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Unparalleled Speed; Clear Compromises

Eurocom Panther 5D Notebook Review: Faster Than Your Desktop
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Performance above all else was Eurocom’s mantra as it put this thing together. It had to be. The Panther 5D is a solid machine that delivers speed in games and threaded desktop apps that you won't find from any other notebook. Although, calling this a mobile platform is somewhat of a misnomer. Yes, you can pick it up and move it from one room to the next. But flip the lid as your plane lifts off and you won't even make it to beverage service before it cuts out on you.

With that said, despite its power-hungry contents, the Panther 5D never crashed on us and it never showed any signs of getting overwhelmed by dissipating hundreds of watts of power. Thanks to a 150 W Core i7-3970X CPU, general-purpose processing far exceeded the capabilities of any laptop with a mobile processor. Its two GeForce GTX 680M graphics modules sliced through every game we threw at them. A native 1920x1080 screen just isn't large enough to tax a pair of GK104s rendering cooperatively. This machine doesn't do well on battery power, but plugged into the wall, it's a true gaming and productivity beast.

There would only be a couple of ways to extract more performance from this setup: either upgrade the GTX 680Ms to GeForce GTX 780Ms, or drop in one of the new Ivy Bridge-EP-based Xeon E5s with up to 12 physical cores. The step up wouldn't be cheap, but yeah, talk about turning the dial to 11.

Content creators, engineers, and other professionals who need big performance wherever they go can rely on the Panther. It demonstrated the stability to be a dependable tool, and it is fast enough to get real work done quickly. In fact, the Panther's performance could end up paying for the procurement costs quickly by giving contract workers better productivity, translating into more billable projects in the same number of hours. It's a complete desktop workstation that fits in a large backpack. And Eurocom is quick to point out that the CPUs, GPUs, memory, and storage are all readily upgradable, saving you from buying a new system if you start small and scale up down the road.

Gamers should also be impressed. It's not often that we run across a notebook that begs to be hooked up to an external display just to tax its graphics modules. We had the Panther 5D set up for a group of enthusiasts, and it received a lot of attention. It was naturally faster than every notebook in the room, but its specs also outmoded most power users' desktop rigs, too. The big hexa-core CPU largely uncorks the performance of two GTX 680Ms in SLI, which is where those huge average frame rates come from (ideal when you're using 3D Vision, too).

Now, we can already predict how the comments for this story are going to look. There will be those who understand where a platform like this makes legitimate sense, whether for desktop-like performance or for making money on the go. Those are the folks Eurocom has in mind when it does something like announce its Panther 5SE mobile server (a concept that still seems strange to us, but is just one step removed from this very similar mobile workstation). It's all about performance and adaptability above all else.

Then there will be the critics who see this system's size, its inelegant dual power adapter setup, its battery life, or even just its price tag and conclude that it doesn't do anything for them. These folks aren't going to be entirely wrong, either. The Panther 5D is undoubtedly a very niche offering for a very specific customer. It's aimed at a narrow group that needs maximum performance in a portable. People outside the target demographic will see overkill.

We used the Panther for a variety of tasks over a couple of months. During the day we worked with video production, photo editing, and software testing. The Panther was great at chewing through hours of sequential video data. After hours, there was a lot more gaming going on. There's a lot to like about the system's headphone output, too. At the end of the day, Eurocom's configuration never let us down in a task that demanded maximum speed. And while its weaknesses are apparent, it does everything else exceedingly well.

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Top Comments
  • 31 Hide
    vmem , December 4, 2013 9:13 PM
    I want the satisfaction of just dropping this monster on someone's desk, and say

    "personal server: DEPLOY!"
  • 20 Hide
    Razerium , December 4, 2013 10:17 PM
    Sure it's better than my desktop, but it's also three times more expensive!
  • 15 Hide
    coffeecoffee , December 4, 2013 10:14 PM
    Great for individuals that moves around often (i.e LAN parties, get togethers, etc) IF the hardware can be kept cool AND if the fan doesn't sound like a space rocket taking off. However, one will need a deep pocket to afford something like this.

    @vmem "Personal Server: Please insert Credit Card to continue! $_$"
Other Comments
  • 31 Hide
    vmem , December 4, 2013 9:13 PM
    I want the satisfaction of just dropping this monster on someone's desk, and say

    "personal server: DEPLOY!"
  • 15 Hide
    coffeecoffee , December 4, 2013 10:14 PM
    Great for individuals that moves around often (i.e LAN parties, get togethers, etc) IF the hardware can be kept cool AND if the fan doesn't sound like a space rocket taking off. However, one will need a deep pocket to afford something like this.

    @vmem "Personal Server: Please insert Credit Card to continue! $_$"
  • 20 Hide
    Razerium , December 4, 2013 10:17 PM
    Sure it's better than my desktop, but it's also three times more expensive!
  • 2 Hide
    f-14 , December 4, 2013 10:20 PM
    now this is how you're meant to play crisis 1-2-3 right by any one with an iMac.

    the main people i can see needing this bad boy is division commanders on a battlefield as well as NSA hackers and CIA spies and Drone operators
  • 1 Hide
    airplanegeek , December 4, 2013 10:28 PM
    you guys didn't review the sound volume :( 
    but what i really wanted to see was the effects of ocing the gtx 680Ms :p 
  • 5 Hide
    16bit , December 4, 2013 11:14 PM
    Great article. Puts my 17.3 inch laptop to shame.

