Question Franken-top - 12700H / 3060 / 32GB / 4K120

Tech Junky

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Jan 27, 2022
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So, I'm planning a little project and pulling the pieces together from different sources.

I can get a NP70PNP for $1300 shipped.
  • 12th generation Intel® Core™ processor
  • 17.3” QHD 165Hz Refresh Rate Panel
  • 17.3” FHD 144Hz Refresh Rate Panel
  • Expandable DDR4 memory up to 64GB (depends on RAM module)
  • NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3060 Laptop GPU (115W)
  • 4 simultaneous displays
  • One M.2 SSDs PCIe Gen 4x4
  • One M.2 SSDs PCIe Gen 3x4
  • Sound Blaster™ Cinema 6+
  • Multi-Color backlit keyboard with numeric pad
  • Support up to Intel Wi-Fi 6E (802.11 AX Wi-Fi wireless networking)
I wouldn't mind though going with the 15.6" version the NP50PNP but, the panel options for mLED are about 50% of the spec of the 17" models.
The left most size option is the OEM screen being shipped FHD/144hz

Since the cheap price excludes RAM / NVME / upgraded panel it's a bit more than most are willing to take on when getting a laptop but this instance is much easier than the current model which required sourcing the panel and eDP cable from CN directly as other methods resulted in shipping "compatible" models that had completely different specs.

So, I have a handful of drives to throw at this anyway.
Primary Gen4 - SN850 1TB
Secondary Gen3 - CS3030 1TB

I'll swap out the AX200 for the AX210 I have in the current model for potential 6E connections.

RAM - 32GB 3200MHZ off Amazon for $105
Swap the paste under the cooler for graphite pads I have on hand from laptop / server implementations

Anyway... taking the DIY approach for similar specs saves quite a bit of cash as baseline configurations range from ~$1500+ for FHD and $1700+ for QHD / Comparison = Sager

Taking into account adding TB4 ports for some reason also added a couple hundred to the prices on the larger suppliers makes this project more appealing since it's only about 10 minutes work to fit the drives / ram and pop the display / replace it since the cabling doesn't need to be swapped.

To be fair though with the parts I have on hand and all said and done it's about a $2000 setup adding in the costs of drives / ram / panel. However, looking around for anything remotely close to the end result specs $3000+ (Aero / Razer / etc.)

Full specs listed by reseller:
Processor
12th Gen Intel Core i7-12700H ( 2.3GHz, Max Turbo boost 4.70 GHz ), 6 P-cores & 8 E-cores / 20 thread, 24MB Smart Cache
Memory
Supports Dual Channel DDR4
Two 260Pin SODIMM sockets, support for DDR4 up to 3200MHz (Real operation frequency depends on processor)
Expandable up to 64GB, depends on 8GB/16GB/32GB SODIMM module.
Display
17.3” Full HD (1920x1080) 144Hz Wide View Angle, Matte Finished
Graphics
Processor
Switchable GPU by Microsoft Hybrid Graphics - NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 GPU / Intel Graphics

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060, 6GB GDDR6
- Microsoft DirectX 12 Compatible
- NVIDIA CUDA Technology
- Support PCIe Gen4
- Dynamic Boost 2.0
- Support 4 active displays
- Maximum TGP: 115 W (including 25W Dynamic Boost 2.0)

Intel Iris Xe Graphics (Integrated in Core i7-12700H processor)
Storage
One M.2 2280 SSD PCIe Gen3x4 interface & one M.2 2280 SSD PCIe Gen4x4 interface
Audio System
High Definition audio interface
Built-in Array Microphone
2 Built-in Speakers
Sound Blaster Cinema 6+
Pointing Device
Built in Click pad with Microsoft PTP multi-gesture and scrolling function
Keyboard
Multi languages, Single Zone Multi-Color illuminated full size keyboard with numeric pad. (15 colors to select)
I/O Ports
1 Thunderbolt 4 Port (Type C)
1 HDMI output Port (with HDCP)
1 Mini DisplayPort 1.4 output Port
1 USB 2.0 Port(Type A)
1 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Port (Type A)
1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Ports (Type C)
1 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone / Microphone)
1 Microphone Jack
1 RJ-45 LAN (10/100/1000Mbps)
Slots
Micro SD Card reader
Three M.2 Card Slots
- 1st for WLAN Combo M.2 2230 Card with PCIe and USB interface
- 2nd for SSD M.2 2280 Card with PCIe Gen3 x4 interface
- 3rd for SSD M.2 2280 Card with PCIe Gen4 x4 interface
Communication
Built-in Gigabit Ethernet LAN
Intel Dual Band Wireless-Wi-Fi 6 AX201 + Bluetooth, M.2 interface
Security
Kensington Lock
Intel PTT (Platform Trust Technology)
Power System
Removable 4 cells Polymer battery pack 54WH
Full Range AC-in 100~240V, 50~60Hz, 180W AC Adapter, DC output 20V, 9A
OS Support
Windows 11 (64-bit)
Certificate
Windows 11 (64-bit) Logo
HDMI Logo
Physical Characteristic
5.49 lbs including bare bone and 54WH Battery Pack
15.63" (w) x 10.32" (d) x 0.98" (h)
Other Features
Built-in 1.0M HD Video Camera
FlexiCharger
Virtual Reality ready
Windows Mixed Reality Compatible
 

