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Re-introducing AVADirect's Clevo X7200

A little over seven months ago, we took at look at a Clevo X7200 courtesy of AVADirect that featured a desktop hex-core processor and a pair of NVIDIA's then-fastest mobile graphics cards, the GeForce GTX 480M. Since then NVIDIA has refreshed their mobile top end, and while we hope to review the GTX 485M in SLI soon, in the meantime we have another pair of mobile parts that have been making waves: the AMD Radeon HD 6970M.

Since our previous review, nothing has changed about the Clevo X7200 whitebook that AVADirect sent us. At its core, it's still an X58-based monster of a notebook, and the review unit we received is essentially comparable to the last one with only minor differences between the two.

AVADirect Clevo X7200 Gaming Notebook
Processor Intel Core i7-990X
(6x3.46GHz + HTT, 3.73GHz Turbo, 32nm, 12MB L3, 130W)
Chipset Intel X58 + ICH10R
Memory 3x4GB Crucial DDR3-1333 (Max 3x4GB for now)
Graphics 2x AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2GB GDDR5 in CrossFire
(960 stream processors, 680MHz/3.6GHz core/memory clocks, 256-bit memory bus)
Display 17.3" CCFL Glossy 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
LG Philips LP173WF1-TLC1
Hard Drive(s) OS: Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB
Data: 500GB Seagate Momentus XT 7200RPM Hybrid
Optical Drive 6x Blu-ray/8x DVDR Combo (HL-DT-ST CT21N)
Networking JMicron JMC250 Gigabit Ethernet
Killer Wireless-N 1102 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1
Audio Realtek ALC888 HD Audio
5.1 speakers
Four audio jacks
Battery 9-Cell, 14.8V, 5300mAh, 78.44Wh
Front Side N/A (Speaker grilles)
Right Side 4 x audio jacks
3 x USB 2.0
Kensington lock
Left Side 9-in-1 Flash reader
(Optional HDMI In)
Optical drive
Mini 1394
eSATA/USB combo port
2 x USB 3.0
HDMI Out
Ethernet jack
CATV
Dual-link DVI
Back Side AC jack
4 x Exhaust Ports
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 16.5" x 11.3" x 2.22-2.4" (WxDxH)
Weight ~13.0 lbs
Extras 3MP Webcam
98-key keyboard with 10-key
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo, xD)
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
2-year and 3-year extended warranties available
Pricing Starting at $2118
Price as configured: $4463

Since our previous review, Intel updated their top end processor to the Core i7-990X; it's a minor 133MHz speedbump, but the 990X is still one of the fastest, if not the fastest, processors available today. This is a desktop processor in a "mobile enclosure," running at a nominal 3.46GHz on all six cores and able to turbo up to 3.73GHz. Our review unit this time around is also down a Crucial RealSSD C300, so we'll have to settle for "just one" instead of two in RAID 0.

It's worth noting our display panel in this review unit is actually different than the previous one; the last one had a HannStar panel but this one includes an LG and as you'll see in our screen tests, it's both better and worse.

And of course, there's the reason we're all here: two AMD Radeon HD 6970M GPUs in CrossFire. The 6970M is basically the mobile equivalent of AMD's desktop Radeon HD 6850, with 960 shaders in the old VLIW5 configuration and a 256-bit memory bus. Clocks are much lower, though: the 6970M runs at only 680MHz on the core and 900MHz on the GDDR5 (for an effective 3.6GHz). To compensate for the mobile market, AMD stacks it with 2GB of video memory instead of the 1GB found on desktop cards.

For this review we're going to eschew the usual look at the notebook and its build quality; this is the same shell we reviewed last year, so there's nothing new to say. You can read the previous overview if you have any additional questions.

Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • FXi - Saturday, June 04, 2011 - link

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/alienware-m17x/583...

    The driver problems that "don't exist anymore". Uninstall a driver and brightness doesn't work? Brand new notebooks that don't work off of stock drivers (which you already mentioned). Just crazy. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
    But people keep sayin' AMD drivers are "fine". In my book, this kind of thing isn't "fine", not even close.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    You're looking at a specific implementation that's having problems. I've had plenty of issues with Alienware's custom drivers in the past, and I'll definitely agree issues crop up with some laptops and some drivers. The brightness issue (and ref drivers not installing) is something that I've seen with NVIDIA laptops as well.

    There's a reason the notebook drivers are about 50% larger than desktop drivers -- they have to have custom hooks into all the Fn keys, OSDs, and any other special utilities. So if you buy a brand new notebook with high-end hardware, yes, there's a reasonable chance you will experience driver teething issues. Again, I've had it happen with NVIDIA and AMD (as recently as the ASUS G73Jw, where right after I received a review sample NVIDIA came out with a new driver set, but it wouldn't install on the G73Jw; the next set a month or so later worked). In this particular instance, it's up to Alienware as much as AMD to fix the problem.

