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Eurocom Panther 5D Notebook Review: Faster Than Your Desktop

Meet Eurocom's Panther 5D

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
ProcessorIntel Core i7-3970X Extreme (Ivy Bridge), Six-Core, 3.5 GHz Base Frequency, 150 W TDP
PlatformIntel X79 Express Chipset
Memory32 GB Samsung Dual Channel DDR3 @ 1600 MT/s
Graphics2 x (SLI) Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M, 4 GB GDDR5
Display3D 120 Hz 17.3" 16:9 matte LED-backlit LCD @ 1920x1080
Solid State Drives3 x 256 GB Crucial m4, RAID 5
Optical Disc DriveMatsushita LightScribe MLT UJ260 Blu-ray Burner
Wi-FiAtheros Communications AR938x Wireless Network Adapter 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Controller
Ethernet10/100/1000 Mb/s Base-TX Ethernet LAN (Intel 82579V)
AudioSound Blaster X-Fi MB2 audio,THX TruStudio Pro, Five Internal Speakers + One Subwoofer.
Ports3 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
MiscellaneousIntegrated Webcam & Mic, SD (XC/HC)/MMC Card Reader, Kensington Security Slot, UPEK TouchStrip Fingerprint Sensor, ExpressCard/34 or /54 slot
Battery & AC AdapterRemovable Polymer Li-Ion; 78.44 Wh Battery,2 x 330 Watt Power Adapters
Size & Weight419 x 286 x 57.7-62.1 mm / 16.76 x 11.44 x 2.31-2.48 inches / 12.1 lbs (Weight)
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro (64-bit), Options for no OS and other Operating Systems available
WarrantyOne Year Return to Depot / One Year Tech Support Standard.
PriceStarting 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.

  • vmem
    I want the satisfaction of just dropping this monster on someone's desk, and say

    "personal server: DEPLOY!"
    Reply
  • coffeecoffee
    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! $_$"
    Reply
  • Razerium
    Sure it's better than my desktop, but it's also three times more expensive!
    Reply
  • f-14
    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
    Reply
  • airplanegeek
    you guys didn't review the sound volume :(
    but what i really wanted to see was the effects of ocing the gtx 680Ms :P
    Reply
  • 16bit
    Great article. Puts my 17.3 inch laptop to shame.

    Finally I can have high end desktop performance on the go.
    Reply
  • palladin9479
    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.
    Reply
  • belardo
    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...
    Reply
  • Avus
    It may be fast, but it sure look ugly. If i compare this notebook to a car, it will be a Mitsuoka Orochi.
    Reply
  • zodiacfml
    awesome photography. i enjoyed looking at the parts.
    Reply