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Practical Notes On Using Secondary Displays

Eurocom’s Core i7 Notebook: Walking The Panther

Eurocom’s D900F Panther and MSI’s GT725 differ in external monitor support, with Eurocom providing DVI and MSI providing an outdated VGA connector. Both notebooks do, however, support HDMI.

Targeting both power-users and gamers, Eurocom’s mobile workstation needs to support an additional desktop display, if only to lure business customers who require additional workspace. Rated at a maximum 2560x1600 graphics resolution, its GTX 280M graphics module is designated to support the 30” displays appropriate for a computer of this performance class.

Unfortunately, this is where the MSI GT725’s VGA output wins, but only for now. It seems that dual-link capability was broken in the D900F Panther at the time of our test, limiting its DVI output to 1280x800 on our 30” Dell monitor. The blame game went in circles: Eurocom originally thought it was a firmware issue, while Nvidia blamed a manufacturing issue on Clevo's end.

The two “links” of the GTX 280M’s secondary display output are split between single-link DVI and HDMI connections, and enabling dual-link requires disabling HDMI. As reported by both Nvidia and Eurocom, the graphics module isn’t automatically switching between HDMI and dual-link DVI mode. There hasn’t been any agreement over whether the problem is hardware or firmware.

The notebook that’s least-likely to be used with a secondary display, MSI’s GT725 is the one that currently supports the highest resolution for external monitors. We found no problems whatsoever when testing it at 1920x1200, which is the highest resolution any of our analog-capable displays supports.

Both notebooks are also rated at 1920x1080 HDMI output, and neither notebook produces adequate HDMI quality when connected to an HDMI-enabled Westinghouse L2410NM 1920x1200 desktop display. Both produced ghosting around text that could not be eliminated even at lower display resolutions. That leaves MSI’s legacy VGA output as the only acceptable solution for connecting a high-resolution external computer monitor.

Eurocom promises resolution to this issue. Buyers who need the dual-link feature should contact Eurocom concerning this capability prior to placing their order.

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