" After buying the Azom Legion V4 (hereinafter referred to as the beast) I was pleasantly surprised to receive a request for a review from the company founder Arindam. I was anyway raving about it to my friends and colleagues and whoever cared to listen, so putting those thoughts into words seemed to be in order.

Build Log -
BAREBONE - X170KM
GPU - Nvidia RTX 3080 16GB MXM
CPU - INTEL I7-11700K DESKTOP (8 CORES - 16 THREADS - 125W)
RAM - 32GB (1 x 32GB) DDR4 3200 MHz
SSD - 1TB PCIe M2 GEN 4X4
DISPLAY - FHD AVA IPS LED 144Hz (sRGB -96%)
OS - Windows 10 PRO OEM

1

Experience -

My tryst with laptop computing started in 2008. I used to own a Compaq back then, and got a reliance free data card with it. Having used it through my college and residency, I finally upgraded to a laptop with Nvidia Optimus graphics in 2011. It was a Samsung. Gaming sessions were meh, but nothing justified a discrete graphics card back then. Slowly my needs evolved. I had ample opportunities to upgrade but never felt the need to make a decision as word editing excel sheets and tally are amply fulfilled by dime a dozen low power “efficient” processors. Heck, I went the opposite way and invested in a few micro PCs for my office (Dell OptiPlex micros) 1 liter chassis things which are still serving me well.

Then Covid hit.

Being in the clinical area we had no option but to work and attend hospitals. We are in the pediatric and ob gyn business so those things are working irrespective of Covid. Our lives took over a new dimension of zoom meetings. So, a new problem cropped up during meetings. My existing laptop Samsung 2011 model simply couldn't keep up with image processing and live backgrounds. Hanging a white sheet behind me was the way out and I consoled myself that an upgrade is not worth it.

Then I got into YouTube videos. We used to have a lot of zoom meetings with colleagues and most of our continuing medical education has shifted to online. Covid updates? Zoom. Case discussions ? Zoom. Get togethers? Zoom. Audio conferencing? Zoom. Suddenly we were recording our meetings and I was running out of disk space. I did attempt to upgrade my 2011 model by adding a ssd and swapping the odd out for a hdd adapter, but started feeling that this might not sustain. 2 hour meetings being upscaled and encoded to h264 took up better parts of 4 hrs and leaving the pc overnight for encodes was the norm last year. Also windows 10 on older laptops is not exactly smooth and random errors causing restarts would wipe out hours of work. As an aside, I tried encodes on those dell micro pcs.They were superfast encodes, but the motherboard gave up twice. Thank god for extended warranties!

Being in the clinical area we had no option but to work and attend hospitals. We are in the pediatric and ob gyn business so those things are working irrespective of covid. Our lives took over a new dimension of zoom meetings. So, a new problem cropped up during meetings. My existing laptop Samsung 2011 model simply couldn't keep up with image processing and live backgrounds. Hanging a white sheet behind me was the way out and I consoled myself that an upgrade is not worth it.

Then I got into YouTube videos. We used to have a lot of zoom meetings with colleagues and most of our continuing medical education has shifted to online. Covid updates? Zoom. Case discussions ? Zoom. Get togethers? Zoom. Audio conferencing? Zoom. Suddenly we were recording our meetings and I was running out of disk space. I did attempt to upgrade my 2011 model by adding a SSD and swapping the odd out for a hdd adapter, but started feeling that this might not sustain. 2 hour meetings being upscaled and encoded to h264 took up better parts of 4 hrs and leaving the pc overnight for encodes was the norm last year. Also windows 10 on older laptops is not exactly smooth and random errors causing restarts would wipe out hours of work. As an aside, I tried encodes on those dell micro pcs. They were superfast encodes, but the motherboard gave up twice. Thank god for extended warranties!

In the meantime my kid grew up. School from home started clashing with meetings from home. Xbox games being notorious for dumbing down controls and gameplay I simply couldn't compete with my kid. I was lusting at the 1080ti back at launch, the prices being awesome. But back then priorities took over and I missed the whole bus. Now we were father and son fighting over driving sims and fps, with the son using his maternal leverage to win.

