The Sager NP8156 was the third Kaby Lake laptop to land in our lab this year (we have more on the way). It sports an Intel Core i7-7700HQ, a 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, 16GB of DDR4-2400 memory, and a 256GB M.2 SSD. Unfortunately, this configuration doesn’t come with a 1TB 7200RPM HDD, which appears to be standard on all laptops around this price range. At 256GB, you’ll run out of space quickly if you’re the type of gamer who has your entire Steam library installed.
First up in our comparison group is the MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro, the first Kaby Lake laptop we reviewed. It also contains an i7-7700HQ CPU, a 6GB GTX 1060, and 16GB of DDR4-2400 memory. It features a smaller 128GB M.2 SSD but makes up for it with a 1TB 7200RPM HDD. In terms of raw performance, the NP8156 and Phantom Pro should be even, so the main differences will be found in thermal performance, display quality, battery life, and overall presentation.
Sager also offers the NP6852, which is a more value-oriented option. Its specifications are nearly identical to those of the NP8156 except for its 4GB GTX 1050Ti GPU. Comparing the NP8156 with the NP6852 will illustrate this GPU tradeoff. We'll review the NP6852 in full separately.
Finally, we have the GTX 1070-based Acer Predator 17, which is our top choice of GTX 1070 gaming laptops thus far. However, that model uses a 6th generation i7-6700HQ CPU. It also packs 16GB of DDR4 memory, two 128GB M.2 SSDs in RAID 0, and a 1TB 7200RPM HDD. The Predator 17 will show the extra power the GTX 1070 provides, and what—if any—upsides Kaby Lake brings to these systems.
3DMark’s Fire Strike, Fire Strike Extreme, and Time Spy tests combine to exercise the entire platform. The results fall in line with our expectations, with the Acer Predator 17 flexing its GPU in the graphics portion of the test, and the three Kaby Lake systems neck-and-neck on the CPU-oriented parts of the benchmark (and ahead of the Predator 17 with its Skylake processor here).
Cinebench’s single core and multi-core tests are based on CPU performance, and the OpenGL shading test relies more heavily on the GPU. The NP8165, MSI Phantom Pro, and NP6852 score higher than the Predator 17 on the CPU parts, thanks to their Kaby Lake processors. That extra CPU performance also kicks in on the OpenGL portion of the benchmark, although its not enough to give the NP6852 and its GTX 1050 Ti the necessary lift.
Unlike Cinebench, which favors the NP8165’s i7-7700HQ, CompuBench performance is influenced by GPU horsepower, especially during the Bitcoin Mining test. Here the NP8165 falls behind the GTX 1070-based Acer. The performance difference between the NP8165 and the Phantom Pro is largely a toss-up, with only a minor gap. The GTX 1060 illustrates a considerable performance increase over the GTX 1050 Ti: about 45% when assessing the scores of the two Sager models side by side.
To test read and write speeds, we run IOmeter from the system's primary drive. Sager implements the Sandisk X400 SD8SN8U-256GB-1122 in both the NP8156 and the NP6852, so we should see similar performance. We'll compare the X400 with the Phantom Pro’s 128GB SK Hynix HFS128G39MNC-3510A and the Predator 17’s two 128GB LiteOn CV1s running RAID 0.
Sure enough, both X400s deliver similar performance in the random and sequential tests. The SK Hynix outperforms the X400 and RAID 0 setup in 4K random speed. The X400 performs a bit better than the SK Hynix drive in sequential speed, but the RAID 0 configuration of the Acer laptop is far better at loading large files like games, music, and other forms of media.
We use PCMark 8’s Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative benchmarks to produce real-world workload performance results. Kaby Lake provides a performance boost, with the NP8156, Phantom Pro, and NP6852 holding a slight advantage over the Acer laptop, despite its stronger GPU. Content creators in the market for a mobile editing laptop should consider systems equipped with an i7-7700HQ for the best performance.