Reviewed the 2021 XPG Xenia 15 KC. This high-end laptop has improved performance and additional features

Reviewed the 2021 XPG Xenia 15 KC. This high-end laptop has improved performance and additional features

XPG Xenia 15 KC

XPG builds on its gaming platform with the Xenia 15 KC refreshed for 2021
PROS
Exceptional performance
Upgradeable RAM and SSD are available.
165Hz refresh rate on a QHD monitor
Intel software is included, which is an improvement.
Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, IR camera

CONS
Under full load, fans are extremely loud.
Key actuation can be tricky at times.
Overheating causes some throttling.

ADATA’s foray into the world of Ultrabooks and gaming laptops, which began with the XPG brand a few years back, has yielded a few exceptional gadgets. The original XPG Xenia 15 (2020) gaming laptop provided a fantastic basis on which the company could expand, and I absolutely appreciated the XPG Xenia 14 as a lightweight productivity choice.

The XPG Xenia 15 KC for 2021 is back with upgraded performance hardware, fresh ports, a new display, and more; I now have some of the company’s continued work in-hand for testing. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now to evaluate where it shines and whether it’s worth your money.

CategorySpec
OSWindows 10 Home
Processor11th Gen Intel
Core i7-11800H
8 cores, 16 threads
RAM32GB (2x16GB)
XPG DDR4-3200MHz
GraphicsNVIDIA RTX 3070 Laptop
Storage1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0
XPG Gammix S70
Extra M.2 slot
Display15.6 inches
2560×1440 (QHD)
165Hz refresh rate
IPS, Matte
PortsThunderbolt 4
Three USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2)
HDMI 2.1
Ethernet
SD card reader
3.5mm audio
AudioDual speakers
WirelessIntel AX201 Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.2
CameraFront-facing 720p
IR camera for Windows Hello
KeyboardOptical mechanical
Per-key RGB
TouchpadPrecision
Battery94Wh
Dimensions14 x 9.2 x 0.8 inches
(356mm x 234mm x 21mm)
Weight4.2 pounds (1.94kg)
ColorBlack
MaterialMagnesium alloy

The Xenia 15 KC gaming laptop was revamped for 2021, and XPG provided Windows Central with a review unit. This is the laptop’s second iteration, and it includes numerous upgrades. The 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H processor (CPU) in our review unit provides significantly greater performance than the 9th Gen Intel Core i7 in the 2020 model.

Xenia 15 Top

The 2021 model includes two 16GB sticks of RAM for a total of 32GB, although it is now DDR4-3200MHz rather than DDR4-2666MHz. After purchase, you can upgrade the RAM. In terms of storage, XPG has upgraded to a 1TB Gammix S70 PCIe 4.0 drive. If you need more storage, there’s an additional M.2 slot available, and the factory-installed drive is upgradeable.

The graphics card has been upgraded to an NVIDIA RTX 3070 Laptop GPU, which is a step up from the RTX 2070 Max-Q card seen in the 2020 model. The display is the final major distinction. From 1080p with a 144Hz refresh rate, you can now experience a 1440p picture with a 165Hz refresh rate.

This model is available on Amazon for around $2,400. Although the increases to performance hardware, display, and features come at a cost, this is around $1,000 more than the prior model.

The following are the exact specifications from the test unit.

DESIGN AND FEATURES OF THE XPG XENIA 15 KC

The Xenia 15 KC (2021) is very similar to the 2020 model. The chassis is still based on the Tongfang reference design, with a matte black finish and magnesium alloy construction. There isn’t a lot of flash, but that’s OK for many folks. When the laptop is closed, you’ll only see an XPG logo on the lid and a customisable RGB light bar down the front edge. It still weighs roughly four pounds and is the same size as the previous model.

For improved speed, the USB-C port has been upgraded to Thunderbolt 4, and all three USB-A ports have been upgraded to 3.2. (Gen 2). HDMI 2.1 is now integrated for improved video output, and Ethernet, 3.5mm audio, and an SD card reader are still included. The laptop’s permanent ports — HDMI, Ethernet, Thunderbolt, and power — remain on the back edge for easier cable management, while USB-A, 3.5mm audio, and an SD card reader are located on the sides. A Kensington lock slot is included for enhanced security.