The final straw came one day when we decided to stream a state level meeting on zoom to YouTube and Facebook. Got the OBS studio to work but simultaneously streaming to Facebook and YouTube was painful to watch. The encoding engine gave up after 5 minutes and the processor was hot as hell. Junked the Facebook stream and switched over to the YouTube plugin for zoom. A repaste and CPU heatsink clean up worked wonderfully, but never the stream was working beyond a few minutes as I realized the processor was not up to the task.

So I started my search for a new pc. My requirements were simple. It had to be powerful and it had to be compact and portable. Believe me I still have a few desktop configs saved with small form factor cases. Having built one server for VM and another backup machine on a compact pc i was happy to assemble things myself. But the parts! Even before Covid i never found a good part for an acceptable price. Having been used to compromises during the previous builds I was really pissed off about the unavailability or the ridiculous markups on pc parts. One of My bi annual search for upgrades landed me on the name Clevo. Interested, I did some research. Reddit was not exactly buzzing with it. Youtubers mentioned it in passing. So, I put the brand down a year back thinking it might be a no name brand that's caught my fancy.

Then I came across Azom on reddit discussions. Very few people talked about it. Most reviews are few and far in between. I even found a YouTube digit video of an older model. I did find the concept interesting. A desktop that I can carry? Sign me up! The website was listing models from last year. No activity there... Is it working? A boutique manufacturer could have folded up in Covid. I decided to take a shot and emailed them. Predictably, I received the Covid answer of parts not available, delays. I was sorely dejected and started looking around for another brand. I nearly finalized a msi model, but my contacts said that the laptop will take time to reach, with Covid restrictions. Talked to a friend abroad, he could source it. Great. But handovers would be when he would visit!

Disappointed I resigned to my fate and found myself adding games on steam wish lists . In the meantime I hated playing Wolfenstein the new colossus on Xbox. But I had no option. The Xbox was bought to tide over the hiked GPU prices in the RTX 2000 generation, and it was doing its job. But playing doom 2016 on it was a chore and I missed the keyboard and mouse combination. I renewed my search for a desktop, but everything was marked up in prices. Adding to it device availability was a big issue, in Covid. I almost got an APU with a case but with no discrete graphics available I scrubbed the idea.

One fine day while clearing my inboxes I saw an Azom email. Intrigued, I opened it to find pre orders for the legion! Yay. Rushed them a reply and started keeping my fingers crossed for replies. A few short email conversations later I was pleasantly surprised to receive Arindam's call. Custom build! Dang. Still keeping my expectations low, I thought that the custom build would be 2 variations maximum. But it turned out to be otherwise! Generation spanning processor support, mxm graphic cards (the info on which is very less online) , upgradable lcd panels on laptops… crazy stuff, just like I was in a fever dream! Arindam did try to talk some sense into me about 3080 vs 3070s but I was having none of it. If I am upgrading it has to be balls to the wall. Mostly i don't need one for a “few” years, and the steam Wishlist is growing longer and longer.

Ordering was painless. Put up some amount in advance, and they start building the unit. I did pester them daily for one reason or the other, but every request was met with a courteous technical answer patiently explaining the issues. After build completion I got an email and WhatsApp intimation and paid the balance. They even updated me on the pickup date from their side. Then I waited.

For a week.

The courier partner, DTDC messed up and held up the courier at Sakinaka for 5 days. Called up them, and gave the tracking number to which the lady promised to look into it. I was prepared to wait for a few days more. But, one day later the parcel landed up at my table.

Initial impression was low. A non decrepit package, khaki. No branding. Some generic Chinese grammatically incorrect text was printed on it. It literally says “ Computer Notebook, Enjoy with me”. What the frak! Have I been conned? Having being used to the notorious “unboxings” on YouTube (which are, now with the benefit of hindsight, a waste of money) I was a bit disappointed. But no.

