Leader Companion SC568 Specs, Price, Release – The Leader Companion SC568 is a thin and light notebook that still has Nvidia MX250 graphics for some light gaming on the side, let’s check it out in this detailed review and support you choose if it’s a laptop you should consider. For the specs, it’s got an Intel i7-8565U quad-core CPU, Nvidia MX250 graphics, 16gb of memory in a single channel. A 512gb NVMe M.2 SSD, and a 15.6” 1080p 60Hz screen. For network connectivity, it’s got 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5. The top is all just a dull silver colour with no logos, and the interior is similar. Overall the magnesium chassis made for decent feeling build quality and there were no sharp corners or edges anywhere around the device.
The weight is listed at 1.55kg. However, mine was at least one kilogram lighter than this. With the small 65-watt power brick and cable for charging the total weight rises to just 1.8kg, so Leader Companion SC568 relatively lightweight and portable. It’s less than 1.7cm thick, and the width and depth are similar to many other modern slim 15 inch laptops, giving it 6mm bezels on the sides. Despite the smaller bezels, the 720p camera is found in the ideal spot above the display in the middle, and Leader Companion SC568 also got infrared for Windows Hello support.
The keyboard has white backlighting which illuminates all keys and secondary vital functions. The lighting can be adjusted between two levels using the F6 and F7 keys or turned off completely. Even at maximum brightness, I could barely see the lighting in a usually lit room, it was only a little useful in a dark room, and even then it was a bit patchy. I had no problems with the layout and overall liked typing on it.
There was some keyboard flex while pushing down hard. However, it wasn’t too bad considering that the machine is on the thinner side, and it was never an issue during everyday usage. The lid had some screen flex despite the magnesium build, though to be fair it is on the thinner side, and the hinge felt sturdy.
I liked the size of the precision touchpad, and for the most part, it worked well. As for the screen, I’ve measured colour gamut with the Spyder 5 and got 93% of sRGB, 67% of NTSC, and 72% of AdobeRGB. At 100% brightness, I measured 335 nits in the centre with a 760:1 contrast ratio, so fair results overall, above-average brightness and an ok colour gamut. Backlight bleed wasn’t too bad, there were some imperfections towards the bottom, but I never noticed this during regular use, but results will vary between machines.
On the left from the back, there’s a Kensington lock, gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0 Type-A port, USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, 3.5mm audio combo jack and a micro SD card slot. On the right from the front there’s a USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C port, no Thunderbolt support here though, second USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port, HDMI output and the power input. The version of HDMI wasn’t specified. However I could only run an external 4K monitor at 30Hz, so it doesn’t seem to be HDMI 2.0, probably 1.3 or 1.4.
On the back, there are plenty of air vents. However, the air is only actually exhausted from one corner. The front was completely smooth with a very subtle indentation for getting your finger in to open it up. And it was possible to open up with one finger. Due to the all silver finish, it doesn’t really show up fingerprints. Underneath just has some air ventilation towards the back and rubber feet which did an alright job of preventing movement when in use.
To get inside, we only need to take out 9 Phillips head screws. The speakers are found towards the front left and right corners, they sounded ok, about average but a bit muffled. At max volume, there weren’t too loud, but not bad, and the latency mon results were ok also. Inside we’ve got the big battery down the bottom, WiFi card towards the left, single memory slot in the centre, and two M.2 slots just below this and towards the right. The space up the top right wasn’t used, I suppose the machine is too thin to have a 2.5” drive bay there, and I can only assume extra cooling wasn’t added to keep the weight down.
Individually, I would like to see a secondary memory slot, as I’ve shown many times in the past that single-channel memory results in performance loss compared to a dual-channel configuration. I’ll also mention that although the stick is DDR4-2666 capable, the i7-8565U CPU only supports DDR4-2400, which is what it ran at. Despite being on the thinner and smaller side for a 15-inch laptop, it’s still got a massive 6 cell 92-watt hour battery inside.
Testing was done with 50% screen brightness, keyboard lighting off, and background apps disabled. I was able to watch YouTube for 14 hours and 25 minutes. For the gaming test, I usually test the Witcher 3 at medium settings with a 30 FPS frame cap. However due to the lower specs here we only averaged 22 FPS, though it was able to last for 2 hours and 41 minutes like this. After this time it dropped lower to 16 FPS and lasted for 3 hours and 5 minutes in total.
