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Budget gaming notebook shootout: No need to break the piggy bank

By Koh Wanzi - 23 Dec 2017

Aftershock MX-15 Elite

Aftershock MX-15 Elite

Aftershock MX-15 Elite

Aftershock’s MX-15 Elite is based on the Clevo N850 notebook, and the entire laptop oozes a pleasantly utilitarian and functional feel. There are no garish trimmings or ostentatious branding, and the notebook feels solidly built and looks ready to show up for work.

One of the best parts of the notebook is the keyboard, which is the same as that found on the more powerful S-15. The keys are tactile with a good amount of feedback, and we don’t see a problem gaming or typing on it for long hours.

It also features three-zone customizable RGB backlighting and the ability to bind custom macros to individual keys, so you’ll be able to launch programs or execute complex combos in-game more quickly. This is a nice addition given its S$1,674 price tag, as pricier notebooks like the Lenovo Legion Y520 and Acer Aspire VX 15 only offer single-color backlighting.

Aftershock MX-15 Elite

Another small but useful feature is the option disable the Windows key in the bundled Control Center utility, so you won’t accidentally find yourself staring at your desktop in the middle of a firefight.

The MX-15 Elite also has one of the most comprehensive selections of ports and connectors for a laptop of its class. There are a total of two Mini DisplayPort and one full-sized HDMI port, so it actually supports up to three external displays at once, a useful feature for anyone intending to use the notebook as a serious productivity machine.

In comparison, some of the other notebooks only come with one HDMI port, which is quite limited in terms of display options.

Aftershock MX-15 Elite

Aftershock MX-15 Elite

The 1080p IPS display could do with an extra oomph of brightness, but it was overall very useable with good viewing angles.

You can hear the cooling fan kick into higher gear while gaming, but it never became unbearably loud. Heat wasn’t a problem for us either, and at no point was the notebook excessively warm.

The MX-15 Elite uses four heatpipes to channel heat away from the key components, and the CPU and GPU get two heatpipes each.

The MX-15 Elite is equipped with a removable 47Wh battery pack, something you hardly see on notebooks these days. This is great news for those who intend to leave the laptop plugged in for long hours, even though most modern batteries have no problem with being juiced up all day.

Aftershock MX-15 Elite

The notebook’s weak spot is probably its speakers. The dual speakers on the front pumped out teeny-sounding tunes that sounded like pale versions of their original recordings, so it’s probably best to grab a pair of good headphones if you want decent in-game audio.

Playing around with settings in the Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 software didn’t seem to help much. You can add a bit of bass or attempt to simulate a surround sound effect, but the speakers still continue to push out rather anemic-sounding audio.

Aftershock MX-15 Elite

The 128GB SSD is definitely a little small and probably won’t be able to hold more than a couple of good-sized games, but it is no worse than what the competition is offering. Most of the laptops ship with 128GB boot drives and a 1TB HDD, which gives users enough storage space while affording them the improved responsiveness of an SSD.

If you want a large SSD to hold all your games, you probably shouldn’t even be looking at a notebook in this price range.

Finally, Aftershock told us about certain tweaks it made to the laptop over the reference Clevo design. For instance, the original blew hot air directly out of the vents on the right edge, which meant that it could be quite uncomfortable if you were using a mouse close to the laptop. On the MX-15 Elite, the vents have been angled diagonally toward the back, so you won’t be bothered by the heat.

At S$1,674, this is the most affordable laptop in this shootout, and offers truly great bang for your buck.