Is the Overpowered brand unfamiliar to you? If so, no surprise: It’s a spanking-new effort by Esports Arena, and sold exclusively through Walmart. A house-brand laptop from a giant retailer may conjure certain assumptions, and the Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ ($1,699 as tested) meets some and exceeds others. PC-gaming purists may find the on-chassis branding eye-rolling, but this is a competent-enough gaming laptop with a lot of local storage and a natty 144Hz screen. That said, in demanding games, its graphics chip can’t fully leverage that high-refresh panel you’re paying for, and the keyboard needs work. Walmart’s $1,499 sale price noted at this writing seems much more fitting than its $1,699 MSRP. At that discount, it’s a reasonable value; paying much more puts it in a tier with lustworthier machines, such as the Alienware 17 R5 and the Razer Blade 15 Base Model, that we’d recommend over it.
A Flashy Name, a Semi-Sober Look
I’d classify the Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+’s build as “good enough,” with some hits and misses on different parts of the chassis. It’s visually inoffensive, if a bit plain. The color scheme is largely black and silver, which I’ll take over today’s all-too-pervasive patterned, black-and-red styles, the “gamer” aesthetic that many manufacturers are only now starting to abandon.
Unfortunately, the logo and branding do seem like they’re from another era. The Overpowered brand is represented by the letters “OP” on the lid, with an abstract outline of two face-to-face heads drawn into a multi-sided “O”. It’s a bit wide and awkward-looking, and the face-off symbolism just looks a tad amateurish. (Plus, from a distance, the logo looks like a hexagonal baseball.) Even odder is the use of a puffer fish as a stand-in for the “O” in “powered” when the brand name is written out on the website and press materials. But I digress. (At least the fish isn’t on the chassis proper.)
The construction itself is passable quality, though I had some quibbles here and there. The body is all-plastic—hardly unique among gaming laptops, but at this price level, you can find much nicer alternatives, like the all-metal build of the Razer Blade 15 Base Model. The lid and keyboard deck are sturdy enough, but I noted a good bit of flex in the keyboard (more on that below), and the touchpad didn’t bowl me over. It works fine, but the tracking and clicking quality feel more suited to a laptop that costs around $1,000, not one at this price.
Razer’s Blade 15 Base Model, in contrast, justifies settling for a GTX 1060 at its price in two key ways: its metal build, and its slim design. The Overpowered 17+ touts neither, coming in at a very standard 1 by 15.5 by 10.25 inches (HWD) and 5.5 pounds. That’s not nearly as thick as some gaming behemoths, and as a 17-inch laptop, it was never going to be as small as the Blade 15. At least it is reasonably light for its size. The Alienware 17 R5 is enormous and hefty, in comparison, at 9.8 pounds, but it also has the power and a rugged-enough feel to justify the weight. The Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ is certainly more portable than that, even if I wouldn’t look forward to carrying it around all that much.
What this machine does have, though, is a nifty IPS display, with modern-looking, and rather slim, bezels. Measuring 17.3 inches diagonally, the screen bears a full HD resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels) and a 144Hz refresh rate. The high-refresh display boosts the cost versus what an ordinary 60Hz 1080p panel would demand; it’s one of the features that helps make the overall price seem more reasonable. Games look nice in action, smoother than the standard 60Hz display you find on most laptops—at least when the laptop could push that many frames. As I’ll get into in the benchmarking bredakdown below, the hardware often won’t push frame rates nearly that high, making the 144Hz refresh rate moot in many cases. That said, in a more general sense, the picture is sharp, though I wouldn’t say colors are especially vibrant.
As for the keyboard, as I alluded to early on, it’s hit-and-miss. It’s technically mechanical, according to the specs, which would seem like a plus at face value, but don’t expect anything remotely like a Cherry-switch mechanical keyboard here. It feels mushy instead of satisfyingly clicky, and each keycap feels a bit loose, with some wobble when applying even light pressure off-center. The spacebar is especially unstable; since it’s so long and has only one switch in its center, it feels unresponsive, and it rocks when pressed. The octagonal keytop shape is also odd. Overall, it just feels hard to get into a flow typing on this layout.
A nifty feature that Walmart’s and Esports Arena’s marketing does not emphasize is the board’s customizable per-key backlighting. Laptops in this price range usually opt for zonal lighting only, but the Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ boasts individual key lighting. You can change the colors and effects in the included OP Control Center software, which is intuitive enough to figure out after some tinkering. But I only discovered its per-key functionality after some digging.
