The XMG Neo 15 Gaming Laptop Review

With the XMG Neo 15 has recently launched its latest gaming notebook on the market. However, this deviates a bit from other gaming notebooks made by XMG.

XMG has tried to combine high performance with compact dimensions. The result is a just 2KG notebook with a lot of power, at least on paper.

This is comparatively cheap with a starting price of 1399 € for an already very neat configuration, especially if one compares this with a Dell XPS 15.

But is the XMG Neo 15 good too? Is cooling good? Are the input device okay and what about the battery?

All these questions we try to clarify once in a test! Can the XMG Neo 15 convince?

Many thanks to XMG for lending the Neo 15 for this test.

Scope of delivery and packaging

XMG has done a very good job on the Neo 15 from the beginning to convey a certain positive feeling. This already starts with the packaging, which is kept in the XMG typical black-green and of the value even exceeds manufacturers such as ASUS, Dell and Co.!

But also with the delivery there are a few positive surprises. In addition to the notebook and the power supply is a driver DVD, a driver USB stick (16GB) and an XMG keychain included.

This is more than most manufacturers! Especially such small merchandise items as the USB stick and the lanyard I like very well.

Such small things that you do not expect, always delight me!

The XMG Neo 15 

At 359 x 236 x 22mm, the XMG Neo 15 is a comparatively compact 15 inch notebook, especially in the gaming sector. This is without question one of the biggest advantages of this notebook! Despite its high performance on paper, the dimensions and weight of 2KG are very portable, ideal for students.

For the case, XMG uses a mixture of plastic and aluminum. The lid, as well as the palm rest, are made of aluminum, the rest of plastic. Basically I would classify the case as solid. A Dell XPS 15 is certainly a little more massive, but compared to most “standard” gaming notebooks, the Neo 15 is even rated as above average.

Only the bottom gives something when lifting, but this is due to the large ventilation openings. Offside, the Neo 15 is working stably.

The build quality is appropriate to the price. Although there are some large gaps in the transition between aluminum palm rest and chassis, but the gap dimensions are pleasantly uniform and do not interfere with everyday life.

In short Qualitatively fits the notebook!

Almost even better I like the look. The XMG Neo 15 is based on a certain simple elegance. The lid, for example, has only a very subtle XMG logo and is very clean away from it. The rest of the notebook is kept pretty discreet.

There are a few elements here and there that suggest that this is a gaming notebook, but the Neo 15 would not look out of place in school, college or work.

At least if you disable or dim the very bright RGB keyboard backlight. Also slightly more conspicuous may be the “status” LED, which blinks standby.

This takes up almost the entire front of the notebook. Basically, a design that pleases with good, but could draw attention in a darkened room (can be switched off via software).

Thick bonus points gets the Neo 15 for the display frame! XMG has fully taken up the trend towards ever smaller display frames and the frames of the Neo 15 are pleasantly narrow at 6.8mm. This makes the notebook look a lot more modern.

Unlike Dell, however, XMG has kept the upper frame a bit thicker, but it is still very thin, making it possible to position a webcam above the display. Many current “super slim” notebooks have the webcam below the display, which is a stupid angle for video telephony. This problem does not exist here.

Another highlight of the XMG Neo 15 is the compact dimensions and the connections.

On the left side we find two 3.5mm connections for headphones / headsets, a normal USB 3.0 port and a fold-out Gbit LAN port. The latter is almost considered exotic.

On the back, besides the connection for the power supply, there is a USB C port (unfortunately no Thunderbolt), an HDMI 2.0 and two Mini-DisplayPort 1.4 ports.

More connections can be found on the right side. There is an SD card reader and two more USB 3.0 ports.

Summarized

  • 3x USB 3.0
  • 1x USB C 3.1 Gen 1
  • 1x HDMI 2.0
  • 2x Mini Displayport 1.4
  • 1x Gbit LAN
  • 2x 3.5mm for headphones / microphones

This is a very complete port configuration, especially in terms of display options. The only thing I miss something here, would be a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port with 10Gbit.

Apart from that, the XMG Neo 15 offers everything you would expect from a current gaming notebook!

 

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard of the XMG Neo 15 is special! Put it this way, I could understand well if the opinions differ.

But let’s start at the beginning. The Neo 15 is basically based on a fairly classic keyboard style. The keys have a nice size and spacing. The layout also fits. XMG relies on the typical German qwertz layout, without any special features like a small Enter key etc.

Due to the 15-inch factor, XMG could also accommodate a number pad. As a result, however, the keys are more or less flush with the edge of the notebook. Did this annoy me while typing? Nope!

