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Venom BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom review

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There aren’t many laptop makers that you could call “indie” operations, and of those a lot will be localized rebranding operations from overseas cleanskin laptop makers like Clevo. So what Venom computers do – that is, build laptops from the ground up to compete with global giants like Apple or Microsoft – is rather unique.

Building a laptop is no small task, it requires a deep understanding of current PC components and a huge budget and fund allocation to get things started, but no matter how difficult it is for small businesses to enter this market. , consumers are primarily interested in getting the best product for their money.

Venom BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom price and availability

TECHNICAL SHEET

Here is the Venom BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 (4 cores, 8 threads, up to 4.7 GHz Turbo)
Chart: Intel Iris Xe graphics card
RAM: 16 GB
Filter: 14 inch 1080p IPS
Storage: 2 Samsung 512 GB PCIe SSDs
Ports: 1 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, 2 x USB 3.2 (Type-A), 1 x HDMI, DC-in, audio combo jack
Connectivity Intel Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 AX201, Bluetooth 5.2
Camera: webcam
Mass: 2.2 pounds (1 kg)
Cut: 12.63 x 8.58 x 0.63 inches (321 x 218 x 16 mm; W x D x H)

With a starting price of $1,199 (£899, AU$1,999) for an 11th Gen Intel i5, 8GB of RAM and a 250GB SSD configuration, the 2022 BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom is, at least, worth a reasonable price…especially if you’re an existing customer with an older Venom BlackBook that you can redeem for a $400 (AU$500) credit.

This entry-level unit is still a far cry from the value offered by the more powerful $999 (£999, AU$1,499) starting configuration of the Apple MacBook Air, but seeing as no other Windows-based system does came close to rivaling the M1 Air 2020, that’s not exactly a Venom review.

The BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom is available in a handful of configurations so you can upgrade the processor to an 11th Gen i7, double the RAM allocation to 16GB, and upgrade to a 1TB SSD for $1,699 ( £1,249, AU$2,699). If you have a unique need, you can increase the SSD or RAM allocations further, but for most a 1TB SSD will be more than enough for a work laptop.

This is a reasonable RRP for an i7 with 16GB of RAM, roughly matching the cost of a 13.5-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 when you factor in the larger SSD, but there are a few caveats. warnings that deserve to be underlined.

One is that devices like Dell’s virtually identical late 2020 XPS 13 had been out for over a year before the BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom launched and there are some decent discounts to be had on those devices now that Intel mobile processors 12th generation are just around the corner. .

The other difference is that almost all of the competition has a slightly higher resolution and more color accurate screen, which makes the BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom a tough sell for anyone who intends to use their laptop. for creative visual work.

Venom BlackBook Zero 14 Ghost

(Image credit: future)

Design

The BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom might turn the tide by not attacking creative professionals, but it has a clear, no-nonsense design ethos. The spec sheet suggests it weighs up to 1.4kg, but the BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom we tested actually weighed just over 1kg. That means it’s still up there with the best lightweight business Ultrabooks we’ve tested, but it doesn’t quite lead the way.

Other standout features include dual power supplies so you can leave one plugged in behind the desk at home or in the office and leave the other in a travel bag or briefcase to get you out and about faster. Then, for anyone who needs to reset the device once in a while, the device comes with a handy USB recovery drive that makes rebooting a lot easier.

From there, the spec sheet starts to look a bit more predictable with a very common 14-inch FullHD IPS display with an sRGB color gamut. 16:9 is still a very common form factor in all sizes, but Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo and MSI have all switched to 4:3, 3:2 or 16:10 aspect ratios on at least their devices smaller form factor.

This is because 16:9 is a cinematic aspect ratio and although it works for media playback, your average web page or document is about A4 in size and takes up about three quarters of the width of a screen like that of the BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom. While not a deal breaker, today’s best laptops convert that awkward width into vertical space that lets you see more of the webpage or document you’re working on.

The BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom sometimes offers a little more SSD storage than other similar units, which makes it a point of difference if you particularly like storage, but you’ll still be paying for it. The device we tested came with two PCIe Gen 4 SSDs that could read and write at 3500MB on the primary drive and up to 6900/5000MB/s on the second SSD according to internal tests. It’s as fast as single drives are coming to 2021 laptops and you don’t see many secondary PCIe SSDs on ultraportable laptops, so that’s a valid point of difference for anyone who needs to store and move regularly large files.

The keyboard and trackpad were quite nice this time around, ditching some of the idiosyncratic layout decisions of the last iteration. Both felt comfortable for long sessions and offered everything you would need for a work device. Although the BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom doesn’t offer a fingerprint sensor, it does come with Windows Hello facial recognition, but we think some business customers will be disappointed.

Interface options were extensive compared to today’s USB-C alternatives, including an HDMI port, microSD card reader and a few USB Type-A ports, as well as USB-C and 3.5 audio ports most common mm. While the HDMI port isn’t as essential as it was a few years ago, it’s still a good safety net for being able to plug into just about any display and get plug and play compatibility. basic play.

The active cooling system is quiet even at full tilt, and heat radiating through the magnesium-alloy chassis is confined to the space above the keyboard, well away from your palms.

Venom BlackBook Zero 14 Ghost

(Image credit: future)

Performance

Landmarks

Here’s how the Venom BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom fared in our benchmark test suite:
3DMark: Time Spy: 1439
Cinebench R23 multi-core: 4081 dots
Geek Bench 5: 1549 (single-core); 4817 (multicore)
PC Mark 10 (Overall): 5063 dots
PCMark 10 Battery Life: 12 hours and 6 minutes
Battery life (Techradar film test): 14 hours and 29 minutes
Sid Meier: Civilization VI (1080p, Low): 22 fps

It’s been about 5 years since we last reviewed the Venom BlackBook Zero 14, so the device we tested was over 4x faster than the previous model. The BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom that we were sent to test performed around 5% of our recorded average on a number of general work tasks for similar devices with Intel i7-1165G7 processors.

It also showed a performance increase of up to 12% in Venom Calibrated Performance Power Mode. It did, however, underperform in a number of GPU-specific benchmarks, lagging 9-25% behind what we typically expect from an Intel Iris Xe GPU, even in Performance mode.

While GPU performance was disappointing, the battery life of the BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom is actually excellent. In general work benchmarks, the 14-inch Ultrabook gets 12 hours and 36 minutes on average, while movie playback was around 14.5 hours. The only PC we’ve seen survive is the LG Gram 17. While still a far cry from Apple’s MacBook Air M1, it’s one of the best Windows-based Ultrabooks for battery life.

Venom BlackBook Zero 14 Ghost

(Image credit: future)

Verdict

If you have no use for photo or video editing and just want a light, handy and durable work PC, then the Venom BlackBook Zero 14 is a solid choice. You’ll have to take a hit on screen resolution compared to other devices on the market and the model we tested showed performance issues in particular tasks. It’s also very late to launch an 11th Gen Intel laptop, so you might find better value if you shop for Ultrabooks on sale.

That said, if you know you’ll probably want another Venom laptop in a few years, the $400 (AU$500) discount is a decent perk that makes the BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom reasonably cheap.

Should I buy the Venom BlackBook Zero 14 Phantom?

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