Clevo W870CU Specifications

Clevo makes the base notebook chassis for many companies, but this particular sample comes directly from the manufacturer -- courtesy of Intel. The W870CU is the first notebook to hit the market that utilizes the mobile variant of the Core i7 processors. That means you can get quad-core plus Hyper-Threading without resorting to the extreme cooling measures of the D900F. The result is that the W870CU weighs several pounds less than the D900F and M980NU. At the same time, it also offers less performance, and it typically costs less. AVADirect and others allow extensive customizations for the W870CU, and here are the common options.

Clevo W870CU Specifications
Processor Core i7-720QM (4x1.6GHz+HTT, 45nm, 6MB L3, 2.5GT/s QPI, 45W)
Core i7-820QM (4x1.73GHz+HTT, 45nm, 8MB L3, 2.5GT/s QPI, 45W)
Core i7-920XM (4x2.0GHz+HTT, 45nm, 8MB L3, 2.5GT/s QPI, 55W)
Chipset Intel PM55
Memory 2x1024MB DDR3-1066 to 2x4096MB DDR3-1333
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280M 1GB GDDR3
Display 17.3" HD+ (1600x900) or 1080p (1920x1080)
Hard Drive Up to two HDDs/SSDs with optional RAID 0/1
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 ALC888 HD Audio
(4 stereo speakers with four audio jacks+digital out)
Battery/Adapter 4-cell, 11.1V, 3800mAh, 42.18Wh
120W Power Brick
Front Side None
Left Side Optical Drive
1 x USB 2.0
1 x Mini FireWire
MS/MS Pro/SD/MMC reader
Optional TV Tuner Input
56K Modem
Right Side 4 x Audio/Microphone jacks
1 x USB 2.0
ExpressCard/54
1 x eSATA
Dual-Link DVI
Kensington Lock
Back Side 2 x Heat Exhaust
HDMI
Power Adapter
2 x USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Operating System Windows Vista or Windows 7
Dimensions 16.22" x 10.98" x 1.77-2.11" (WxDxH)
Weight 8.8 lbs (with 4-cell battery)
Extras 2.0MP Webcam
98-Key Keyboard with 10-Key
3 touch-sensitive multimedia keys
Optional Fingerprint Scanner
Multitouch Touchpad
Warranty 1-year standard Warranty
2-year and 3-year extended warranties available
Price Starting at ~$2150 online.
Tested configuration priced at ~$3325.

At present, there are only three mobile Core i7 processors. The slowest i7-720QM comes clocked at 1.6 GHz with single-core Turbo mode boosting clock speed up to 2.8 GHz. It's priced at $364, but the lower clock speeds may not be enough for some users. The i7-720QM also comes with 6MB of L3 cache instead of 8MB. The midrange i7-820QM runs at 1.73 GHz with single-core Turbo mode running at up to 3.06 GHz. That's going to be the sweet spot for most users, as the CPU cost of $546 is half of the $1054 Extreme Core i7-920XM, which runs at 2.0 GHz and has a single-core Turbo mode of 3.2 GHz.

Intel is the only company making QPI chipsets, so there's no getting around the requirement of the PM55. This is similar to the desktop P55, with 16 integrated PCI-E lanes that can be split into dual x8 lanes. Down the road, we will likely see SLI notebook variants, but for the time being we are limited to single GPU solutions. Depending on the laptop vendor, you should be able to get a single GTX 280M, GTX 260M, or a Mobility Radeon HD 4870XT. The latter has an ETA of December 2009 at Eurocom, with prices likely to be around $100 higher than the GTX 280M.

We don't know how it will compare in terms of performance or power requirements to the 280M, but it would be nice if ATI could provide some mobile GPU competition. Unfortunately, unless and until ATI begins providing mobile reference drivers, we remain very hesitant to recommend any gaming laptop with an ATI graphics chip. This is something ATI used to provide several years ago, but the OEMs apparently didn't like end-users being able to download drivers that they hadn't "validated". Frankly, this is a mistake, especially when it comes to gaming laptops. Clevo and other notebook OEMs need to work with ATI to remedy this situation!

