This Clevo laptop uses the same chassis as the popular gigabyte A5 X1 gaming laptop, and this one is the Apex 15 from XMG. My configuration has the 8 core Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, 32 gigs of memory, and Nvidia RTX 3070 graphics which power the 1080p 240Hz screen. There are other specs including lower-tier CPU and GPU though, you can check out updated prices with the links down in the description. The whole laptop has a matte black finish, the lid is metal but the interior and bottom panels are plastic, and there are no sharp corners or edges. The laptop alone weighs about 2.1kg or 4.7lb, or 3kg or 6.6lb with the 230-watt brick and cables. It’s approaching the thicker side for a 15” laptop, but we’ll see if this extra space helps keep things cool soon. My laptop has a 15.6” 1080p 240Hz screen, but there are other panels available. Unfortunately, there’s no FreeSync but other panel options will offer that, and it’s not possible to disable Optimus for a speed boost.
I thought it looked fine for a gaming laptop, I’d probably want a better colour gamut for content creation personally. It’s just able to surpass 300 nits at full brightness, so a fairly average panel so far, but once we consider screen response time we can see where it really shines. I measured the average grey-to-grey response time at 4ms which is excellent and is slightly below the 4.16ms needed for transitions to occur within the refresh window with just a little overshoot. Here’s how it compares with other laptops that I’ve tested, so one of the better results than I’ve measured so far. There was pretty much no backlight bleed in my unit, but this will vary between panels. There’s a 720p camera above the screen in the middle, but no IR for Windows Hello. This is what the camera and microphone look and sound like, here’s what it sounds like to type on the keyboard, and this is what it sounds like if we set the fan to full speed, so you can still hear me over the fan noise. The keyboard has RGB backlighting with 4 levels of key brightness. All keys and secondary functions get lit up, but it’s just a single zone of lighting, so the whole keyboard is the same colour without further customization.
The keyboard wasn’t anything special, just the standard one that seems to be in a lot of Clevo units, I liked typing with it though and didn’t have any issues, here’s how typing sounds to give you an idea of what to expect. The power button is separate from the keyboard and above it on the right, so no chance of an accidental misspress. The precision touchpad doesn’t click down as it’s got separate left and right-click buttons. It felt very accurate and I liked using it. Fingerprints hardly show up on the dark finish, and as a smooth surface, it’s easy to clean with a microfiber cloth. On the left from the back, there’s a Kensington lock, the power input, air exhaust vent and two USB 3.2 Type-A ports. One is Gen 1 the other Gen 2, but I can’t tell which is which. My early sample appears to have a MicroSD card slot, but there’s no reader in there and I’ve been advised this won’t be in the final model. On the right from the front, there are separate 3.5mm mic and headphone jacks, an ancient USB 2.0 Type-A port and an air exhaust vent on this side too.
The rest is on the back between what appears to be two more air vents, however, only the left one is an actual air exhaust vent. From left to right there are mini DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.1 outputs, 2.5-gigabit ethernet and a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port with DisplayPort 1.4 support. There’s no Thunderbolt and Type-C cannot be used to charge the laptop, however, all three display outputs connect directly to the Nvidia graphics allowing you to bypass Optimus. The front just has some status LEDs towards the right, no groove to help opening it, but it was still easy enough to open up without issue. There’s some lid flex and keyboard flex, but the keyboard is removable and it’s a primarily plastic chassis, it felt fine during regular day to day use though. It’s got a 4 Cell 49Wh removable battery inside, an uncommon feature, so if you’re able to buy spares then in theory you could quickly remove the battery and swap in a new one without tools.
The battery life wasn’t anything amazing due to the smaller battery size, not quite lasting 5 hours on YouTube video playback test, but when you consider you could easily double this with a brief intermission to swap the battery, it could definitely keep you going for a while. Underneath there are air vents directly above the intake fans. It was easy to open with the pry tools linked in the description. There are 12 Phillips head screws to remove and another three under the battery. Inside we’ve got the space for the battery up the back corner, two M.2 storage slots down the front on the right, two memory slots next to that, the WiFi 6 card to the left of that and a 2.5” 7mm drive space to the far left. The two speakers are on the left and right sides down the front. I thought they sounded average, they were a bit tinny sounding and they hurt my ears at maximum despite the tool not actually reporting it getting super loud, and the latency mon results weren’t too bad.
