OCZ DIY Gaming Notebook 15"



While the ability to change the memory, hard disk and CPU in a notebook isn't exactly a groundbreaking feat by any stretch of the imagination, the very fact that the OCZ DIY Gaming Notebook is shipped from the factory minus these components changes the ball game all together. For the first time ever, enthusiasts and average users alike can take advantage of the cheaper hardware available online to build their dream notebooks at a greatly discounted rate. Priced at just shy of £500 over at Play.com, the DIY 15" comes in at a price similar to that of a low-end notebook. Throw in some lucky bids on eBay and a hunt around the bargain basement at your preferred retailer and you can expect to build a beastly notebook for a total sum of £700-750.

The build process is extremely easy and OCZ supply enough instructions to point you in the right direction but not overload you with unnecessary information. From unboxing, we managed to have a fully operational laptop in under 15 minutes, and as the video guide on page four will hopefully have shown, there really is nothing too tricky to contend with, especially if you've got previous experience in building desktop systems.

The notebook itself is very robust and doesn't feel like it's going to fall apart if held incorrectly or bumped about in a bag. The only exception to this, unfortunately, is the reflective black plastic lid that quickly picks up dirt, smudges and scratches making the notebook 'old' in only a matter of days. It is also a shame that OCZ didn't decide to add their branding to the DIY (on our model anyway) as the notebook does look quite bland and possibly even cheap without this.

Features of the DIY are extensive to say the least. Our model came fitted with a fingerprint reader, Bluetooth receiver and 2MP webcam, all of which worked perfectly during our week of testing. Additional options such as a Blu-ray drive are also available and will certainly make good use of the on-board HDMI port should you want to output to a TV/LCD. The only caveat in the DIY's multimedia capabilities is the on-board speakers, which are far from the quality of some other similar priced notebooks we've used and reviewed in the past.

Finally, the performance of the DIY is something that's extremely hard to draw a conclusion on as it is entirely dependent on the components installed by the user. We went for the highest we could possibly find available on eBay and ended up with a notebook that was extremely nippy, multitasking in the same league as any desktop. Gaming performance was also reasonably good for a notebook in this price range, with the ATI HD3650 GPU outperforming the Nvidia 8600M GT installed on the MSI TurboBook GX600 that we used for comparison.

Of course, all this performance does have a negative impact on the DIY's portability, restricting us to a maximum of 1hr 20mins 'light' usage (document editing) before the battery gave up. Luckily, there are higher mAh batteries available on the Internet should you not want to trade performance for battery life.

The Good
- Ability to spec and build your own laptop.
- Gain experience on how to upgrade in the future.
- Can work out cheaper if you buy components from the right places.
- Integrated fingerprint reader and webcam.
- Bluetooth receiver allows easy connection to mobile phones and HID devices like mice.
- HDMI output available.
- Robust casing. No 'creaking' or flexing of the main body.
- Fairly good GPU performance.
- Bright, clear screen.

The Mediocre

- Notebook lid is a fingerprint and scratch magnet.
- On-board sound not too great.
- Plain appearance with no OCZ branding.
- Can be a tad fiddly to put together (especially without a magnetic screwdriver!).
- WiFi & Bluetooth On/Off functions should really be assigned to their own buttons.

The Bad
- Poor battery performance when used with a high-end CPU.
- No overclocking options! Shame on you OCZ!

Overclock3D Recommended Award Overclock3D Innovation Award
Please note that as 'Performance' is entirely dependent on components used, this part of the chart is to be substituted with 'Features'.

Thanks to OCZ for providing the DIY 15" for review. Discuss this review in our forums.
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Most Recent Comments

11-02-2009, 14:18:43

Great video Jim. Nice to see you wore some bling for it

The DIY 15" is a very smart looking unit, it's just a shame they didn't add some form of branding to brighten it's appearence up a bit like you said. A backlit logo would look rather snazzy in my opinion.

The one thing that stood out the most for me is the appalling battery life. Although when gaming at LANs you will have access to mains power when you need it, I would still expect 2 hours minimum for reasonably heavy usage this day in age.

It's good to see the addition of an HDMI out, fingerprint reader, bluetooth included in the price and not optional extras.

Whilst OCZ have made a good effort at bringing an affordable DIY notebook to the market, I personally feel it falls short, even if just a little. I hope they listen to criticism and take it on board as they may be on to a winner if they make a few changes here and there.

Good job on the review as a whole. Quote

11-02-2009, 14:54:43

The idea is nice.

The implementation is fair.

The price is... ok I guess.

I just feel a little short-changed in the amount of things u really can diy with such barebones-notebooks. I know it's not exactly a mobo and a case - and away u go.

Performs pretty well mind, components taken into account, and I'm glad to see some stats there I can compare against the cheap HP I pimped out.

The looks I think are down to the user to mold into their personal tastes. I see people putting stickers/labels over them - to that end a shiny surface is a good 'attacher' but when it comes to taking off the ATI logo, cos u felt embarassed or something, I wouldn't fancy watching jonny scraping at it with an implement.

Don't like the screen size. Very cheap 15" laptops will do x1024 - ok it's squarer, but the key is u've gone over 1080.

Didn't see any emphasis on dvi, although hdmi available, and would be interested in them showing docking options for these so u can be prouder @home with ur build.

Great stuff.Quote

11-02-2009, 17:03:58

Originally Posted by name='Rastalovich'
Don't like the screen size. Very cheap 15" laptops will do x1024 - ok it's squarer, but the key is u've gone over 1080.
If by this you mean support of 1080p video resolution, that's pointless- a 1280x1024 screen is not going to be displaying 1920x1080 anytime soon.

Far better in my opinion to stick with 1280*800 as they have done so that 720p is within easy reach without the screen having to interpolate the resolution horizontally- resulting in horrible scaling in some cases. It also means the 3650 isn't pushing as many pixels during gaming, which should improve performance.

I have to say that was one of the best reviews I've read in ages, as others have said the addition of the video was great, and I think OCZ are really moving into exciting tech, so respect to them for taking the initial plunge into the market.Quote

11-02-2009, 17:06:56

I meant 1050 tbh. Apart from HD considerations, I was thinking more of basic web viewing. For just the likes of games I'm not sure whether I'd prefer to go over 800 dots or not.

800 in height for fps might be ok.Quote

11-02-2009, 17:17:29

I still think we need to hire a woman with bright-red nails to do the video

Great review of a, ahem, different product. It's certainly a strange one. The idea is sound, but the battery life is a killer.Quote

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