Vortex IX (4K) Review | PCSPECIALIST

Vortex IX (4K) Review

darbyjack

Bronze Level Poster
Hi all, I received my Vortex a week ago and would like to share my experience with it so far. I'm a chef and have been super busy with work lately, but so far managed to have a play with it a bit. This is a replacement for my previous PCSpecialist Defiance I laptop, purchased in 2015. I'll be predominantly using this laptop to watch videos of cats and play minesweeper/ solitaire. Specs are as follows:

- Intel i7 9750H
- NVidia Geforce RTX 270 8GB
- 32GB DDR 3 2666MHZ
- 4K Glossy OLED Screen (3840x2160) (Samsung)
- 1TB Samsung Evo 970 SSD (I plan on adding another 1TB Evo 950 which I have in my old laptop)
- And of course the special thermal paste PCS sells for £9

Some photos:


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And finally, a comparison next to my old Defiance I 15.6". The Vortex looks smaller thanks to the bezels. However, the Defiance is a thinner laptop. Overall I'm quite happy with the look of the laptop. The Defiance is ugly, especially with the strange diagonal corners around the chassis.

The Vortex is made of plastic, but I believe the top panel around the keyboard is aluminium. The chassis feels sturdy, but not perfect. One of the rubber feet underneath is attached to a removable panel. This makes a small clicking noise when weight is applied to this area (where the left hand rests). It's a bit annoying. Hinges feel nice, with good resistance to them. Hopefully they will last long.

Keyboard and Trackpad

Keyboard feels nice enough to type on. Similar to my 2015 defiance. I'm not too fussy in this area, as I've only been using laptops for the past 15 years. Not much flex. Nice clickity click sounds, but not too loud.

Trackpad is very nice and accurate. One of the best I've had so far. Also it's nice to have physical buttons. I can't stand crappy trackpads with no buttons, which cause the mouse to jiggle around the screen.

Speakers and fan noise

It's hard to describe unless you hear them for yourself. In short: they're alright. The volume is decent, but bass is lacking. I used to own an Asus laptop that had wonderful speakers which I dearly miss. However, this is far louder than my previous Defiance laptop - those speakers were just too quiet. You can somewhat hear the separation in the stereo configuration which is cool. I've posted a video to try and demonstrate how loud this thing is - by tapping a glass as a reference.

This video also demonstrates how loud the fans are. Yes, they are loud. Louder than my previous Defiance I. This is to be expected with such high specs. Playing new AAA games will max out the fan RPM. Older games, not so much.



Screen

The 4k AMOLED screen by Samsung is very nice. I tried to take a photo of it next to my Defiance, to at least show the difference, but gave up. It's not possible to show how nice it is without seeing it in person. Image is super crisp, and colours are brilliantly vibrant. I was a bit worried about scaling, as my previous OS was Windows 7, which does a really bad job at scaling things. Many programs had super tiny icons on the 3K screen I used to deal with. The current build of Windows 10 even scales programs from the early 1990s (in this case, it was an old game - Civilization II). So using a 4K screen on a 15.6" laptop is very usable.

I've made a video to show the viewing angle:


What does 1080p look like on a 4K screen?

This is a question I tried my best to search for online, but found no helpful answers. Mostly people who didn't own a 4k screen giving hypothetical answers, saying that 1080p will scale perfectly. This is actually not true. Allow me to demonstrate:

4K Native resolution:

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1080p resolution:

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Speaks for itself. It will scale just like any other flat panel screen does - badly. Blurriness is unavoidable. However, it is much less noticeable (if at all) in moving images such as games or videos. Gaming in 1080p still looks very nice, however this laptops GPU is able to do 4k gaming. Here is a quick video of MGS5, max settings and at 4K resolution. I used my camera again (instead of direct capture). At least it shows how well the speakers drown out the fans.

Not sure what the framerate was, but it ran smoothly and I didn't notice any drops. Video is limited by my camera's framerate of 25FPS



THERMAL PERFORMANCE

Followed in next post due to image limit
 
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darbyjack

Bronze Level Poster
THERMAL PERFORMANCE:

First, I exported some small video 1080 clips and got these max temps with the default -0.50V undervolt. Next image shows results with a -0.125V undervolt, basically doing the same stuff - exporting some videos.

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]

Temps indeed went down. It was a warm summer day when I did these tests. Laptop is on a wooden table, the surface is not very smooth. So conditions are no ideal, but not the worst. No thermal throttling experienced in either of these quick tests.

Then I played MGS V for around 45 minutes. No throttling experience. Max frequency remains stable as seen below:

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Highest temps were just under 90C. Average temps were around 75C.

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The RTX 2070 GPU reached a maxium of 76C in this test.

