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Eurocom’s Core i7 Notebook: Walking The Panther

Defining The Mobile Workstation

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
ModelEurocom D900F PantherMSI GT725-212US
CPUIntel Core i7-965 Extreme (3.20 GHz)Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000 (2.00 GHz)
ChipsetIntel X58/ICH10RIntel PM45/ICH9M
Memory6.0 GB DDR3-1333 (as listed)4.0 GB DDR2-800
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 280M 1.0 GBATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB
Display17" WUXGA (1920x1200)17" WUXGA (1920x1200)
Hard Drive2 x Seagate 7200.4 500 GB RAID 0WD Scorpio Black 320 GB
SoundIntegrated HD AudioIntegrated HD Audio
Wired LANIntegrated Gigabit LANIntegrated Gigabit LAN
Wireless LANIntel WiFi Link 5300 802.11nAtheros AR928X 802.11n
TelephonyIntegrated 56k Fax ModemIntegrated 56k Fax Modem
BluetoothInternal Bluetooth ModuleInternal Bluetooth Module
OpticalPanasonic UJ-130 BD-ROM DVD±RWOptiarc BC-5500S BD-ROM DVD±RW
Media ReaderMulti-format flash card interfaceMulti-format flash card interface
Webcam2.0 Megapixel2.0 Megapixel
ExpansionExpressCard/54ExpressCard/54
USB 2.0Four Ports (right-side)Four Ports (2-left, 2-right)
IEEE 13941 x FireWire 400 (left-side)1 x FireWire 400 (right-side)
eSATA1 x eSATA 3.0 Gb/s (left-side)1 x eSATA 3.0 Gb/s (right-side)
Audio I/OLine-In, Digital Out, Microphone, Headphone (front edge)Headphone, Digital Out, Line-In, Microphone (right-side)
Video Output1 x DVI (rear), 1 x HDMI (left-side)1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI (rear)
Battery12-cell 14.4V 6600mAh9-cell 10.8V 7800mAh
WeightNotebook 11.8 lbs, Power Adapter 2.6 lbs, Total 14.4 poundsNotebook 7.8 lbs, Power Adapter 1.3 lbs, Total 9.1 pounds
WarrantyOne-year return serviceThree-year electronics parts/labor One-year LCD/Battery
ServiceOne-year online and telephoneThree-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.

  • lemonade4
    I really don't understand the point of this review. The two products in here are so different from each other.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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.
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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?
    Reply
  • falchard
    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.
    Reply
  • mike989
    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.
    Reply
  • scook9
    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 $2500 now, I have 3870x2, a QX9300 (ES but still latest revision - TY ebay), 4GB DDR3 and 2 320GB 7200RPM hdd's. My system is slightly more capable than the eurocom above for gaming but of course is crushed in the CPU oriented benchmarks (not that mine does badly). Given that I am paying half as much for a smaller and lighter notebook, OK by me.
    Reply
  • sublifer
    Some of the productivity benchmarks are also likely helped by the DF900's RAIDed hdd set up vs the single hdd. Not sure if you forgot about that but I thought it would help to remind people.
    Reply
  • scook9
    well the m17 (w840di) can do raid as well, albeit, only across 2 drives.
    Reply
  • xi1inx
    Eurocom is reputed to lunch big desktop replacement at high cost. The only thing I suppose to be the point on this review, is the hype of the first Core i7 desktop replacement. The worst is the cost of this computer with another g92 derivate whith slighty poor performance. However, you can have 5k$ stover under your hands!
    Reply