A great value and powerful gaming laptop in an attractive 13in chassis.
WE’VE REVIEWED MANY Chillblast PCs, but this is the first gaming laptop we’ve seen from this largely PC-based system builder. The Defiant Mini makes a great first impression, though, as this 13in laptop not only has one of the best off-the-shelf Clevo cases we’ve ever seen, with its soft-touch lid and angular design, but its internal components also pack a serious punch.
Our review sample had a 2.4GHz Intel Core ¡7-4700MQ processor, which can increase its clock speed to 3.4GHz when the processor is coo! enough, and 8GB of RAM. These components powered the Defiant Mini to an impressive overall score of 85 in our multimedia benchmarks. This puts it just six points behind the larger, similarly priced Scan 3XS Graphite LG155, and is a good score for a desktop PC, never mind a laptop.
The laptop’s 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M graphics processor was even more impressive, producing a smooth average frame rate of 90.3fps in Dirt Showdown at a resolution of 1,280×720 with graphics quality set to High. The GeForce GTX 765M is one of the most capable dedicated graphics processors we’ve ever used, and although its fans were working hard, that didn’t stop it producing an excellent 67.9fps at 1,920×1,080 resolution and High graphics quality.
In our much more challenging Crysis 3 benchmark the laptop produced an average frame rate of 20.5fps at 1,920×1,080 with graphics set to High quality. That’s not smooth enough to play the game properly, but reducing the quality to Low produced a smoother 28.2fps. It’s outstanding performance for a13in laptop, although you’ll want to keep your hand away from the vents on the left-hand side as they get very warm.
Happily, the Defiant Mini is great for everyday tasks, too. Its keyboard is very comfortable to type on and although its springy mechanical keys are a little noisy, they give plenty of tactile feedback.
We’d recommend connecting a mouse if you’ll use the laptop for long periods, though, because we didn’t like the Defiant Mini’s touchpad at all. We had great trouble performing multi-touch gestures such as two-finger scrolling and pinch-zooming, although Windows 8 gestures worked fine.
The Defiant Mini has a good selection of ports for such a small laptop, including one USB2 and three USB3 ports. It also has HDMI and VGA video outputs, an SD and MMC card reader, a Gigabit Ethernet port and separate headphone and microphone jacks.
We like the 13.3in screen, too. With an sRGB colour gamut coverage of 85.5 per cent, reds, greens and blues looked rich and vibrant, and whites were bright and clean with no trace of grey. Blacks were deep and inky, too, despite the screen’s somewhat average black level reading of 0.37cd/m2, and we didn’t see any backlight bleed.
The screen’s contrast levels were a little less impressive. Even though we measured a promising contrast ratio of 914:1, finer shadow detail was lost in our high-contrast test photos. Night scenes suffered the most, with areas of shadow appearing as solid black, so make sure you adjust the in-game contrast settings if you want to help illuminate dark environments when playing games.
Battery life was also fairly average for a gaming laptop, as the Defiant Mini’s battery lasted just three hours and 52 minutes in our light-use test with the screen set to half brightness. This is to be expected from such a power-hungry system.
With its powerful hardware and highly capable graphics processor, the Chillblast Defiant Mini is a superb gaming laptop. It not only manages to combine the speed and power of larger gaming systems into a smaller 13in chassis, but it does so at a competitive price. The Defiant Mini is a great value laptop and wins a Best Buy award.