TECHNOLOGY

Aftershock P15: A Wallet-Friendly Beast

Singaporean outfit Aftershock’s Prime 15 laptop hits all the right notes at a really solid price point

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BY Rahil Bhagat - 17 Nov 2017

Singapore-based boutique PC maker, Aftershock, is something of a local secret. Started by twin brothers nearly a decade ago, Aftershock has gained a loyal following of customers who are looking for something a bit different from what the more established corporates offer.

Aftershock’s focus has always been on the gamer market, offering both budget and seriously tricked out computers for gamers of all means.

One of their latest machines is the one I have sitting in front of me now, The Prime 15. This thin and light gaming machine is Aftershock’s first proper attempt to carve a niche out in a market where ultra premium gaming laptops like the Razer Blade and the Aorus x5 have been the norm.

These are laptops known for being near ultrabook size but packing the beefy internals to handle today’s latest games and applications. This also makes them very pricey with the entry level Razer Blade retailing for a hefty SG$2,899.

Aftershock hopes to do this and more at a much cheaper price point while still delivering great quality hardware.

Has the Prime 15 succeeded in this arduous task? Read on.

Performance

One area Aftershock absolutely nailed is performance.

The 7th Gen Intel Core i7 and Nvidia GTX 1060 that I have under the hood is a phenomenal combination.

On the gaming front, the P15 is able to play even the most demanding AAA games like the newly released Assassin’s Creed Origins at medium to high with ease while more multiplayer centric titles like Overwatch and League of Legends are handled at Ultra settings with aplomb.

The Gtx 1060 has really been the star of this generation of Nvidia GPUs, and it is surprising how well this mid-tier GPU is able to handle some truly demanding titles.

Aftershock does offer the P15 with an Nvidida GTX 1070 Max Q edition if you want to squeeze out more performance for your machine, but in my opinion, taking cost, battery life and thermal performance into account, the 1060 really is the sweet spot.

Needless to say, on productivity tasks like Excel or even photo editing, the P15 is a champ.

Design

The Aftershock p15 is not the sexiest beast on the planet. It lacks the machined unibody design and incredible aesthetics of something like the Dell XPS 15 or Razer Blade but those machines also cost quite a bit more.

This device is seriously light though, weighing in at just 1.9 kgs, the P15 is an ease to lug around, especially considering the power under the hood. It’s also pretty slim, measuring in at 18.6 mm at its thickest point.

This is not to say that build quality is sub-par in any way—yes, there are a few more plastics than I would like and it lacks the gorgeous bezel-free designs of the Gigabyte Aero 15 or the aforementioned XPS 15, but pound for pound, the machine feels solid to hold, the components are well put together and tell-tale signs of shoddy design like increased screen flex are nowhere to be found.

The Aftershock P15 also does not scream “Look at me, I am a gaming enthusiast.” There are no shining red dragons or glowing green snakes adorning the cover. You could take this out in a coffee shop or a library without anyone thinking you live for that 1337 OP frag.

Screen

The 15.6 inch matte screen that ships with the laptop is a solid Full HD 1080p panel that, while not remarkable, is better than those you get on similarly priced productivity machines. I would highly recommend forking out the extra cash for an upgrade to the optional 120hz screen. The regular 60 hz screen you get with the base unit is good but a 120hz screen, especially for fans of shooters, is a huge improvement.

Color accuracy out of the box is a mixed bag, but chances are that unless you're a serious video or photo editor this kind of thing won't matter.

This is not a touchscreen and for what it’s worth, on a machine like it, I did not find wanting to smudge the screen with my oily fingers in the least.

Inputs

Hats off to Aftershock for really providing the most comprehensive list of ports I have seen in a long time. You get two USB-C ports, three regular USB 3.0 ports, two Mini Display ports, a HDMI port, along with the usual list of audio jacks. For a machine of this size, that is truly impressive.

The keyboard is also rather excellent, proving way better for some laptops at double the price. Keys have nice travel and just the right amount of feedback. The keys are also spaced nicely and the inclusion of a full size Num Pad is great. Theres the usual RGB lighting that is basically the norm for laptops like this, replete with the usual breathe, wave, and other effects. I, for one, hope that Aftershock makes the keyboard on the P15 the norm across its range.

If only the same thing can be said about the trackpad. I know that the P15 is aimed at people using a physical mouse but it’s been awhile since I have met a trackpad this finicky. Multi touch was hit and miss, and even after maxing out the sensitivity, the pointer proved rather slovenly. I have a feeling this is more a software than a hardware thing but still, in a device class that boasts excellent trackpads such as on the Dell XPS 15, I was left wanting more.

Audio

On the audio front, the P15 tries its best but ultimately, as is the case with most laptops like this, the sound is pretty meh. The included Creative Sound Blaster software is nice and gives you good control over your audio but at the end of the day, I would recommend a solid pair of headphones. The bass is barely there and anything above, say, 85 percent starts to get distorted.

The headphone out does have ANSPTM 3D sound technology built in, which helps especially for folks using solid analog cans.

Battery

Battery life on the P15 is solid with Aftershock stating that under normal usage, you can get about five hours from the built-in 55wh battery. This is pretty much par for the course on devices with this form factor and power. However, a bit of tweaking with the settings and shutting down of non-essential programs actually let me eke out six hours of regular word processing.

It also helps that Aftershock provides a pretty slim power brick out of the box; it’s not the sleek and sexy affair that Razer provides on its blade but compared to machines like this in the past, it’s very respectable.

Value

The Aftershock P15 is almost shockingly good value. At SG$2,108 (US$1,550) for the base unit, Aftershock has managed to pack some seriously good hardware into a very slim package.

Even with a few upgrades like faster storage, the 120hz display and the like, you won’t spend more than SG$2,400 (US$1,760), compare this to similarly specced machines from the likes of Gigabyte and Razer and you will be spending at least SG$2,900(US$2,130).

Should you buy it?

The Aftershock Prime 15 is not the best laptop out there but it is not trying to be. What Aftershock has brought to the table is a very compelling device that hits the basics out of the park and packs enough extras to keep it in the race. It is the value here, however, that makes the P15 such an easy laptop for me to recommend because frankly, for this price point on the open market, there is nothing as good. This is a blue-collar, working class hero that would be as good in the hands of a student as it would be for a hardcore gamer.

How much did I like it?

I actually went out and bought one.

Specs:

CPU: Intel Core i7 (7th Gen)

GPU: Nvidia GTX 1060/1070

RAM: 16GB

Storage: 256GB SSD/ 1TB HDD

Screen: 15.6 Inch FULL HD 1080p