The Overpowered 17+ hosts more ports than most laptops, covering three of the four edges with them. On the left edge you’ll find an Ethernet jack, a USB 2.0 port, and separate mic and headphone jacks. On the right reside two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot. And around back, you’ll find two mini DisplayPort outputs, an HDMI out, and a USB Type-C port. Given all of these options, it’s hard to complain about any connectivity being left out, apart from, perhaps, a Thunderbolt 3 port. The same goes for wireless connections, as the laptop comes outfitted with both 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.
The Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ I tested is the only configuration offered in the 17-inch size; Overpowered 15-inch models are also available but are technically quite different computers. As such, every Overpowered 17+ is equipped like this one, with a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor, a whopping 32GB of memory, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip. That amount of RAM is nice to have, though arguably overkill—or should I say, overpowered—given the diminishing returns, in most cases, beyond 16GB for gaming.
For storage, the laptop includes a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) and a roomy 2TB hard drive. The inclusion of a speedy SSD is always appreciated for faster Windows boot and load times, but the SSDs in gaming laptops are often too small to install anything beyond a few key programs and AAA games. With a high-capacity but slower hard drive included, you can keep most of your applications and the bulk of your game library installed without having to shuffle some off to add others. Adding the same capacity in SSD form would be prohibitively pricey, making this the optimal loadout. So kudos to that.
Given the Parts, Slight Power-Up Needed
PC Labs recently put a new benchmark suite, outlined below, into action, so I had a limited number of relevant gaming-laptop competitors to stack up against the Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+. But the sample set below still fairly strong.
You can see the competition and its specs in the table below, including the powerhouse Alienware 17 R5 as the mark to beat, the pricier Acer Predator Helios 500, the portable and similarly priced Razer Blade 15 Base Model, and the Asus ROG Hero Strix II (which shares the same Nvidia graphics chip).
Productivity and Storage Tests
PCMark 10 and 8 are holistic performance suites developed by the PC benchmark specialists at UL (formerly Futuremark). The PCMark 10 test we run simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We use it to assess overall system performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheeting, Web browsing, and videoconferencing. The test generates a proprietary numeric score; higher numbers are better.
PCMark 8, meanwhile has a Storage subtest that we use to assess the speed of the system’s storage subsystem. This score is also a proprietary numeric score; again, higher numbers are better.
Despite its hefty RAM and on-par CPU, the Overpowered 17+ brought up the rear on PCMark 10. All of these scores are relatively high compared to the average laptop, thanks to the gaming-grade parts, but the Overpowered 17+ isn’t the snappiest of this lot, according to this test. On the PCMark 8 Storage test, it was closer to the pack and ahead of two others, its zippy SSD proving about as quick as its contemporaries, meaning faster load times for you.
Media Processing and Creation Tests
Next in our test set is Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15, which is fully threaded to make use of all available processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU rather than the GPU to render a complex image. The result is a proprietary score indicating a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
We also run a custom Adobe Photoshop image-editing benchmark. Using the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop, we apply a series of 10 complex filters and effects to a standard JPEG test image. We time each operation and, at the end, add up the total execution time. Lower times are better here. The Photoshop test stresses CPU, storage subsystem, and RAM, but it can also take advantage of most GPUs to speed up the process of applying filters, so systems with powerful graphics chips or cards may see a boost.
The media tests suggest that factors inherent to the PCMark 10 test may not be to blame for the Overpowered 17+’s results there; the Overpowered 17+ also brought up the rear on Cinebench. It also posted the second-longest Photoshop time, which is disappointing as many of these machines here share the same CPU, and the Overpowered model has 32GB of memory. Disregard the showing of the Alienware 17 R5, and it’s mostly a difference of just a few seconds, so it’s not a huge delta. The Overpowered 17+ is fine for media creation or editing, and it will certainly do for casual and prosumer use. But for serious workloads, it’s a touch behind the pack.
Synthetic Graphics Tests
3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suited to different types of systems. Both are DirectX 11 benchmarks, but Sky Diver is more suited to laptops and midrange PCs, while Fire Strike is more demanding and made for high-end PCs to strut their stuff. The results are proprietary scores.
Next up is another synthetic graphics test, this time from Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the Superposition test renders and pans through a detailed 3D scene and measures how the system copes. In this case, it’s rendered in the company’s eponymous Unigine engine, offering a different 3D workload scenario than 3DMark, for a second opinion on the machine’s graphical prowess. We present two Superposition results, run at the 720p Low and 1080p High presets, in frames per second (fps). For lower-end systems, maintaining at least 30fps is the realistic target, while more powerful computers should ideally attain at least 60fps at the test resolution.
These tests lean on and reflect the graphics card itself, barring a manufacturer dragging down or enhancing a GPU’s capability with cooling or supporting components. Most of the time, though, the cards fall exactly where they’re supposed to in the cost and power hierarchy, and that’s what we see here.
