Clevo X7200 with 480M SLI Available from AVADirect

When we looked at the first GTX 480M system, a Clevo W880CU with a  180W AC adapter and an i7-820QM processor, we were curious how long it would take for the high-end notebook vendors to cram two of the GPUs into a chassis. The answer: three months, with AVADirect now selling their X7200 Gaming Notebook. Until now, the largest notebook power adapters we've seen topped out at 250W, and as it's good to have some extra headroom we figured they would need something larger. Turns out we were right, as the new Clevo X7200 ships with the first 300W notebook power brick we've encountered. But this isn't just a quick revamp of the old X8100 chassis; in fact, it has nothing to do with the 18.4" model but instead builds off the older 17.3" D900F platform.

What that means is that besides supporting two GTX 480M GPUs in SLI, you get support for desktop Core i7 CPUs. AVADirect supports processors from the i7-930 (quad-core 2.80GHz) up through the top-of-the-line i7-980X (hex-core 3.33GHz). If you want to shop around, there are also Xeon CPU options available including the W3680 and X5680 at Eurocom, and you can find the same chassis with SLI GTX 470M or SLI GTX 460M, though why you'd spend this much money and not go for the absolute best is an interesting question. Finally, I know lots of people have been less than impressed by Clevo's ultra-expensive notebooks that come with cheap plastic chassis. That's one more area upgraded in the X7200, as the system has aluminum surfaces. It also has two USB 3.0 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, and a variety of other extras. Unfortunately, it looks like the keyboard is the same old (crappy) design and layout, which is unfortunate but not necessarily the end of the world.

The base price with a single 480M, an i7-930, and 3x2GB RAM (yes, you can save some money if you get 3x1GB, but I'll personally come over and kick your butt if you go that route!) is a hefty $2750, and that's without doing much in the way of upgrades for the storage subsystem! Speaking of which, AVADirect supports three internal 2.5" drives, with RAID 0/1/5 options available. As we're fond of pointing out, a fast SSD is one of the best upgrades you can make to a high performance system, as it makes everything snappier, so let's just go all the way and see where we come out, shall we?

We hopped on the AVADirect configurator and starting putting in all the highest performance options—within reason, so you won't see three 400GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSDs with SandForce-1200 controllers. We put in two 480M GPUs, a 980X CPU, 12GB DDR3-1066 CL7 memory, a 240GB OCZ Vertex 2 as the OS drive, a Seagate 500GB XT hybrid drive for mass storage, and a blu-ray combo drive for good measure. We also added a 3-year extended warranty, because who wants a notebook that costs as much as an inexpensive used car to fail after 18 months leaving you with a 15-pound paperweight? Total damage to your pocket book for such a configuration comes to just $5561.04, plus taxes. Ouch! But maximum performance has never come cheap.

For those that like comparisons, we went to Eurocom's site and put roughly the same options on their Panther 2.0 system. Eurocom does support a fourth hard drive in the optical drive bay, as well as up to 3x8GB (24GB) RAM and Xeon processors. Eurocom also includes an HDMI input standard, and if you're interested in some HD video editing work that could prove very handy. But when you go with the standard options and come up with a price of $7261 USD—$1700 more than AVADirect—it's difficult to see what they're offering that warrants the higher price. If you need a mobile server/workstation, the added cost for more memory and a Xeon CPU might be a good investment, but for a gaming laptop where even 12GB RAM is overkill, we think saving money even on a ~$5000 notebook is the more sensible route.

AVADirect is getting a test system ready for us, and we're excited to see exactly how far they can push mobile performance. Would I buy such a system for personal use? Not a chance! But then I work from home with a potent gaming desktop and I don't need a ton of mobile compute power, so I'm not the target market. Those who are looking for a mobile workstation or perhaps the ultimate LAN party notebook on the other hand have a new DTR to lust after. We should have a system in hand next week, so stay tuned for the full review.

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  • EliteRetard - Friday, September 24, 2010 - link

    Honest question, why not use a slightly modified desktop card? Have the PCI-E port sticking out the side of the MOBO so the card lays flat next to it. With a blower motor sucking air in from the front/side (or heck just put a fan intake in the palm rest) and blowing out the back just like the regular cards do. In your tests you show an overclocked system with a 5850 using under 300watts at load. Even the GTX460 1GB slides under...

    Id be willing to guess either of those card will stomp a mobile GTX480m SLI setup. Even if they were underclocked. Id also be willing to wager that even after modification one of these cards would cost less than the huge premium Nvidia charges for these mobile cards.

    I dont even think size will be to much issue, an ITX board plus full 5850 would only be 12x10" or so (laying flat side by side), should be able to fit in a 17" case which is like 16x11". With a little modifing Im sure you could fit that with 2xHDD and an optical.
    Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Friday, September 24, 2010 - link

    because the PCI-E slot on a PC is very much different from the MXM PCI-E on the notebook, you have to re-design the whole PCB, as well as the heatsink and turbo-fan that works in coordinate with it. So it's not as easy as you think to modify that desktop card to fit in a notebook.