Tech Junky

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Jan 27, 2022
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Reached out to the company I bought my current panel from and negotiated the price on the panel down to ~$275 shipped which is about $100 cheaper than just ordering it off the website. Asked them about another model though and whether they would bump it from FedEX to Express shipping included at the quoted price.

B173ZAN05.0 - ~$275 shipped (60hz)
HK173VB-01A - alternate panel I can't find anywhere for pricing that I asked them about. (120hz)

Maybe this time around I will actually get a 120hz panel unlike last time when everything was in lockdown and no one seemed to have the panel I was looking for at a decent price.
 
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Tech Junky

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Laptop has been ordered.

Still sorting through panel options though. Debating mLED / 120hz and waiting on responses from my CN distributor is painful with the time difference.
 

Tech Junky

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Ordered some RAM 32GB / 3200mhz - $106

2/3 of the parts, just debating the screen upgrade still to mLED or not to mLED is the question.

I had to use my current laptop yesterday in the car to flash the ECU and the sun was out in full force making things difficult to see using my current NE156QUM-N66 which does provide 500 nits of brightness.

Comparing this to the new mLED at double the brightness should take care of that issue when needed.
 

Tech Junky

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Final cost minus reused drives / AX210 card being ported to new machine.

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$300 less than an out of the box bootable system with a sub par screen.

https://www.sagernotebook.com/Notebook-NP7880P.html - $1450 /17.3" / FHD/144/115W TGP/16GB 3200/500GB
( NP70PNP ) - RJT @ $1306
https://www.sagernotebook.com/Notebook-NP8852P.html - $1599 /15.6" / QHD/165hz/130W TGP /16GB 3200/500GB
( PD50PNP ) - RJT @ $1499
https://www.sagernotebook.com/Notebook-NP8872P.html - $1650 /17.3" / QHD/165hz/130W TGP /16GB 3200/500GB
( PD70PNP ) - RJT @ $1559

If you're looking for a barebones option because as most of us have HW on hand already from our current system this is a good option. Also, besides free / quick shipping RJT also doesn't charge sales tax outside of CA or maybe even any orders online. They were quire responsive to e-mails as well when asking probing questions regarding the laptop when other resellers of the Clevo devices were obtuse and only gave the spec information already list on their website.

 

Tech Junky

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Well, the beast is up and running.

It's overall pretty nice do far for the couple of hours it's been powered up.

I had an issue with the drives not booting though due to TPM / BIOS security warnings. I ended up removing both drives and then in the BIOS cleating all TPM / secure boot settings and then put the drives back in and it worked fine. I did some other stuff before that though that isn't important to get the system booted.

I moved over my AX210 / WD SN850 / PNY CS3030 and put in the fresh 32GB RAM from Timetec.

Once booted of course there's a 1/2 dozen devices that needed new drivers and Windows update found them. I had a repository of drivers from the other Clevo and some other laptops from over the years but, none off those seemed to match. Clevo hasn't released any drivers yet on their own site and the repo I used on the prior model doesn't have any listed either but has an older BIOS version than the one that came installed.

The fans on this thing are great but, for some could get annoying w/o headphones when cranking the system with a load. They actually move a decent amount of air though which is nice compared to the other laptop that just makes noise but seems to be more passively moving the air.

Normal apps open and CPU is down 30% which runs virtually silent because the fans aren't constantly running. Drives I did some bulk copies between them and hit 2GB/s which is a good chunk higher than the prior chassis which normally stuck between 1-1.5GB/s. More than likely due to the PCI3 version and potentially one drive using DMI instead of CPU lanes.

FHD panel isn't horrible but, coming from a higher end 4K panel it's a rough thing to look at. Hopefully get my new one from CN in about a week and slap it into this monster. Scaling FHD / UHD is like going from a 24" TV to a 60" flat screen.

