Is There Such Thing As A $2000 Portable Gaming Monster?
We grow weary of choosing between super-heavy performance notebooks and wimpy business-oriented laptops. AMD recently pushed out its Radeon HD 6990M, which drops the Mobility designator in an unfortunate move that makes it more likely to confuse customers who can't imagine there could be much difference between a desktop Radeon HD 6990 and a mobile Radeon HD 6990M.
Despite the horrible naming that both AMD and Nvidia continue employing, the 6990M really did impress us in GeForce GTX 580M SLI Vs. Radeon HD 6990M CrossFire by demonstrating remarkable performance and efficiency.
A flurry of testing on our end revealed that the second module wasn’t even really needed in most 1080p gaming scenarios. And the low power consumption of a single 6990M module lead us to guess that it'd be a truly potent solution in a more portable package. Eurocom listened and sent us an example of the form factor we really wanted to see.
The strikingly familiar Eurocom Racer was delivered to our lab in an effort to prove the worth of AMD's Radeon HD 6990M in the $2000 portable gaming market, complete with Intel’s super-fast Core i7-2620M processor. Truly, it'd see more action in that space compared to the workstation segment, where mobile modules in CrossFire and desktop-class CPUs push price tags in excess of five and six thousand dollars.
Instead of the configuration we requested, however, Eurocom decided to instead outfit our sample with a quad-core Core i7-2960XM, which pushed the price up by $731. We're sure a handful of games will benefit from the quicker CPU, but that steep upgrade price certainly narrows the potential audience. If you're in the market for a mobile system for around two grand, we still think that scaling back to the CPU we originally planned to test is a smart idea.
|Eurocom Racer Component List|
|Platform||Intel FCPGA988, HM65 Express, MXM-3 Discrete Graphics|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-2960XM (Sandy Bridge), Four-Core (Eight-Thread), 2.7-3.7 GHz, 5 GT/s DMI, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 32 nm, 55 W|
|RAM||Samsung 8 GB (2x 4GB) DDR3-1600 SO-DIMM, CL11, 1.5 V, Non-ECC|
|Graphics||AMD Radeon HD 6990M (715 MHz), 2 GB GDDR5-3600|
|Display||15.6" Non-Glare LED Backlit TFT, 1920x1080|
|Audio||Integrated HD Audio|
|Security||Built-in Fingerprint Reader|
|Hard Drive||Intel SSD 510 120 GB, SATA 6Gb/s|
|Optical Drive||TSST TS-L633F 8x DVD Burner|
|Media Drive||9-in-1 Flash Media Interface|
|Wireless LAN||Bigfoot Killer Wireless-N 1103 Three-Channel MIMO 450 Mb/s|
|Wireless PAN||Removed with Wi-Fi upgrade|
|Gigabit Network||JMicron PCIe 10/100/1000 Mb/s Ethernet|
|IEEE-1394||JMicron JMB380 PCIe|
|USB||2 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0|
|Expansion Card||Not Available|
|HDD||1 x eSATA 3Gb/s|
|Audio||Headphone, Microphone, Line-In, Digital Out Jacks|
|Video||1 x Dual-Link DVI-I w/VGA Adapter, 1 x HDMI|
|Power & Weight|
|AC Adapter||150 W Power Brick, 100-240 V AC to 20 V DC|
|Battery||14.8 V, 5200 mAh (76.96 Wh) Single|
|Weight||Notebook 6.8 pounds, AC Adapter 2.4 pounds, Total 9.2 pounds|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit Edition, OEM|
|Warranty||One-year parts and labor|
While we're on the subject of portability, because a single Radeon HD 6990M has only modest cooling requirements, Eurocom is able to build the Racer into an easily-transportable 6.8-pound unit. Unfortunately, you'll still need to haul around a 2.4-pound power brick to keep the battery charged, especially if you plan to game on the go. While the complete 9.2-pound unit isn't excessively heavy, we'd certainly consider carrying it around part of an exercise routine.
Upgrading to a Killer Wireless-N 1103 Wi-Fi module ($27 more than the Intel 6230 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo card) and DDR3-1600 memory ($37 more than equal-capacity DDR3-1333) would have kept our configuration under that magic $2000 price point, if not for the budget-busting CPU. Two- and three-year warranty extensions could prove even more valuable at $150 and $268, respectively.