported GPUs
Run 3D graphics testing using supported GPUs
Test all internal SATA ports
Verify stability with the largest quantity/size of RAM available
Verify stability with the fastest RAM offered by Puget Systems
Test battery life under various loads
See following section for results
Test thermal performance in multiple environments
Review Event Log for any unexpected warnings/errors
Verify basic functionality with latest version of Ubuntu (12.10)

Overall, all of these units did very well in our testing with only a few hardware issues coming up. Most of the issues were related to the units not being able to properly handle our very intense stress testing (a combination of Prime95 and Furmark). Due to the size restrictions found in laptops, the cooling capability of modern laptops is often not quite up to par with the performance of modern day CPUs and video cards. In our testing, we found the cooling to be completely adequate for everyday use and even gaming, but when we performed our stress test, we saw temperatures that were much higher than we are comfortable with (as high as 96C!). Unfortunately, this is a problem that you will find with almost any laptop when it is paired with this high-end of hardware, so it is not something we can hold against these units.

  B550i V552i V752i
Light Load
Medium Load
Full Load
Temperatures well below threshold May have issues in some situations Above acceptable temperature ranges

As disappointing as this is, we need to make it clear that this is not at all uncommon for laptops. The whole point of our stress test is to put an abnormal amount of load on the system and frankly laptops are just not built to handle these insane loads. We have had these issues in the past, and every manufacture we have spoken to has simply told us to not run that combination of tests. Thankfully, outside of our stress test, these units all performed perfectly.

The other problems we found were all due to various issues with Ubuntu. Hardware compatibility in Ubuntu has greatly improved over the years, but driver support still lags just a bit behind the latest hardware. For example, it is not unusual for Ubuntu to not support 100% of the hotkeys found on laptops, and these units are no exception as the hotkeys for display output switching and screen brightness simply do not work. Since automatic GPU switching for Nvidia Optimus is not natively supported in Linux, the GPU switching button found on the V552i and V752i is also non-functional. You can get GPU switching to work, but it requires installing and configuring your software using Bumblebee.

The other issue we had was with the webcam in all three models. On the V552i and V752i, we managed to get it to work by installing the latest NVIDIA display driver and changing the display manager to GDM instead of the default LightDM display manager. On the B550i, however, we had to load unreleased versions of the kernel in order to get the webcam to function. Both of these are likely to be implemented in a future update, so we are not terribly concerned about them. The rest of the basic functionality of these units (including standby, audio, WiFi, Bluetooth, USB 3.0 and any hotkeys not previously mentioned) worked with no issues and no special driver installations.

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

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....

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

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

Right now our suppliers for laptop parts don't even offer touch-screens, so I can't comment on whether pricing would be a concern or not for us.

As for convertible tablets, people may not remember but those were around with Windows XP when its 'Tablet Edition' (supporting things like touch interfaces) came out. We did carry some for a short time, but found that the increased number of moving parts (hinges and such) was a huge problem over time. I assume that has been improved over the years, but even now the hinges on traditional laptops are still one of the most common failure points.

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

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.

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

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!

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