Walmart’s Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ Review: Sam's Choice, Not Ours

Walmart surprised enthusiasts this year when it decided to enter the gaming PC market with its own line of laptops and desktops under the "Overpowered" moniker. The Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ is the discount store’s most high-end notebook, so it comes with some gaudy specs: a Core i7 CPU, 32GB of RAM and a comfy mechanical keyboard. When we started this review, the laptop was priced at $1,700, but Walmart recently rolled back the price to $1,299 (not available in the UK). Still, this rig is the opposite of its name, with a charger that keeps popping out and some aesthetic design flaws that make it hard to recommend.

Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ Specs

Display
17.3 inches, Full HD (1920x1080), 144Hz 
CPUIntel Core i7-8750H
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB), Intel UHD Graphics 630
Memory32GB DDR4-2666
SSD256GB SATA, supports NVMe (SK Hynix)
HDD2TB, 5,400 RPM
Optical
ConnectivityM.2 2230 with CNVI Interface (Intel 9)
IEEE802.11 b/g/n/ac
1x Ethernet jack
Ports1x USB 2.0
2x USB 3.0
1x USB-C
1x 2-in-1 SD card reader
1x HDMI
2x Mini DisplayPort
Audio2x Realtek Audio speakers (2W)
1x headphone jack
1x microphone jack
Camera720p, Windows Hello
Battery40.7Wh
Power Adapter180W
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Dimensions (WxDxH)15.6 x 10.3 x 1 inches (396.2 x 261.6 x 25.4mm)
Weight5.68 pounds (2.6g)
ExtraKensington lock slot
Price (as configured)$1,299 (not available in UK) 

Design

I sure got a lot of attention rocking the Walmart laptop. The most “overpowered” part of the machine is its branding. What everyone first notices is a toned-down version of the logo from Esports Arena, an esports company with venues across the U.S., standing in as the letter “O” next to an angular “P” to represent the Overpowered brand.

That logo is there because Esports Arena partnered with Walmart to launch the Overpowered brand. But to me, the logo looks like two hairless people about to kiss, or one of those optical illusions where you can either see two heads or one vase. There’s no getting past it; everyone will know you have a Walmart laptop (and if your experience is like mine, they’ll have something to say about it). Besides that, the lid is plain, smooth black and will accrue plenty of smudges almost instantly.

Opening the laptop reveals even more Overpowered logos. There’s a small OP logo (kissing faces included) on the spacebar, as well a full “OVERPOWERED” logo (again, with those lovey-dovey faces) in silver on the deck’s upper-left corner.

The keyboard’s RGB buttons are angled into an octagon-like shape. Couple that with the bold, all-caps font, and you get a retro look. You’ll either love it or hate it. I, personally, appreciate it.

The soft-touch deck’s upper-right corner has a parallelogram-shaped power button with the on symbol shaped like a hexagon (are you seeing theme here?). To the left of that is a button for toggling between Office Mode, which sets the battery to low voltage, and Gaming Mode, which uses more battery power and sets the CPU and GPU to their maximum capacity. On the left, there’s a light bar with individual indicators for caps lock, battery status and power.

The deck also has an RGB light bar on the edge, which you can program with the included OP Control Center software (more on that later). There are separate options for plugged-in and on-battery, which both have individual R, G and B sliders, for making the light one static color. Alternatively, you can check off the “Colorful” box for constant color cycling. There’s also the not-so-helpful “Enter breathing mode when the computer sleep and plug in charger” (no, I did not make a typo there), as well as a toggle to turn the light bar off.

Slim bezels frame the display’s sides. A medium top bezel holds the webcam, while a thicker bezel sits on the bottom. Given the healthy 17.3-inch size of the display, the border isn’t overwhelming.

 

The left side houses a Kensington lock, an Ethernet jack, one USB 2.0 port, a microphone  jack and a headphone jack. The right side has a 2-in-1 SD card reader and two USB 3.0 Type-A ports. On the back are two Mini DisplayPorts, one HDMI output, one USB Type-C and the port for the charger.

Vents run along the upper-third of the deck’s left and right sides, with two more vents on the hinge.

Overall, the laptop's build quality has room for improvement. The plastic and hollow feel throughout the machine and among the keyboard and fake silver accents all make the laptop look cheap. 

The Overpowered 17+ weighs 5.7 pounds (2.6g) and measures 15.6 x 10.3 x 1 inches (396.2 x 261.6 x 25.4mm). That’s lighter than other gaming laptops, like the Dell G7 15 (6.3 pounds, 15.3 x 10.8 x 0.9 inches) and Asus ROG Strix Scar II (6.3 pounds, 15.7 x 10.7 x 1 inches) but heavier than the Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition (5.5 pounds, 15.4 x 10.5 x 1.1 inches).

