A Ryzen Gaming Laptop Done RIGHT!

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I’m going to start this review with a fun fact: It’s been just over 6 months since we looked at the Zephyrus G14 from ROG and 10 months since AMD announced the Ryzen 4000 series mobile CPUs, time just flies. Over the course of that 10 month period we have taken a look at a variety of Ryzen gaming laptops, some had great ideas like the Dell G5 SE that came with SmartShift technology. There were others like the MSI Bravo 15, which was pretty good for its price, but it had some other issues as well. And then there was the TUF A15, which had great specs. Other than the Zephyrus G14 all of these notebooks made a great first impressions, but then sort of missed the mark for a number of other reasons.

We went back to the comment section and we looked at what you wanted us to check out, and we came across the RP-15 from a Delaware-based company called Eluktronics. I will be honest with you, this thing pretty much blows all the other AMD Ryzen-based notebooks straight out of the water.

Normally, I would get into specs right away, but in this case I do want to kick things off with a little bit of a discussion about Eluktronics. They are one of the small companies that are trying to bridge the gap between high-end boutique laptop manufacturers and the big boys like Dell, HP, MSI, and ASUS. On one hand that’s great news for anyone who wants something a little bit more customized, but there are some drawbacks too. For starters, you are not going to find their devices across the world, and if you add international shipping fees that are going to cost a lot more than buying a popular brand at a local retailer. Being on the smaller side also means there are sometimes long delays between orders and shipping, especially when a popular laptop like the RP-15 comes out. On top of that, when you add shortages of AMD CPUs that we have been hearing about from every manufacturer, both big and small, these are certainly things that you will need to take into consideration.

Specs & Price

About those specs, our unit comes with a Ryzen 7 4800H, 16GB of DDR4-3200, 512GB NVMe SSD, RTX 2060, and a 144Hz IPS -class display. All of that comes to around $1,300 USD or $1,800 CAD, but if you want to go all out the RP-15 can be configured with 8TB of SSD storage and 64GB of RAM for close to $3,000 USD. Now unfortunately you can’t get a Ryzen 5 or a faster GPU.

Design & Build Quality

As for the laptop itself, this is an interesting one for sure. Eluktronics isn’t trying to throw a bunch of marketing fluff like RGB or crazy designs at your face. This is a clean and simple design, nothing more, nothing less. They also teamed up with dbrand to include a black matrix skin on the top cover. You can choose to get it pre-applied or not. Unfortunately, our sample came with a few air bubbles, it’s something that a blow dryer can fix but I tried and it didn’t work out so I would highly recommend getting it without it being pre-applied. That way you can take your time to apply it, but other than that it looks really nice. The chassis is a mix of aluminium and plastic materials, so don’t expect this thing to be a premium unibody metal design.

The hinge is okay, there is a little bit of wobble and the display does flex a little bit. Again, you can’t expect anything more from hard plastic materials, and for the price I will give it a pass. Now in terms of size this thing is 19.8mm thick and weighs about 4.3lbs, so it’s fairly lightweight. It’s definitely lighter than the Dell G5 SE and the TUF A15, so you can easily tuck this into a backpack, no problem. And honestly I’m very surprised at how thin it is for an AMD laptop.

Keyboard & Trackpad

The interior space is pretty clean, you get a full-size keyboard, which I’m sure some of you will appreciate. Right by the power button there is also a mode switch button that shifts between Office Mode, Gaming Mode, and then Beast Mode. It’s very easy to access and it quickly allows a user to switch between different modes depending on the type of work that they are doing, which is nice. The trackpad is aligned perfectly, the keys themselves are awesome, there is excellent feedback and the travel distance is perfect. However, I think the spacing between the keys could have been tightened up a little bit, as I did have trouble reaching some keys. Maybe it’s just a matter of time for me to get used to it, but I thought it was worth bringing up. The keys are backlit, and yes that is the only RGB element that they have added to the RP-15. It’s a single zone layer and it’s bright enough for your night gaming sessions.