Unboxing it was a chore. I had been warned by Arindam it was heavy. You don't know how heavy is “heavy” until you unbox it. Single handed unboxing is out. You need to turn over the box upside down and let it slide out. A large black monolith was uncovered packed in sturdy foam. The metal body is awesome to touch and does add to the weight.(This is an understatement. Picking up the unit with one hand makes you reconsider your gym membership.)

I got the power bricks out. Two of them. Really heavy chunky units. Also with a frame for keeping them together. It was a nice addition. Plugging it in and turning it on was nothing exceptional. Then I noticed the sharp 144Hz screen. The mouse movement was also silky smooth. I Tried dragging a few windows and realised the difference between 144 hz screen. It was my first time using a high refresh rate screen, and it has to be used to understand the benefits. It makes a lot of difference in daily use, and I have been recommending it to everyone since.

Video encoding was the next job. Started up my editor and loaded the project. It was a 2 hour video and I was encoding it to 1080 p at 30fps. My last encode on an older pc was a 3 hr job, so I was entering this with an open mind. Started the encoding process, and it was finished in 5minutes 25 seconds! At 1080p! The graphics card fan controls and clock speeds with the control utility are really accurate. Temps did rise but I have yet to see it breach the 68 degree mark. This is a testament to the cooling power of the beast!

2

Hmm. So now we were talking. Got doom 2016 to install. Maxed it out, turned it to cinematic quality. So Buttery Smooth. I had some genuine fun playing it. A well made game on a well made pc is really good to play. The sound is also clear with the small subwoofer doing its part. It is a good package for gaming and is really awesome in the performance department. Metro exodus is next on my list and with the ray tracing update lets see the card flex its muscle.

All in all I am really happy with the machine. Azom has promised upgrades and updates. I can add 3 more SSDs, and go as high as 128 GB of ram. If not anything it can be a plex server down the line. The 97 watt battery is also good for an hour of use, but I haven't tested it as it's just a portable UPS for the beast. I have also been offered a 4k screen update when it's available. To have such power in a really compact form factor with upgrade paths is exceeding expectations.

3

In Summary

Pros:
  • Metal body and Metal Keyboard Base. No Flex
  • Great to type RGB keyboard with per key lights
  • 144 Hz screen with G-Sync
  • Powerful graphics subsystem, upgradable too!
  • Desktop class K series processor
  • Awesome cooling under load
  • 4 M2 SSD slots
  • 128GB Ram Support
  • Thunderbolt ports
  • Multiple display outs (they sent me a chart detailing the number of displays supported based on the resolution desired!)
  • Thermal paste and extra screws included, they know their demographic !
  • No warranty void if removed stickers noticed yet!

Cons

  • Weight, its a desktop replacement meant to be kept on a desktop, not laps
  • Sound while good could have been better.
  • No carrying case. I get that it is not meant to be carried, but people like me would like to have the option. At this price point a custom case can be offered, i wouldn't mind
  • They recommend a cooling pad, which is true. Running it on a flat surface will choke it.
  • Power adapters are really huge, the included organizer is good but the wire situation needs to be hidden from view. Also it refuses to run on a single adapter and switches to battery.
  • I would have loved some customization on the lid or more color choices, black is unassuming and drab

Brand Azom:

Cons:

  • Absolutely no marketing!
  • Zero online chatter
  • No reviews anywhere!

Pros:

  • Leap of faith was worth it

These people know their stuff. The consultation gave me an insight into how dedicated and passionate these guys are about their products. Absolutely painless ordering and customization, up to delivery!

I am really scraping the barrel for negatives. Still, I have convinced a friend of mine to go in for this brand. As for me I am happy justifying this as a midlife crisis purchase, and am enjoying working on it. Godspeed Azom!" - Dr. Vishal

This concludes Dr. Vishal's Customer Spotlight. We would like to thank him again for choosing Azom for his computing needs and supporting a small Indian business during Covid 19 Pandemic. Wishing him all the best for his future endeavors.

Stay Safe!

Ari

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