- Bizarrely fast
- Mechanical keys
- Accessible hardware
- Water cooler offers speed and quiet
- Response times could be better
- Water cooler is supplied without coolant
- Couplings can leak if they are skewed
Intel’s Raptor Lake generation processors have been available on desktops since the fall of 2022, as well as Nvidia RTX 4070 Ti, 4080, and 4090 video cards. Now you can get that hardware in laptops too. The first laptop we test with it may well be superlative. The Medion Erazer Beast X40 is equipped with a Core i9-13900HX processor with 24 cores and a mobile RTX 4090 video card. To keep that hardware running at its best, you can also connect an optional water cooler. We discuss that laptop and the water cooler in this review.
The laptop in question is fully called Medion Erazer Beast X40. It’s a 17″ laptop, which looks pretty svelte considering the potent hardware it houses. If the case looks familiar to you, it could be, because Medion buys the barebones from Uniwill, which is Tongfang’s new name That manufacturer has built a laptop with a tidy look and fairly thin screen edges.The top screen edge contains a 1080p camera with support for facial recognition.The speakers are placed on the bottom of the housing and can produce quite a bit of volume, but sound very shrill.
When you hold the laptop, it feels sturdy. The housing is partly made of plastic, but not the hard kind that feels cheap; it has a somewhat ‘rubbery’ feel to it. The back of the screen and the bottom are made of metal. What is also striking is that the X40 has a very large trackpad, which is somewhat reminiscent of that of an Apple MacBook Pro. There’s also thought behind the large trackpad. On laptops with a numeric keypad, such as the X40, manufacturers often find it difficult to choose where to place the touchpad. If you place it in the middle of the alphanumeric part of the keyboard, the touchpad is not in the middle of the housing.And if you place it in the middle of the housing, the center of your touchpad will be at the height of the right control key.
The solution is this large touchpad, which is located in the middle of the laptop, but where you can switch off the right half. You do this by double-tapping the dot at the top right of the touchpad. If you do that, you can only use the left half of the touchpad, which is neatly located in the middle below the alphanumeric part of the keyboard. If you want to switch off the touchpad completely, for example because you are gaming, tap the dot in the top left corner twice. Is the location of the touchpad an insurmountable problem? We can’t imagine that, but the beauty of this solution is that it is nice and big and that works well if you use a lot of gestures with more than one finger.
Above the touchpad is of course the keyboard and there is something special about that too. It contains mechanical switches from Cherry. Cherry MX Ultra Low Profile Tactile Switches, to be exact. The switches have a travel of 1.8mm, which is quite a lot for a laptop keyboard, and a force of 65cN. The gif above nicely shows how the key works. Membrane keyboards do give a much clearer key feel than mechanical ones and also sound a bit noisier, but they are not ‘clicky’, like blue Cherry switches, for example. Unfortunately, not all keys on the X40 keyboard are mechanical. The top row of keys and the numeric keypad simply use membrane switches.
You will find the connections on the left, right and at the back of the laptop. The latter is nice if you often have the laptop in the same place, because the cables for your peripherals won’t get in the way to the left or right of your laptop. On the back is the HDMI 2.1 connection, with 2.5 Gbit/s Ethernet and a USB-C connection with support for Thunderbolt 4. The two holes next to each other are for the hoses for the water cooling.
There seems to be another USB-C connection on the left, but that is the place to mount a lock. There is also a 10Gbit/s USB-A connector and the jack connections. On the right are two more USB 5Gbit/s connections and a card reader.
What makes the Erazer X40 unique is the external water cooling. Water cooling on a laptop is uncommon, but not unique. Back in 2016, we reviewed the ASUS GX700 with an external water cooler and the funny thing is that the approach to the cooling system is very different now. The basics are the same; a kind of water-filled heat pipe runs over the normal heat pipes of the cooling. The philosophy behind the cooling system of the GX700 is similar to that of the all-in-one water cooler you know from desktops; it is a maintenance-free system.
