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Panther Guts

Eurocom’s Core i7 Notebook: Walking The Panther
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Flipping the D900F reveals its 14.4V, 6,600 mAh (95 watt hour) battery and a label that points to the fact that Eurocom refers to this specific model as both the D9F and D900F. Clevo, the Taiwanese ODM responsible for the Panther's mechanical design and manufacture, uses the D900F designation in its own product description.

Opening the forward bottom panels reveals two-drive and single-drive 2.5” HDD bays. A fourth internal drive can be installed in place of the optical drive. This is a Eurocom-exclusive modification to the Clevo design intended to add value for the folks who either want increased redundancy or more capacity. Our configuration uses two 500 GB Seagate 7200.4 drives in a Level 0 array (striping).

Two identical-looking fans on the left might lead one to believe that this is an SLI-based notebook, but removing them proves otherwise.

The first sink covers a single graphics module, while the second fan resides over Intel’s X58 Express desktop northbridge. The big fan isn’t needed for the chipset, but is instead part of an enormous three-fan-wide CPU cooler that also serves the chipset.

Anyone coming into the notebook market from desktop gaming might be shocked to see the so-called GTX 280M is actually nothing more than a G92 part with added memory. We discussed this fact in today’s GTX 280M/GTX 280 editorial, and our benchmarks will reveal it’s a solid performer by notebook standards even though, behind the scenes, nobody (including several VARs to which we've spoken) is pleased with Nvidia’s mobile nomenclature.

To the right of the graphics are two of three DDR3-1066 modules. Accessible from beneath the D900F keyboard, the third memory module can be spotted above through two holes in the motherboard. Eurocom’s configuration page shows that retail units will instead include DDR3-1333 modules, which help to boost specifications even though our tests have shown limited benefit for faster RAM.

There is no mobile socket for Core i7 (Calpella, the mobile version of Intel's Nehalem micro-architecture, isn't expected until late 2009), and the familiar desktop socket holds a 3.20 GHz Core i7-965 Extreme. The i7-975 Extreme became available after our unit was built, but is still supported, and other high-end options include Xeon processors of the same design.

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  • 11 Hide
    falchard , July 7, 2009 9:08 AM
    I think the point of the review is to show how much the Eurocon $5000 model is a waste of money. The MSI model should have been so outclassed in every aspect, yet it managed to be competitive at lower power envelops.
    Just look at the game selection, 2 games based on the same engine that heavily favor nVidia Architecture and 1 that is more processor bound.
Other Comments
  • -1 Hide
    lemonade4 , July 7, 2009 7:20 AM
    I really don't understand the point of this review. The two products in here are so different from each other.
  • 6 Hide
    Crashman , July 7, 2009 7:22 AM
    lemonade4I really don't understand the point of this review. The two products in here are so different from each other.


    Second fastest mobile processor vs second-fastest desktop processor, it shows the weakness of mobile CPUs AND the weakness of the latest notebook GPU's.

    It had to be compared to something...and it's the only notebook platform available with Core i7 so you can forget about that type of comparison.

    The real point of picking the MSI notebook was to compare the HD 4850 to the GTX 280m. None of Tom's Hardware's suppliers were able to deliver an HD 4870 notebook.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 7, 2009 7:33 AM
    the brick: 20 volt x 11 ampere is merely 220 watt?

    I'm not that familiar with those kinds of power supply, but isn't that way to low for these kinds of hardware setups?
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , July 7, 2009 8:01 AM
    bodyglovethe brick: 20 volt x 11 ampere is merely 220 watt?I'm not that familiar with those kinds of power supply, but isn't that way to low for these kinds of hardware setups?