On both the 3DMark and Superposition tests, the laptops based on GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 chips showed up the GTX 1060s, with the GTX 1080, as you’d expect, well ahead of the curve. The other full-power GeForce GTX 1060 here (inside the ROG Strix Hero II) performed slightly differently, but traded off results within the same close range, while the tuned-down Max-Q GTX 1060 (in the Razer Blade 15 Base Model) stuck closely to what we saw from the Overpowered 17+. The synthetic tests show the Overpowered 17+ as a capable, not powerhouse, 3D performer, which is what you’d expect given the GPU.
Real-World Gaming Tests
The synthetic tests above are helpful for measuring general 3D aptitude, but it’s hard to beat full retail video games for judging gaming performance.
Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are both modern, high-fidelity titles with built-in benchmarks that illustrate how a system handles real-world video games at various settings. These are run on medium and maximum graphics-quality presets (Ultra for Far Cry 5, Very High for Rise of the Tomb Raider) at 1080p to determine the sweet spot of visuals and smooth performance for a given system. The results are expressed in frames per second. Far Cry 5 is DirectX 11-based, while Rise of the Tomb Raider can be flipped to DX12, which we do for the benchmark.
Because of the timing on our new testing-procedure rollout, we don’t have comprehensive performance data from past machines to compare with these games. We do have data for the Overpowered 17+ and a few key competitors, though, enough for illustration.
On Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider set to normal and medium settings at 1080p, the Overpowered 17+ averaged 71 frames per second (fps) and 89fps, respectively. Nobody really aspires to play on medium quality, though, and fortunately this system was able to average 62fps and 67fps, respectively, at the two games’ maximum-quality presets at 1080p. Those scores do hit the ideal 60fps target, but being so close means they’ll dip below that during gameplay, which can lead to some choppy behavior or sudden drops if you engage V-Sync.
Somewhat concerning for the Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ is that the Blade 15 Base Model and its supposedly less powerful Max-Q GTX 1060 pushed almost the same frame rates on these tests (61fps and 66fps, respectively). That may just be a testament to Razer’s thermal design, but considering the other test results, something about the Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ seems not quite optimized.
Also worth noting: These frame rates don’t come anywhere near the display’s 144Hz refresh rate. Yes, you technically get the benefit of being able to see above 60fps thanks to the screen, but without even cracking 100fps, it’s often moot in AAA games like the ones we tested. These are fairly demanding games, so you’re much more likely to near the refresh-rate limit in titles like Fortnite or certain MOBA games, if those are what you’re looking to play.
Alternatively, if the highest possible frame rate is the most important thing to you, you can tune detail settings down to attain the best-looking visuals that still take advantage of the high refresh rate. Otherwise, the 144Hz talents of the screen will mostly go to waste.
Battery Rundown Test
After fully recharging the laptop, we set up the machine in power-save mode (as opposed to balanced or high-performance mode) and make a few other battery-conserving tweaks in preparation for our unplugged video rundown battery test. (We also turn off Wi-Fi, putting the laptop in Airplane mode.) In this test, we loop a video—a locally stored 1080p file of the open-source Blender demo movie Tears of Steel—with screen brightness set at 50 percent and volume at 100 percent until the system conks out.
The Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ lasted about as long as you’d expect a 17-inch gaming laptop to endure. It’s right there with the Alienware 17 R5 (though, at least, it’s a lot more portable) and barely behind the ROG Strix Hero II, neither of which will last long off the charger, either. This battery provides a modest amount of time for on-couch browsing, but playing any games will drink it dry pretty quickly.
An Average First Serve; No Unforced Errors
For a first entry by a new laptop brand, the Overpowered Gaming Laptop 17+ dodges major potholes. It’s stacks up as a capable 60fps HD gaming machine, with plenty of storage and ports, and a screen that’s not half bad. That said, enough smaller complaints cut into the deal to give me pause about recommending it over options from Dell, Razer, and others: the quirky branding, the 144Hz screen matched with hardware that often can’t leverage it. The build quality is merely so-so, too, giving the impression of a premium-priced machine that doesn’t feel overly premium.
The biggest concern? Strike the per-key RGB keys and the 144Hz refresh rate, and you can get roughly the same power and feature set in a much better design with the Razer Blade 15 Base Model. Walmart’s current $200 chop off the list price makes it a better value proposition. But even so, our Editors’ Choice-winning Alienware 17 R5, too, has some less-expensive configurations that offer more power and a much nicer design in the same price range, and stepping down to an option like the Acer Predator Helios 300 will get you about equal performance for much less.