Nova 15' review | PCSPECIALIST

Nova 15' review

Omegalpha

Member
Hello everyone,
I bought nearly one month ago a Nova 15 laptop -more commonly called DTR- to fulfill my need in a high-end laptop focused on raw performance. So here is what I bought :
Chassis & Display
Nova Series: 15.6" Matte Full HD 144Hz 72% NTSC LED Widescreen (1920x1080)
Processor (CPU)
AMD Ryzen 9 3900 12 Core CPU (3.1GHz-4.3GHz/70MB CACHE/AM4)
Memory (RAM)
16GB Corsair 2666MHz SODIMM DDR4 (2 x 8GB)
Graphics Card
NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2070 - 8.0GB GDDR6 Video RAM - DirectX® 12.1
1st M.2 SSD Drive
512GB PCS PCIe M.2 SSD (2000 MB/R, 1100 MB/W)
Memory Card Reader
Integrated Micro-SD Memory Card Reader
AC Adaptor
1 x 230W AC Adaptor
Power Cable
1 x 1 Metre European Power Cable (Kettle Lead)
Battery
Nova Series Detachable 4 Cell Lithium-Ion Battery
Thermal Paste
STANDARD THERMAL PASTE FOR SUFFICIENT COOLING
Sound Card
2 Channel High Def. Audio + SoundBlaster™ Cinema
Wireless/Wired Networking
GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL® Wi-Fi 6 AX200 (2.4 Gbps) + BT 5.0
USB/Thunderbolt Options
1 x USB 3.2 PORT (Type C) + 2 x USB 3.2 PORTS + 1 x USB 2.0 PORT
Keyboard Language
15" NOVA SERIES FRENCH KEYBOARD
Operating System
NO OPERATING SYSTEM REQUIRED
Operating System Language
France/République Française - French Language
Windows Recovery Media
NO RECOVERY MEDIA REQUIRED
Office Software
FREE 30 Day Trial of Microsoft 365® (Operating System Required)
Anti-Virus
NO ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE
Browser
Microsoft® Edge (Windows 10 Only)
Keyboard & Mouse
INTEGRATED 2 BUTTON TOUCHPAD MOUSE
Webcam
INTEGRATED 1MP HD WEBCAM
Warranty
3 Year Gold Warranty (2 Year Collect & Return, 2 Year Parts, 3 Year Labour)
Dead Pixel Guarantee
30 Day Dead Pixel Guarantee Inc. Labour & Carriage Costs
Delivery
2 DAY DELIVERY TO FRANCE
Build Time
Standard Build - Approximately 6 to 8 working days
Promotional Item
Get Death Stranding on PC with select NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPUs!
Welcome Book
PCSpecialist Welcome Book - France

First off, I can advise to those who know what they are doing to deselect windows 10, BUT only for those. Because you need afterward to reinstall everything, and that's quite an assle, to be honest.
About the computer itself, it works flawlessly. Every task I send is crushed by the monstrous CPU and the monstrous too GPU - keep in mind that although the GPU is a laptop one, its frequency is higher than for the others laptop - it goes at 1680 MHz stable for me, and as high as 1790 MHz on short burst.
SO, here are the good points of this Nova :

- cheap for the performance: it's clearly on par with the price of a regular desktop pc with the same component, and thus clearly cheaper than a lot of other high-end laptops on the market.
- monstrous CPU performance: the CPU performance of this laptop is just amazing.
- a very good GPU: the GPU is too very good, as I stated in the introduction
- a good thermal design: Albeit it can be noisy on a certain load, Clevo gives us 4 different modes, that aren't for decoration - compared to other brands! Indeed, I can advise using only the entertainment mode for absolutely every task, except heavy load for rendering, for example, where the performance mode is better. To be frank, you don't need the performance mode, as it is more an "overclock mode" than a normal mode; it goes at the default parameter of the processor, meaning that for the same thermal it gotta be as efficient as a real desktop. And more, it is the only power profile that is noisy, the others are nearly silent.