    Did you look at the power draw numbers on Page 12?
  • 11 Hide
    falchard , July 7, 2009 9:08 AM
    I think the point of the review is to show how much the Eurocon $5000 model is a waste of money. The MSI model should have been so outclassed in every aspect, yet it managed to be competitive at lower power envelops.
    Just look at the game selection, 2 games based on the same engine that heavily favor nVidia Architecture and 1 that is more processor bound.
  • 1 Hide
    mike989 , July 7, 2009 9:42 AM
    I think the main problem with this review is, that people forget that Laptop's are designed to be portable, you obviously loose some performance. It’s a compromise between battery life and performance.
  • 6 Hide
    scook9 , July 7, 2009 12:51 PM
    These 2 laptop articles today have only made me more and more happy with my Flextronics/Arima W840DI (thats an Alienware M17 for the less informed - I got it barebones though). Coming in at around $2500 now, I have 3870x2, a QX9300 (ES but still latest revision - TY ebay), 4GB DDR3 and 2 320GB 7200RPM hdd's. My system is slightly more capable than the eurocom above for gaming but of course is crushed in the CPU oriented benchmarks (not that mine does badly). Given that I am paying half as much for a smaller and lighter notebook, OK by me.
  • 2 Hide
    sublifer , July 7, 2009 1:50 PM
    Some of the productivity benchmarks are also likely helped by the DF900's RAIDed hdd set up vs the single hdd. Not sure if you forgot about that but I thought it would help to remind people.
  • 1 Hide
    scook9 , July 7, 2009 2:10 PM
    well the m17 (w840di) can do raid as well, albeit, only across 2 drives.
  • 0 Hide
    xi1inx , July 7, 2009 3:20 PM
    Eurocom is reputed to lunch big desktop replacement at high cost. The only thing I suppose to be the point on this review, is the hype of the first Core i7 desktop replacement. The worst is the cost of this computer with another g92 derivate whith slighty poor performance. However, you can have 5k$ stover under your hands!
  • 6 Hide
    tipmen , July 7, 2009 4:45 PM
    I wish they would of tossed in a notebook with a 4870x2. The Asus W90 would of been a better match roughly half the cost and closer specs to the i7 laptop. Maybe if toms gets their hands on the W90 they could add this too.

    Is there a way Toms could add external temps of the casing?
  • 1 Hide
    cangelini , July 7, 2009 7:25 PM
    tipmenI wish they would of tossed in a notebook with a 4870x2. The Asus W90 would of been a better match roughly half the cost and closer specs to the i7 laptop. Maybe if toms gets their hands on the W90 they could add this too.Is there a way Toms could add external temps of the casing?


    Asus has actually discontinued that product, unfortunately.
  • 1 Hide
    doomtomb , July 7, 2009 7:57 PM
    Ummm these games are playable at the settings you picked on either laptop. I think I'll pick up the cheaper one: save about $4 grand, save my lap from catching fire, and actually keep it mobile. It would have been impressive to see this Eurocom behemoth actually do the job of a desktop but it really is just clunky, too expensive, too heavy, too hot to consider.
  • 4 Hide
    doomtomb , July 7, 2009 8:02 PM
    I meant these games AREN'T playable. TH need edit button.
  • 1 Hide
    quicklite , July 7, 2009 9:47 PM
    I don’t see why you guys have to load 900F to almost max configuration, while leaving MSI is default configuration. I mean 965 Extreme CPU, dual HDD?!? Why don’t you just stuff QX9300, some SSD into the MSI while your at it? For all the putdowns on 900F’s value, it starts at $2200, and I think you guys didn’t make that clear enough; for once, a base config of server class Clevo laptop has got all the top notch stuff, WUXGA, i7 920, 280m GTX. Where as those on the previous model - 901C costs you hefty premium for; still, load it up with top end parts, your pay for it.
    So sure you can put in the extreme 965 CPU, compare it to the budget mobile quad, just cos you could; but the fact of the matter is, that’s pointless, as is this review. What you’re getting by paying the extra $3000 can only be considered diminishing return, by anyone but most demanding power users. Also Eurocom is known to list extortionate prices on their site; where as if you contact them, they would price match against other resellers, save you a lot of money.
    The extra you pay on the Sager brings much greater degree of upgradability, CPU, Ram,GPU, HDD, etc, you name it.
    Intel i9 is just around the corner, with wholesome 12 threads. Three Sodimm brings more affordable Ram upgrade; later GPU MMX standard is certain to support the next gen GT 300 GPU.
    By contrast, if you get GT 725 now, you'd save a few hundred bucks, but would have to buy a whole new laptop if you want mobile version of i7, or next gen GPU for that matter. The Core 2 brand is being phased out, Next gen CPU, GPU, Ram, won’t work in 725, it’s a bloody dead end, and just about all the parts on 725 are soldered in. Upgradability is important aspect of an investment, if at this stage of Core 2 life cycle, you opt for a Core 2 CPU powered laptop, then you’re a fool.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , July 8, 2009 1:03 AM
    quickliteI don’t see why you guys have to load 900F to almost max configuration, while leaving MSI is default configuration. I mean 965 Extreme CPU, dual HDD?!? Why don’t you just stuff QX9300, some SSD into the MSI while your at it?


