Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Eurocom’s Core i7 Notebook: Walking The Panther

Eurocom’s Core i7 Notebook: Walking The Panther
By

What, exactly, is a workstation-class notebook computer? We’ve long seen desktop replacement notebooks with big screens and lower-efficiency (but higher-performance) desktop processors, but those have often targeted mainstream users who were looking for only a hint of portability. And then there are gaming notebooks, most of which now use top-model mobile processors to reduce heat, power consumption, and by proxy, cooling requirements. For as long as any of us can remember, the only way to approach the level of performance offered in high-end desktops was to buy a high end desktop.

Eurocom has other ideas, though.

Designed to serve as either a portable replacement for a mid-range graphics workstation or a high-end game machine, the D900F Panther features Intel’s fastest Core i7 Extreme desktop processors, RAID support for up to four drives and, purportedly, the user’s choice of Nvidia’s latest GeForce or Quadro graphics. It appears that the only thing blocking legitimacy to Eurocom’s mobile workstation designation is that the Quadro graphics solution isn’t available from Eurocom yet (though the company is offering Xeon 5500-series CPUs in the machine).

Today’s test system uses the Intel Core i7-965 Extreme and GeForce GTX 280M. Because this notebook uses the second-fastest desktop processor available, we wanted to compare the second-fastest “mobile” CPU. Likewise, we wanted to see how Nvidia’s fastest mobile graphics solution would stand up to AMD’s. Unfortunately, most notebook companies have discontinued their short-lived Radeon Mobility HD 4870 solutions, including Asus’ CrossFire version, leaving us scrambling to find the closest possible contender. MSI stepped in with its 512MB Radeon Mobility 4850 configuration.

Notebook Configurations
Model

Eurocom D900F Panther

MSI GT725-212US

CPU

Intel Core i7-965 Extreme (3.20 GHz)

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000 (2.00 GHz)

Chipset

Intel X58/ICH10R

Intel PM45/ICH9M

Memory

6.0 GB DDR3-1333 (as listed)

4.0 GB DDR2-800

Graphics

Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M 1.0 GB

ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB

Display

17" WUXGA (1920x1200)

17" WUXGA (1920x1200)

Hard Drive

2 x Seagate 7200.4 500 GB RAID 0

WD Scorpio Black 320 GB

Sound

Integrated HD Audio

Integrated HD Audio

Wired LAN

Integrated Gigabit LAN

Integrated Gigabit LAN

Wireless LAN

Intel WiFi Link 5300 802.11n

Atheros AR928X 802.11n

Telephony

Integrated 56k Fax Modem

Integrated 56k Fax Modem

Bluetooth

Internal Bluetooth Module

Internal Bluetooth Module

Optical

Panasonic UJ-130 BD-ROM DVD±RW

Optiarc BC-5500S BD-ROM DVD±RW

Media Reader

Multi-format flash card interface

Multi-format flash card interface

Webcam

2.0 Megapixel

2.0 Megapixel

Expansion

ExpressCard/54

ExpressCard/54

USB 2.0

Four Ports (right-side)

Four Ports (2-left, 2-right)

IEEE 1394

1 x FireWire 400 (left-side)

1 x FireWire 400 (right-side)

eSATA

1 x eSATA 3.0 Gb/s (left-side)

1 x eSATA 3.0 Gb/s (right-side)

Audio I/O

Line-In, Digital Out, Microphone,
Headphone (front edge)

Headphone, Digital Out, Line-In,
Microphone (right-side)

Video Output

1 x DVI (rear), 1 x HDMI (left-side)

1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI (rear)

Battery

12-cell 14.4V 6600mAh

9-cell 10.8V 7800mAh

Weight

Notebook 11.8 lbs, Power Adapter
2.6 lbs, Total 14.4 pounds

Notebook 7.8 lbs, Power Adapter
1.3 lbs, Total 9.1 pounds

Warranty

One-year return service

Three-year electronics parts/labor
One-year LCD/Battery

Service

One-year online and telephone

Three-year online tech support

Total Price:

$5,354

$1,600


The use of AMD’s second-fastest mobile GPU with only 512 MB graphics RAM forces us to emphasize the lower price of MSI’s GT725-212US, with value considerations taken throughout today’s review. Desktop gamers seeking increased system portability will find details beyond the scope of a notebook review in today’s GTX 280M/GTX 280 editorial.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 33 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 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.
Display more comments