Gaming, Graphics and VR

With an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB) graphics card and integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630, games were playable on the 17+ at 1080p and comparable (or better) than direct competitors. It also surpassed the category average in each of our tests.

When I played Middle Earth: Shadow of War (ultra settings), it ran between 47 and 75 frames per second (fps) but usually stayed in the 55 / 56 fps range. There was no stuttering, even when Mogg the Painted and Krakhorn cornered me like cowards.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (very high settings) ran at 37 fps, above average and better than the G7 with its GTX 1060 with Max Q (6GB). That score is also just shy of matching the Strix Scar II (GTX 1060) and Helios 300 Special Edition (GTX 1060 / Intel UHD Graphics 630).

On the Hitman benchmark (ultra settings with DirectX 12), it ran the game at 71 fps. This is better than the G7, although a hair worse than both the Scar II and Helios 300 Special Edition.

Grand Theft Auto V (very high settings) ran at 50 fps on the 17+, above average but a touch shy of matching the Scar II or Helios 300 Special Edition’s scores. It did, however, beat the G7 here.

The 17+ ran Metro: Last Light (high settings) at 46 fps, which surpasses the G7, while again just missing the marks of the Scar II and Helios 300 Special Edition.

The Walmart gaming laptop earned a 7 out of 11 on the SteamVR Performance Test, so it’s able to run your favorite VR titles with an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

Performance

With a six-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and 32GB of DDR4 RAM, the Overpowered 17+ handled average workloads well. With 20 Chrome tabs, including one streaming an episode of Arrested Development from Netflix, I could hear Tobias yelling out double entendres without pause, even when switching through tabs. The laptop also surpassed or matched the average mainstream gaming PC score in all of our performance benchmarks.

On Geekbench 4.1, an overall performance test, the Overpowered 17+ earned an above-average score of 22,633. That score is also better than each of the comparison laptops, which all have the same CPU as the Walmart machine.

The Overpowered 17+ needed 25 seconds to copy 4.97GB of files, a rate of 203MBps. That’s equal to the category average but pretty dismal compared to the Strix Scar II.

It took the Overpowered 17+ 35 seconds to pair 65,000 names and addresses in our Excel spreadsheet test. That’s faster than average and better than our competitors here.

The Overpowered 17+ also impressed during the Handbrake video editing test, where it transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 8 minutes and 59 seconds. Again, that’s quicker than the average laptop in this category and the comparison field.

Display

The 17.3-inch FHD display on the 17+ is bright and colorful. When I dove into an HD trailer for the upcoming Aquaman movie, I binged on a bounty of colors. Aquaman’s yellow-green eyes, multi-colored reefs and Mera’s bright red hair popped. But more impressive were water reflections throughout an aquarium and the strength of hues in darker scenes, such as Mera’s green costume in the night or gray sharks.

When watching the trailer from a perpendicular angle, the image was still viewable but with a small glare across the screen’s lower-third. This was more prominent in black parts of the image, where I could see my desk and RGB keyboard on the screen. While playing Middle Earth, I could see vivid details, like the intricacies of Tailon’s cape design, spots of red, orange and green in the earth and the red blotches and generally uneven skin tone of Ogg Cave Rat.

The 17+ is more colorful than the average gaming PC and offers more color than all of our comparison laptops. Its brightness is below average; however, it’s still brighter than the G7.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is one of the most distinct parts of the Overpowered 17+. Its keys’ octagonal design and bold font give it an old-school feel, while RGB provides modern flair.

While The keyboard's springy switches appear to be mechanical and are very clacky and louder than your average membrane keyboard. They have an excellent 1.8mm of travel (we prefer a minimum of 1.5mm) and require 71 grams of force to press. That all leads to a very pleasant typing experience. On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I hit 105 words per minute with a 0.6 percent error rate, which is very good for me.

You can control per-key lighting via the included OP Control Center software (more on that in the software section below). It includes the ability to make keys light up one at a time when pressed or a different color each time it’s pressed repeatedly. There are also 13 different effects options, and you can save up to five profiles. Other features include brightness, speed and direction control and the ability to turn off the RGB completely.

The 17+ features a wide, 5.2 x 2.8-inch (132.1 x 71.1mm) touchpad. I could hear my finger as it glided across the Mylar (a form of polyester resin) and glass touchpad and click is strong and audible. Windows gestures, like three- and four-finger taps and swipes, worked well thanks to Windows Precision drivers.

Audio

The 17+ has a pair of two-watt Realtek Audio speakers on the deck’s angular sides and one woofer next to the right speaker. Unfortunately, they aren’t particularly loud or booming. When I listened to The Killers’ “When You Were Young,” I found myself wanting to bump the volume louder even after reaching the max. Although all the instruments were audible, Brandon Flowers’ voice was muffled, making it even sadder that I couldn’t blast the song louder.