That is different with the X40. The water cooler is also made by Uniwill and the system is much more like ‘build your own’ water cooling. The system costs 250 euros and for that money, you don’t get any coolant; you have to buy it yourself. Medion recommends using regular demineralized water. Connecting the water cooling is in principle very simple. The water hoses snap magnetically to the laptop and water cooler. When they are locked in place, you can wiggle them up and down a bit, but that should not cause any leaks. Even if you accidentally disconnect a hose, because you may have picked up the laptop and forgot that it still had a water cooler attached, there is no need to worry.The couplings seal themselves when they are loose and more than a few drops of water will not escape.
Still, it remains to be careful, because it is possible that the hoses are not completely straight, but the couplings do remain open, we noticed while photographing the laptop. We had put the system in different positions and unnoticed the coupling had become crooked, leaving the laptop in a puddle of water.
The water cooler does not have a separate power supply. Instead, you plug the laptop’s power supply into the external cooler and loop it through to the laptop itself. Communication with the water cooler is via Bluetooth and Medions control center software. There you can set the colors in which the fan flashes and how fast the fan runs.
For people who aren’t interested in tweaking hardware, the water cooler might be intimidating, but those users probably aren’t the target audience either. As far as we are concerned, the ‘open character’ of the water cooler is actually an advantage. You can easily top up cooling water if necessary and you can also easily open the water cooler itself, for example to mount another fan. Finally, the cooler is also compact; you don’t need a roller case to take it with you.
CPU: 13900HX = 13900K
When Intel announced its thirteenth-generation Core laptop processors, the chipmaker came up with four different categories, identified by a one- or two-letter suffix. ‘U’ belongs to the 15W chips, ‘P’ to 28W, ‘H’ to the 45W CPUs, and ‘HX’ to the fastest 55 watts. That was not the first time, with the twelfth generation Intel already had HX chips, but we hardly saw them in laptops in practice. With the thirteenth generation it must be different, because during CESAlienware, ASUS, Razer and Lenovo all announced laptops with the HX laptop processors. Although, laptop processors?
The HX chips are actually not laptop, but desktop processors. The overviews above sum it up nicely. The H, P, and U processors, on the right image, are ‘real’ laptop processors. The emphasis there is more on energy efficiency. For example, the cpu and pch are on the same package and there is support for economical Lpddr4 or Lpddr5 memory. You don’t need more than two SATA connections and you probably won’t saturate more than eight PCIe gen5 lanes. It stops at a maximum of six P-cores, but there is a relatively powerful Iris Xe GPU. Oh yes, and Thunderbolt of course.
So the HX chips are desktop chips that focus on speed and not efficiency. To begin with, the cpu and pch are separate chips and there is no support for Lpddr memory, which you do not encounter at all in desktops. You have access to more SATA and USB connections than you will ever find in a laptop, as well as up to eight P-cores and 16 PCIe gen5 lanes. The integrated GPU is not much, but these types of chips will always be accompanied by a smooth video card.
The Medion X40 is equipped with a Core i9-13900HX, which is almost the same processor as a 13900K, but at lower clock speeds. Both chips have eight P-cores and sixteen E-cores, 36MB total cache memory, and they both support DDR4 memory at 3200MT/s or DDR5 at 5600MT/s. Although the integrated GPUs have a different name, they both have 32 execution units and even the maximum clock speed is the same. The 13900K has base power of 125W and a maximum turbo power of 253W. That is lower with the 13900HX, which has a base power of 55W and a maximum turbo of 157W. The maximum clock frequency of the mobile chip is therefore not 5.8, but 5.4 GHz and the E-cores do not 4.3, but 3.9 GHz. However, it should be clear that the HX chips are made for only one thing: speed. Efficiency is secondary.
GPU: RTX 4090, or is it a 4080?
