Choosing a gaming laptop has never been easy, what with brands aggressively curating their devices to every tier in the market – Acer, Asus, Dell, you name it! So, there’s certainly no shortage of options to go around. Well, just to make your lives harder, I’m going to throw in another brand into the mix. A brand that I’ve personally only been introduced to for this review – Level 51, specifically their new Vapor 15 Pro gaming laptop. This device is actually a collaborative effort between Intel and several different brands to deliver a thin and light gaming laptop that’s unique from the rest. I’ll say it now: the Vapor 15 Pro really delivered.
Build and Design
When I first heard, without context, that I was reviewing a gaming laptop, I was fully expecting the generic edgy chunky ones that you see all over the place. I was not expecting a thin and light, minimal – almost boring-looking laptop. The magnesium-alloy device is black and entirely matte-finished with the glossy logo subtly embossed on the top. You’ll be hard pressed to find a gaming laptop without any lighting, and this one has them under the keyboard and in a lightbar in front of the touchpad – Yes, they are customisable RGBs with a plethora of modes. I personally love the more modest design that doesn’t scream GAMING LAPTOP from a mile away. This design trend can actually be seen in other brands these days – straying away from the gaudy black-with-red-accent, a trend I wholeheartedly endorse.
I mentioned its magnesium-alloy build – the material is why the entire laptop is so light. Weighing in at just 1.88 kg, it’s a laptop you can just have with you for day-to-day without it weighing you down. Fun fact: it’s the lightest gaming laptop that goes up to a Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070. As for the size, it barely measures 17 inches across and is 20.3 mm thin, so it wasn’t even cumbersome for me to carry it by hand, let alone in a backpack.
Level 51 was able to put in a 15.6-inch 144hz Full HD display into the Vapor 15 Pro – a fact that I was surprised to learn given the smaller form factor. Having a 144fps-capable display and achieving 144fps are two different things, but we’ll get to that later. While the display is great for gaming, which is what it’s meant for, the brightness and contrast are just alright for general browsing and media consumption. But for creatives, the display definitely falls short on colour accuracy. You might want to look at other options or consider a separate monitor if that’s a deal breaker for you. Sidenote, the display dims further when in Battery Saver mode.
This base model of the Vapor 15 Pro carries an Intel i7-9750H with 16GB RAM and a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660ti – a combo I would consider to be for a mid-tier gaming laptop, which are paired extremely well with the 1080p 144hz display. In terms of benchmarking, it was able to achieve consistent 80-90fps when running The Witcher 3 on High settings, and 120-144fps on the 2016 Doom which is a sight to behold. For Apex Legends, it was running at around 90-100fps at High settings. The best part is that I experienced zero throttling even throughout hours of gameplay, simply because the temperature was kept fairly constant.
The performance that the Vapor 15 Pro achieves is definitely nothing to scoff at, especially for a device that’s this compact. I really can’t stress enough how well the thermal performance is.
But there lays the main problem I have with this device – in order to achieve this sort of performance, Level 51 did two things – 1. They apply Thermal Grizzly’s Kryonaut thermal paste on the processors. 2. They made the fans run fast and LOUD. A pair of earphones / headphones will be a must when you’re gaming. If you’re considering gaming in public (don’t know why you would), just know that people will notice. Though I would choose performance over a minor disturbance, depending on who around you has headphones on.
Keyboard and Speakers
The keyboard on the Vapor 15 Pro is actually mechanical that’s nice and clicky, with comfortable spacing between keys. This made for smooth typing experience, but as with all keyboards, this is mostly down to personal preference. If you care about the keyboard, you should try it out if you get the chance. Let’s admit it, most laptop speakers aren’t great. But manufacturers do try their best to deliver decent sound quality for their built-in speakers. The speakers on the Vapor 15 Pro however are less than decent. Everything in the mids, which includes vocals and some string instruments, sounds clear and crisp. But everything beyond that sounds like mush. So, great if you watch content with people talking a lot because it sounds horrendous for most other audio.
The Vapor 15 Pro has a good selection of ports as well for its size – 1 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 3.1, HDMI 2.0, 2 separate audio and microphone jacks, 1 Thunderbolt 3.0 port, an SD card slot and finally an ethernet port. The Thunderbolt, HDMI, ethernet and charging ports are actually in the back of the device for better cable management.
Another huge component that Level 51 managed to pack into the Vapor 15 Pro is a 94Wh battery! On their website, Level 51 boasts a 10-hour battery life but that’s most likely inflated or testing under specific circumstances. That’s not to say that this device doesn’t have good battery life. During my testing, I can get around 7 hours out of it for general web browsing, productivity and some Youtube on Battery Saver mode. So you can get away with not bringing the charger because, much like its battery, the charging brick is huge and it can be a burden for those who prefer to travel light for their day-to-day.
As a gaming laptop, the Vapor 15 Pro has two major flaws – the loud fans and the huge charging brick. But most 15-inch gaming laptops in the market have these issues, and I believe none of them are as thin and as light as this and priced at RM5,999 for the base model – you have the option to upgrade the GPU to a Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070 for RM7,499. So if you’re looking for a powerful gaming laptop in a small package, the Vapor 15 Pro offer a lot of value for money for its performance, especially the base model.
Level51 Vapor 15 Pro
As a gaming laptop, the Vapor 15 Pro has two major flaws - the loud fans and the huge charging brick. But most 15-inch gaming laptops in the market have these issues, and I believe none of them are as thin and as light as this and priced at RM5,999