The W870CU comes with two SO-DIMM slots, so users should be able to configure notebooks with anything from 2x1GB up to 2x4GB of DDR3-1333 memory. Likewise, we would expect to see reasonable options for hard drives, SSDs, optical drives, and other peripherals. Eurocom and AVADirect both have W870CU models, with the primary difference being that Eurocom supports a third hard drive using the optical drive bay. Intel originally equipped the laptop we're testing with a single 80GB Intel SSD, but they also included Windows 7 instead of Windows Vista. We swapped in an OCZ vertex 120GB SSD for testing under Vista; we will provide a look at performance under Windows 7 in the near future. Obviously, the Intel SSD is going to be slightly faster than the OCZ vertex (depending on application), but 80GB or even 120GB of storage disappears rapidly when you start installing modern games. Empire: Total War for example is a 15GB installation, and the same goes for Windows Vista/7. One game and the operating system and you've already used up almost half of your expensive SSD! Thankfully, the chassis supports two hard drives so you can have an SSD along with a large capacity HDD.

The W870CU we received for testing came with an HD+ 1600x900 LCD, but it looks like most companies will be shipping a FullHD 1920x1080 panel. Obviously, we won't be able to tell you how the 1080p panel compares to the HD+ panel, but it shouldn't be any worse. What's that mean? Well, unlike the other two notebooks, the HD+ panel in the W870CU doesn't have the same relatively high contrast ratio. While the panel is definitely bright, we would prefer improvements in contrast as well.

The Clevo W870CU is a lower power solution than the M980NU or the D900F. Unfortunately, battery capacity is also lower with the result being that battery life isn't any better -- and is sometimes worse. Clevo apparently doesn't think most users purchasing desktop replacement systems are interested in more than one hour of battery life; we would disagree. The battery compartment is rather large and it should be possible to at least double the battery capacity, which would give you twice the battery life. At least then we would have an area where the W870CU is clearly better than the D900F and M980NU, outside of size and weight. Prices start at $500 less than either of the big brothers, but you're most likely looking at $2500 for a reasonably equipped system so this isn't going to be a budget conscious notebook no matter how you slice it.

Eurocom M980NU XCaliber Design Clevo W870CU Design
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  • MonicaS - Friday, October 30, 2009 - link

    I think the best way to get a high end laptop is to build one. Obviously you are very limited in what you can with a laptop over a desktop, but still the options are enough. The obvious upgrades are HD and Ram. On that note you can Raid to SSD's and put in some serious ram on a 64 bit machine and have a incredibly fast machine. The other benefit of this is that you can basically pick your own laptop to upgrade and not have to buy fugly one.

    Monica S
    Los Angeles Computer Repair
    http://www.sebecomputercare.com">http://www.sebecomputercare.com
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, October 22, 2009 - link

    "Unfortunately, 60GB isn't enough space to install even a small subset of our gaming benchmarks"

    All you have to do is move the game folders to the big drive when you're not using them, and move them back over to C:\Program Files when you need to use them. It takes all of 2 minutes (or 10 seconds for a multitasker) and is surely smarter than wasting hundreds of dollars on bigger SSDs, no? Are we that lazy?
    Reply
  • Draxanoth - Thursday, October 22, 2009 - link

    I see a lot of complaints for no good reason in these comments. If you don't like them, don't buy them. Complaining about something you don't own nor want sounds like bitterness at the price tag.