Finally, I exported a 30min video. After 12 minutes of exporting, I got bored, cancelled it and posted the results here:

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Thermals reached 92 degrees celcius at two points. Just before the fans kicked in, then a few minutes into the export. Average temps were 76C as show in the graph.


Final Thoughts

I do have a slight concern, which is artifacting I've noticed when launching two games (Quake II RTX and Civ V). Here is a video to demonstrate:


This is a bit concerning, as I don't think it was doing this last week. Drivers haven't changed since then. Anyone got any thoughts on this? Hopefully it isn't a sign of a hardware failure. Other than that, the games actually run fine.

Other than that, I'm actually very pleased with this laptop, especially with the thermal results. I've read a lot about the 9750H i7 chip throttling, but this has not been the case so far.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to post away. That's all for now, have a nice day everyone.
 
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Flo

Silver Level Poster
Nice, detailed review. Have you tried decreasing the undervolt to see if still getting the artifacts? I had a similar issue with my defiance. Althought I wasn't getting any crashes and thought the system was stable, every now and again games would malfunction. Going for a smaller undervolt seems to have fixed the problem.
 

darbyjack

Bronze Level Poster
Thank you. Voltage offset makes no difference. Gameplay remains unaffected however. Just loading & closing or alt & tabbing. Doesn't affect all games.
 
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Thanks for your review, btw. Great detail and tone; especially great tones on that soundtrack you used to demonstrate the fan noise.

I’ve done gone bought the same model of laptop but with 2x16GB of RAM. And I also obviously plumped up a whole £9 for that thermal paste upgrade.

Hopefully my CPU won’t reach those Sun-like temperatures all too often - I don’t do video editing. I’m generally only gaming, using VMs and making a mess using CAD. I will sometimes use Handbrake if I’m making videos-to-go.

The laptop appears decent overall. It gets about as hot as you’d expect; the undervolt is a welcome reprieve to reduce temps and avoid throttling. I wasn’t expecting the build quality to be so plastic-y though. I would have preferred brushed aluminium; or some form of alloy. Beggars can’t be choosers though!

Have you tried overclocking the GPU? It’s normally pretty fruitless in laptops, but always worth a wonder when it comes to desktop grade parts inside such a small chassis.

Thank you. Voltage offset makes no difference. Gameplay remains unaffected however. Just loading & closing or alt & tabbing. Doesn't affect all games.
Do you reckon it may have something to do with 4K and Windows scaling? Try forcing the games to launch using System or App scaling. Or possibly the resolution and/or refresh frequency? Is the game running at [email protected] as opposed to [email protected]?

Normally if your monitor is switching resolutions and/or refresh it will do something like that. Could just be a Samsung-OLED thing? I’m sure some furious Googling and tinkering will give us our desired answers.

As an aside - Do you know how/where can we adjust those fan profiles? When you flick from “Off” to “Max” I’m assuming there’s an “Auto” profile? Can these be found in the BIOS? Or are they simply baked in?
 
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darbyjack

Bronze Level Poster
The control centre app from clevo lets you adjust fan profiles. It's quite versatile, and I just stick with auto mode which does a good job. It also comes with a tool to overclock the GPU, but I won't be touching that. No need really since the 2070 is so powerful anyway. The laptop didn't come with this software installed oddly, so I downloaded it.

These are not desktop grade parts however. The rtx 2070 is the laptop variant.

When I get my next day off I'll try and fix the issue with the graphics glitch. Maybe need to reinstall driver. Thanks for the advice will look into all of that.

Good luck with your laptop and let us know how you get along with it! Will be interesting to compare.
 
The RTX 2070 hardware is, more or less, identical on paper - Where the "Max-Q" version is just nerfed by heavy-duty power restrictions. The almost-fully fledged mobile-non-mobile 2070 chip is only around 10-15% slower than it's desktop counterpart [possibly more, if your experience is limited by the CPU]. That laptop->desktop performance gap has dropped from 50-60% down to 10-15%. There is still a reduction in performance, albeit, a minor one - It's seriously impressive what they're packing into laptops these days.

Speaking of what they're packing in. Did your laptop come with those DDR4-2666 rated Corsair sticks, but was delivered to run at DDR4-2133? It might be something worth checking in the BIOS (provided you haven't done so, already) to make sure you're getting the best from your purchase. There's empirical evidence to suggest that DDR4 clock-speeds do indeed make a big difference this "generation".

As for desktop grade parts.. I'm just guesstimating here, but I reckon that this particular RTX 2070 Vortex IX is around 100% faster than my old rig, in relative terms. The rig has a GTX Titan [Yes, a Kepler!] running a 130% overclock and the RTX 2070 is around twice as fast? I reckon that the 9750H; with all 6 cores running at 4GHz, would undoubtedly kick my 2600K @ 4.6GHz' ass too [considering that per it is around 20% faster per-clock.]

