What is the market missing? “A dedicated laptop for streaming,” concluded Corsair. Then they looked at Elgato and said; “it is you.”
Although the price seems high, over £2800 for a machine with a Ryzen 7 6800HS, Radeon 6800M with 12GB GDDR6 VRAM, 16GB DDR5 RAM and 1TB NVMe, as well as a 16″ IPS 240Hz display in 2560 x 1600, it’s not us mere mortals it is aimed at, but the extreme use of Elgato products proves that it is very much aimed at a specific audience, probably video creators and professional streamers, the design could be for anyone, although it is subtle and industrial in a good way.
It must be said that it is difficult to compare on specs alone. There aren’t many other computers out there that have a Ryzen 7 but a 12GB graphics card or more, and the same goes for the panel. A ROG G15 might be the closest in terms of specs, with a worse graphics card, but then again only £600 cheaper. And they don’t have that weird design where the computer’s hinges are all that’s attached, leaving a big hole under the screen where the touch buttons behind an LCD panel can really scratch and scrape. I don’t understand that logic.
The first thing you notice about the Voyager A1600 is the large S-key macro bar at the top, with a nice Corsair logo in the middle that changes to a clear battery indicator. The buttons are programmable and while the idea is good, I personally would have preferred tactile buttons over a touch interface. This is of course to integrate Elgato’s Stream Deck software and their camera software. A 1080p 30fps camera with a reasonable microphone is integrated for the same reason. Above all, I’m just happy for a physical button to turn off the camera. And I agree that German-neon-yellow and black are Corsair’s colors, but the flap in front of the camera should not be in such a yellow color, since the rest of the frame is in black. It sticks out way too much.
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There are quite a few connections, such as USB-4 with Thunderbolt 3, the new USB-C 40 Gbit/s standard that supports Corsair’s own Slipstream. There is also a connection with, for example, mice via radio waves and DBS, which is not explained in any way. Basically, it is an integral part of WIFI 6E and is something extra that Qualcomm’s WIFI systems can use (Dual Band Simultaneous), where you use both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands at the same time to achieve a lower signal delay. It’s nothing new, but Qualcomm’s are made specifically for gaming over WIFI. However, I absolutely do not understand the Voyager A1600 without an ethernet port and HDMI. 100% wireless streaming and simultaneous gaming doesn’t seem like the answer, especially given that outside of Northern Europe WIFI is rarely anything to shout about. Yes, you can pull out the DisplayPort via the USB-C connector, but then again, why not just have an HDMI port in there?
The keyboard is quite nice. There are Capellix LEDs under the keys and Cherry MX ULP switches are used. It’s solid, tactile, and all keyboards should at least be made that way. I have to admit that while I’m technically very against trackpads for anything but absolutely basic use, this Microsoft Precision glass trackpad is actually well made and even comfortable to use. It’s as if the friction between the fingers and the record itself is mostly gone – it’s glorious.
Unfortunately, the only USB-A port is on the right side, which is never a good idea if you use a wired mouse and are right-handed. It could just have been placed on the left side. In fact, one should have assumed that since the design has been completely converted to USB-C, a USB-A port is not enough. Additionally, you can of course use Slipstream, but it’s only supported by the very latest and most expensive Corsair device, so unless you want to use Bluetooth, you’re forced to use the one USB-A port that’s for your mouse.
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The speakers are fine for a laptop, better than most, but funnily enough not worth much more than that. There’s nice speech recognition and something resembling real midrange. Talking about Dolby Atmos sound from a pair of portable speakers that claims to “bring to life even the most subtle layers and details” is generally a bit boring. My claim is that it is physically impossible with the limitations of a laptop physically and financially. The streaming part works better than you might think; it’s made quite easy to make functions with this touch bar, but the whole streaming part is also very dominant in the way the interface is set up.
The computer is quite heavy at 2.4 kilos and the battery is 99Wh. Corsair says they get eight hours of video playback out of it, I have to admit I only got a little over five hours. Remember, this is where it only runs on the integrated graphics, and the real thing is turned off.
The screen is the real star – it’s amazingly consistent in its color reproduction, and it’s one of the few times I’ve had the same sense of quality as a separate screen. I’m not normally a big fan of 16:10, and I still am not, but at least with the hardcore streaming profile in mind, it makes sense. 240Hz is a bit fun once you get used to it and it’s a bit weird to go back to 144Hz, it feels, well, less fluid, less organic. The response time is 3ms, it’s IPS, and there’s no DCI-P3 coverage specified.
Most of it is controlled through the ICUE software, but I need an easy way to update the GPU and chipset through ICUE. Now you have to know that yourself, and I think that should be integrated if everything else is easy and accessible. It also won’t measure what the CPU temperature is, which I must say is very relevant. In fact, I had a really hard time finding software I could use to access the CPU temperature sensor.
The cooling in the machine is not very well described, but I ran everything on maximum setting during benchmark tests. This also cost an additional 51dB on the sound pressure meter. The GPU normally runs at 51 degrees and then ramps up to 78 when pushed to its limits.
And then to the show. In general, many games would not run at standard 1440p, but retain 1600p. Therefore, the figures can be difficult to compare.
- TimeSpy: 4997
- Time Spy Extreme: 7478
- Speedway: 1904
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Cyberpunk 2077 and Ray Tracing
Total War: Warhammer III
Far cry 6
Looking at the numbers and yes they are skewed by the fact that it’s 1600p and not 1440p for many, but for its high price point I’d say the performance is at least 10%, and in some cases up to 15%, below what I could reasonably expect from such an expensive machine.
Yes, I’m fully aware that it’s aimed at streaming, but if you don’t have headroom ie. performance in reserve, gaming and streaming at the same time can quickly become a problem, especially if it’s a game that can cause performance to fluctuate a lot.
Additionally, there are some design choices and omissions that I struggle to understand, such as the lack of an HDMI port and the single USB-A port. On the other hand, the screen is great, so it’s not like it’s a bad start, but maybe they should have given a few more people input on how to design a computer like that, which you have to assume they did with such a user-friendly streaming and touch bar system.