Review: Digital Storm Veloce

Just because you call it a “gaming laptop” doesn’t mean it has to cost a fortune. At $1,596, Digital Storm’s Veloce is hundreds of dollars cheaper than similarly-equipped rigs from brand-name manufacturers. However, its drawbacks are cause for considerable pause.

This bruiser of a laptop is — to be blunt — quite ugly. It’s a thick (like, Bible-thick) slab of blackish gray plastic with chopped-off corners. At 4.7 pounds, it’s also double the weight of Sony’s 13-inch ultrabook, with no optical drive to blame its heft on. There’s really zero sense of design here. It’d be right at home with a fat “No Fear” sticker across the lid. In fact, that would probably be an improvement.

But Digital Storm saves the money spent on high-paid designers and case materials and invests instead in this machine’s guts. These include a 2.7GHz Core i7 (4th generation), 8GB of RAM, a 750GB traditional hard drive, and a 128GB SSD, plus the state-of-the-art Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M video card. Ports include four USB (three of which are 3.0), HDMI, Ethernet, VGA, and an SD slot. The 13.3-inch screen has no touchscreen and runs at 1920 x 1080 pixels.

With its stubby chicklet keys and miniature touchpad, the Veloce has clearly not been designed for productivity. You’ll use a mouse and (probably) an external keyboard while working your WASD mojo on this.

We’re not entirely sure what to make of the system’s performance. It got the highest score we’ve ever clocked on PCMark 7…and the lowest we’ve seen on PCMark 8 since that benchmark’s beta began shipping. The record high makes sense given its fast, high-end CPU. But the PCMark 8 score is a surprise — and not the good kind.

Graphics and gaming benchmarks also muddied the picture. The Veloce got a record-high on 3DMark 11, but on non-synthetic tests it didn’t fare as well. While 63 fps on S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat is fine, it’s half what the Razer Blade 14-inch pulled. The Veloce also placed well behind the Blade 14 on both Heaven 3.0 and Heaven 4.0 benchmarks, scoring just 75 percent of the Blade’s frame rate numbers.

All that said, real-world performance is quite good — every game we played was smooth and hiccup-free. But if you’re looking for bleeding edge, you just won’t find it here.

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