The control centre software allows us to make some customisations. We can swap between standard and eco modes, and there’s also a keyboard shortcut, F5, to do this. We also have the option of setting 4 different performance modes. However I didn’t find these actually to change anything, so I just did all testing in a high-performance way. We do have the option of adjusting the fan, enabling turbo mode would set it to maximum speed.
Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. At idle down the bottom, it was quite cold. The stress test results were done by running the Aida64 CPU stress test and Heaven GPU benchmark at the same time, so basically it’s kind of a worst-case with both components under heavy load.
The CPU was always thermal throttling at 85 degrees as that appears to be the defined limit, so this does at least prevent it running too hot even under heavy load. These are the clock speeds for the same tests just shown. Simply enabling turbo mode which sets the fan to max speed was enough to boost CPU clock speed by almost 300MHz. There was no change to the GPU as this wasn’t limited by thermals. Undervolting the CPU by -0.1v further improved performance by around 200MHz.
Here’s what the fan noise sounded like while running these tests. At idle, it was very quiet. However, the fan was just slightly audible. While under worst-case stress test with the fans at default speed it wasn’t too loud, and it only rose a bit when we manually set the fan to maximum speed, which did help improve performance as CPU thermals were the fundamental limitation when we hit both processor and graphics with a heavy load at the same time.
As we’ve got Nvidia MX250 graphics inside, I’ve also tested a few games. I used high performance and turbofan mode for best performance. Overwatch was tested playing in the practice range, and it was running well at medium and low settings. High was ok, but occasionally a bit stuttery, and I wouldn’t want to use it any higher than that, at least at 1080p, you could, of course, get better performance at lower resolutions.
Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane, I thought it was playing fine at high settings and below. Ultra was ok for the most part, but occasionally when moving around fast. It did choke a little, probably due to the single-channel memory. CS: GO was tested with the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and the averages were still alright; however, 1% low performance was notably lower compared to higher specced laptops. In the end, you can again play esports titles at lower settings with a 1080p resolution. If you’re okay to drop down to 900 or even 720p. You could probably play more demanding games. But the single-channel memory is going to limit performance. I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the 512gb NVMe M.2 SSD, and the speeds were fair. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to check the Micro SD slot as I don’t have any cards that size.
Given Leader is an Australian company, prices are in Australian dollars. Leader Companion SC568 is going for AUD 2000 at the moment, so a little over USD 1200. I don’t think that’s too bad when you consider MSI’s Prestige 15 that I recently reviewed is $700 more. However, it was recently on sale. You are definitely missing out on features such as higher-powered CPU, GPU and Thunderbolt 3. It just depends if you need those extras and wants to pay more for them.
Let’s conclude by going through the good and bad aspects of the Leader Companion SC568 laptop. The positives of this machine are that it has excellent battery life when the large 92-watt hour battery is paired with these specs. It just sips power and lasts much longer compared to most machines I’ve tested. This is despite it being on the smaller and thinner size for a 15-inch machine too. It’s quite portable and the power brick is tiny as well. It’s got two M.2 slots for storage inside was excellent for a thinner 15” machine. Considering I’ve come across 17” models that only have one without a 2.5” drive bay either. And infrared for Windows Hello support was a nice bonus.
The negatives include single-channel memory with no option of upgrading to dual-channel, there’s just one slot. Inside there’s seemingly wasted space that could have otherwise been used to accommodate dual-channel memory. Or otherwise better cooling given the CPU has a lower 85-degree throttle limit. The keyboard lighting was only useful in a darker room as it was quite dim. And when you can see it, it’s pretty patchy. The I/O wasn’t too impressive, there were no USB 3.1 Gen2 ports. Only Gen1 no Thunderbolt and USB 2.0 in 2019 is a bit of a drag. HDMI was also 1.4 or lower, but at least it has a Micro SD slot.
Overall it’s not a bad machine, the CPU power is decent. And I liked the clean design, size and portability aspects. Plus that killer battery life. It even has some level of discrete graphics. However, here in Australia, I think the cost is higher side related to the competition. For example, I could get the last-gen Dell XPS 15 new with higher tier GTX 1050 graphics. Quad-core CPU with higher power limit and dual-channel memory. Granted 8gb instead of 16gb and half the hard drive space. But those could be upgraded if you want. This would likely outperform it, and you get the advantage of Thunderbolt 3 as well.