During CES in early January, Nvidia presented its new mobile video cards. Just like the desktop video cards, the chips are based on the 4nm Ada Lovelace architecture. This means that the laptop chips have the same newly introduced functionality as the desktop video cards. The RTX 40 laptop cards will therefore also have access to the third-generation RT cores, DLSS3 and AV1 encoding.
Specifically for laptop video cards, Nvidia has made a number of tweaks, which the company classifies under the Max-Q brand name. With the first generations of Max-Q video cards, there were still laptop GPUs that may or may not have Max Q support. If you did have a Max-Q video card, it was more economical, but also slower than a non-Max Q video card. That has now changed. We’ve already arrived at the fifth generation and all laptop video cards from Nvidia use ‘Max Q techniques’.
The fifth-generation Max-Q focuses on making memory more efficient. This is the case with the cache and the working memory. More efficient chips are used for this and the clock speed is reduced faster if possible.
4090 = 4080
Laptop video cards are usually not comparable to desktop video cards in terms of naming. The fastest laptop video card at the moment is called RTX 4090, but from a hardware point of view it is the same GPU as on an RTX 4080 desktop card. The mobile GPU is clocked lower to keep consumption within limits. The consumption is a maximum of 150W and a maximum of 25W dynamic boost can be added, if the temperatures allow it. Nevertheless, the clock speed is a lot lower than with a desktop 4080, because it can consume 320W. The working memory of the mobile RTX 4090 is simply GDDR6, instead of GDDR6x. Plain GDDR6 runs at lower clock frequencies, resulting in lower power consumption, but also lower bandwidth.
|RTX 4090 laptop||RTX 4080 laptop||RTX 4080 desktop|
|Ray tracing cores||76||58||76|
|Clock Speed (MHz)||1455-2040||1350-2280||2210-2510|
|Random access memory||16GB GDDR6||12GB DDR6||16GB GDDR6x|
The RTX 4090 that is in the Medion X40 has a tgp of 150W, plus 25W dynamic boost , for a total of 175W. The tgp is an important value, because in theory, as a laptop builder, you can also configure an RTX 4090 at 80W, with lower performance as a result. At the beginning of 2021, the difference in TGP caused a stir due to the lack of clarity about TGPs. Manufacturers have since become clearer about this and are now using the TGPs as part of their marketing. Almost all gaming laptops announced at CES use the maximum tgp of the chip.
Specifications and CPU benchmarks
Medion sells the Erazer in the configuration below, equipped with the new Intel 13900HX processor and Nvidia RTX 4090 video card. This version costs 4500 euros and Medion will also supply a variant with RTX 4080 video card, 1TB storage and 16GB of RAM for 3500 euros.
|Medion Erazer X40|
|Processor||Intel Core i9-13900HX|
|cores/threads||24 (8P+16E) 32 threads|
|max. clock frequency||5.4GHz (P cores) 3.9GHz (E cores)|
|GPU||Nvidia RTX 4090 (175W tgp)|
|Random access memory||32GB DDR5-4800|
|SSD||2x 1TB Phison B47R|
|Ethernet||Realtek gaming 2.5 Gbit/s|
|Wi-Fi||Intel WiFi 6E AX211 160MHz|
|Screen||17″, 2560×1600 pixels, 240Hz, matte|
|Operating system||Windows 11|
The X40 features some of the fastest hardware you can get right now. A slightly higher clocked version of the Core i9-13900HX is available, the 13980HX, but it has the same number of cores. The RTX 4090 is the fastest video card Nvidia can deliver and in this case the card is tuned for the maximum power of 175W.
If the 32GB RAM or the two 1TB SSDs are not enough for you, you can upgrade that hardware afterward. The bottom plate is easy to remove from the laptop, giving you easy access to the hardware.
The i9-13900HX is, as you could read earlier in this review, really just a desktop processor. When we run Cinebench, the power consumption of the cpu package shoots up to – this is not a joke – 160W.