    GTX480M SLI can do a lit bit more performance than a factory-clocked GTX460(though in theory it should be as fast as a GTX470)...but it consumes much more power(460 has a TDP of 150W, 480M SLI is 200W) similar to that of a GTX465.

    This problem shall be solved when GTX470M is available, it is based on GF104 so it should consume much less power in the cost of only tiny performance lower than GTX480M. And there should be a higher-level GF104M product (GTX485M if possible) featuring more CUDA Cores or higher clock-frequency compared to GTX470M.
    Reply
  • kallogan - Friday, September 24, 2010 - link

    Summer's over, too late for releasing a barbecue on market. Bad timing ;)
    Though with the winter approaching, could use that thing as a radiator.
    Reply
  • lgpOnTheMove - Friday, September 24, 2010 - link

    "Unfortunately, it looks like the keyboard is the same old (crappy) design and layout, which is unfortunate but not necessarily the end of the world."

    It really amazes me that after more than SIX YEARS of radical notebook designs, the engineers at Clevo still refuse to come forward with a sensible keyboard. My HP zd7000 from 2004 had a proper keyboard layout, and was part of the reason why I stuck with it for five years. For me, a bad keyboard layout is a deal-breaker - one reason why I'm yet to even review any Clevo model.
    Reply
  • SteelCity1981 - Friday, September 24, 2010 - link

    Man i guess if you want to call having the cord plugged into the laptop that extends out 6 feet portable. lol Because i can't imagine how little of battery life you will get with this thing. You basicly have to use it as a portable desktop. Reply
  • Bennyto - Saturday, September 25, 2010 - link

    Guys, this kind of machine is not really designed to play games or watch movies in a plane... These "compacted desktops" are more like thoroughbred workhorses.

    Also the Eurocom Panther has a quite a few additional standard features over the Clevo X7200 like a built-in HDMI input (in addition to HDMI out), support for a 4th HDD, memory and CPU overclocking and can support up to 24GB of RAM. That might explain the price difference.

    B
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 25, 2010 - link

    I agree, but that's also why I state: "If you need a mobile server/workstation, the added cost for more memory and a Xeon CPU might be a good investment, but for a gaming laptop where even 12GB RAM is overkill, we think saving money even on a ~$5000 notebook is the more sensible route."

    Eurocom is aimed more at the mobile workstation market, and they charge a price premium for what really amounts to a few extras. I'm not sure how much an HDMI input costs, but it can't be worth upwards of $1000 unless you absolutely need it. My point wasn't so much to slam Eurocom, as it is to point out that if you're after 480M SLI, AVADirect looks like they're the cheapest vendor right now (by a fairly large margin).

    And I still wouldn't buy either notebook. ;-)
    Reply
  • hotsacoman - Saturday, September 25, 2010 - link

    Seriously, I think it is possible for me to win it. Reply
  • DaveLikesHardware - Saturday, September 25, 2010 - link

    My XPS Gen 2 is soooo long in the tooth, but recent designs are either way too gaudy or, like this one - giant and impractical - making me stay with my beloved computer. Back in 2005, it was edgy with it's bling, but practically looks like a business laptop these days - even with its lights on.

    With the X8100, this X7200 and several of Avadirect's current systems, gaming laptops look pretty good again. But, the mobile GPU's just don't compare to the the desktop GPU's anywhere close to how they did back in 2005 with the 6800 Ultra. Will we ever get back to that? Will Nvidia and AMD ever give us what we really want? I'm afraid they won't, due to the crazy demands of many of today's GPU's.

    It brings me back to the naming conventions. If the card isn't a GTX 480, then don't call it one. The GTX 480M in this notebook performs below the desktop GTS 450. I know that GTS 450M doesn't sound glamorous and doesn't have much marketing power of a GTX 480M, but a $1,500 desktop can perform like this baby will.

    I bought the XPS Gen 2 because I found it on sale for $2,500 and it was comparable to the $1,800 to $2,000 desktop that I was planning to build at the time. I figured $500 for portability was worth it. It was. I can pack it up and put it in my closet when I have visitors. I can travel with it and take it places. But, paying a $3,000 to $4,000 premium for "portability" is crazy.

    Anyways, I can't wait for the review. I hope it surprises me. It's hard to deny the appeal of a system like this one.

    Dave
    Reply
  • DJ-Destiny - Saturday, September 25, 2010 - link

    I swear that thing looks horrible . I would give you my thousand dollar worth of advice , my HP tx2028AU looks much better really .
    I wonder how big is the brick gonna BE :>
    My old psu-converted bench supply from the Pentium 1 Days 200W is still sitting at a corner ,
    not dying off yet , and god , it's BIG .
    Are the capacitors gonna fail ? :D
    Is the plastic casing gonna melt ? :D
    Is the Transformer gonna desolder ? :D
    Is there a freaking fan ? :D

    All these answers will be answered , for sure .
    Anyways , intel and nvidia ? The clash of the worthless ?
    Oh god , i really love my P II 965 and 5870 CrossfireX too much ,
    Reply

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