Test Setup

We've already looked at performance on these notebooks, but this time we're going to include our complete benchmark results. Obviously, SSDs -- or the lack thereof -- will affect performance in certain applications. Don't let PCMark results fool you into thinking one system is substantially faster without accounting for the SSDs, because you can easily purchase any of these notebooks with one or two high-end SSDs if you so desire. Graphics and CPU performance on the other hand won't get any better than what we're showing today, at least for these models. Each one includes the fastest GPU and CPU available, with the possible exception of the M980NU where a faster dual-core processor could improve gaming performance by up to 20%. Needless to say, Core i7's Turbo modes negate such arguments, but the two Core i7 laptops only support single GPUs.

We will dispense with commentary on many of the benchmarks, as the charts should be self-explanatory. We will also include gaming results with and without SLI on the M980NU, just so you can see where the system is CPU limited. Here are the configurations of the laptops we are testing.

Clevo W87CU Test System
Processor Intel Core i7-920XM (2.0GHz 55W TDP)
(Quad-core + Hyper-Threading, 45nm, 4x256K L2, 8MB L3)
Memory 2x2048MB PC3-10700 @ DDR3-1333 9-9-9-24
Graphics 1 x NVIDIA GTX 280M (Driver Version 186.81)
Display 17.3" Glossy WXSGA+ (1600x900)
Hard Drive OCZ Vertex 120GB SSD
Optical Drive 8x SATA DVDR
Battery 6-cell, 11.1V, 3800mAh, 42.18Wh
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit

Eurocom M98NU XCaliber Test System
Processor Intel Core 2 QX9300 (2.53GHz, 45W TDP)
(Quad-core, 45nm, 2x6MB Shared L2)
Memory 2x2048MB PC3-10700 @ DDR3-1333 9-9-9-24
Graphics 2 x NVIDIA GTX 280M (Driver Version 186.03 SLI/186.81 No SLI)
Display 18.4" Glossy 1080p (1920x1080)
Hard Drive Seagate 500GB 16MB 7200RPM
(Momentus 7200.4 ST9500420ASG)
Optical Drive 8x SATA DVDR/BD-ROM
Battery 9-cell, 14.8V, 4650mAh, 68.82Wh
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit

AVADirect Clevo D900F Test System
Processor Intel Core i7-975 (3.33GHz, 130W TDP)
(Quad-core + Hyper-Threading, 45nm, 4x256K L2, 8MB L3)
Memory 3x2048MB PC3-8500 @ DDR3-1066 7-7-7-20
Graphics 1 x NVIDIA GTX 280M (Driver Version 186.81)
Display 17.0" Glossy WUXGA (1920x1200)
Hard Drive 2 x OCZ Vertex 30GB SSDs in RAID 0
Seagate 500GB 16MB 7200RPM
(Momentus 7200.4 ST9500420AS)
Optical Drive 8x SATA DVDR
Battery 12-cell, 14.4V, 6600mAh, 95.04Wh
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit
Clevo W870CU Design System Performance
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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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