However, the unusual thing about the XMG Neo 15 is the pressure / stop button. XMG relies on mechanical buttons! Yes, a mechanical keyboard in a notebook.

The individual keys have a very clear “click”. This click is accompanied by a slight increase in resistance, which drops off after the click is over. The touch of the keys is pleasant as far as the depth is concerned. A little deeper than an Ultrabook, but not tiring deep. The stop is clean too. The notebook does not yield significantly when pressed.

Incidentally, XMG calls the whole thing “optomechanical keyboard”.

Quite clearly, the keyboard needs a bit of familiarization. Once you get used to the higher pressure you need, you can type well on the Neo 15. A little criticism at the end, the keys feel a bit stiff when you press this at the bottom. A press in the middle or above, however, is “clean”.

Also on the trackpad I have some criticism. On my Neo 15 this sits a bit loose. With a simple tap you realize that this has a little game.

Off the trackpad is good! The tracking is pleasantly accurate without jumping the pointer. Also, the surface is pleasant on the fingers! It is not a MacBook trackpad, but also nothing to be ashamed of in the € 1000 + price range.

Bonus points are available for the very nice and on request very bright RGB lighting!

Speaker and camera

The XMG Neo 15 has two speakers on the lower right and left sides. These sound okay.

The notebook has a sufficiently clear and full sound, but tends in the bass to a slightly “plastic” undertone. The Neo 15 fails in this respect no Dell XPS or Apple MacBook, but you do not have to flee the sound.

The volume is high enough, just like the sound radiation. Especially on smooth surfaces, you hardly notice that the speakers are on the bottom. However, if you use the notebook on a duvet, the sound can be negatively affected.

In short, solid standard speakers.

I would like to praise the webcam. Qualitatively, this is a good average, but the positioning above the display is advantageous compared to a Dell XPS 15 and many other ultra slim notebooks. If you use your notebook frequently for video calls, the Neo 15 is absolutely fine.

Display

The Neo 15 currently has two display options, Full HD + 60Hz and Full HD + 144Hz. Both display options are IPS Panels!

Of course, the 144Hz version is perfect for gamers, especially if you play a lot of games of all of League of Legends, Overwatch, Fortnight, CS GO and so on. Fortunately, the surcharge of € 89 is fair.

Thankfully XMG sent me the big version with 144hz panel for this test. The built-in panel is the LGD05C0.

But what does this look like apart from the high frame rate? Pleasantly good and this applies both subjectively and objectively.

Subjectively, it is an above-average display, with good colors and contrasts. The brightness also fits a normal indoor application, especially since it is a matte display.

Of course, the high refresh rate is very noticeable and not only in games. Even simple applications such as scrolling in the web browser are significantly softer than with a normal 60Hz display. Should it allow your purse I would clearly recommend the 144hz display.

The measurements confirm my positive impression. The XMG Neo 15 covers 95% of the sRGB color space and 70% of the AdobeRGB color space. Not absolute tops, but better or comparable than most gaming notebooks.

The same applies to the solid brightness of maximum 307 cd / m² and the good contrast of 1: 740. By default, the display is also well calibrated with a Delta E of less than 2.

Thus, even a slight use for photo / video editing is not much in the way. Sure, there are notebooks with even better display, such as the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 with its 4K panel, but these are usually a price above the Neo 15 and all have no high image refresh rate.

Of the pure gaming notebooks, the XMG Neo 15 offers one of the best displays I’ve ever encountered.

On request, XMG has also informed me that both panels are very similar in quality (contrast, brightness, etc.), if not identical.

Power

A big advantage with XMG is that you can configure the notebook very freely. The Neo 15, however, the CPU and GPU is mandatory, which is not bad.

The Intel i7-8750H is currently the fastest notebook CPU (the i9 left out), which can score with rich 6 cores and 12 threads. Compared to the 7th Gen there was a significant jump in performance, which we will see later in the test.

The Nvidia GTX 1060 is an old acquaintance, but which is still top current. The next generation of notebook graphics cards will take a while (as of October 2018) and as long as the GTX 1060 is a great choice in such a portable notebook.

The memory you have the choice. Everything is available from 8GB to 32GB. With the Neo 15 the main memory is not soldered! If you do not have enough money now, a later upgrade is easily possible. Thumbs up for that!

Let’s come to a few initial benchmarks.

  

But much more interesting than the benchmarks are of course the real games tests. Let’s look at a few tests here.

Quite roughly over the thumb one can say that the XMG Neo 15 all current games in maximum quality and Full HD dissolution at around 60FPS hinbekommt.