When you open the laptop, you’ll see an optical mechanical keyboard with per-key RGB lighting that you can customize using the Intel NUC Software Studio onboard. It’s the same keyboard as the 2020 model, and I still use it for gaming and productivity work. Full-size arrow keys, a number pad with Fn access, and dedicated nav keys are all welcome additions. After spending some time with the keyboard, I noticed that some of the larger keys (Shift, Tab, and Space) require striking the middle of the key to activate. It’s not horrible, but it does take a while to get used to.

Xenia Display

When it comes to the Precision touchpad, it’s a terrific alternative to a gaming mouse for getting work done. It’s big, has a smooth glass surface, and tracks nicely. When gaming, you can even use a double-tap toggle in the corner to instantly enable and disable the touchpad.

Although there is no camera shutter for added privacy, an IR sensor for Windows Hello has returned. This isn’t something you’ll find on many gaming laptops, but it’s a nice touch. The front-facing 720p camera is adequate for regular video chatting, but if you plan on making a living streaming video games, you’ll need something from our best webcam collection.

On both sides of the laptop, there is a single speaker. The chassis now features more cutouts on the side to help get sound up and away from the laptop, rather than being solely down-firing. The speakers are adequate for casual gaming when every footstep does not need to be clearly heard, but don’t expect to be dazzled. When the laptop is fully loaded, fan noise can interfere with audio.

Overall, I still appreciate this laptop’s design. It’s subtle, rather light considering what’s inside, and the port architecture is clever. Side exhaust vents, which will blow hot air onto your mouse hand whether you’re a lefty or a righty, are something I don’t enjoy. I don’t think it’s possible to remove them because the laptop is too thin to have simply a pair of exhaust vents near to the ports. When fitting as much performance into a thin body as possible, you’ll have to accept it.

DISPLAY XPG XENIA 15 KC

The Xenia 15 KC‘s 15.6-inch display now has a resolution of 2560×1440 (QHD) instead of 1920×1080 (FHD). The matte surface on the IPS panel helps to reduce glare, and the relatively small bezel contributes to the modern appearance. Although the 16:9 aspect ratio has become stale, it is still the most popular gaming ratio.

G-Sync technology from NVIDIA would be a great addition, but it’s still missing. If you want to get the most out of the Xenia 15, connect it to a G-Sync external display. Check out our list of the finest gaming monitors. With the RTX 3070 Laptop GPU, the refresh rate is set at 165Hz, which is achievable in many games at 1440p. Games look terrific on the monitor, and Intel’s NUC software has a number of color presets for further personalization.

Additionally, Intel’s Graphics Command Center provides for per-color brightness adjustments as well as saturation, hue, and contrast sliders to help you achieve the perfect image. The display was fine out of the box, but after a few minutes of tuning, it was much better.

When I measured brightness, I got 338 nits at the highest point and only 8 nits at the lowest. This is useful for late-night gaming when you don’t want to burn your retinas. When it came to color accuracy, a SpyderX Pro colorimeter revealed 100% sRGB, 78 percent AdobeRGB, and 81 percent DCI-P3. These are terrific numbers that produce a fantastic image regardless of the game.

The response time is somewhere between 6 and 7 milliseconds. That might not work for competitive gaming, where reaction time is critical, but it should work for the majority of gamers.

GAMING XPG XENIA 15 KC

The Xenia 15 KC‘s Intel NUC software is a significant improvement over the proprietary Prime software that came with the 2020 Xenia 15 model. It gives you more control over the system, as well as more stability and a more user-friendly interface. You may change the battery charge limitations, display settings (including color, contrast, and brightness sliders), as well as the RGB colors and presets for the keyboard and light bar. There’s also a lot of performance adjustment to be had, however don’t expect to be able to overclock without going into the BIOS.

A smart switch next to the power button on the Xenia 15 KC allows you to alter power profiles on the fly without having to utilize an app. It’s a nice feature, but I was curious if XPG had included any deeper power management to combat thermal throttling, which was a problem with the 2020 model. To avoid thermal throttling, the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, for example, smartly balances power to the CPU and GPU. You’ll still have lower system performance, but at least the PC will be aware of what’s going on and will be able to deal with it more effectively to maximize performance.