    I have an M570etu, which is the dual core version of the GTX280 Clevo model with the orange trim. It's a lot better looking in person, those pictures are awful. 3.2ghz I think but I'd have to check. My battery life is 3 hours non-gaming. It easily functions as both a mobile and a gaming machine. I don't have any problems with Call of Pripyat in HD either. i7 in a laptop is overkill, and if you want one with a decent battery life that's a poor choice. Why is anyone surprised by that?
    Reply
  • Meaker10 - Saturday, October 17, 2009 - link

    You can already get official mobile drivers for all laptops for windows 7 the same version as the desktop set for the HD 2,3 and 4 series. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, October 17, 2009 - link

    True, but the real question will be whether this is a one-time thing (because Win7 is launching and ATI has to have valid drivers or they'll be in deep trouble), or if this is a change going forward. I'm inclined to think it's just for the Win7 launch, since they don't provide mobile drivers for anything besides Win7. Vista and XP users are still the vast majority of people and will be for a good while to come, and there are laptop users that literally haven't received updated ATI drivers in years.

    I'll keep an eye on things, and hopefully ATI will change their stance officially at some point. At present, searching for ATI Mobility Radeon drivers for XP and Vista only gives you the choice of X1800 or earlier GPUs. It looks like perhaps the integrated HD 3200 on laptops might also have up-to-date drivers in XP/Vista, but discrete GPU laptop owners are out of luck for now if they don't upgrade to Win7.
    Reply
  • jmhorridge - Saturday, October 17, 2009 - link

    I and my work colleagues must regularly fly to other countries for a week or two, and there perform computations (economic forecasting) that can occupy a quad-core for 2 or 3 hours. These big DTR laptops (or luggables) are the only way to get the job done. Battery life is not an issue -- always used plugged in.
    An mATX system (with monitor) would weigh twice as much, might not suit all voltages, and, in a suit case, would bust the flight weight allowance. However, everyone is allowed to carry on a laptop -- no matter how big.

    I'm very pleased to see such machines reviewed.

    Mark Horridge
    Reply
  • Kishkumen - Friday, October 16, 2009 - link

    "it appears most notebook manufacturers are convinced users aren't interested in matte LCDs anymore."

    Then they are wrong and I will not buy their product. I've passed up some pretty awesome notebooks over the past couple of years. Looks like I'll be passing up many more. If I'm the only one who can't stand glossy displays, then so be it, but I'd rather go without then pay good money for something that is the visual equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard for me.
    Reply
  • EBH - Thursday, October 15, 2009 - link

    Falcon NW should have been in the review. Their machines > than any Aienware

    http://www.falcon-nw.com/">http://www.falcon-nw.com/
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 16, 2009 - link

    I'm not sure why you say Falcon is so much better than Alienware. They're basically the same thing as AVADirect, but with far fewer options.

    Fragbox DRX = Clevo D900F with custom paint.
    Fragbox TLX = MSI MS-1722 (GX720) with custom paint.
    I/O = MSI MS-1361 (X340)with... yup, custom paint.

    AVADirect also offers all three of those, with optional custom paint. Pricing definitely isn't in favor of FNW, though perhaps they have better customer service. Let's see, using as close to identical options as I can get (including custom paint on the AVADirect models):

    D900F AVADirect = $4545
    Fragbox DRX = $6086

    MSI GX720 AVADirect = $2229
    Fragbox TLX = $2625

    MSI X340 AVADirect = $1292
    I/O = $1727

    I think the main draw of Falcon is if you want a special paint job with some custom image (i.e. not just the Exotix Single Color option). That can add over $1000, but at least then you have something truly unique. Anyway, inasmuch as performance and features are concerned, Falcon was in this review, albeit indirectly. The same goes for WidowPC and ProStar and anyone else that uses whitebook chassis.
    Reply
  • nortexoid - Thursday, October 15, 2009 - link

    I'm sure most would be better off buying a desktop (of the same caliber) and a cheap netbook for mobility, and for the same price as these ghastly beasts.

    The only market I can see for these things is someone who goes to LANs more often than he should, and who would rather port around a 10lb+ notebook than a desktop + LCD or all-in-one. But this has to be a very small niche market.
    Reply

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