The BIOS is pretty standard for a Clevo laptop, unfortunately, there aren’t that many options available by default, just the standard basic things you’d expect as I’m showing here. Let’s check out thermals next. The control centre software lets us change between different performances modes, which from lowest to highest are silent, entertainment, and performance. We’ve also got the option of adjusting fan speed or simply setting the fans to maximum. Now despite being an HX processor, I didn’t see any software utility provided by Clevo for actually overclocking the CPU, and there wasn’t anything in BIOS either, so it seems that we’re just getting the stock advantages of the HX chip which is higher clock speeds compared to say the 5800H. The idle results down the bottom were cool enough in my 21 degree Celsius room.
The stress test results were measured with the Aida64 CPU stress test with stress CPU only checked and the Heaven GPU benchmark with max settings run at the same time. The CPU seemed to be thermal throttling at 95 degrees Celsius, and this was still happening even with the fans at max speed and the cooling pad in use. The GPU was thermal throttling in silent mode, but as you’ll hear soon, this mode is running the fans very quietly so that’s kind of expected. These are the clock speeds for the same tests. The GPU speed rises significantly outside of silent mode because the thermal throttling is removed with faster fans. The CPU speed only rises a little going from entertainment to performance mode as this boosts fan speed, and the cooling pad only gave us an extra 100MHz or so, as this helped address the thermal throttling.
The GPU was running up to 130 watts in this CPU plus GPU stress tests, while the CPU was getting above 40 watts, though it was still being limited in thermals in this test which is why higher wasn’t observed. Here’s how an actual game performs with these different modes in use. Performance and entertainment mode were about the same, and silent mode was still able to offer great performance despite being much quieter, as you’ll hear soon. Using an external monitor also boosts performance, as shown by the top result, as this bypasses Optimus. Here’s how CPU only performance looks in Cinebench. The 5900HX was able to take the lead for the best multicore score I’ve ever seen from a laptop so far, and the single-core score is up there too, only being slightly beaten by the 4 core Intel Tiger Lake chips. Here’s how these same laptops are performing but when running on battery power. We’re losing a fair amount of performance here compared to the other Ryzen laptops ahead of it, but despite this, the multicore score is still better than any of the Intel models, though the single-core is down quite a bit.
The keyboard area was in the low 30s when idling, pretty normal stuff and cool to the touch. It was warm in silent mode but not a hot feeling, not too bad considering the lower fans, as you’ll hear next. Entertainment mode was cooler despite performing better because the fans are actually louder now. Performance mode was warmer but still not hot to the touch, and this is despite the fans getting even louder, let’s have a listen. The fans were still audible when idle, what I found interesting was that the fan noise didn’t change even with the stress tests going in silent mode. As we saw earlier, despite throttling it was still able to offer decent gaming performance, so you’ve at least got the option of playing quieter if that’s your preference. Performance mode was only a little louder than entertainment mode, and the fan was maxed out in this workload whether or not I manually set it to max speed which is why I didn’t bother testing temperatures earlier with it manually enabled.
Now let’s find out how well this laptop performs in games and see how it compares against others, but use these results as a rough guide only, as they were tested at different times with different drivers. I’ve tested Battlefield 5 in campaign mode at ultra settings, and the Apex 15 / A5 is highlighted in red. It’s performing similarly to many other 2080 Super Max-Q machines, so not exactly next-gen hardware, but this would in part be due to the lack of ability to disable Optimus. I suspect the differences may be greater at higher resolutions like 1440p too as we can better load up the GPU, but unfortunately, I don’t have much data to compare with yet as this is still a new panel size for laptops. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the games benchmark tool with the highest setting preset.
