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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  • 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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