AVADirect Clevo D900F Specifications

Unlike some companies, AVADirect doesn't try to hide the fact that they are using "whitebook" notebook/laptop designs -- the name of the ODM is visible in each of their laptops. We appreciate the fact that they are willing to disclose what sort of chassis they use, and in pricing systems from various vendors that also sell these designs, AVADirect is certainly competitive. They also offer an extensive range of component customizations, to the point where users that are less knowledgeable may feel overwhelmed. Here are the specifications and options for the AVADirect D900F. Also worthy of note is that AVADirect is already shipping Windows 7, and we can see absolutely no reason to hold off upgrading to the new OS. It's Windows Vista version 2.0, and it's better in every way. Not that Vista is bad, mind you, but Windows 7 shouldn't be plagued by missing drivers and it improves performance relative to Vista.

AVADirect Clevo D900F Specifications
Processor Core i7 920 (4x2.66GHz+HTT, 45nm, 4.8GT/s QPI, 130W)
Core i7 940 (4x2.93GHz+HTT, 45nm, 4.8GT/s QPI, 130W)
Core i7 950 (4x3.06GHz+HTT, 45nm, 4.8GT/s QPI, 130W)
Core i7 975 (4x3.33GHz+HTT, 45nm, 6.4GT/s QPI, 130W)
Xeon L5506, L5520, E5540, X5550, X5560, or W5580
Chipset Intel X58+ICH10R
Memory From 2x1GB DDR3-1066 to 3x4096MB DDR3-1066
2x2GB DDR3-1333 supported
3x2048MB DDR3-1066 CL7 as configured
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280M 1GB GDDR3
Display 17.1" CCFL Glossy WUXGA (1920x1200)
Hard Drive(s) Up to three HDDs/SSDs with optional RAID 0/1/5
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Blu-ray Reader/DVDRW Combo
Blu-ray Recorder/DVDRW
Networking Realtek Gigabit Ethernet (RTL8168/8111 PCI-E)
Intel Wifi Link 5300 AGN WiFi
Bluetooth v2.1+EDR
56K Modem
Audio 6-Channel Realtek ALC662-GR HD Audio
(4 stereo speakers with four audio jacks+digital out)
Battery/Adapter 12-Cell 95.04Whr, 14.4V, 6600mAh
220W Power Brick
Front Side 4 x Audio/Microphone jacks
Left Side MS/MS Pro/SD/MMC reader
BDROM/DVDR Combo Drive
ExpressCard/54
1 x Mini FireWire
Gigabit Ethernet
56K Modem
Optional TV Tuner Input
1 x eSATA
HDMI
Right Side 4 x USB 2.0
Kensington Lock
Back Side 4 x Heat Exhaust
Dual-Link DVI
Power Adapter
Operating System Windows Vista, Windows 7, Redhat Linux, or Ubuntu
Dimensions 15.63" x 11.73" x 2.01-2.50" (WxDxH)
Weight 11.88 lbs (with 12-cell battery)
Extras 2.0MP Webcam
99-Key Keyboard with 10-Key
5 customizable/programmable buttons
Warranty 1-year standard Warranty
3-year extended warranty available
Price Starting at ~$2500 online.
Tested configuration priced at $3894.

Starting with the CPU, users can choose between four different Core i7 models, along with the option to use one of six different Xeon chips. The primary benefit of the Xeon chips is that they have lower TDP ratings, but they also offer lower performance in most cases and they cost more. The fastest Xeon W5580 is clocked slightly lower than the Core i7-975 (3.2 GHz compared to 3.33 GHz), but you'll pay an extra $700 at AVADirect -- or almost $1500 more than the Core i7-920. We were only able to test with a single CPU (the i7-975), so we can't really say whether users might experience other benefits from using one of the Xeon CPUs. In general, we would recommend sticking with the regular Core i7 CPUs.

