Medion is probably best known for producing cheap and cheerful laptops like the Akoya P6625, but the Erazer X6811 is aimed at those looking for a cheap and ferocious gaming machine instead. Priced at a relatively affordable £949, it packs in a meaty Core i5 processor and fast Nvidia GeForce graphics chip.
Gamer in disguise
Gaming laptops such as the Toshiba X500 and Alienware M17x tend to have very aggressive styling with bright, garish colours and loads of neon lights. Medion has taken a slightly more mature approach with the Erazer. If anything, this model has quite an industrial look thanks to its angular styling and the brushed-metal effect used on its plastic chassis.
Of course, it wouldn't feel right if there weren't any blue LEDs to give that GTI feel, so the company has added these on the front lip beneath a pair of grilles. You can turn them on and off via a button that's found next to the power switch. Overall, the plasticky nature of the chassis means it doesn't have the high-end look of more expensive machines, but it does feel quite sturdy.
As you would expect, the 15.6-inch display has a widescreen aspect ratio, but its resolution maxes out at 1,366x768 pixels rather than stretching all the way to Full HD. Unlike most consumer laptops, it has a matte coating. This does help cut down on glare, but also means the display's colours don't look quite as rich and vibrant as they do on many other gaming models. Nevertheless, the LED backlighting does help the screen to look quite bright, although black levels aren't as deep as we'd have liked.
The keyboard consists of an isolated design where the keys look as if they've been stamped out of the chassis. Medion has also managed to fit a numerical keypad alongside the main keyboard. The flat keys are smaller than many other 15-inch models and there are some compromises with the layout that take some getting used to -- especially the small 'return' key.
Also, there's a little more flex in the keyboard than we would've liked, and this means it can sometimes feel spongy to type on. The trackpad surface feels a little rough, too, and your finger doesn't glide as smoothly across it as it should. It doesn't support multi-touch, either, but at least the buttons respond with a satisfying click when you press them.
The stereo speakers are located under small grilles at the top of the keyboard and, like many gaming models, this one also has a built-in subwoofer. As a result, it produces much meatier sound with more full-bodied bass than your average laptop.
Of course, with any gaming machine, it's raw performance that counts most. Thankfully, this is where the Erazer really excels, especially when you take into account its low price tag. Medion has kitted it out with a pretty beefy dual-core Intel Core i5-460M processor, clocked at 2.53GHz and backed up by a generous 4GB dollop of RAM. These specs helped the laptop to post a hefty score of 8,300 in the PCMark05 benchmark test, which puts it ahead of its similarly priced rivals, like the Alienware M11x, by a considerable margin.
As you would expect, it's no slouch when it comes to 3D performance, either. The laptop uses a high-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M discrete graphic chip, which has 1.5GB of RAM to play with. In our 3DMark06 test, the Erazer posted a blistering score of 13,300, meaning it easily outclasses all of the other gaming laptops we've tested that fall under the £1000 mark -- and many of the more expensive models too.
The laptop uses a hefty nine-cell battery, so we were expecting it to put in a fairly impressive performance in our Battery Eater test. Truth be told, it lasted just an hour and 43 minutes, which is pretty much standard for a 15-inch machine and a long way off the two hours and 40 minutes of the Acer 5745DG. Nevertheless, this is quite a large and heavy machine, so it's not likely to be used away from the mains all that often.
The Medion Erazer X6811 might not look quite as slick as some of its rivals, and its screen and keyboard could be better, but we can live with this -- its performance is hugely impressive for a machine costing less than a grand. If you're after a gaming laptop that doesn't cost the Earth, this should definitely be on your shopping list.
Edited by Emma Bayly