Illegear: Crafting gaming laptops that fit any budget
By Chong Jinn Xiung February 20, 2017
- An evolution from PC modding to customising gaming laptops that play and look good
- Does not see need for physical storefront unless it is to service customers
FOR the longest time massive desktop PCs were synonymous with PC gaming but nowadays gaming laptops have become the new weapon of choice for many gamers.
Many companies produce their own brand of gaming laptops with prestigious brands like Razer, Alienware and MSI attaching brand recognition and identity to their laptops.
Most gaming laptops are pre-built and sold over-the-counter. Unlike a desktop PC, it is not as easy to customise laptops. This presents a problem for hardcore gamers who may want a custom gaming laptop of their own that meets their specific needs.
Fortunately, a Malaysian company by the name Illegear has been servicing this niche market since 2012.
Its managing director Chin Jiun How (pic above) explained how he originally started as a reseller of gaming laptops by other vendors.
Having identified an unfulfilled gap in the gaming market, Chin decided to embark on establishing his own brand.
“The aim was to build gaming laptops that were fully customisable from the top down. It is something that would be impossible to perform on prebuilt laptops as there are limitations to how much we can customise.”
“If we have full control over the product we can ensure better quality so if we can do it better than the vendors, why not?” he said.
Working together with an original design manufacturer or ODM, Illegear was able to dictate the design of their laptops right down to the components, all without having to engage in running an actual production line.
Chin explained how they would often conduct market research and coordinate with the ODM to produce products that fit their customer’s needs.
The benefit of being able to customise every single aspect of their product allows Illegear to cater to any customer on a budget.
Sometimes, money is no barrier for certain hardcore gamers. When asked what the craziest laptop Illegear has built was, Chin said that in January 2017 alone they sold three laptops that cost RM31,000 each.
Tricked out with top-of-the-line Nvidia GeForce GTX1080 desktop-grade graphics coupled with an Intel i7 processor, 64GB and 2TB solid state drive, these were laptops that would have made any gamer green with envy.
Making the grade
With great customisation comes great responsibility. Just because you can throw in the most powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) into a laptop doesn’t necessarily mean that it will run smoothly.
The ability to properly cool itself is the number one feature that customers should look at when customising a laptop. Too much heat can be bad for the laptop and will throttle its speed, resulting in a less than optimum gaming experience.
He also noted the recent trend of thin portable gaming laptops coming into popularity though he finds that many cannot meet the performance requirements as they utilise smaller power adapters which deliver less power and this ultimately affects performance and their thermal cooling isn't as effective as bigger rigs.
Lastly, he believes that expandability like the number of RAM slots needs to be considered for customers that want to future-proof their laptops.
Online the way to go
Thus far, Illegear has done its business strictly online for the past six years. As they exclusively sell built-to-order laptops, their model does not fit in a retail store concept.
“Even if a customer was to walk into the store and pick out a laptop that he likes, we would not have a ready unit for them to buy. We would need to take down the specifications and assemble it. That would mean a walk-in customer would have to visit our store twice in order to get his or her laptop,” Chin explained while also noting that more and more customers are accustomed to shopping online.
While a vast majority of Illegear’s customer base is in the Klang Valley, the shop’s online presence allows them to sell their laptops to other countries in Southeast Asia including Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
“We do ship a lot to Singapore as there has been a lot of demand for our Z5 and Z7 models,” said Chin.
He, however, does not discount the fact that a physical shop would greatly benefit Illegear but he prefers to set up a service centre to better support customers that are not in the Klang Valley.
On the question of Illegear’s future plans, Chin said he has plans to further strengthen its presence in other states including Penang, Johor and East Malaysia. He also hinted that Illegear will be venturing into products other than laptops though he declined to elaborate.