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By Mike Joubert 18 March 2010

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Desktop replacement notebooks are usually big machines that don’t mess about when it comes to processing power, or price for that matter. The Mecer Xpression M770CUH laptop is set to change this, on the price front at least. For R13 800 you get not only a 17” machine but also the latest Intel Core i7 processor- a feat that will not be easily matched by any of the international players.

Size
Make no mistake Mecer’s flagship is a big machine. The M770CUH weighs about three kilos and with dimensions of 397 x 282 x 40 mm you don’t really want to move it from your desk too often. That said, a 17” screen (1440 x 900 pixels) gives you a lot of space to work on, especially if you’re using the new Snap feature in Windows 7 to align two word documents next to each other.
Working surface
Mecer’s use of a white keyboard, surrounded with a nice silver lining, is both cool and confusing. We would think the M770CUH is aimed at the business market, and as such black seems a bit more appropriate, but we liked it, except for the fact that any dirt shows really quickly.
As one would expect of such a machine, it comes with a full keyboard that includes a keypad. We found the keyboard easy to work on, but the delete key was undersized, as with the F-keys. The slight slant that the battery underneath provides makes it that much easier to work on, plus it lifts the laptop from the desk, helping with ventilation.
The trackpad didn’t impress us much. It’s too small for such a big PC and the buttons were difficult to press. We don''t think it matters too much, since as a desktop replacement you’re likely to just hook up with a wireless mouse anyway.  Three shortcut buttons which can be programmed via the included software round off the working space.
Connections
On the side of the machine you’ll find an array of connections, including three USB ports (one extra wouldn’t have gone unappreciated), an e-Sata port and an HDMI connector for transferring your HD content (although the machine itself isn’t HD- only HD ready with a screen resolution of 1440 x 900). Mecer included a mini PCI slot, a 7-in-1 card reader and of course a DVD writer which can be upgraded to a Blu-ray drive if you really want to go crazy.
Specs
The real star of the show is of course the new Intel Core i7 processor. It is extremely powerful and it almost feels like overkill to use this machine for only spreadsheets and documents. We were running more than one movie, spreadsheets and documents all while browsing and the Mecer still managed to do its thing.
Apart from the graphics processor built into the main Core CPU, the machine comes with the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 for the extra bit of processing needed when gaming. With a 500 GB hard-drive along with 4 GB worth of DDR3 RAM, you are set for a very impressive computing experience, with Windows 7 Professional rounding of the package.
With medium usage we received about two to 2 ½ hours of battery life, not the best, but about as much as we expected for such a big and powerful machine.
Interchangeable
If you are up for it, the new Mecer laptop range makes it dead easy to mix and match components on your own. We doubt if you really want to replace the i7 processor, but thanks to an easy to detach base, you can effortlessly do this along with changing your hard disk and RAM.
Conclusion
While the Mecer’s 17” screen might be big enough to be intimidating, its price isn’t. R13 800 we feel is a very decent price to pay for a machine with these specs. You won’t easily find a Core i7 machine in this price bracket, especially not with a 17” screen. Contact Mecer on 011-237-1999 for more info.

PROS
17 inch screen, Intel Core i7 processor, a range of ports and connections, full sized keyboard
CONS
Trackpad too small, white might put off business users and gets dirty easily, one extra USB port would have been nice.
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