The Eurocom Racer: It’s Matte, Not Boring

Like any notebook with a quad-core Sandy Bridge processor, you can expect the Eurocom Racer to be fast. It also seems to take more than a few design elements from the ASUS G53/G73 “stealth” series, with a matte rubberized coating on most of the surfaces. When you add in a matte 1080p LCD that doesn’t suck—far from it in fact—you end up with most of the major items from my gaming laptop wish list. Here’s what you’re getting, should you choose to take the plunge.

The P150HM chassis has a slight wedge shape reminiscent of the ASUS G73 without having quite so steep an angle to it. It also goes with a more typical hinge instead of moving the display forward (i.e. in the G53/G73 as well as the current Dell XPS line). There will no doubt be those that call this sort of design “boring”, but I prefer to go with functional and not garish. The rubberized plastic coating has a nice feel to it, and I appreciate a notebook that can stand on its laurels rather than on bling. This is easily my favorite Clevo design so far, but that’s not to say it’s without flaws.

There’s no gloss on the exterior or palm rest, and even the stock LCD panel is matte. Of course, that’s all messed up with the use of glossy plastic on the LCD bezel (just where Dustin likes it). I’m not sure if this was done because they feel it works better with the glossy LCDs most companies use or what, but even with glossy panels we strongly feel a matte LCD bezel is best (i.e. look at the Dell XPS line). The slight lip on the LCD cover makes it a bit easier to avoid putting fingerprints there when you open up the laptop, but other than potentially looking nice in photographs glossy plastic has long since passed its prime.

Perhaps the most egregious flaw is the keyboard layout. I’ve gone off on this in the past, but every new Clevo system seems to continue the trend, so let’s be more specific. We’ve still got the all-but-useless number keypad on the right, with the small-sized enter key where the decimal point belongs. Plus and minus are moved up top with the decimal point, which is where numlock, divide, and multiply should be. The zero key is half-sized and overlaps with the right cursor key, and finally there’s an extra row up top where the divide and multiply now sit. It makes the inclusion of the number keypad pointless for any touch 10-key typists.

If you move to the cursor keys, you’ll find that once again there’s no dedicated PgUp/PgDn/Home/End present if you’re using the number keypad. Instead, you have to use Fn+Cursor combinations to those shortcuts, and as someone that uses them all the time I find this highly annoying. The simplest solution for me was to eschew the use of numlock and just use the 10-key for faster access to the other keys; besides, I can input numbers just as fast using the regular number keys as I can with the mangled 10-key area. Given that there’s easily an inch of space Clevo could recover from the left and right of the keyboard area, why they can’t just ditch their tried-and-terrible layout and add put in a proper 10-key layout is beyond me—you know, something similar to what ASUS uses. Even better (though it would be hard to fit in a 15.6” chassis) would be a layout like the Dell Precision M6500. If Eurocom really wants to convince me that they have a customized build rather than a stock Clevo, replacing the keyboard layout would go a long way towards winning me over.

Besides my griping about the keyboard layout, few other areas need addressing. Unfortunately, the touchpad is one such area. It has a good size, it has discrete left and right buttons, and there’s a fingerprint scanner in the middle. It also supports multi-touch and other gestures. The problem isn’t the touchpad itself, so much as the coating. That rubberized paint texture that I like so much elsewhere is also on the touchpad, and here the semi-tacky feel makes it less comfortable to use. A regular plastic texture (or dare I say it, even glossy plastic) would work better.

The rest of the notebook works reasonably well. Two large vents are on the back of the notebook, helping to exhaust heat away from you rather than into your mousing hand. Putting the DVI, HDMI, AC, and eSATA/USB ports back there can make it a bit difficult to access these at times, but if you predominantly use the notebook as a DTR it might make sense. There are two USB 3.0 ports on the left, along with one USB 2.0 port, mini FireWire, a flash memory reader (MMC/SD/MS), gigabit Ethernet, and an optional TV tuner. On the right is the optical drive, four audio jacks (for surround sound, including digital audio out—but you can’t repurpose the ports to do two headphones, sadly), a fifth and final USB port, and the standard Kensington lock.

Eurocom Racer, aka the Clevo P150HM Internals, Noise, Temperatures, and Analysis
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  • freezervv - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    Re: "by Jarred Walton on 3/17/2011 3:00:00 AM"

    Or at least those of us ESTers just getting around to a catnap amidst exam studying. ;)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    Hey, I'm PDT, so it's only just past midnight. And here I thought I'd be finished with this about six hours ago.... Reply
  • poohbear - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    hello, can you guys please list the price or price segment of the product u're reviewing from the get go? Do i really hafta scroll all the way to the back to get an idea of what the price range is, or if its a waste of time reading the article cause its out of said price range? U're constantly saying it costs more or this costs less, but there's no clear cut price easy for us readers to see. A comparison of similar products would be great too, in a clean easy to understand graph please and thank u! Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    Page one, bottom of the spec table, in bold. Was that not clear enough? Reply
  • chrnochime - Friday, March 18, 2011 - link

    Bottom of the spec like Jarred said. Need that to be 3 or 4 larger font size? Reply
  • jcompagner - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    And then for SandyBridge?

    If only 1 17" is made with a 1920x1200p resolution on this planet that is not from apple, i would buy it immediately..
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    Well, the Dell Precision M6500 has a 1920x1200 screen, 17".. and was reviewed on Anandtech.

    But it's not Sandy Bridge yet. I'd imagine a good supply of new Sandy Bridge chipsets aren't common, but I'd have no doubt at all Dell will do a refresh on their Precision line with Sandy Bridge at some point in the near future. It also looks about a million times better than the Clevo stuff, which looks like a ghetto kit machine.
    Reply
  • bobsmith1492 - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    I bought a Sager back in 2005 with a 1920x1200 matte screen. It's still up and running, though relatively slow these days and a few things are broken now. Reply
  • blah238 - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    In my 3DMark Vantage settings, the "Performance" preset equates to 1280x1024, whereas "High" is 1680x1050. Did you have to use custom settings to get 1680x1050 or is there just a mixup of names? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    Sorry, my mistake. I got the High default resolution of 1680x1050 confused with Performance. 1280x1024 panels are such a rarity these days that I was sure Vantage had switched to WS for everything. 3DMark11, interestingly enough, did shift to new resolutions. 1024x600 for Entry and 1600x900 for Performance I believe, with 1080p used at the High setting. About time...

    Now, if Futuremark would quit being idiots about changing my power settings every time I load one of their apps. Seriously: tweak all your power settings (i.e. don't put the LCD to sleep or hibernate the laptop after inactivity), then load any Futuremark app. When you're done, the power settings are now "display off after 5 minutes, ask for a password on resume, and hibernate/shut down with a low battery even when plugged in." Is it too much to think they should save my current settings and then restore them when the benchmark is done?
    Reply

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