With brutal power to match its hulking design, this laptop will excel at VR, gaming and all number-crunching tasks
- Excellent screen
- Powerful speakers
- Quality keyboard
It’s difficult to imagine two more different laptops than this Scan and the Microsoft Surface Book 2 15in. To put them side by side would be to compare a tank to a sports car. Yet they do bear some comparison, because they’re both brilliant at what they do.
Clearly, top of the 3XS’s agenda is gaming. While I could spend the rest of this review going through its speed results, these shouldn’t be surprising (just look at the price!). It romped through Tomb Raider with an average of 70fps at the screen’s native 4K resolution, with all quality settings set to max. Even Metro: Last Light Redux at 4K posed no problems, with an average 50.6fps frame rate – until I turned anti-aliasing on, at which point it crumbled to 23.2fps.
Likewise, the 3XS excelled in the VR benchmarks. A score of 11 in the SteamVR Performance Test puts it at the very top of the scale, not dropping in quality one iota, and it was reassuring to put it through its paces in a demanding VR game such as Serious Sam VR and see top-quality visuals throughout.
The reason I don’t want to dwell on these figures, or even the stunning result of 196 overall in our benchmarks, is that such performance is obvious from the specifications. A trio of a desktop Intel Core i7-8700 processor, 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4 2,400MHz RAM and an 8GB GeForce GTX 1080 graphics chip will pack a potent punch, especially when the laptop is designed to minimise thermal throttling. Indeed, as soon you start pushing the Carbon Extreme with demanding tasks, the fan kicks in with gusto.
What really lifts the Scan 3XS above so many gaming laptops is the quality on offer. Starting with the screen. It isn’t as bright as Microsoft’s, peaking at 361cd/m², but it actually outperformed the Surface Book by covering 99.8% of the sRGB gamut. Delta E was excellent, too, averaging at 0.47. That’s the kind of figure we’d expect from a hardware-calibrated monitor, not a gaming laptop.
This quality is evident in general use and in games. You’ll always be able to see evil lurking in the shadows, but if this is also your main system then you’ll be equally happy gazing at it all day. Part of that is due to its sheer size: a 17.3in diagonal feels luxurious compared to conventional laptops, while a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution means there’s plenty of room to place windows side by side when you need to.
The downside, inevitably, is weight. At 4.3kg this is a laptop designed for moving from room to room at most, and even that’s a task you’ll want to avoid. I struggled to hold it one-handed, with the 40.9mm depth and 418mm width only adding to the awkwardness. This lack of portability is emphasised by a battery life of 1hr 51mins in our video-rundown tests – and the sheer size of the power brick.
Then again, this is a laptop worthy of the phrase “desktop replacement”. There are four USB 3 ports, two USB Type-C ports (USB 3.1 not Thunderbolt), an RJ-45 socket, plus a trio of video outputs: two mini-DisplayPort, one full-sized HDMI. Audio is generously catered for too, with an S/PDIF out, headphone out, line in and mic in. The meaty-looking speakers sitting below the screen are also worthy of their Sound Blaster branding, with plenty of power on offer without distortion. When it comes to vocal clarity, they’re among the best I’ve heard from a laptop, and ensure you’ll enjoy atmospherics from games, too.
What I was most surprised by, though, was the quality of the keyboard. Naturally, this is a fully programmable RGB affair, but the feel and feedback of the keys will delight even keyboard nerds such as myself. My only criticism is that there isn’t a gap between the main keys and the numeric keyboard to the right, but this didn’t prove an issue in practice.
Scan supplied our review sample with an excellent 250GB Samsung 960 Evo NVMe M.2 SSD, which helps to minimise boot times. With a 2TB hard disk for storage duties, there’s little danger of running out of space either.
Scan 3XS LG17 Carbon Extreme review: Verdict
It’s possible to tweak the spec. Downgrading the screen to Full HD drops the price by £380, or you can double the RAM and SSD for £240. And, because it uses a desktop CPU, you can specify whichever Core chip you like. If you’re after an incredibly powerful laptop then the Scan 3XS LG17 Carbon Extreme is a brilliant choice.