    Anyway, I've been running AMD GPUs for the past four years on my primary desktops. Not entirely happy with every aspect, but drivers haven't been bad. Also, I stopped using CrossFire after running 5850 CF for a while; I don't miss it, because there were too many "oddities". Maybe it's my LCD, or maybe it's the hardware, or maybe it's the drivers, but I get a periodic flicker just using the PC on occasion. Maybe it's just that all high-end hardware is annoying on some level?
    Reply
  • AmdInside - Thursday, June 02, 2011 - link

    The battery life is hilarious. Wonder what the battery life would be life after a year of use. 5 minutes? Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Friday, June 03, 2011 - link

    I know everyone loves to watch the bars go higher and higher for game tests but how about when you are testing a game with nvidia physx we get one round of tests with the physx TURNED ON? Its cool that amd cards do really well in metro2033 with physx off but how about we turn it on and see the scores then hmm? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, June 03, 2011 - link

    The only time I'd ever consider PhysX is if you are already running at more than acceptable frame rates. The 480M SLI can generally manage that, so I did test it in the previous X7200 review: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3970/3

    The scores aren't in the charts, but you can read the text at the bottom of the page. Anyway, I don't feel there's much point to enabling PhysX at low or medium detail, and probable not until you're running native resolution and high to very high detail. Metro 2033 is such a beast that you can't even enable all options (and stay above 30FPS) unless you're running something like desktop 560 SLI or better.
    Reply
  • Rasterman - Friday, June 03, 2011 - link

    I bought one of these as a desktop replacement, the idea was to use it as my desktop when working (I work at home), and then be able to take it on trips and not have to copy all of my work over and maintain two systems. Price is no object, but I am stickler for noise, and even at idle this thing was louder than any system I've ever had, add to that the size, weight, and dismal battery life and its ludicrous, I am surprised there is a market for this.

    I soon replaced it with a 2500K and am glad I did, I now have a 5GHz, 6950, 16GB, 256GB SSD system that is inaudible, and since it cost about $3000 less than this, I can buy a damn good notebook if I wanted to game on the go, I don't really need it though and will probably just get a really good all around machine, I only needed the desktop CPU this provides for my daily work as when I bought it sandy mobiles weren't out yet, now that they are out I don't understand the market for this at all.

    There is not much of a CPU case to be made with the new sandy mobiles being so fast, and with graphics since battery life is so short you have to plug it in. The only real use of such a machine I can think of is someone who travels all the time and does a lot of gaming, maybe a high end game development machine? Even then with the noise it puts out its hard to concentrate while working on it.
    Reply
  • whatthehey - Friday, June 03, 2011 - link

    Perhaps your story is true, but if price is "no object", then why do you have a 2500K system overclocked to 5GHz? Why overclock (and to that extreme), and why not a 2600K? Buying a 6950 instead of a 6970 also seems like a price cutting measure. This sounds more like the post of an enthusiast trying to talk up the desktop world than an actual former owner of an X7200.

    But you're right about one thing: I am also surpirsed there is a market for this sort of notebook. I can understand mobile workstations that are certified for professional apps and come with Quadro GPUs. Such workstations are also built a lot better than any Clevo I've ever laid hands on. Paying $5000 (or even $3500) for what can only be considered a gigantic hunk of plastic with aluminum veneers, whose primary role would be mobile gaming? There's a reason very few LAN party regulars have this sort of system, and most of the other attendees tend to make fun of them. "You paid HOW much for a loud notebook that isn't as fast as my $2000 desktop!?"
    Reply
  • dmichelstexas - Saturday, June 04, 2011 - link

    Please consider providing specific information about the "mobile workstations that are certified for professional apps and come with Quadro GPU's". Where are they sold, who makes them, what specifically about their build quality is better than any Clevo you've ever laid hands on? Asking because there definitely is a user population of graphics professionals who are determined to resist the Mac and genuinely need this level of mobile performance. Battery life is of course a non-issue, as is size, weight, fan noise, gaming, cost, and so on. The only relevant considerations are performance and reliability. My laptop is the only "tool" I use to make a living, and if there is a better more powerful mobile computing solution I would sincerely appreciate any specific fact-based information you could provide. Thanks Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    Dell Precision, HP EliteBook, and Lenovo ThinkPad W-series all come to mind. You won't get dual Quadro GPUs, but I can attest to the fact that the Precision M6500 and M6400 before it (http://www.anandtech.com/show/2957/) are built a LOT better than the Clevo units we've had. Dustin also reviewed an HP 8740w (http://www.anandtech.com/show/4049/) and found it to be an impressive if expensive piece of hardware. And really, if you're a professional running the type of software than needs a Quadro GPU, would you rather trust support to Dell/HP, or a much smaller company like Eurocom? I know which camp I'd be in, and while neither solution is a guarantee that everything will work, enterprise solutions usually give good support. Reply
  • Shinobi_III - Saturday, June 04, 2011 - link

    Get a desktop pc maybe? Buy a UPS for it, and you'll have the same five minute backup power too...

    Or why not FOUR desktop PCs with similar equipment?

    This isn't a portable computer, but it suffers all the problems of one, or will suffer
    (durability etc) And it has crap battery life obviously.

    I really don't get it.
    Reply

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