The CyberPower Tracer III 15GTX one of the most interesting gaming laptop offerings we’ve seen recently – and, for once, it’s not because of the hardware inside. Instead, this machine is notable because of what you see when the lid is eased open. The CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX is one of the only gaming laptops we’ve ever seen with a mechanical keyboard. That’s a big change from the shallow keyboards that never seem to fit the bill on gaming laptops – but can it convince us to part with £899 or $799? Read our CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTXreview to find out.
CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTXReview – Design
Mechanical keyboards, while favoured by desktop gamers, are certainly a more traditional way of computing – and the CyberPower’s design is also a traditional affair.
The machine is made from brushed aluminium and plastic, and it has several features that hark back to older gaming laptops. The edges of the brushed aluminium base are dominated by various angles, seams and speaker vents, and the screen is surrounded by wide bezels.
The lid is finished in two contrasting patterns, with bold angles, highlighted sections and a large CyberPower logo. At the rear you’ll find dramatic air vents, and the base panel is angular. Above the keyboard you’ll find the chunky power button and a fan boost button.
The CyberPower does look a little dated when compared to some of its affordable rivals. The MSI GV62 7RC has a cleaner design that mixes gunmetal aluminium and with red accents. The Acer Nitro 5 takes a similar approach, albeit with darker metal.
The CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX has a 29mm-thick body, with a couple of extra millimetres added for the rubber feet. It weighs 2.4kg. That puts it in between its competition: it’s slimmer but heavier than the MSI, and lighter than the Acer. However, none of these more affordable gaming machines are particularly svelte, so you’ll definitely notice them in your bag.
Build quality is reasonable. There’s a little bit of give in the underside, but the area around the keyboard is sturdy. The screen feels strong, too. It’s definitely better than the flimsier MSI and Acer machines.
The Tracer III GTX’s more conventional approach to design means you get loads of versatility. There are two USB 3 ports and a single Type-C connector alongside four USB 2 connectors. The CyberPower has an HDMI output, an SD card slot, wired networking and two audio jacks. Many of the ports are at the back of the machine, which can make cable-tidying easier.
The versatility extends to the chassis itself. Removing screws from the base allows a large panel to pull away. Once that’s gone, you can reach the memory, storage and battery. There’s also a second M.2 connector, which no rival can offer.
CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX Review – Ergonomics
That’s a big deal. Most gaming laptops come with chiclet-style keyboards, which are shallow and light – far better for typing than for gaming. Anyone who plays on a desktop will tell you that mechanical units are better for gaming thanks to their better travel and firmer key presses.
The CyberPower’s keyboard exhibits many pleasing traits of mechanical keyboards. The level of travel falls about half-way between a conventional chiclet keyboard and a normal mechanical unit, which means you get far more travel than most laptops offer.
That level of travel is welcome on a gaming laptop, and the typing action is very good. The keys are fast and consistent, with a rapid action and a solid base. If you want to hammer away on these buttons during a frantic gaming session, then the CyberPower’s keyboard is far better than anything on any rival.
The mechanical switches included in the CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX are reminiscent of CherryMX Blue hardware. That means you don’t get a tactile bump in the middle of the keys – a good bit of design considering that the CyberPower’s buttons aren’t as deep as conventional mechanical keys. It also does mean that the buttons are loud, though.
We have a couple of qualms aside from the noise. The keys are flat, with very little space in between each button. At first, that meant that we often hit the wrong buttons. It’s an annoyance, but it is something that you’ll get used to as you become more familiar with this machine.
Elsewhere, the lack of space between the keys is a more persistent issue. There’s no space at all between the main keyboard, the number pad and the cursor buttons, which is irritating.
The trackpad is good – but, again, it could be better. The buttons have the sort of fast snap and responsive action that is found on the best gaming mice. However, the buttons push down a little too far, and they’re a tad too soft.
The keyboard is better than anything else at this price, and easily good enough for gaming. It’s got full RGB LED backlighting, too. However, we’d still always use a USB mouse.
CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX Review – Components
The GTX 1050 Ti serves up 768 stream processors and 4GB of dedicated memory. It’s got solid clock speeds, with a base clock of 1,493MHz that Turbo Boosts to 1,620MHz.
The MSI machine had an Nvidia GeForce MX150 chip. That part is weaker, with 2GB of memory and only 384 stream processors. The Acer Nitro laptop had a GTX 1050, which had 640 stream processors and 4GB of memory.
The graphics card may be mid-range, but there are no compromises when it comes to the processor. The Core i7-8750H is one of Intel’s Coffee Lake parts, which means you get the 14nm manufacturing processor and beefed-up architecture. It’s also got a whopping six Hyper-Threaded cores and a 2.2GHz clock that tops out at 4.1GHz.
The high-end CPU is paired with 8GB of dual-channel memory, a 240GB Western Digital Green SSD and a 1TB hard disk.
This, again, is another area where the CyberPower outpaces its competition. The MSI had a last-generation Core i5-7300HQ processor. Its memory was also installed in slower single-channel mode. The Acer had a Core i7-7700HQ chip, but that’s another older part.
As ever, the CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX has plenty of customisation options. You can upgrade the memory to 16GB or 32GB, expand the storage, or buy the VR version of the Tracer III 15, which upgrades the GPU to a GTX 1060.
CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX Review – Gaming Performance
The Tracer managed an average of 31fps or better in all five of our test games when played at 1080p and with their highest quality settings. Neither rival machine could manage that: the Acer Nitro 5 and its GTX 1050 was closest, but it still fell to 23fps in Witcher 3. The MSI machine, with its weaker MX150 GPU, was nowhere to be found.
The CyberPower’s minimum framerate did dip to 17fps in Witcher 3, but that was the only time the minimum dropped below the 30fps mark.
That latter result means that you may have to tweak graphics settings in some high-end titles to get gameplay that’s always smooth. That issue will become more prevalent in the future, when tougher games emerge. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the GTX 1050 Ti inside the CyberPower doesn’t have the power to convincingly output to VR headsets or panels with higher resolutions.
It does have the grunt to handle today’s top games at 1080p, though, including every esports title. It will also run most of tomorrow’s big-name releases without too many compromises. For a laptop that costs £879 or $799, that’s impressive.
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CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX Review – Application Performance
The CyberPower followed up its impressive gaming pace with convincing leads in application benchmarks. That’s no surprise: its high-end CPU has a newer architecture than the silicon used in its rivals, and it also has dual-channel memory.
The Coffee Lake architecture’s improved Turbo abilities saw the CyberPower score 4,492 points in the single-threaded Geekbench test. That is a narrow improvement over the older machines, and it means that the CyberPower will never feel sluggish when handling conventional daily tasks, like web-browsing.
The move from four processing cores to six cores makes a bigger difference. The CyberPower scored 1,047cb in the Cinebench test, which relies heavily on multi-threaded workloads – that’s almost twice as fast as its rivals. In the Geekbench multi-threaded test, its result of 16,707 points is more than 5,000 ahead of the nearest challenger.
Those latter results bode well for day-to-day multi-tasking. They also ensure that games won’t be bottlenecked by the processor. As an added bonus, it also means that the CyberPower can handle work tasks, from photo-editing to content creation.
The core components are good performers, but we were a little disappointed by the SSD. Its read pace of 546MB/s is fine for a SATA drive inside a mid-range machine, but its write pace of 275MB/s is poor – not far ahead of the best hard disks. The CyberPower did occasionally feel sluggish, but this is a budget laptop, so we’re willing to allow a little leeway here.
The CyberPower was a reasonable thermal performer. Its peak processor and graphics temperatures of 63°C and 68°C are absolutely fine. During our tests it never produced anything more than a middling fan rumble.