The Apex 15 rises up now relative to the same selection of laptops, though again it’s still reaching the same frame rate as other 2080 Supermax-q machines. Regardless, still a high frame rate for this test. Far Cry 5 was also tested with the games benchmark tool at max settings. It lowers down in this game and is right under the ASUS G15 with a higher tier GPU but a lower GPU power limit. This test generally depends more on the processor, and for the most part, laptops that let us disable Optimus are doing better, but at the same time Intel machines also generally seem to have an edge here. That’s not too surprising though, as I recently showed that Intel beats AMD in gaming. Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy and Port Royal from 3DMark, Adobe Premiere was tested with the Puget Systems benchmark, and the results were extremely impressive, just one point behind the higher specced and much more expensive MSI GE76.
Adobe Photoshop generally depends more on processor performance, and this time the Apex 15 was at the top of the graph, in fact, the top three results are all Ryzen 5000 based machines. DaVinci Resolve is more GPU heavy, however, it does also depend on the processor. Despite the GE76 having a higher wattage RTX 3080 with double the VRAM, it’s not quite able to match the 3070 with 5900HX at the top. I’ve also tested SPECviewperf which tests out various professional 3D workloads. Drive speed will of course depend entirely on which you select when ordering. My 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD was doing alright, though nearly half as slow for reading speed compared to writes. I booted an Ubuntu 20 live CD to test Linux support. Out of the box the speakers, touchpad, keyboard, WiFi, and camera all worked fine, but keyboard and screen brightness adjustments didn’t. Unfortunately, I can’t discuss the price at the moment, it’s still early and XMG don’t have the model available for sale just yet, so you’ll have to check out the links in the description to get an idea of what to expect with different specs.
Alright so now let’s summarise both the good and the bad to help you decide if this is a laptop worth considering. Overall the XMG Apex 15 Review/ Gigabyte A5 X1 is a decent gaming laptop but is typically the case with Clevo laptops like this, the build quality and materials aren’t quite as nice as some of those more expensive options from larger brands, but that’s partly why these are generally priced better, it’s just a compromise, and honestly, I think it’s fine, it keeps things competitive and it’s not like I had an issue with the build quality. Battery life wasn’t great, but the tradeoff is that you can completely swap out the battery, which is a pretty uncommon feature these days. Gaming performance was decent, but the RTX 3070 in my model was close to 2080 Super Max-Q machines from the last generation, so not exactly next-gen performance, and that’s probably in part due to the inability of disabling Optimus and that my model has a 1080p screen. With a 1440p option, it may do better, in any case, the screen still had great response time and ok colour gamut and brightness.
Though my model did not have FreeSync. The 5900HX processor seems to be the reason that it’s doing so well in CPU and content creator workloads, but unfortunately, the Clevo software and BIOS are pretty limited in that they don’t let you actually control the chip. The HX series is supposed to be unlocked, so not being able to do anything isn’t great as we can’t take full advantage of what this thing can do. I don’t know, just seems like a bit of a missed opportunity, and also while we’re talking about that, the software in these Clevo machines just needs an update. When I previously reviewed the XMG Neo 15 in this video over here, that Tongfang chassis gives us plenty of option in the software to control power limits, so coming from that machine to this one just makes this one feel like it’s a big behind. The I/O is decent, but USB 2.0 in 2021 is a bit rough. Thermals weren’t great. There’s plenty of space inside as the chassis is on the thinner side, but as we saw inside the available space doesn’t appear to be utilized well. It looks like they could probably fit in more heat pipes for instance.
In any case, as we’ve seen, the performance of that Ryzen processor is still decent, though in CPU plus GPU workloads there was still CPU thermal throttling on the processor at 95 degrees Celsius even with the fan maxed out and a cooling pad. Anyway, if the price is reasonable and you don’t mind running on the warmer side, there’s not really too much holding me back from recommending this machine. Again unfortunately I don’t have prices at the moment, but based on the past Clevo laptops have generally been competitively priced, and just in regards to the temperatures keep in mind that I do have the higher specced model here. You could of course get it with the RTX 3060 graphics or 6 core 5600H processor, and those might not get quite as hot as what I’ve got here.
So this concludes the topic for XMG Apex 15 Review | High-Performance Gaming Laptop. That’s about it for me, I forgot to tell you something, If you’re enjoying this article, please make sure to share the article. If you have any questions, comment down below, and I’ll try my best to answer them.