The trackpad is fantastic. It’s not a glass surface, but the materials that they have used are very smooth and comfortable to use. It also comes with support for Windows Precision drivers, and I have have to be honest that this is probably one of the best trackpad that I have looked at on an AMD-based gaming laptop at this price point. I think Eluktronics have definitely nailed it in that department. Also the integrated primary left and right buttons are nice and tactile, so that’s also a plus point.

Webcam & Speakers

This is the webcam quality test on the RP-15, and as you can probably tell I am looking straight down at the worst possible location. It’s actually not a nose cam, it is more of a hinge cam because it’s literally touching the hinge. It’s really not good location for a webcam, especially if you are using this for business meetings and things like that. But again, first and foremost this is a gaming laptop so do you really value a good quality webcam? Let me know in the comments. The speakers are bottom-facing and they don’t sound that great. In fact, they don’t get loud enough to really cut it if you’re watching movies with your friends or family. You might have to end up using external speakers or maybe even headphones if you want to game, which I think most of you would probably end up doing anyways to get the most immersive gaming experience.

Connectivity

The I/O is loaded on this laptop. On the left-hand side you get a Kensington lock, RJ45 jack, a single USB 2.0 port, and audio jacks. Switching to the right-hand side there are two USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, and a full-size UHS-I SD card reader, I wish it was the faster UHS-II variety. On the back you get two Mini DisplayPorts, HDMI 2.0, a USB Type-C Gen2 port, and the power input. One thing I should mention is that all of these USB ports are super tight, basically what I’m trying to say is if you are trying to plug something in it’s very difficult to plug them out. You have to force yourself out to remove plugged in devices, so that’s something to keep in mind. Maybe it’s just our sample, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

The Display

Moving onto the display, it is a 15.6-inch 1080P IPS-like display with a refresh rate of 144Hz. The colours look great, it covers 95% sRGB, 73% Adobe RGB, and 74% DCI-P3 so you can get away with some content creation, but I wouldn’t recommend this for serious colours. It also only gets as bright as 330 nits, so outdoor visibility is certainly not the greatest. You see the RP-15 is a gaming laptop in the first and foremost, and you are getting that smooth gaming experience thanks to the higher fresh rate display. It’s a great experience, and on top of that and you are getting good colours, so it’s a good balance between the two and I can complain about that, especially for the price.

The Insides

Upgrading the RP-15 is pretty easy too, you have instant access to the two memory modules that are pre-installed. Maximum supported memory is 64GB, which is nice. The NVMe SSDs are on the left side on the notebook, on our sample there is a free M.2 slot with the mounting screw pre-installed, so adding another drive is straightforward. However, if you choose the dual drive RAID option both of these slots will be populated.

Eluktronics Control Center

Another thing I need to mention is that unlike other gaming laptops that we reviewed, this one comes with a completely clean install of Windows without any bloatware. In fact, the only piece of software that they have pre-installed is the Eluktronics Control Center, which allows you to fiddle around with onboard features and some custom power plants. For example, the display colour adjustments can be done either through presents or a more in-depth three axis interface, which is nice to see. Meanwhile, the lighting control for the RGB keyboard is super straightforward, but also really well done. I really wish other manufacturers would take some notes, it might not look gamer-y but this app gets a job done really well.

There is also a power mode section, and this is probably the most interesting part. This is where the Eluktronics Beast Mode lives. It actually boosts CPU and GPU power to their maximum levels, wile also adding a more aggressive fan speed profile. You can turn the fans to a constant full speed setting here as well. Meanwhile, Game Mode is actually more of a balanced mode here, and it is still supposed to offer great performance without such high fan speeds. Finally, Office Mode is the most efficient and quiet setting. The System Monitor section does exactly what is says and nothing more.

Battery Life

In terms of battery life don’t expect miracles, even in the Office Mode we tested since this is a gaming notebook with a battery capacity about equal to many thin-and-light laptops. However, it does get some pretty good results with just over 8 hours in our light load test. Bumping up to a heavier workload and times shoot downwards, but the RP-15 can still post a respectable times.