Of course there are “outliers” in both directions. A few absolute high-end games, or poorly optimized games, can sometimes fall to just under 60 FPS, while e-sports titles of all CS GO are in the three-digit FPS range.

The 144Hz display also makes sense for these games.

Compared with other notebooks we see the expected picture. The XMG Neo 15 can put itself at the top of the GTX 1060 notebooks, thanks to Intel i7-8750H and a seemingly good cooling!

This is a top result for the Neo 15! It could not have been better with this hardware. I’m currently equipped with the notebook for every game.

In the SSD you have the XMG Neo 15 an unfamiliar choice. Basically, two m.2 SSDs can be installed, as well as a 2.5 inch HDD / SSD. This is very neat in a compact 15 incher!

Which SSDs are installed, you can choose when ordering at XMG. You can choose between all common Samsung SATA / NVME SSDs, Crucial SSDs (MX500), Western Digital (SATA / NVME) SSDs and Kingston.

Accordingly, I can give you here, of course, no absolute performance data. My tip if the money is available, take a Smasung 970EVO and if you want to save something the Crucial MX500.

Also with the WLAN map you have the choice between the Intel AC9560 and the killer 1550. The logical choice here is by the way the Intel map. Why? From the hardware are both identical, the Killer 1550 is based on the Intel AC9560 and brings only an alternative software. The Killer 1550 and the Intel AC9560 are absolute top WLAN cards, which create with the right router whopping 1733Mbit!

Volume and temperature

There are some positive things to report about the volume. It is important to know first that you can adjust the fans a good deal in the XMG application. If you’re at work or at school and you do not want the fans to spin up, you can do that in the app.

This naturally results in higher temperatures and thus lower power. Conversely, you can also set the fan to 100%. Then the notebook sounds like a jet, but theoretically has the maximum power.

But let’s focus on the default setting. In this case, the fans are completely quiet during normal operation. Even the short spin when starting applications, etc. which is common in many notebooks, is very rare or even absent in the Neo 15!

Especially in battery operation, the notebook is constantly quiet.

Unfortunately, my Neo 15 occasionally has a slight spooling / whirring. This does not occur constantly, but is only audible because the fans are otherwise “invisible”.

The XMG Neo 15 is one of the quieter gaming notebooks, even with the slight coil whirring! Significantly quieter than an HP Omen, at least in the Office / Web operation.

Under load, one hears then but the small dimensions something. Similar to all compact gaming notebooks, the Neo 15 can be heard under gaming load.

Although the fans are audible, but the basic tone of this is pleasant “dull” and thus not overly disturbing and even compared to a Razer Blade or XPS 15 I would classify the Neo 15 as quieter!

Interesting here are also the fan presets. In the quietest mode, the notebook is almost silent even under load.

But how much power does this super silent mode cost? Let’s take a look at 3DMark.

Fan full power

Fan in “Office” mode

Fan in gaming mode

Interesting, yes in the quietest mode, this may cost some performance, but only minimal. The difference between the normal “gaming” mode and the fan in 100% mode is almost non-existent.

So what about the temperatures?

I was really shocked a bit! Because the temperatures of the XMG Neo 15 are very low! Under gaming load in normal fan mode, the Intel Core i7 barely exceeds the 80 degree mark.

Even with a Chinebench run, the CPU reaches a maximum of 84-88 degrees. CPU or GPU throttling is not available! Really impressive! The XMG Neo 15 looks almost more competent cooled than an Alienware 15 R4.

Battery runtime

That the XMG Neo 15 is no battery miracle should already be clear when looking at the approximately 47Wh strong battery.

70-90Wh would be normal for a 15-inch notebook designed for portability. However, a smaller battery does not necessarily mean a bad battery life, as long as the built-in components are economical.

So how long does the Neo 15 last in normal Web / Office operation?

The Neo 15 comes to just over 3.5 hours. For a home and yard use perfectly okay, but really portable in detail you do not want to use the notebook.

With a few optimizations, display brightness to minimum, etc. might also be just over 4 hours, but this does not make the roast fat. Expects more with good 3.5 hours.

For a purebred gaming notebook, this is not a bad value, but for a “hybrid” of performance and portability is there in the competition a few hours more.

 

Conclusion

The XMG Neo 15 has surprised me in many ways very positive! But let’s start at the beginning.

The most important feature of the Neo 15 is without a doubt its compact size and low weight. This alone would not be anything special, but combined with an Intel Core i7 of the 8th Gen and a Nvidia GTX 1060 it looks a bit different.

There are certainly other super compact notebooks with similar features, but these are usually not available for $1400. A Razer Blade with the same CPU and GPU and 144hz display starts, for example, from $2250.

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