Doghouse Systems Mobius NT Review
For the longest time I have been stuck with a “bigger is better” mentality when dealing with gaming laptops. After all, the Asus G75 that I primarily use is a monster – a fact that I noted in my review of the beast. So when I was talking to Doghouse Systems about reviewing a system and they proposed sending an 11″ model, I was mildly amused. They made claims in emails that while small, it would potentially be able to blow anything else that I had used before out of the water and while I was intrigued, I just could not wrap my head around that happening. Now, for those that are uninitiated, Doghouse Systems in a custom PC builder specializing in high end gaming systems. If you have ever listened to “The Instance” podcast (any version of it), you have probably heard them talk about Doghouse Systems. It says something about them when most other custom PC builders have gone the way of the dinosaur, they have kept on strong.
One of the first things that I noticed when taking the Mobius NT out of its package was the rubber coating that was all over the top. It gave the whole laptop a completely different feel from what I had been used to. No velvety smooth plastic, or cold hard aluminum – this was a deliberate choice to be something unique, and unique it definitely was. I decided that to give this system its fair go, I would have to completely bench my G75 and use it for everything I normally used that monster for. Review and news posts, Facebook updates, Tweets – and of course, gaming. All of that would factor into whatever score I decided to give it. Since you can find all of the specs and numbers for each part inside pretty much anywhere on the internet (and from places much more well known for specs like that), I knew from the gun that I would have to focus on everything else on this system to make the review good.
First, the big negative here – due to its small size, there is no optical drive in the Mobius NT. Now for me, this wasn’t a real big deal – with five desktop PCs in my house, I have gotten used to doing network installs to save time. Even so, the good folks at Doghouse Systems sent over a little external drive, which I ended up never using – I figured there was going to be a number of people who would be doing network installs like myself, so that’s the route I went. I have to say that everything installed just as fast as it did on my main desktop, which is to say I didn’t notice a single bit of lag. Another small negative (again, coming from someone who is used to a megalithic laptop) is the fact that the Mobius NT doesn’t have a full number pad on it. I know it’s a really minor thing, but it’s just something that I had gotten really used to, and the lack of it was like a wake up slap. Luckily I had used smaller laptops before so I was able to transition relatively easily – the larger Mobius models do have the full number pad though, so if you really need one you’ll need to go bigger. Last thing I really would have wished for would be the textured rubber coating to have been applied to the keys as well. As it stands, it is on the wrist rest around the track pad (and even on the track pad itself) and it feels great when you are doing things – doesn’t feel like your wrists will ever slip; I just can’t help but see the missed opportunity of putting that good stuff everywhere.
So up until now I’ve been talking about little aesthetic issues and so on and so forth – but you came here to read about how a gaming laptop does with games, right? Well I played a number of different things on it to test just that. For starters, I busted out some StarCraft 2 – everything on high and I was getting a consistent 70 – 80 FPS; significantly higher than I had been used to. After that I popped in some Battlefield 3 – while I mainly play it on my PS3, I do have a PC copy just for testing purposes. Again everything on the highest settings, and I got roughly 35 – 40 FPS. Not the highest I have seen, but better than the G75 would get so still damn well good. For the third game in my test I played around with Guild Wars 2 (review incoming), and really was blown away. My G75 would run with everything on high, but in clustered player areas the frame rate would nose dive into the ground – the little Mobius NT had no problem taking it all in and keeping the frame rate above 40. Lastly I played Borderlands 2 just to see how I could push it. I specifically waited to put this review out until I could get Borderlands 2 because I figured a number of people would be playing that for a while now. Again, with the available options (no mods or anything like that) set to maximum, I was seeing an average of 50 FPS. So to answer the question of “Can the Mobius NT handle games as well as other gaming laptops?”, I have to come out with a resounding “hell yes”.
Under the hood, the Mobius NT comes standard with a third generation Intel Core i5 3210M 2.5G MHz Dual-core processor, 4 GB DDR3 1600 MHz Memory, 500 GB 7,200 RPM drive, and for graphics – NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M / Integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000. Of course since Doghouse Systems is a custom PC manufacturer, you can add other parts or ramp up your system as much as you can afford, making it a truly deadly piece of hardware on the battlefield. One other little bonus I really loved was the fact that the Mobius NT has a HDMI out port built right into it, which let me hook it up to out 60″ TV when the family wanted to watch a movie – no more streaming things through my PS3. As I sit here packing the Mobius NT up to send back to the good people at Doghouse Systems, I find myself really wishing it was tax time so I could pick one of these beauties up for my very own. I started transitioning myself back to my gigantic G75 last night, and it was a sad time indeed – I’ll definitely be picking up one of these come February!
Bottom Line: The Mobius NT does what was promised – delivered super high gaming performance in a minimalistic foot print – if you want something small and powerful as hell, this is your huckleberry.
- Doghouse Systems “systems” all come with a one year parts and labor warranty, which in the world of computers is excellent
- The textured rubber coating just feels great and helps this rig to stand apart
- The Mobius NT is three quarters the size of my G75, but almost twice as powerful
- If you are used to a larger laptop, you will have to get used to some things being missing
- The rubber coating doesn’t come on the keys
The Base model of the Mobius NT will run you $1,295, but you can customize it at Doghouse Systems’ website.