I did a 15-minute stress test with AIDA64 utilizing both the CPU and GPU with the laptop on AC power and set to Performance mode (albeit the fans were set to Standard mode to reduce noise). At a clock speed of roughly 3.2GHz, the CPU averaged 87 degrees Celsius and drew about 45W. At a clock speed of roughly 1.58GHz, the GPU averaged 87 degrees Celsius and drew about 92W.

I measured 54 decibels of sound with the fans on Standard mode. That rises to around 64 dB in Performance fan mode. Not exactly peaceful. AIDA64 recorded continual throttling between 5% and 30% due to heat during this test. In terms of thermal throttling, there was little difference between Balanced and Performance fan modes.

Xenia Keyboard

Balanced power mode from XPG reduces heat while sapping some of the laptop’s power. I conducted the same stress test with fans set to Standard and power set to Balanced after letting the laptop cool down. The CPU ran at 36W with a clock speed of around 3.1GHz and averaged 78 degrees Celsius. With a clock speed of 1.21GHz, the GPU averaged 80 degrees Celsius while using 70 watts. The fan noise was around 47 dB. In this test, there was no thermal throttling; balanced meant exactly that.

Despite the throttling in Performance mode, which is common among modern gaming laptops, the Xenia 15 KC excels in benchmarks and real-world gaming. Take a look at how it stacks up against the Razer Blade 15, Razer Blade 14, and Lenovo Legion 5 Pro. To limit noise, I did these tests in Performance mode with the fans set to Balanced.

The game’s actual performance is as outstanding. You’ll have a gratifying gaming experience owing to the NVIDIA RTX GPU’s ray tracing capabilities and DLSS compatibility with a variety of games. The QHD display is quite sharp, and you may easily reduce the resolution to get a higher FPS. I put the Xenia 15 KC through its paces in a variety of demanding current games to see how it performs in real-world situations.

I played at native QHD resolution and maxed out the in-game settings in all of my tests. Each game has its own DLSS setting. I did the first set of tests in Performance mode on the laptop (for both hardware and fans).

  • Far Cry 5 averages 93 frames per second (108 max, 81 min)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 averages 66.6 frames per second (85 max, 34 min, DLSS Auto)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider averages 95 frames per second (DLSS, DX12)

To see the difference in real-world gameplay performance, I tested again with the laptop set to Balanced and the fans set to Standard.

  • 84 FPS in Far Cry 5. (98 max, 77 min)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 averages 59.5 frames per second (96 max, 28 min, DLSS Auto)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider averages 87 frames per second (DLSS, DX12)

As you can see from the above findings, running the laptop in Balanced mode with quieter fans has little effect on performance. You can always eke every last frame out of the hardware if you’re wearing a headset and don’t care about noise, but a lot quieter (and cooler) experience won’t harm your fun in the least.

PERFORMANCE AND BATTERY OF THE XPG XENIA 15 KC

The battery life on the Xenia 15 (2020) wasn’t great, so don’t anticipate anything different with the 2021 model. In PCMark 10’s Modern Office rundown test, the huge 94Wh battery lasted 6 hours and 21 minutes with the screen set to 50% brightness and the power profile set to Balanced (aka Windows 10 Better Performance). There are no issues with this outcome, but it is not unusual.

If you’re solely doing productivity work, you may switch to Battery Saver mode, which will likely extend your battery life by another hour or two. It would also help to disable the RGB lights and enable Intel’s increased power conservation option in the Command Center app.

PCMark’s Gaming rundown test was also used to measure gaming battery life. The battery lasted 1 hour and 53 minutes at 50% screen brightness with the Intel power profile set to Balanced. This is usual for a gaming laptop; if you intend to play while on the go, remember to pack the AC adapter.

With a Philips screwdriver, the bottom panel of the laptop can be easily removed, revealing the dual-fan configuration, large heat pipes, and upgradeable components. There are two M.2 slots available, one of which is already occupied and the other of which is ready for an upgrade. The two SODIMM RAM slots, as well as the single M.2 socket for the Wi-Fi 6 network card, are front and center for quick upgrades.

