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.
|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|
|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|
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.