    The Mobility HD 4850 was the fastest ATI graphics Tom's Hardware could get for comparison, and the only notebook Tom's Hardware could get with Mobility HD 4850 was the GT725. Knowing that the HD 4850 should be competitive with any G92-based card, this shouldn't have been such a big problem in games. Unfortunately, MSI's card thermal throttled due to a cooling issue, screwing up the game results. The heat problem cannot be easily fixed, and Tom's couldn't secure a substitute ATI graphics notebook of a high-enough graphics calibre to replace the GT725.
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , July 8, 2009 6:22 AM
    Nice attempt at a comparison, but I'll give you guys cred for finally doing a notebook review.

    Now, get you hands on a Alienware M17x for benching with dual graphics cards and overclockable mobile CPU.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , July 8, 2009 6:38 AM
    Quote:
    Nice attempt at a comparison, but I'll give you guys cred for finally doing a notebook review.

    Now, get you hands on a Alienware M17x for benching with dual graphics cards and overclockable mobile CPU.


    Do you have one to lend? Because Alienware said it would take a little over a month to deliver one.
  • 0 Hide
    dmccarron , July 8, 2009 7:16 AM
    quickliteI don’t see why you guys have to load 900F to almost max configuration, while leaving MSI is default configuration. I mean 965 Extreme CPU, dual HDD?!? Why don’t you just stuff QX9300, some SSD into the MSI while your at it? For all the putdowns on 900F’s value, it starts at $2200, and I think you guys didn’t make that clear enough; for once, a base config of server class Clevo laptop has got all the top notch stuff, WUXGA, i7 920, 280m GTX. Where as those on the previous model - 901C costs you hefty premium for; still, load it up with top end parts, your pay for it. So sure you can put in the extreme 965 CPU, compare it to the budget mobile quad, just cos you could; but the fact of the matter is, that’s pointless, as is this review. What you’re getting by paying the extra $3000 can only be considered diminishing return, by anyone but most demanding power users. Also Eurocom is known to list extortionate prices on their site; where as if you contact them, they would price match against other resellers, save you a lot of money.The extra you pay on the Sager brings much greater degree of upgradability, CPU, Ram,GPU, HDD, etc, you name it. Intel i9 is just around the corner, with wholesome 12 threads. Three Sodimm brings more affordable Ram upgrade; later GPU MMX standard is certain to support the next gen GT 300 GPU. By contrast, if you get GT 725 now, you'd save a few hundred bucks, but would have to buy a whole new laptop if you want mobile version of i7, or next gen GPU for that matter. The Core 2 brand is being phased out, Next gen CPU, GPU, Ram, won’t work in 725, it’s a bloody dead end, and just about all the parts on 725 are soldered in. Upgradability is important aspect of an investment, if at this stage of Core 2 life cycle, you opt for a Core 2 CPU powered laptop, then you’re a fool.


    Yup. The price comparison is quite skewed. But even with the price-break diminishing-return effect on these top-end parts, it's still more money than if you bought it from another vendor. Even though Eurocom does a portion of Clevo's design work, they charge 20% more for the machine a two dozen resellers would otherwise. You'd think they'd be the guys before the middleman - so much for "buying direct", I guess.

    The desktop-replacement segment has been around for some time now, so the specs of powerhouse Clevo derivatives aren't as exotic or compelling as they once were say, ten years ago.

    But you are right - we are looking at a greater number of desktop parts crammed inside, so aside from the less-than-stellar graphics numbers this time around (expect a few resellers to remedy this in time), not only obviously performance, but the upgrade capability of these things remains more or less unmatched as far as notebooks go.

    That (robust upgradeability that is), not ultimately price, lightweight portability, heat output, or battery life is of far more concern to its target buyers. I would think (or have thought) this was clear to most readers.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , July 8, 2009 8:39 AM
    dmccarronYup. The price comparison is quite skewed. But even with the price-break diminishing-return effect on these top-end parts, it's still more money than if you bought it from another vendor. Even though Eurocom does a portion of Clevo's design work, they charge 20% more for the machine a two dozen resellers would otherwise. You'd think they'd be the guys before the middleman - so much for "buying direct", I guess.The desktop-replacement segment has been around for some time now, so the specs of powerhouse Clevo derivatives aren't as exotic or compelling as they once were say, ten years ago. But you are right - we are looking at a greater number of desktop parts crammed inside, so aside from the less-than-stellar graphics numbers this time around (expect a few resellers to remedy this in time), not only obviously performance, but the upgrade capability of these things remains more or less unmatched as far as notebooks go.That (robust upgradeability that is), not ultimately price, lightweight portability, heat output, or battery life is of far more concern to its target buyers. I would think (or have thought) this was clear to most readers.


    If you read the final two paragraphs of the conclusion you'll see that it's mentioned that this is an incredibly powerful workhorse notebook, and that's why the "Mobile Workstation" name make sense.
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