Either way, I now need to start extracting data off of my old rig's hard-drives. It's time to send that beauty off to the Big Rig in the sky.

N.B.
No problem, it's good food for thought. Everything seems to work, but ALT-TAB seems to bugger it up. It has to be software conflicts, as opposed to a hardware issue.

I'm quite looking forward to this OLED screen on a laptop. Someone on the forums did mention that there is the worry of "burn in" on OLED. But, really, you'd need to leave your desktop running for hundreds upon hundreds of hours, without refreshing or changing it, for it to burn into your screen. There may always be some screen retention, but I'm pretty sure there will be some form of YouTube, "OLED SCREEN REFRESH" type video out there that you can run every 6-12 months to keep your screen squeaky clean.

I currently have a regular LCD 4K on my MSI GS60 Ghost Pro. I really couldn't go back to 1080, especially not from a productivity point of view. If I were buying it purely for gaming, then I'd go for the 144Hz panel. But 4K on a laptop looks stunning. Everything is so crisp and clear!
 
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darbyjack

Bronze Level Poster
Indeed laptop GPU's have come a long way! I had a quick look in the BIOS but didn't see anything to do with the memory. Will have another look again at some point. What makes you think the RAM might not be the correct speed? But yeah, I'm not too worried about the OLED burn in thing either, I think you're right. The screen is absolutely wonderful. I'm an avid gamer, but no way am I going to edit photos/ videos and music on a 1080p screen! Just can't go back! I got my first 1920x1200 laptop in 2008 lol.

Unfortunately the graphical glitch issue has worsened. The same thing now happens every time the laptop boots into Windows, and also when shutting down. No changes to any software or hardware were made. PCSpecialists advised to do a clean install of graphics drivers, which had no effect whatsoever.

I am starting to think a hardware failure is imminent. I would try and troubleshoot more myself, but I have such little free time to do anything. If this was a few years ago, I'd happily take out RAM sticks and try to narrow down the problem. Will probably send back to PCS and take things further from there.

Edit: RAM is 2667mhz, had a look in the BIOS
 
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Pullaggro

Member
Hi I had a quick question. I recently purchased the Proteus VI but am returning it because the touchpad is quite the nuisance since it is hit and miss on the right click. I've also found the battery only lasts at best just over an hour from idle use just browsing on chrome and nothing else. I'm looking for a different option so I was considering the Recoil III RTX or this Vortex IX. However i've been reading the Recoil suffers from a lot of temperature problems so i'm more inclined for the Votex.
One minor thing that annoyed me about the Proteus is the small enter button which is advertised on the website. I could probably get used to this over time but would much prefer the larger standard enter button. Even for the Vortex IX the website advertises a small enter button, however you seem to have a large enter button? How did you get this keyboard layout as that's not what is shown in the pictures on the website.

Thanks!
 

darbyjack

Bronze Level Poster
The photos PCSpecialist are using are stock photos of US keyboard layouts. Most European layouts use the big Return/ Enter keys. At least for the UK anyway. What country keyboard did you order? If it's a US keyboard, then the Enter key will always be small. All UK keyboards have the big Enter keys.

Temperatures in my opinion are very good for the Vortex. The fan does get noisy if the CPU is pushed hard, but so far has not thermal throttled for me. Watching videos or playing older games and it's pretty quiet.

Touchpad is good - it has physical buttons. I always look for this when buying a laptop.

Also what specs did you order with the Vortex? Mine lasts less than two hours. It is by far the worst battery I've ever had in a laptop in my entire life. I guess I wasn't expecting anything good, especially with a 4k screen. But to be honest I was expecting around the 3 hour mark for light use.
 

SpyderTracks

Huntsman
Moderator
I'll be predominantly using this laptop to watch videos of cats and play minesweeper/ solitaire. Specs are as follows:
ROFL, I just saw this :ROFLMAO:

On a serious note though, I'm extremely happy you're not suffering thermal throttling!

Battery wise, it's a desktop replacement, not designed for portability, so battery isn't a consideration in the design really.
 

Pullaggro

Member
The photos PCSpecialist are using are stock photos of US keyboard layouts. Most European layouts use the big Return/ Enter keys. At least for the UK anyway. What country keyboard did you order? If it's a US keyboard, then the Enter key will always be small. All UK keyboards have the big Enter keys.

Temperatures in my opinion are very good for the Vortex. The fan does get noisy if the CPU is pushed hard, but so far has not thermal throttled for me. Watching videos or playing older games and it's pretty quiet.

Touchpad is good - it has physical buttons. I always look for this when buying a laptop.

