Digital Storm Krypton18 Nov, 2014 By: Art Liddle
Editor's note: This review is part of a Cadalyst Labs Report. Read "Mobile CAD Workstations Priced Under $2,500" to learn how this model compares to the others included in the product roundup.
Having completed a review of a desktop workstation from Digital Storm just a few months ago, which earned our Highly Recommended rating, we were expecting good things from the Krypton mobile workstation the company submitted for this roundup. Although Digital Storm's web site bills the Krypton as a custom gaming laptop, as configured for this review it is obviously a mobile CAD workstation.
The Krypton features a 17.3" LED-backlit panel with matte finish and the typical HD aspect ratio of 16:9. It produces a clear image with good colors and a wide viewing angle. With a maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, this 17.3" panel could serve as your main display for most AutoCAD work. You can easily plug in a larger stand-alone monitor if desired. Actually, thanks to its NVIDIA K3100M graphics card (4 GB GDDR5 memory), the Krypton can drive as many as three additional monitors that support the multistreaming (daisy-chain) capabilities of the new DisplayPort 1.2 standard.
Digital Storm's Krypton mobile workstation delivers good performance and includes every option you'll need for serious mobile computing.
The Krypton's black case measures 16.3" x 11.3" x 1.8". It is equipped with a backlit full-sized keyboard with adjustable brightness, an integrated numeric keypad, and a touchpad with a pair of buttons. The system weighs 8.6 lbs. Throw in the power adapter (7" x 3.5" x 1.4"; 2.0 lbs) and carrying case (not included; 1.5 lbs), and you're lugging around more than 12 pounds of equipment. Such is the price you pay for this level of mobile computing power.
The Krypton includes 16 GB of DDR3 1,600-MHz system memory filling two of its four 204-pin SODIMM sockets. It supports a maximum of 32 GB of memory. It comprises three drives: a Samsung 250-GB solid-state drive (SSD), a 750-GB SATA (7,200 rpm; 3 Gb/sec) hard drive, and a DVD/CD 8X optical multi-drive reader and writer.
Externally, the Krypton provides a wealth of connections: one USB 2.0 port, three USB 3.0 ports (one powered), an HDMI (video) port, a mini-Firewire port (4-pin), a standard DisplayPort, a mini DisplayPort, an eSATA/USB combination port, a network adapter (10/100/1000 mbps), four audio ports, and a 9-in-1 card reader. The Krypton also includes an Intel 802.11ac, dual-band, 2x2 Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth 4.0 adapter, which supports the very latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth standards, and a SoundBlaster X-Fi 3 sound card drives a pair of Onkyo stereo speakers and a subwoofer.
At the heart of the Krypton lies an Intel Core i7-4810MQ processor. This fourth-generation chip includes four cores and eight threads (virtual processors) running at 2.8 GHz, with a maximum turbo speed of 3.8 GHz. Designed for mobile computing, the 4810QM adjusts its power requirements based on the task at hand, drawing a maximum of 48 W of power at peak operation. The Krypton includes twin exhaust vents at the rear with a system of internal copper heat-pipes to disburse the heat produced by the CPU, as well as the graphics card and memory chips. Although the fan noise was often noticeable, there were times when the fans went silent — even during our benchmark tests. We never noticed an external heat problem during our evaluation.
To gauge system performance, we used a combination of the Cadalyst c2015 benchmark running AutoCAD 2015, and SPECviewperf 11. Per our standards, we enabled hardware acceleration for AutoCAD, turned off the graphics card's vertical sync, and set the screen resolution to 1,280 x 1,024 (32-bit color). Digital Storm chose Microsoft's Windows 8.1 64-bit operating system.
The Krypton's Cadalyst c2015 benchmark scores were as follows: total index = 543, 3D graphics index = 1,229, 2D graphics index = 406, disk index = 269, and CPU index = 269. The test results for the SPECviewperf 11 suite of tests, single sample mode only, were as follows: 47.31 for catia-03, 34.52 for ensight-04, 52.44 for lightwave-01, 48.27 for maya-03, 17.48 for proe-05; 49.94 for sw-02, 41.80 for tcvis-02, and 38.48 for snx-01. The average SPECviewperf score was 41, giving the Krypton a combined score of 584, just 8% off the top mark and earning an A– for CAD performance on our report card.
The last thing we checked was battery performance under stressful conditions. The Krypton is powered by an 8-cell, 77-WH smart lithium-ion battery. Digital Storm warranties this battery for one year. We used the c2015's 1,000-loop option to measure how long the Krypton can operate on its battery at full throttle. We found the battery lasted an average of 103 minutes — just 10% below average for its class (17.3").
The Digital Storm Krypton mobile workstation, as configured for this review cost $2,489, which includes ground shipping and a $50 discount (good through fall 2014). It is backed by Digital Storm's Life-time Expert Customer Care with 3 Year Limited Warranty, which covers all parts for one year, labor for three years, and phone support for life. Returns are accepted within 30 days, with a 15% restocking fee. The Krypton is fully loaded with 16 GB of memory, a total of 1 TB of hard drive storage, a top-notch mobile graphics card, a DVD/CD combination burner, support for the latest wireless connectivity, and nearly every possible external connection. The Krypton offers good performance and good value for your dollar. Highly Recommended.