I did some typical benchmarks to evaluate how well the Xenia 15 KC performs in terms of productivity. Notice how much faster the PCIe 4.0 SSD is than the PCIe 3.0 SSDs in other laptops we’ve tested.

COMPETITION XPG XENIA 15 KC

The Xenia 15 KC has a lot of similarities to the Razer Blade 15. The RGB mechanical-optical keyboard, the matte black chassis, and the outstanding performance are all comparable. Although you won’t get the same high-level custom design (XPG is using a reference chassis after all), many people will be interested in the performance and pricing. The Xenia 15 KC certainly competes in this aspect, as evidenced by the performance graphs in the previous section. A Blade 15 with similar features, but 16GB of RAM and a PCIe 3.0 SSD, is around $200 more expensive than the Xenia 15 KC.

Xenia IO

The Razer Blade 14 is a somewhat smaller AMD-powered laptop. Around $2,200 gets you a Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, NVIDIA RTX 3070 Laptop GPU, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, and 14-inch QHD display with 165Hz refresh rate. That can be attributed to AMD systems’ reduced cost.

Lenovo’s Legion 5 Pro has a 16-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, making it a larger option. Lenovo presently has a model with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, NVIDIA RTX 3070 Laptop GPU, QHD+ display with 165Hz refresh rate, 2TB SSD, and 16GB of RAM for around $2,080. That’s a fantastic value, but Lenovo’s prices change frequently.

Finally, if you’re wanting to save money, the HP Omen 15 is an excellent choice. Around $1,700 gets you an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor, NVIDIA RTX 3060 Laptop GPU, 15-inch QHD display with 165Hz refresh rate, 512GB SSD, and 16GB of RAM. The RTX 3060 won’t provide you quite as much power, but the $700 savings might be worth it.

If none of these are just what you’re looking for, have a look at our list of the best gaming laptops.

XPG XENIA 15 KC: SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

The Xenia 15 KC for 2021 is a significant improvement over the first model we saw last year. The 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H and NVIDIA RTX 3070 Laptop GPU shred, and while the uncapped Performance mode has some thermal throttling, the Balanced power setting keeps things cool without sacrificing performance.

A PCIe 4.0 SSD is uncommon in laptops, and the tremendous performance is welcomed. Transfers and load times are not an issue. After removing the bottom panel, you can upgrade the SSD (or add a second drive to an additional M.2 slot) and the dual-channel SODIMM RAM with relative simplicity. The chassis does not stick out in any significant way, which many people will like. It’s rather light, slim, and features ports on the rear for easy cable management. Thunderbolt 4 and HDMI 2.1 are excellent additions.

The optical mechanical keyboard offers a pleasant feel and sound, and the per-key RGB lighting adds a splash of color to the laptop. There is some inconsistency in actuation, but after a few days, I was able to adjust to the pressure required. Although few gaming laptops include security features, the Xenia 15 includes an IR camera for Windows Hello as well as a Kensington lock slot.

The 165Hz refresh rate ensures seamless gaming on the QHD display. Color accuracy in the sRGB region is excellent, and the integrated software allows for numerous adjustments. Although the response time may be too slow for certain competitive gamers, you should still enjoy gazing at it every time you open the lid.

The Xenia 15 KC is priced competitively with comparable high-end laptops, and its performance, as seen in our testing, can easily keep up with (or even outperform) more expensive computers. If you’re looking to spend more than $2,000 on a new gaming laptop, you should seriously consider this one.

Reviewed the 2021 XPG Xenia 15 KC. This high-end laptop has improved performance and additional features

XPG Xenia 15 KC

XPG builds on its gaming platform with the Xenia 15 KC refreshed for 2021
PROS
Exceptional performance
Upgradeable RAM and SSD are available.
165Hz refresh rate on a QHD monitor
Intel software is included, which is an improvement.
Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, IR camera

CONS
Under full load, fans are extremely loud.
Key actuation can be tricky at times.
Overheating causes some throttling.


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