Temps/Power/Frequency Over Time

With that out of the way I guess it’s time to talk about performance, and to do that I have to discuss how Office, Gaming, and Beast modes on the RP-15 react over time during an all-core rendering workload. Starting out with temperatures, and they are really, really well managed in Gaming and Office modes, with barely any movement above 75°C. On the other hand, Beast Mode does get hotter with a few spikes hitting around the 90°C mark, but even then most of the time the RP-15 stays under 85°C. The odd thing here are the large swings from one area to the other in Beast Mode, but there is an explanation for that. As we look at power over time, it looks like all of the modes regularly hit higher power limits than AMD specifies. Office Mode levels out to around 45W, Game Mode seems to have a 55W limit, and Beast Mode lives up to its name by peaking above 75W. That is actually closer to desktop CPU power than anything I have seen from an AMD laptop, but based on temperatures it seems like the cooling system doesn’t have an issue handling it so I can’t complain.

Clock speeds in Beast Mode where super consistent at around 4.1GHz, which is actually the highest sustained frequency we have seen from any AMD laptop ever. The interesting thing here is the power spikes we saw in the last chart don’t seem to cause any corresponding frequency increase. I mean, sure, the RP-15 is pushing more power, but it doesn’t seem like the CPU takes advantage of it. The other two modes aren’t as consistent, but both of them still offer speeds that are still better than anything we have tested so far.

Temperatures & Noise

Now you might be thinking the RP-15 achieves these crazy numbers by sacrificing noise, but that is not really the case. Beast mode is pretty noisy, but it isn’t even the loudest gaming notebook we have come across. Meanwhile, the Office and Gaming modes turn things down a bit, but either way this is obviously a device that puts performance before acoustics. Personally, I would like to see Office Mode be a bit quieter than it is right now, but if you want a quieter gaming experience just buy desktop or be prepared to make huge performance sacrifices. With so much focus being put on cooling performance, the RP-15’s exterior keeps relatively cool, but I wouldn’t want to keep it on my lap that’s for sure. It is also good to see most of the hot air being exhausted out the back and away from your hands.

Performance Between Power Modes

Without a massive difference in clock speeds there really isn’t all that much sacrifice moving between Beast Mode and either of the more efficient modes. Just remember that all our testing is being done in the highest performance mode.

Benchmarks

Honestly, the results shouldn’t come as a major surprise since this thing is operating at consistently higher speeds than any other AMD gaming laptop that we reviewed up to now. That ends up leading to the RP-15 pretty much dominating in every single CPU focused benchmark I could throw at it, especially in apps that were multi-core focused. Even something like WinRAR showed it leading the pack of other laptops with Ryzen 4800H’s. In video rendering though the additional clock speeds didn’t really seem to make much of a difference, which is likely due to the application limitations in DaVinci Resolve and Adobe Premiere Pro.

Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming was another matter though, and the extra horsepower given to the RTX 2060 by allowing it to use up to 110W really does improve results, especially against other Ryzen gaming laptops that have typically been more constrained with GPU power. However, I’m actually not too sure how much of this is due to more power going to the graphics card or whether the faster CPU should get the credit.

Conclusion

To conclude, I’m genuinely impressed with Eluktronics and what they have been able to deliver with the RP-15. You see this is all about maximizing performance, cooling, and giving users the most flexible I/O, and then wrapping it into a chassis that doesn’t feel super cheap. Let’s also not forget the price point, I think they have really nailed it in that department. What’s really interesting is that if a small company like Eluktronics can push an AMD Ryzen chip to give you the best possible performance, it seem like the other larger brands should be able to as well. However, it feels like they don’t want to, and it kinda pisses me off because they are charging a little bit of a premium on their AMD-based notebooks and they do seem to consistently miss the mark in few areas, like cooling, the trackpad, the display, etc. Thankfully, Eluktronics seems to have nailed nearly all of these crucial elements, so if you can find an RP-15, I would grab one because it’s a fantastic option for the price.

Buy items in this review from Amazon below:
Eluktronics RP-15 – https://geni.us/RP15AMD

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