If UPS had delivered on time Saturday it would've been less than a week from order to arrival from RJT. Most places seem to be pushing their shipping to 2-3 weeks from what I've noticed looking around.
 
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Tech Junky

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So, after getting things working with the cloned drive / updating drivers the touchpad started acting funny.

I tried cloning again but, I think the conflict with that was the GPT info was being copied along with the data causing it not to boot right or using the Gen3 drive as the EFI boot source even when doing a fresh install on the Gen4 drive. Eventually I took out the Gen3 drive and did the install with Gen4 only installed and once that was up and working formatted the Gen3 and put it back inside.

Once all of that was done it's been running w/o issue with anything else. It's a bit odd though that cloning caused an issue as I do it all the time when moving things around / upgrading drives.

Running into a shipping delay on the 4K / mLED panel due to lockdowns in CN.

Ran some benchmarks with various settings / apps open / closed.

https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/52283069 - chrome open / 87%
https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/52283129 - chrome closed / 94%
https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/52283259 - fresh boot / 88%
https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/52283352 - 3D 3060 / 106%
https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/52283538 - 3D + Performance Power / 108%

The biggest improvement was going into NVIDIA CP and changing the 3D setting to 3060 instead of letting windows decide. Should be interesting to see how things perform with the new 4K panel as the resolution change tends to put more stress on the GPU.

Getting beyond the technical issues that are self inflicted the beast runs well. When post processing Plex MPEG2 files to MP4 the 3060 handles them in quick order and the XE would take forever. One thing I've noticed is I get better thermals / performance from the XE GPU for web based games compared to the old laptop having to push Chrome to use the GTX1650 to get a stutter free experience. Using the 3060 for web games just makes the fans kick off and puts out more heat.

As usual Windows 11 seems to have a memory leak somewhere as it's a bit bloated after some uptime ~2 days sits at 50% RAM use for some reason. Post reboot to desktop / no apps ~4GB / ~8GB w/ Chrome open.
 

Tech Junky

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So, the panel hunt continues. I've been reaching out to multiple suppliers trying to nail this down or another 4K60 option and keep running into lack of supply or extremely bloated costs.

I had one supplier come back with a different model that had some nice specs but, they wanted $700 for it and another option that wasn't far behind in pricing.

My primary goal is a B173ZAN05.0 at this point and it's leading to no results of getting one shipped from anywhere.

Switching things up to a 4K60 / 4K120 options outside of mLED might open some doors / possibilities but, that's also becoming an issue finding stock that fits. The issue there is most of the models that are decent have a 0.4mm pin pitch which conflicts with the native 0.5mm pitch of the cable. Switching to a 0.4mm pitch will require Macgyvering something to make it work either swapping the EDP cable completely or finding an adapter of some sort to put between the cable / panel.
 

Tech Junky

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I think I've narrowed it down to the best of both worlds with the B173ZAN03.5 which is 4K120 but, the kicker is switching from 0.5 (cable) to 0.4 (panel). Well, I dug around and found a pass through converter to change the pin pitch accordingly. The main source though has them for under $4 but the site requires a $150 min order. Dug around some more and found an Amazon source that carried other converters but didn't have the one listed that would work. Reached out over Amazon to the seller and they confirmed they had some and had them add a listing for them ~$9/ea which is a markup but, no MOQ to deal with.

Switching things around will result in a higher cost but, not waiting indefinitely for the mLED panel to come in stock at some point in the future that's unknown at this point.

Roughly $100 more but, still a helluvalot cheaper than the competition. (expedited shipping / 2 adapters ($40) // single converter - ~$12)
1652973348428.png
 

Tech Junky

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Finally pulled the trigger on the new panel + pitch converter.

This has tuned into a groundhog day sort of situation where something comes to mind to look for or another option versus the first or other options.

Seems the panel market has contracted compared to a couple of years ago when you could get your hands on just about any model you were looking at with minimal resistance. I reached out to countless people selling panels on the regular through this process and came up dry in most cases. Inventory fluctuations on different sites made executing an order difficult if not timed right or more of an impulse hitting the buy button a priority on some models.

I dug threw tons of Clevo service manuals looking at 4K options and they all used the same B173ZAN01.0 panel which use the 0.5mm pitch cable. This doesn't help as there's only a handful of 0.5mm 17.3 options of which even less are able to be found in stock anywhere at reasonable prices. I had varying prices on some models from $200-$600+ for the same model. Different shipping options taking up to a month+ to adding $30 for priority shipping or expedited shipping included. Turned out the one that included the expedited shipping was $10 more then the one that charged for upgraded shipping.

These pitch converters seem to be something new though that simplify the process compared to some threads I've seen where it truly turns into a gamut of daisy chained pieces to make a different pin pitch work.