Now, about the less good points (and some fixes):

- the wifi card: I guess in France we haven't great wifi routers with our internet box because every intel powered wifi card in the house is simply not working with my router. It's a problem with the canal as far as I can tell, that can be fixed by enforcing the 20Mhz speed on the wifi card itself.
- the CPU heating a lot: So the CPU is running hot. Really hot even on some type of load (single-core high frequencies are the best case of temperature spike). You can reduce it by fixing his use at 99% on the power plan. Also, using the Control center from Clevo website will help a lot for the temperature, but you will lose performance since when the CPU goes higher than 82°C, on Control center 2.34 and above, it activates a precision boost overdrive profile with reduced TPC and EDC, leading to a big performance loss (more than 300 points compared in Cinebench r20). Please note that in any situation the temperature stays below the thermal throttling limit of the processor.
- the USB problem: the USB ports aren't all equals. Indeed, the lateral USBs are NOT great, since they cannot use more than 860 mA of power. Meaning that you cannot connect a rift S or an external USB powered HDD to the PC. As a solution, you can use a USB powered hub for all the USB devices that need high power supply from USB, but not for the rift s. For it, you'll need a USB C adapter to USB A, and use the REAR USB-C port. It is the only USB port that has another controller; all the external ones are linked with an AMD controller, except this one which is linked to an NVIDIA controller. Also, I'm currently contacting them to know if there is a fix for the lateral USB ports problem.

To conclude, I can recommend this laptop for everyone that need raw performance or just want to play games without dispensing too much money, as it is the cheapest computer with a full laptop RTX 2070 on the market in France! Moreover, if you are like me, in a need for a powerful desktop, but you haven't the space nor the willingness to build yourself a pc from scratch, then go, it's for me the best choice (anyway, in France).
 
Thanks for letting us know!
I'm in the process of ordering my Nova (with a configuration similar to yours).
Can I ask you a question?

What do you mean with "Because you need afterward to reinstall everything," ?
Isn't the Windows 10 install PC Specialist does good enough?

I don't care reinstalling, but I wonder why should I do that in the first place
 

ubuysa

OMNIPOTENT
Moderator
Thanks for letting us know!
I'm in the process of ordering my Nova (with a configuration similar to yours).
Can I ask you a question?

What do you mean with "Because you need afterward to reinstall everything," ?
Isn't the Windows 10 install PC Specialist does good enough?

I don't care reinstalling, but I wonder why should I do that in the first place
The OP ordered without an OS so had to install their own copy of Windows. If you buy a copy of Windows with your build it's fully installed and ready to go when you get it. :)
 

Omegalpha

Member
Sorry to respond late. Indeed, I ordered without any OS, because of the cost and because I already have one license for windows 10 linked to my Microsoft account, from my old computer (a Lenovo one). About the warning, I've posted it because I found it not being as easy as I thought beforehand. Indeed, some drivers are a bit tricky to install, as the audio one (you need to get rid of the ones installed when you clean install windows, THEN install the one from the website and FINALLY install the drivers for the Cinema 6 audio system ).
 

Omegalpha

Member
Oh, and what's more, if you don't plan on changing your first SSD, the computer did come with windows 10 preinstalled even if I don't choose to have a preinstalled license (I was windows 10 pro if I remember correctly, with a RETAIL channel key that I suppose was temporary ?).
 

ubuysa

OMNIPOTENT
Moderator
Oh, and what's more, if you don't plan on changing your first SSD, the computer did come with windows 10 preinstalled even if I don't choose to have a preinstalled license (I was windows 10 pro if I remember correctly, with a RETAIL channel key that I suppose was temporary ?).
That's not quite accurate. ALL computers ordered without an OS come with a version of Windows installed that PCS used to soak test them. That's not a trial version, nor a freebie, it's only a TEST system. If you order without an OS you will be unwise in the extreme to attempt to activate this system, because you have no idea whether it's complete nor configured properly. There are countless posts on here from users who have activated this testing system and later run into problems.

