Review: Pioneer Dreambook M86, the most fully specced laptop we've ever seen

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Review: Pioneer Dreambook M86, the most fully specced laptop we've ever seen

Incredibly powerful laptop system at high spec, but you can also opt for a cheaper, lower spec version

We've seen a few powerhouse laptops in our labs, but even we weren't entirely prepared for the M86.

Pioneer's range includes everything from supercheap 7in netbooks through to SLI-enabled desktop-processor specificed beasts, and when we were offered a system, we plumped for a decently specified high-end system.

What we received was boosted a little from our initial expectation, but it's no disappointment. Instead, it's the most fully specced laptop we've ever seen. Even the team at Atomic were keen to try it out.

Is this your next gaming machine? Perhaps not, but it has power galore
Your next gaming machine? Perhaps not, but it has power galore

The 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme Q9300, 320GB hard drive and 4GB RAM helped the M86 to crush our benchmarks with an astonishing 1.62 score. That's equivalent to a Core 2 Duo E8500 or Core 2 Quad 9400; in AMD terms, it equals the top of the line Phenom X4 9950.

Although the processing power equates to a high end desktop, games is another matter: we were keen to see how the included GeForce 9800 GS performed.

We were happy with the results: 78fps on our Crysis Low Settings benchmark is a turn of speed that will make most laptop owners envious. On High and Very High Settings, the pace is a less stellar 21fps and 12fps, but even this is enough to rival a 9600 GT or HD 4670. For a laptop, that's phenomenal.

The price is a slightly less phenomenal $4699. But if that price is too steep, you can still opt for an M86 in a lower spec - the base model starts at around $2100.

What the M86 doesn't have, in the high-spec configuration we received, is portability or battery life. Weighing in at a sturdy 3.7kg, this isn't a laptop you're going to want to lug much further than the distance between your loungeroom and study.

The keyboard has good responsiveness and travel, and the textured key surface makes it grippy and comfortable for long periods of typing.The trackpad is almost entirely featureless, but it still manages to include decently ‘clicky' buttons, even if you can't always tell where you should be clicking.

Features-wise, you get 1280 x 800 15.4in screen, 2mp webcamera, DVD-writer, 10/100 Ethernet, wireless-n, and a 6in1 card reader. For external connections, you can choose between DVI and HDMI. It's not the most fully featured notebook we've seen, but it covers all the bases.

As a high-performance laptop, it's got a lot to offer - we just wish it had a touch more style.


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