In terms of gaming laptops, there are many big names that dominate the scene. Sometimes, one can't help but wonder - am I just paying for the brand, or am I truly getting my money's worth? That's when you start to look beyond the mainstream brands and discover 'hipster' gems like Level 51. Level 51 is the sister company of Aftershock PC Singapore, which is the bigwig of custom PC building in Singapore - but that's not all! Apart from putting together custom PCs, they also offer a decent range of custom laptops.
If you're not familiar with custom laptops, one thing you should know is that these boutique laptops retailers - e.g. Level 51, Illegear, Thunderobot - generally use OEM parts from manufacturers like Clevo, just packaged and marketed differently.
Generally, the difference is how they put the machines together, the price point they set, as well as the quality of their service. With that out of the way, let's begin our review of the Forge 15 Elite gaming laptop by Level 51!
Minimalist and Modern Aesthetic
One thing I really like about this laptop is its subtlety.
It has no striking colour accents or glaring vent designs that has 'seriuz gamer' written all over it. In fact, you could probably finish a presentation in front of your boss and colleagues without them snickering and calling you a overgrown nerd.
The brushed alloy finish feels especially nice, and gets very cold under the aircon (I MAY have laid my face on it to verify this...at least it's nice and well-oiled now?)
The slim bezel means more screen-to-body ratio, which means less plastic and more 120hz buttery-smooth hentai.
The keyboard is RGB but doesn't feature all the fancy functions that gaming peripherals tend to come with - it's just a simple 1-colour-at-a-time setup, which ties further into the 'office drone by day, gamer by night' aesthetic.
The lid accents are a cool white (sorry 1 colour only) and shine through tiny perforations, giving it a very modern, digital look.
Interesting Design Choices
Another thing I found great was that the power port as well as the HDMI and LAN ports are on the back. This is a seriously underrated design choice.
Often, these ports are situated on the left side, which sucks if you're a lefty (then again, LOTS of things suck if you're left-handed).
Even if you're right-handed, having the cables out completely out of the way and out of sight is a welcome change.
Another to note is that this thing has lots of vents. There are 2 on the back and 1 on each side. This is good news for temperature control, but bad news for people afflicted with chronic sweaty palms.
Those fans are POWERFUL. If you're one of those poor humans stuck in freezing offices, it's great cause it feels like you constantly have a hairdryer pointed at your fingers when the fan is pushed to maximum speed. They're also loud, but this can be easily circumvented by putting on a headset (which people usually do while they're gaming anyway).
Smol but Kuat
Now, let's talk about power.
When you buy a laptop from Level 51, you can either go with their recommended specs or customise your own. This review unit comes with their recommended specs, which are:
I found these specs more than sufficient to run the usual slew of multiplayer games like Dota and GTA5 at 120 fps. FPS favourites like Apex Legends and Fortnite also perform reasonably well at max settings, consistently maintaining framerates above 80.
Temperature-wise - after turning the fans up to maximum speed - the Forge 15 maintained a healthy 54°C (GPU) and 71°C (CPU) even after 2 consecutive hours of playing Borderlands 2.
At only 2.2kg and 24.9mm thick, it is an admirable amount of power that you can take with you on the go.
Fast and Easy Service
One extra perk when buying from boutique laptop brands is faster RMA and service turnaround times.
You can simply walk into the Level 51 showroom with your laptop, and they can help you diagnose minor issues on the spot. If replacements parts happen to be available right there and then, you could possibly walk home with your laptop back in tip-top shape on the same day. Imagine that.
If the parts need to be ordered, you can come back and pick it up within a week or so.
As for ordering and customising a new laptop, introverts can rejoice, because you can do all of that online.
Just visit their website and pick the base model you want, and get customising!
Another thing to note is that you get a lifetime of Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut thermal compound, so you and your laptop can stay cool forever. Just bring your laptop in once a year and they'll top it up for you.
Ah, the part we're all waiting for! For the recommended spec configuration above, the Forge 15 Elite only costs RM 4,375. Of course, adding on extra parts will incur more charges, but overall what you're getting for the price is extremely reasonable, and definitely cheaper than most of the pre-packaged mainstream laptops out there.
If you'd like to browse Level 51's entire range of laptops (they also sell higher-end builds and slimmer models) you can either visit their website, or walk into their showroom for a personal consultation.
All in all, we had a great experience with this laptop - although it isn't packed with fancy features, it does its job well and looks great without stabbing your bank account in the jugular.
B-03-01 Sunway Geo Avenue, Jalan Lagoon Selatan,