Upgradability

The 17+ is upgradable, but you have to remove a dozen Philips head screws to get inside. On our review unit, one of those screws had a sticker covering it that read “OVERPOWERED Warranty Seal.” That might make you think that breaking the sticker nulls the warranty, but that’s illegal. However, we don’t know if Walmart will give you trouble down the line with the warranty if you break the sticker.

The hard drive is replaceable after unscrewing seven Philips screws. The SSD is also secured with a single Philips screw. Our review unit had room for one more M.2 SSD. The RAM pops right out, and our machine had room for one more stick. We could also upgrade the M.2 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module by removing a single Phillips screw.

Battery Life

The 17+ lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes on our battery test, which browses the web over Wi-Fi, running a script and streaming video and webGL animations. This is below average for a premium gaming laptop and way below the G7’s battery life.

However, the bigger battery-related problem is the included power adapter. Mine fit very loosely into the laptop and would pop out if I moved the laptop even slightly. Since the charging port is in the back and the connector is L-shaped, it’s very easy for the connector to bump into your desk or lap and then get jostled out of the device. An ill-fitting adapter is one of the most common ways for laptops to break, so it’s very disappointing to see this in one that costs $1,299.

Heat

After 15 minutes of playing Middle Earth, I checked the 17+’s temperatures. The spot between the G and H keys was 42.9 degrees Celsius (109.2 degrees Fahrenheit), while the touchpad hit 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). The bottom of the laptop reached 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). This laptop gets pretty toasty.

Webcam

The 720p, Windows Hello webcam on the 17+ produces true-to-life color. My skin tone was accurate (a rarity for me with webcams), as was my beige sweater and highlighted hair. I could even see minuscule details, like loose hairs. The white lights in our office just partially washed out nearby images.

Unfortunately, there was visual noise throughout the entire image, especially among darker blues and darker browns. My eyebrows were particularly blurry, and everything was a touch fuzzy.

Software and Warranty

Walmart’s Overpowered line comes with its own software, the OP Control Center, for controlling the RGB keyboard and LED light bar, as well as numerous gaming-related settings. It’s a simple application but includes the ability to switch between Gaming Mode, its fan-blasting Turbo Mode and Office Mode. In Office Mode, you can tweak fan speed or pick from min to max speed for temperatures measured from blue to red (cold to hot). System Monitor lets you pick between Game Mode, High Performance, Equilibrium Mode or Power Saving Mode and also shares information like temperatures and CPU usage.

Other OP Control Center features include toggles for locking the keyboard’s Windows button, keeping the USB ports open for charging when the laptop’s off or hibernating and making the discrete GPU the primary graphics option.

Our unit also came with Nvidia Control Panel and Dolby Access for tweaking sound. But it also brought along some bloatware: Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Friends Saga, Fitbit Coach, Microsoft News, Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Netflix.

Walmart sells the Overpowered 17+ with a limited one-year warranty.

Configurations

Our review configuration of the Overpowered 17+ is the only one available. It has a six-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 32GB of RAM (which is probably overkill), an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB) GPU and handles storage with a 1TB hard drive and 256GB SSD (from SK Hynix, in our case). This is the most premium laptop in Walmart’s gaming laptop line and costs $1,299 (UK pricing not available).

If you’re on a budget, Walmart also has the Overpowered Gaming Laptop 15, with a 15.6-inch screen. It has a four-core Intel Core i5-8300H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a lesser GPU in the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB) and the same 1TB HDD but just 128GB of SSD storage. That will cost you $599.

The middle option is the Overpowered Gaming Laptop 15+ (15.6-inch screen). It comes with the same CPU, GPU and SSD as our review config. However, it has 16GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD. Walmart sells it for $999.

Bottom Line

Walmart’s first attempt at a premium gaming laptop delivers solid productivity performance relative to its competitors. But we hoped for more value, including a better-looking design and a charger that fits properly. The latter is especially concerning because I fear the laptop losing its ability to charge altogether, which is a pricey fix. For $1,200 we'd like a more premium build. 

While gaming on the machine met expectations, you can get better frame rates at this price point and from a more reputable gaming laptop brand. The Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition with the same CPU and GPU but 16GB of RAM and and 256GB SSD storage did better in our gaming benchmarks and is $50 cheaper. You get less storage and RAM, but storage is cheap and 32GB of RAM is probably more than you need in a gaming laptop of this caliber.

While it’s an RGB delight with a refreshingly bouncy keyboard, reliable performance and strong 17.3-inch display, there are better options at this price point than the Overpowered 17+.

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Photo Credit: Tom's Hardware

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