You Know It's a Clevo

It's actually difficult to really break down the Clevo B5130M in terms of its appearance because I'm pretty sure no other manufacturer, not even Lenovo with their ThinkPads, has this kind of uniformity across all of their notebooks. Don't believe me? Compare the B5130M to the other Clevo units we've reviewed.

Starting from the top, there's the smooth, black matte plastic lid. Once again, the lid and screen offer an amount of flex that's a little alarming though nowhere near as bad as the W870CU's. Hinges are fairly stable, though, so the screen is unlikely to wobble much when the notebook is in use. When we move inside, we find the single instance of glossy plastic on the entire notebook.

Vivek echoed my sentiments in his review of the ASUS UL80Jt, and once again Clevo makes the same ridiculous mistake. This entire notebook is black matte plastic, except for the screen bezel, which is glossy. Seriously, Clevo? We're going to keep putting glossy plastic in the one place it's most likely to pick up fingerprints? I do think Clevo should be commended for generally avoiding glossy plastics on their notebooks (though most vendors have begun to follow suit), but this is the absolute worst place to use them, barring the keyboard (really Toshiba, why'd you think that was a good idea?)

The problem with the black matte plastic that Clevo uses is that it tends to feel cheap instead of rigid, and while a candy shell is terrific for Skittles it makes for a lousy notebook housing. As a result, the B5130M can actually be flexed a little bit. This isn't a dealbreaker and we've seen worse-built notebooks (unfortunately, almost always built by Clevo), but it continues to be a problem that plagues Clevo specifically.

Oh, and the keyboard. Jarred has expressed a kind of dislike of Clevo's keyboard layout with sentiments similar to my feelings for Acer and their nightmarish island-style keyboard, and he does have a point. It's another problem that could be easily remedied and is made all the more frustrating because the keyboard itself is fairly comfortable to type on, but here it is: the dedicated 10-key is bar none the worst implementation we've ever seen. The whole point of a 10-key is that you should be able to touch-type it, but you can't because it's so squished. There's room on this notebook to stretch the keyboard coast-to-coast, but Clevo continues to squish the 10-key to the point of impracticality, and it brings casualties with it: document navigation keys are entirely Fn+arrow based (although at least this is marginally logical).

The touchpad isn't a big winner either. It's adequate and not the worst I've used, but the mouse buttons feel very loose and prone to popping off even though they're recessed.

Popping the bottom panel off reveals the B5130M's delicious insides, but strangely Clevo attaches the fan to the panel instead of the inside of the notebook. First, the bad news: no MXM on the GeForce GT 425M. You're stuck with it. That said, the inside is spacious and has a free mini-PCIe slot, and the processor is at least upgradeable.

Introducing the Clevo B5130M Application Performance: the i7-640M vs. the i7-720QM
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  • Hrel - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    You said if you want to up performance AND have storage capacity you'd have to spend 500+ on an SSD. But Clevo offers the Seagate Momentus XT all the way up to 500GB. Based on your review I gather that hard drive is plenty fast AND much better bang/buck. SSD's are still WAY too expensive for most people. Personally I simply refuse to spend more than 100 bucks on any single hard drive, no matter what the speed is.

    I've said it before, when something good like the sandforce controller is paired with 128GB ish of storage capacity for less than 100 bucks, that's when I'll take the SSD plunge.

    P.S. Personally, I like the look of the glossy around the screen. I'm not sure why you hate it so much, I guess I just don't open laptops in a way that my fingerprints end up there. I'm just glad the palm rest isn't glossy.
  • Hrel - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Done: Well I'm sold. Dell forces you to upgrade the CPU, even if you don't want to, if you upgrade the GPU. That pisses me off AND it's stupid in no small part because they claim it's a "compatibility issue". I'm impressed with the performance numbers here, and the screen. I like the thermal headroom and would probably overclock the GPU a little. I do wish the speakers were better, like in the Dell. In the end I think this offers a better Bang for Buck ratio.

    I asked several times for you guys to review the Clevo unit sells, I asked them to let you review it too. My friend ended up buying it, the screen looks a lot better than my 1.5 year old Dell Stuido screen, 1080p. Has the HD5650 in it, a Core i5 560M. The thing lasts 4 hours while he's playing Civ 5 on it. It's CRAZY hot though. All in all I think this Clevo unit is the new best bang for buck laptop out there. I like that the GPU is Nvidia instead of AMD cause my video rendering is sped up my Nvidia, but Cyberlink doesn't support AMD. And Optimus is always good. I do really wish you guys could get one of those in house though from Cyberpower. The design of that one is glossy and worse than this one; not a deal breaker though. I kinda like the minimalist design of this laptop.
    Finally, I like that avadirect offers the Momentus XT out the gate. Cyberpower doesn't so we had to buy one and swap hard drives then re-install everything. Anyway, I've carried on too long now, Great review!
  • Hrel - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I meant compal from cyberpower, not Clevo.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I've sent in another request... with SB coming so soon, we may or may not get a chance to look at the Compal, but we shall see.
  • coldfoot - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - link

    Jarred, why not the Asus N53Jf-XE1? It's just over $1k at Amazon, and has the same screen and GPU as this laptop.
  • Hrel - Saturday, December 4, 2010 - link

    I agree, that laptop is 999 on newegg and it looks pretty amazing. Includes blu ray for under 1K? Wow. Jarred, you know if you guys ever need any help reviewing stuff I'm available, haha, but seriously.
  • Diosjenin - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Since I'm writing this from my B5130M (Sager-branded as an NP5135), I suppose I'll throw in a few thoughts re: comparison to the XPS 15.

    * Yes, the numpad sucks. But this is in comparison to the XPS 15, which doesn't HAVE a numpad. If having one is a must for anyone, regardless of the specifics of its implementation, then the Clevo wins, period.

    * Port placement along the Clevo is unquestionably better. The ports on the XPS 15 are spread out all over the place, whereas all but the DC port (rear) and a single USB 2.0 port (right) are along the left side - a godsend to any right-handed users who connect any external drives/monitors/etc. and don't want wires getting in their way while they're using the mouse next to the right side of the laptop.

    * If memory serves, the Clevo is about half a pound lighter, as well as a quarter to half an inch smaller in both width and depth.

    * The screen is beautiful, but could definitely stand a matte plastic border (as you well noted).

    * I'm not sure where you got your price figures from, but I have to say that I got mine far cheaper. I only have an i5-460M, but with a 1080p screen and 500GB hard drive, mine only cost ~$844 (before shipping, which was an extra $28). Considering that was an extra ~$75 less than an equivalently specced XPS 15 (which was itself discounted about 9%), the choice for me was quite simple. I'm rather curious to know if your $930 base price figure comes from Clevo or somewhere else...?
  • Diosjenin - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    "Edit": Re-read the article a bit more closely; I assume the price comes from AVADirect (though do correct me if I'm wrong). So I went back to my vendor (XoticPC): base price of $769.00, price as yours is configured of $1044.00.
  • Hrel - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Their price also probably included an OS, which I always take out so I can do it myself.
  • Diosjenin - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Yeah, first thing I do to a new PC is wipe it, too. :P

    Even if I *do* include 64-bit Home Premium with the XoticPC configuration, though, it *still* holds a ~$75 lead over the equivalent AVADirect...

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