Along with a high-power CPU, the D900F uses a desktop X58 chipset -- another power-hungry component. The result is that the system requires a very large battery in order to obtain even one hour of battery life. Idle power draw is still very high, so even in our best-case scenario (sitting at the Windows desktop with no applications running) we only get 66 minutes of battery life. Yeah: ouch!

AVADirect also provides a large selection of memory options, ranging from a minimum 2x1GB setup all the way up to 3x4GB. Naturally, you will need to install three SO-DIMMs if you want to take advantage of the triple-channel memory design of X58/Bloomfield. Most of the memory configurations run at DDR3-1066, the official spec for Bloomfield, but there's also an option to run 2x2GB at DDR3-1333. Overall, 3x2GB will be the best balance of price and memory capacity for the vast majority of users -- at least until 4GB DDR3 SO-DIMMs become mainstream.

The other options are all straightforward, but perhaps the most confusing aspect for some users is going to be deciding on the hard drive configuration. AVADirect/Clevo support up to three hard drives/solid state drives with RAID 0/1/5.our particular model was shipped with two 30GB OCZ Vertex SSDs in RAID 0 with a 500GB HDD providing mass storage. Unfortunately, 60GB isn't enough space to install even a small subset of our gaming benchmarks, so we used the hard drive for most of our gaming tests. If you really want to go the SSD route, we would recommend picking up at least a 120GB model, or grab two and configure them as a RAID 0 set. At $400 per 120GB OCZ Vertex SSD, such configurations quickly become extremely expensive, but they're very fast if your bottleneck happens to be HDD speed. In short, AVADirect offers practically any hard drive/SSD you might want, including 160GB Intel G2 SSDs priced at $690 apiece.

The bottom line is that the Clevo D900F is a big, bad desktop replacement/mobile workstation that is able to power through even the most intense CPU workloads. Unfortunately, it doesn't do as well in the graphics arena, as it's limited to a single GPU. With the fastest mobile GPU currently being NVIDIA's GTX 280M (or perhaps the Mobile HD 4870, though we'd stick with NVIDIA for the mobile reference drivers if nothing else) -- approximately the same performance as a desktop 9800 GTX -- games are definitely going to be GPU limited. If you're after a mobile workstation sporting a quad-core processor with Hyper-Threading, however, this is currently the fastest notebook around.

Some might scoff at the high price -- our test system as configured costs close to $4000 -- but there are professional applications that can cost several times as much per installation. We've heard of companies that benefit greatly by being able to take a mobile workstation out to a worksite and avoid the need of commuting/traveling back to the office to do their work. After all, even a top-end configuration costing $5000 is a drop in the bucket compared to a $50,000 application. If you want to keep costs down a bit, dropping to a Core i7-920 CPU and sticking with conventional hard drives can easily bring the price under $3000.

Index AVADirect Clevo D900F Design
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  • 7Enigma - Thursday, October 15, 2009 - link

    Not to mention a person buying one of these expensive monsters probably doesn't think twice about having a spare (or 2) extra charged batteries lying around. Another $100-200 for double/triple the battery life at little extra inconvenience turns these rigs from "only near a power outlet" to "1-2 hours of heavy work".

    Everyone complains about the pitiful life on a single charge, but DTR's more than any other laptop probably fit into the multiple battery pack club as what's an extra couple pounds when it's already a pig?
    Reply
  • Pirks - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    If you haul this mATX in your car, not on foot, then you won't feel the difference. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    The two areas where these sort of systems make the most sense are:

    1) Businesses where they want to have a mobile workstation. Yes, companies do use stuff like this. I've heard examples of construction and oil companies that can fly out and stay at a site, doing all the computer work locally using something like a D900F. It's far easier to pack that around and plug in than to pack mouse + keyboard + mATX + LCD.

    2) People with very limited space that move around frequently. The prime example for this is military personnel. I've heard from quite a few that say, "I wish I could get a desktop, but it's just not practical in the military." Still, you really need to be a dedicated gamer to plunk down $2500+ on a notebook that will be slower than $1500 desktops, and it can't be upgraded (outside of RAM and HDD).