It was a little louder than both rivals, but there’s a lot more hardware inside this machine – and it’s easy enough to block the sound out with speakers or a headset. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the peak noise from this machine was achieved during a CPU-heavy stress-test, and that’s one of the least likely usage scenarios for a gaming system like this.
Don’t expect much in terms of battery life, either. The CyberPower returned a result of two hours and nineteen minutes in the PC Mark 8 test. That’s ten minutes better than the MSI, but not as good as the Acer. If you want to do some proper gaming, plug in.
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CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX Review – Screen
The model in our CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX review has a 60Hz non-glare screen with IPS technology and a 1080p native resolution. That resolution is fine for gaming, especially when combined with the mid-range graphics card. However, the CyberPower’s affordable price does dictate that this screen doesn’t push the envelope in terms of features – there’s no G-Sync, for instance.
The CyberPower’s budget also means that the monitor doesn’t have particularly good quality levels.
Its brightness measurement of 330cd/m2 is great, but its black level of 0.4cd/m2 is too high. That creates black areas that look grey rather than truly dark, and it also means that the monitor has difficulties differentiating between different shades at the darker end of the scale.
Those figures combine for a contrast ratio of 825:1. That’s mediocre, and it means that the screen doesn’t have the punch or vibrancy of rivals at any point. There’s some slight banding visible, too.
The colour temperature of 6,867K is fine, but the average Delta E of 4.75 isn’t too good. The screen also only handled a modest 58.8% of the sRGB colour gamut. Uniformity was a little inconsistent, too, with a good brightness reduction of 2% along the top row but a 14% drop at the bottom of the screen – although, thankfully, the normal human eye won’t notice those differences.
The CyberPower traded blows with rivals in screen benchmarks. The MSI had more accurate colours, but poorer contrast. The Acer had better contrast, but poorer colours and less sRGB coverage.
None of the screens we’ve mentioned here have great quality levels, but that’s understandable at this sort of price. What’s more important is that the CyberPower machine has solid contrast and that its colours aren’t disastrously off-base.
The CyberPower’s screen won’t make games and films look their best, then, but it won’t ruin them either. The Tracer has a panel that’s perfectly adequate for 1080p gaming.
CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX Review – Conclusion
The GTX 1050 Ti has enough power to handle esports games and today’s top titles at 1080p, even if you may have to tweak some settings to get the most demanding games working. The processor is excellent, and the CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX is a good thermal performer, especially in games.
The mechanical keyboard is better than anything else you’ll find on a gaming laptop at this price. It’s also snappier and more satisfying than the chiclet keyboards used on gaming laptops that cost twice as much. The layout and design could use some tweaking, but it’s a definite step forward.
The screen is mediocre, the SSD could be faster, and battery life isn’t great. We’d also have preferred a slightly weaker CPU in exchange for a bit more graphical grunt. But those are acceptable compromises in many gaming laptops that cost a lot more than the CyberPower.
The CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX isn’t perfect, but it does have more graphical power, better design and superior ergonomics when compared to anything else at this price – and it can punch above its weight when compared to pricier portables, even if some of those may look slimmer and snazzier.
The CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX is excellent. It’s fast, well-made and versatile, and it’ll cost you just £899 or $799. It’s a great option if you need a conventional and affordable gaming laptop.
The model in our CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX review costs £899 in the UK and $799 in the US – and here’s its official site. Discuss our CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading the CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!
- Solid 1080p gaming speed
- Very powerful processor
- Sturdy, versatile design
- Extremely affordable
- Mechanical keyboard
- SSD a little disappointing
- A little heavy and thick
- Battery life is underwhelming
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
Memory: 8GB 2,400MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
Screen: 15.6in, 1,920 x 1,080 60Hz IPS
Dimensions: 372 x 265 x 29mm (WxDxH)
Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.1
Ports: 2 x USB 3, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 4 x USB 2, SD card reader, HDMI output, 2 x 3.5mm audio jack
Storage: 240GB Western Digital Green SSD, 1TB hard disk
Warranty: 1yr RTB