ALL customers ordering without an OS are STRONGLY advised to ignore whatever happens to be on the drives when it arrives and to ALWAYS install your own copy of Windows (or whichever OS you choose to use).
 

fevieira

Enthusiast
Thanks for the review!

The only thing that is not very clear to me is the USB problems you're facing. So you mean that you cannot have an external hard drive plugged in on any of the USB ports? I've heard that the 2 blue USB 3 ports go through the same "channel" (not sure about the technical terms here) and you'll lose performance if using both of them at the same time, but even if you're only using one of them, the external drive does not work? That sounds a bit weird to have USB ports that do not support an external drive.
 

Nursemorph

Author Level
Oh, my bad then. Looking at the windows preinstalled I've sworn that it was a real one 😦.

It is a real Windows...it's just that it is a version used for testing so has certain settings applied to allow for testing. It is not fully configured to your system which means, for example, there could be drivers missing, there could be certain settings within it that prohibit some things not working properly etc.
 

Omegalpha

Member
Thanks for the review!

The only thing that is not very clear to me is the USB problems you're facing. So you mean that you cannot have an external hard drive plugged in on any of the USB ports? I've heard that the 2 blue USB 3 ports go through the same "channel" (not sure about the technical terms here) and you'll lose performance if using both of them at the same time, but even if you're only using one of them, the external drive does not work? That sounds a bit weird to have USB ports that do not support an external drive.
So I'm gonna explain what I mean by USB problem: When I connect a device that uses more power than 500mA power(I think that's the limit, but I can be wrong) in USB 3.0 interface (that's very important), like my verbatim usb3.0 external HDD, things get weird; first, the drive isn't detected by the system, at all. Then, if I unplug anything from my computer using one of the 4 USB ports, they get deactivated, meaning that I can't connect anything again. The only solution is then to power cycle the computer, not just turning it on and off, as it will be blocked in a black screen after turning it off.
The only solution I've found is first to use the USB 2.0 port, with which everything is good, or to use a powered USB hub.
Regarding what I've found about the USB port, things get weird. Indeed, the chipset is equipped with 3 USB controllers; 2 are AMD ones and one is Nvidia. And you know what? Only two of them can be used; the Nvidia one is obviously for the rear usb-C, and one of the two AMD ones is for ALL the other external USB port; indeed, it supports 14 lines of USB! The latest controller, is, well, only used by the camera, and he has 6 lines, so 5 lines free but wee can't use them.
I've talked about this issue with PCspecialist. We tried installing the latest AMD chipset from AMD, and even doing a Bios Maj. And the issue persists. Please note that I've reinstalled plenty of time windows 10 on my computer, and every time this problem happened.
As far as I can understand the situation, it is more likely a driver issue linked to how the USB controller is handled; indeed, I tried to disconnect the power supply for my USB powered hub and ... It was working! I was able to use my HDD as if it was powered by the charger of the USB hub. I also tried to use a USB 2.0 cable to connect my HDD to my computer using the USB 3.1 ports and ... It works too!
For me, there is a problem with how the USB 3.0 devices are handled by the USB 3.1 gen 2 controllers. indeed, what they share between the rift S and the HDD is that they are USB 3.0. But normal USB stick 3.0 works flawlessly! So it seems to be a power management problem with only those types of devices; high power USB 3.0 devices.
That's quite a long reply, sorry if I made some mistake, English isn't my first language, but I hope you understand now the problem I'm facing.
 

fevieira

Enthusiast
Thanks, I do get your point a bit better now. So even if you disconnect all other USB devices from your laptop and leave only the external HDD on the USB 3.1, does it still not work? I understand (even though I don't agree) that the VR headset requires a lot of power and the USB port might not be enough for it, especially if you have other USB devices plugged in, but I was not expecting this same issue with an external hard drive only.

