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Eurocom Panther 5D Notebook Review: Faster Than Your Desktop

Eurocom Panther 5D Notebook Review: Faster Than Your Desktop
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There's a good chance that Eurocom's Panther 5D notebook is faster than your desktop. The sample we're reviewing sports a six-core Core i7-3970X, two GeForce GTX 680M modules in SLI, 32 GB of DDR3-1600, and three 256 GB SSDs. Talk about a beast!

With its home base in Ontario, Canada, Eurocom offers a wide variety of notebook systems that span from very portable to very fast. The Panther 5D is the company's statement piece on the performance you cram into an ultra-high-end mobile platform with a 17.3", 120 Hz, stereoscopic-capable display.

Part of driving that large panel with its fast refresh involves two GPUs working in tandem. And keeping those graphics processors fed with data, not bottlenecked, requires a big, beefy CPU. Eurocom goes so far as to drop a desktop Core i7 in there. In order to ensure the potent configuration stays cool, the Panther 5D is built into a large chassis with cooling and power delivery that you've probably never seen before. The system also offers a ton of I/O options.

Truly, the Panther's focus is on the most breakneck speed possible in an enclosure that can still be called mobile. It's performance above all else.

This thing is aimed at content creators, gamers, coders; basically, anyone who needs the power of a workstation, but doesn't necessarily want to be tied down to the same desk every day can use it. Configure it with a Xeon processor and up to two Quadro graphics modules. Or go the route we did with a Core i7 and two GeForce GTX GPUs. In both cases, you end up with the alacrity of a desktop in a package you can pick up and move to your next job site or LAN party.

Building One Bad Mobile Monster

Most of Eurocom’s systems are highly customizable. The company prides itself on providing the highest-quality parts there are, and its online configurator often gives you the option to choose between specific brands. In the Panther 5D, you don’t just add a hard disk. Rather, you choose up to four mechanical or solid-state drives, and then decide if you want storage from Samsung, Crucial, Intel, Seagate, or Hitachi. From there, you can set the drives up in a variety of RAID arrays, or just as a JBOD setup. This flexibility extends to the display panel, networking hardware, power, optical storage, and so on.

When we ordered our review unit, Eurocom was offering the Panther 5D with up to eight-core Xeons and Sandy Bridge-E-based Core i7s. Now, you can go so far as to equip the laptop with 12-core Ivy Bridge-EP-based Xeons, yielding 24 logical cores in a 150 W processor package. In fact, the lowest-power processor you're able to drop into the Panther is Intel's Xeon E5-2620 v2, a six-core, 80 W model. With support for CPUs dissipating as much as three times as much thermal energy as the fastest mobile chips, Eurocom's system must employ one of the most elaborate cooling subsystems of any notebook we've reviewed. Its power demands have to be satisfied with two adapters.

The Panther 5D also has two slots for a pair of MXM-B graphics modules, and you're able to choose between several Quadro and GeForce GPUs. Our test system came with a pair of GeForce GTX 680M cards running in SLI mode. Although the system's graphics cards are specified to draw 100 W, each is supplied with up to 125. Each graphics module has its own independent cooling fan, as well as heat sinks for the processor and GDDR5 memory.

Just between the Core i7-3970X and GeForce GTX 680Ms in our review unit, we're looking at up to 350 W, extending to 400 W with some graphics overclocking. Add in the motherboard, storage, and display, and we're closer to 450 W. From a notebook. That's more than twice what we've seen from other so-called high-end laptops. If the Panther 5D can keep all of that hardware cool and fed with ample power, it should deliver performance in excess of anything we've seen.

Not surprisingly, this machine wasn't built to offer hours of battery life. Even at idle, the desktop-oriented CPU and platform controller hub draw a lot more power than their mobile counterparts. Even with a 78 Wh battery, the Panther only runs for about an hour away from a wall socket. It's more sensible to think of the system's battery as a built-in UPS instead.

Our sample is rounded out with 32 GB of Samsung DDR3 memory at 1600 MT/s. The primary storage target includes three Crucial 256 GB m4 drives in RAID 5 (Eurocom no longer offers the m4; it was replaced by the M500). The 120 Hz 17.3” screen is anti-reflective and includes a set of Nvidia's 3D Vision glasses. Sound is supplied by a Sound Blaster X-Fi MB2 solution. Wireless networking comes from the Atheros Killer series, which includes QoS software for prioritizing gaming traffic. We also got a Blu-ray writer, webcam, and surround sound speakers. Although the default adapter is a 300 W supply, our setup is naturally more power hungry, necessitating the dual-330 W option for an extra $300.

Given its beefy chassis, there's plenty of room for I/O on the Panther 5D. Display outputs include DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI-D. The Panther 5D also packs three USB 3.0 ports, as well as two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 800, and e-SATA. You also get separate gold-plated jacks for headphones/mic/audio-in/audio-out, as well as a TOSLINK optical audio output. Finally, there is built-in GbE, ExpressCard connectivity, and SD storage compatibility. 

Eurocom Panther 5D

Processor

Intel Core i7-3970X Extreme (Ivy Bridge), Six-Core, 3.5 GHz Base Frequency, 150 W TDP

Platform

Intel X79 Express Chipset

Memory

32 GB Samsung Dual Channel DDR3 @ 1600 MT/s

Graphics

2 x (SLI) Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M, 4 GB GDDR5

Display

 3D 120 Hz 17.3" 16:9 matte LED-backlit LCD @ 1920x1080

Solid State Drives

3 x 256 GB Crucial m4, RAID 5

Optical Disc Drive

Matsushita LightScribe MLT UJ260 Blu-ray Burner

Wi-Fi

Atheros Communications AR938x Wireless Network Adapter 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Controller

Ethernet

10/100/1000 Mb/s Base-TX Ethernet LAN (Intel 82579V)

Audio

Sound Blaster X-Fi MB2 audio,THX TruStudio Pro, Five Internal Speakers + One Subwoofer.

Ports

3 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI v1.4, DisplayPort, DVI-D, Headphone, Mic, Line-in, Line-out, Optical Digital Out,  FireWire 800 (1394b), e-SATA

Miscellaneous

Integrated Webcam & Mic, SD (XC/HC)/MMC Card Reader, Kensington Security Slot, UPEK TouchStrip Fingerprint Sensor, ExpressCard/34 or /54 slot

Battery & AC Adapter

Removable Polymer Li-Ion; 78.44 Wh Battery,2 x 330 Watt Power Adapters 

Size & Weight

419 x 286 x 57.7-62.1 mm / 16.76 x 11.44 x 2.31-2.48 inches / 12.1 lbs (Weight)

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 8 Pro (64-bit), Options for no OS and other Operating Systems available 

Warranty

One Year Return to Depot / One Year Tech Support Standard.

Price

Starting at $3300, $6638.56 As-Configured

Eurocom likes to call the Panther 5D a mobile supercomputer. That's a bold statement about a design full of top-tier parts, intended to outrun every other mobile machine available. It's time to put the company's claim to the test.

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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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