    Finally I can have high end desktop performance on the go.
  • 1 Hide
    palladin9479 , December 5, 2013 12:51 AM
    I once had a Desktop Replacement laptop, huge monster that required a large AC adapter, was loud and heavy. These things are NOT portable, they are heavy to lug around and completely impractical for mobility. They are for people who, for whatever reason, do not want a desktop +monitor at their house. These are just desktops that are easier to transport around.
  • 0 Hide
    belardo , December 5, 2013 1:07 AM
    This seems more for bragging rights. Sure some people will NEED this... For a portable gaming system with 3 power-bricks, etc... why not get customized AIO? Or simply brink a small (SFF) case with keyboard and 20" display which would weight less? If you're gaming anyway - you'll need a mouse. The keyboard looks crappy, the numeric keypad is up against the main keys.

    Lets see, a SFF setup parts:
    PC: 5 = SFF-PC, keyboard, mouse, monitor, 2 power cords.
    5D: 7 = 5D Panther, Mouse, 2 power cords, 3 power bricks/converter.

    In return, you get a much better keyboard... then when broken, its a $10~150 replacement...
  • 2 Hide
    Avus , December 5, 2013 1:40 AM
    It may be fast, but it sure look ugly. If i compare this notebook to a car, it will be a Mitsuoka Orochi.
  • 3 Hide
    zodiacfml , December 5, 2013 4:32 AM
    awesome photography. i enjoyed looking at the parts.
  • 3 Hide
    toddybody , December 5, 2013 5:16 AM
    Incredible. Criticisms aside, awesome to see this dedication to performance..."skinny obsession" be damned.
  • 0 Hide
    corvetteguy1994 , December 5, 2013 5:38 AM
    Slam it on your friends desk and start poking it with a stick " optimus, TRANSFORM!"
  • -2 Hide
    ohim , December 5, 2013 6:19 AM
    This looks like a laptop from the 80`s :) ) and at that price point you have to be really retarded to pay such a price.
  • -2 Hide
    chesteracorgi , December 5, 2013 6:24 AM
    At over 4X the cost of my desktop, this portable monster performs only marginally better. Were I to spend as much on a desktop I'd build a Xfired (290s) or SLId (780s) machine with 4K triple monitor (at least 27" per monitor) surround graphics. The form factor of "laptops" is too confining to compete on a level playing field with desktops.

    Nice machine, but it is overbuilt for a laptop if you need external monitors to use its full graphics. Sure you can take it somewhere where you can hook it up to multiple monitors, but then it is no more portable than a desktop.
  • 3 Hide
    BigMack70 , December 5, 2013 6:38 AM
    Not faster than my desktop ;) 

    Anyways, nice review. It's fun to read about the stupidly high end laptops that most of us don't ever see or use in real life, just to know what's possible if you go for performance over form factor.
  • 0 Hide
    Elrabin , December 5, 2013 6:42 AM
    Insane.

    I understand that it's "PERFORMANCE AT THE COST OF EVERYTHING ELSE" but wow.

    To put this into perspective for that $6600, you could buy a fully loaded Precision M3800 quad core i7, 3200x1800 IGZO screen, 16gb ram, 512gb SSD + 1tb HDD and a Quadro k1100m that weighs 4lbs for $2600 and still have $4k left over to build a MONSTER workstation/gaming desktop

    Lets go nuts. A 4k UP2414Q Ultrasharp Monitor for $1400

    Core i7 4770k $300
    2 x Nvidia GTX 780ti $700 each
    512gb SSD
    4Tb HDD

    and a full build would still come out to less than 4 grand.
  • 5 Hide
    CaedenV , December 5, 2013 7:24 AM
    Ha! So that's what happens when you take a 1990's laptop case and fill it with modern hardware. Amazing!
  • -5 Hide
    Avro Arrow , December 5, 2013 7:30 AM
    I can only imagine possible military applications for this thing. If I had that kind of horsepower, I'd want a much larger screen than 17". The real problem I see with it is the same problem I see with pretty much all laptops. They're technological dead-ends because they cannot be upgraded. It's a cool thing to see what's possible but as Kurtwood Smith said in Star Trek VI: "Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing, it does not necessarily mean that we must do that thing."

    I think that statement is perfectly applicable to the Panther 5D.
  • 1 Hide
    ram1009 , December 5, 2013 7:37 AM
    This is nothing but a status symbol for those with more money than sense and I'll never believe it stays cool under load until I see it in person.
  • 0 Hide
    Stevemeister , December 5, 2013 8:13 AM
    This just goes to prove that given enough money to spend you can get anything you want - the question is are you paying two to three times as much as you need to.
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