Also what specs did you order with the Vortex? Mine lasts less than two hours. It is by far the worst battery I've ever had in a laptop in my entire life. I guess I wasn't expecting anything good, especially with a 4k screen. But to be honest I was expecting around the 3 hour mark for light use.
Hiya,
This is interesting as I purchased a standard UK keyboard with my proteus but it came with the smaller enter which is actually a big annoyance of mine. I had never seen a small enter like that before receiving my Proteus so I guess I can call and check with PS about this. But thanks for letting me know!
 
No overheating issues here - If you don't mind the fans running at 100% when in Auto. If you set the laptop to "Quiet" then you definitely notice a performance decrease. The performance has been solid.

The touchpad is great also, it has a matte feel and the buttons are very clicky.

4K Related Issue -
Only one strange quirk, is that I need to change from [email protected] to [email protected] for some if not most games, else, the game has serious performance issues. I noticed this on HITMAN 2 in particular. I was getting.. 40-60FPS when it was on Ultra. I had the game set to render at 1080 and Windows/Intel to output to the monitor at 2160. When I set the Intel chip to 1080, the game ran fine... Very.. Very strange. I might need to look into a fix for this. It has never been a problem on my MSI. Games render at 1080 [Full screen] and the monitor runs at 4K in the background. I reckon there's a driver/BIOS issue at hand here.

EDIT: I've just updated my Intel graphics drivers. I will need to retest this.

Also @darbyjack that strange glitch issue you mentioned - It is prevalent with my unit too. Sometimes the resolution will flip when booting up a game and it will take an inordinately long amount of time to re-energise, or it will stay off completely and I'll need to force the resolution to change [CTRL+ALT+Del] or close->open the laptop lid. That shouldn't need to happen!

EDIT: As-per above: new Intel graphics drivers.

Hi all. My vortex is due to arrive. Is the chassis plastic?
The bottom is plastic. The rest feels like metal. That only represents a minor problem when opening the bottom of the chassis.. Since it feels like you may snap it if one of the clips gets stuck. I had to really pry mine open to fit a 2.5" SSD and was filled with the fear when the bottom was bending to some serious angles.
 

darbyjack

Bronze Level Poster
That's unfortunate you have the strange flickering glitch too. It is much worse when running on just battery. My laptop started to do it when booting Windows as well, so I sent it back to PCS. They've had it since Wednesday, so I'm just waiting for an update.

Regarding your performance on 4k - 40-60fps sounds about right for a modern game running at that resolution. Notebookcheck lists the RTX 2070 card at around 40fps for Hitman 2.

 

SpyderTracks

Huntsman
Moderator
No overheating issues here - If you don't mind the fans running at 100% when in Auto. If you set the laptop to "Quiet" then you definitely notice a performance decrease. The performance has been solid.

The touchpad is great also, it has a matte feel and the buttons are very clicky.

4K Related Issue -
Only one strange quirk, is that I need to change from [email protected] to [email protected] for some if not most games, else, the game has serious performance issues. I noticed this on HITMAN 2 in particular. I was getting.. 40-60FPS when it was on Ultra. I had the game set to render at 1080 and Windows/Intel to output to the monitor at 2160. When I set the Intel chip to 1080, the game ran fine... Very.. Very strange. I might need to look into a fix for this. It has never been a problem on my MSI. Games render at 1080 [Full screen] and the monitor runs at 4K in the background. I reckon there's a driver/BIOS issue at hand here.

EDIT: I've just updated my Intel graphics drivers. I will need to retest this.

Also @darbyjack that strange glitch issue you mentioned - It is prevalent with my unit too. Sometimes the resolution will flip when booting up a game and it will take an inordinately long amount of time to re-energise, or it will stay off completely and I'll need to force the resolution to change [CTRL+ALT+Del] or close->open the laptop lid. That shouldn't need to happen!

EDIT: As-per above: new Intel graphics drivers.



The bottom is plastic. The rest feels like metal. That only represents a minor problem when opening the bottom of the chassis.. Since it feels like you may snap it if one of the clips gets stuck. I had to really pry mine open to fit a 2.5" SSD and was filled with the fear when the bottom was bending to some serious angles.
What GPU do you have? Even with a 2080 you’d have to reduce settings to manage 4K gaming.
 
I meant - The in-game display setting was set to 1080 [w/ Nvidia set as my display adaptor] but the monitor/desktop [Intel] was set to 2160. I was confused as to why it was rendering at 2160 [40-60FPS]. As soon as I reduce the desktop [Intel] resolution down to 1080, everything is hunky-dory and I get plenty of FPS with VSync disabled.

The thing is, the monitor "flickered" as-if it was changing resolution to 1080. The HITMAN2 settings still reflected that the resolution was 1080 - But it still rendered at 2160... It's very odd.

I'll keep an eye on my flickering monitor issue, @darbyjack. Hopefully it's not a common issue. There isn't any PCS specific driver for us to install; I've found a driver for the monitor, but that was Dell-specific.
 
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