I'm now wondering if my USB external drive (1Tb Seagate) is a power-hungry one or not :rolleyes:
 

Omegalpha

Member
So, a quick update about the situation; Yes, if I disconnect everything except the HDD, it crashes. Then, my external Verbatim HDD is internally a Seagate 1To HDD, so it will likely do the same things as me. Weirdly enough, I tried one of the other HDD that was in my house, a WD elements 4To USB 3.1, and, guess what? It works!! So the problem seems to happen really ONLY for the USB 3.0 devices with high power need; all above or below USB 3.0 will be more likely to work (please, don't take my word for granted, as I may be wrong. It is just pure analysis).
 

fevieira

Enthusiast
I will have that tested as soon as my nova arrives and will keep you updated. I have 2 external HDDs at the moment, one from Seagate and another generic enclosure bought on Amazon with a WD inside, and I think both are USB 3.0
 

Johno987

New member
It is a real Windows...it's just that it is a version used for testing so has certain settings applied to allow for testing. It is not fully configured to your system which means, for example, there could be drivers missing, there could be certain settings within it that prohibit some things not working properly etc.

I have ordered my machine without an OS with the intention to install it myself, no issues.

I do wonder about the drivers though, will windows automatically pick up all the required drivers or will I need to save them onto a USB from the system before reinstalling windows from the test version of windows and copy them back onto the system when windows is reinstalled if that makes sense?
 

fevieira

Enthusiast
I have ordered my machine without an OS with the intention to install it myself, no issues.

I do wonder about the drivers though, will windows automatically pick up all the required drivers or will I need to save them onto a USB from the system before reinstalling windows from the test version of windows and copy them back onto the system when windows is reinstalled if that makes sense?
Yesterday I downloaded all drivers from my account on PCS website and saved them on a USB drive, together with the windows installation. The manufacturer's drivers are usually better than windows', so I'm being on the safe side here.
 

Johno987

New member
esterday I downloaded all drivers from my account on PCS website and save
Are you able to have both the windows creation media and the drivers on the same USB? If so, when does it give you the option to install the drivers off of the USB?

I was always under the impression the OS USB had to have nothing on except the OS.
 

VPATEL

Member
I have ordered my machine without an OS with the intention to install it myself, no issues.

I do wonder about the drivers though, will windows automatically pick up all the required drivers or will I need to save them onto a USB from the system before reinstalling windows from the test version of windows and copy them back onto the system when windows is reinstalled if that makes sense?

Usually, A fresh windows install will always pick up all the drives, however, there are very rare case that it might not pick one or maybe two. (This never happen to me though)

Anyway, I still don't see a problem here, you can either copy the drivers from the preinstall windows or download the drivers from the Internet (from the trusted sources).

There will be a problem only after the drivers are installed and one of it is not working (for example: WiFi or Bluetooth or USB is not turning 'ON' or not detecting etc)
 
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fevieira

Enthusiast
Are you able to have both the windows creation media and the drivers on the same USB? If so, when does it give you the option to install the drivers off of the USB?

I was always under the impression the OS USB had to have nothing on except the OS.
You need to format the USB before adding the windows installation, but after the windows files are there and the boot drive is created, you can create your own folders and add whatever you want. But installing the drivers is always going to be manually started by you, I just like to have them all ready after the installation

As VPATEL mentioned, I could have downloaded them after the installation, but if the wifi driver is one of the issues, internet won't work, so I prefer having them all saved just in case.
 

ubuysa

OMNIPOTENT
Moderator
I have ordered my machine without an OS with the intention to install it myself, no issues.

I do wonder about the drivers though, will windows automatically pick up all the required drivers or will I need to save them onto a USB from the system before reinstalling windows from the test version of windows and copy them back onto the system when windows is reinstalled if that makes sense?
Use an Ethernet cable to connect to your router and then allow Windows Update to install all drivers. Much safer and easier than finding and installing them manually.

One exception is the graphics driver, they change so often the Windows libraries might not have the latest version.
 
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