I guess maybe I took for granted all of the options in the 15.6" space. The issue being with the ADL laptop is $1300 got me a good laptop in 17.3" but, the similar 15.6" option starts at $1500. $200 more eats into the budget for the screen swap. On the 15.6" side there's also one mLED model and it's impossible to find as well from a reputable seller.

It will be nice to have the 4K back in play. This FHD screen is just annoying me at this point. It's too "in your face" for viewing without having to significantly change your focus to another part of the screen.

New panel / converters should be here ~6/1.
 

Tech Junky

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So, this has been a total PITA to nail down suppliers and actually submit an order that can be filled.

Last resort was to use AE for the pieces While I've not had luck with them in the past with their crappy ordering / payment system I finally was able to submit an order for B173ZAN03.5 / pitch converters from a single seller after asking them to include them in the same package to save on time / shipping costs. I had order the converters the other day from a different seller separately for about $40 w/ expedited shipping on 2 of them. When I fond a seller that had the panel in stock and pushed for the converter as well I found the pot at the end of the rainbow.

Well, I added both to the cart and went to checkout and kept getting an error message from AE. I was using PayPal for the transaction as everything is saved there and it makes keeping track of things easier. Then I went to put in the CC to the AE checkout and got a different error. Well, this was a flashback to the last time I tried to use AE to order something and didn't follow through with the verification process due to not wanting CC info / ID info to make a purchase.

So, I opened the appeal to verify ID and supplied my PayPal screenshot and they didn't like that and came back for ID/CC/statement info. I had already read up on the CC/ID and blocking out the sensitive info which felt a bit better than what I was thinking they wanted which was an un-obfuscated photo of each. I blocked out most of the info electronically and grabbed a screenshot of the attempts to pay from the CC website and blocked out a few things on there as well that AE doesn't need to know. I submitted it and within 20 minutes things were unblocked.

Then the other issue pops up where the bank wanted to call me with a PIN to enter to approve the transaction. Well, I've been fighting with my phone using Google Voice / data only and getting calls / SMS to go through. I got the calls but, because "pre screen" was on it would just jump to "goodbye" and hang up. Disabled that and finally got the PIN to go through.

There's definitely some nuances to making CN buying work. I've been using online sources for as PP points out over 20 years and never had so many hoops to jump through to buy something.

Overall thought he hoops were worthwhile when comparing prices / not getting shipped / etc. ~2 months into it though it will be nice to put this to bed once and for all until the next major upgrade comes along.

1653624941183.png

I was able to shave off a couple of bucks on the overall price on the panel by combining the shipments. If I didn't want them expedited of course the shipping would be ~$40 less and the backup converter ~$5. I figure the backup will be handy to have on hand the next upgrade comes along and the better option may be a 0.4mm pitch panel as well. For whatever reason Clevo doesn't use anything but the B173ZAN01.0 panel on any of their 4K options and that's 0.5mm on the cabling. Trying to find a cable instead of a converter didn't pan out any results. I would have preferred a direct cable option but, it is what it is.

Now, it's a waiting game to see when things ship / arrive. Should be a quick 5 minute swap though and will take longer to get it out of the box than it does to stick it to the lid and connect the cable.

 

Tech Junky

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Finally got the package into the shipping system and projected delivery 6/6.

This has been the most prolonged upgrade experience I've dealt with over the years trying to source / receive an item. supply chain issues or not this doesn't make much sense to have such a hard time finding a panel. I was able to get the laptop in under a week and lead times across the board seem to be in the 3-6 weeks from major suppliers.

I suppose the other option would be ordering on Amazon but, that's still coming from CN anyway and would be $100 more for the same wait time. I found a couple of US based options but, they include the markup and then some.

~$300 is expedited shipping of ~$70 for these upgrades. It's a bit steep compared to using Prime but, I'm ready to go back to a 4K screen about 2 months ago it feels like.
 

Tech Junky

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Got the panel / converters a bit earlier than promised by DHL.

The converters are a bit odd in how they fit behind the panel. The 0.4 connector needs the pins UP which then folds over the top the 0.5 side to insert the original cable on top of it It puts a little bit of pressure on the flex portion and could pose an issue down the road due to tension but, I ordered 2 of them so, I'm covered there even though the intent was to have a spare for another upgrade on the next cycle.

Verified the panel w/ HWINFO due to the stamping on the sheet metal not matching the model number.

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The clue about the panel stamp vs the actual output is easily distinguished by the nits output. The stamped version is lower in brightness and slower response time due to the 60hz RR on the lower tier panel.
 

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