    I'm sure there are a few other instances where these sort of systems make sense, but for typical users I'd strongly recommend a moderate laptop and a desktop if possible.
    Reply
  • Marcel17 - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Yeah , thanks for the review but you shouldn't have...
    Myself , Ill gust replace my aging inspiron 8600 with a sweet 16 ,XPS 16 that is once it's available with W7 , I guess another month or two .
    Reply
  • InternetGeek - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Are you guys aware that the 3 laptops you're reviewing in this article are actually made by Clevo themselves? AVADirect and Eurocomm sell Clevo laptops made to order. Reply
  • InternetGeek - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Not at all. I like Clevo laptops, but I would call out the fact you're reviewing products coming from the same manufacturer a bit more strongly and not as a fact about just one of the companies. They deserve credit for the job they do. But as you guys used to do with GPUs, that is tell us who's using the reference design and who isn't, I think you should do the same with these laptops.

    I liked the part in which you contrast the different platforms. One uses more desktop parts, the other uses more mobile parts. That was good. Same as with SLI. It really doesn't make sense for a laptop to use SLI given the limited resolutions they run at.

    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Page 2: TITLE: "AVADirect Clevo D900F Specifications"

    "Unlike some companies, AVADirect doesn't try to hide the fact that they are using 'whitebook' notebook/laptop designs -- the name of the ODM is visible in each of their laptops. We appreciate the fact that they are willing to disclose what sort of chassis they use."

    So yes, I am fully aware of who makes the base notebook chassis. I would have called it a Clevo roundup, but Clevo isn't the company actually sending these systems for review so I give credit AVADirect and Eurocom. Does it matter that they're Clevo units? Like any ODM, Clevo has good designs and bad designs, so I review the product rather than the source company.
    Reply
  • rmlarsen - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Nobody would buy these ugly behemoths except for a very small number of users with specialized needs, (e.g. engineers needing to run simulators or CAD programs in the field). I cannot understand how you serve your readers by continuing this article series. Maybe you have become a little too cozy with Clevo? Or you are letting your own fascination with the biggest-most-bad-ass-computing-machine-in-a-lug-able-box-with-monitor cloud your judgment of what is worthy of publication?

    And while I am ranting, please no more articles about almost identical Atom & Intel 945 based netbooks.

    You are really diluting the authority of Anandtech's (mostly excellent) reviews with these semi-irrelevant articles.

    -RML
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    AnandTech, as you might have noticed, covers more than just CPUs, GPUs, and motherboards. I agree that few people are interested in buying these, but they do represent a market and I think it's useful to at least periodically look at the high-end DTR segment. I'm pretty much done with $3000+ notebooks for a while (just need to finish one other review), but as the mobile reviewer it's actually my job to review... laptops and notebooks and netbooks.

    So, if you don't want me to review Atom netbooks, or Intel 945 laptops, that just eliminated about 90% of the mobile market. How exactly does a review like this dilute AnandTech? Do you disagree with the commentary (i.e. these are expensive systems that we don't recommend for most people, but yes they're the fastest notebooks)?

    I'd be more than happy to hear suggestions on what you want me to review in the mobile segment. Keep in mind that actually acquiring the laptops is often more difficult than writing the review, sadly. I spend a fair amount of time just trying to get new laptops sent my way, and several companies that I'd like to review haven't shown any interest. As such, I'm working to grow the mobile section in any way I can, including putting together roundups of Clevo based notebooks on occasion.
    Reply
  • 5150Joker - Saturday, November 07, 2009 - link

    I very much appreciate the fact that you wrote the article. Don't let these idiots make you think otherwise. There is a large market out there for these gaming laptops and contrary to what the uninformed people posting here think, they're not nearly as heavy as they think. I ordered a W860 a few days ago and it weighs 7 lbs yet it comes packed with an i820qm, 4 gb ddr3, gtx 280m gpu and a beautiful display. Reply

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