Eurocom M980NU XCaliber Specifications

Eurocom is another company specializing in large desktop replacement notebooks and mobile workstations. They started out as a Canadian company but have since expanded to include other parts of the world. They list prices in Canadian Dollars, US Dollars, Euros, and Great Britain Pounds, and our understanding is that the USA market is served by offices in New York. Eurocom offers other products including laptops, all-in-one desktops, as well as mobile servers and workstations. Today we're looking at the M980NU XCaliber, a "performance desktop replacement" notebook.

Eurocom M980NU XCaliber Specifications
Processor Core 2 Duo P9700 (2.80GHz, 45nm, 6MB Shared, 1066FSB, 28W)
Core 2 Duo T9800 (2.93GHz, 45nm, 6MB Shared, 1066FSB, 35W)
Core 2 Duo T9900 (3.06GHz, 45nm, 6MB Shared, 1066FSB, 35W)
Core 2 Quad Q9000 (2.00GHz, 45nm, 2x3MB Shared, 1066FSB, 45W)
Core 2 Quad Q9100 (2.26GHz, 45nm, 2x6MB Shared, 1066FSB, 45W)
Core 2 Extreme QX9300 (2.53GHz, 45nm, 2x6MB Shared, 1066FSB, 45W)
Chipset NVIDIA 730i (MCP79)
Memory 2x2048MB DDR3-1333 to 2x4096MB DDR3-1333
Graphics 1 or 2 x GeForce GTX 260M/280M (SLI)
Display 18.4" Glossy Full HD 1080p (1920x1080)
Hard Drive Up to four SSDs/HDDs (using optical drive bay)
Optional RAID 0/1/5/10 Supported
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Blu-ray Reader/DVDRW Combo
Blu-ray Recorder/DVDRW
Networking NVIDIA MCP79 Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Wifi Link 5300 AGN
Bluetooth v2.1+EDR
Audio 6-Channel Realtek ALC888 HD Audio
(5.1 surround speakers with four audio jacks+digital out)
Battery/Adapter 4-Cell High Capacity 68.82Whr, 14.8V DC, 4650mAh
230W Power Brick
Front Side None (Speaker grilles)
Left Side 1 x Mini FireWire
ExpressCard/54
MS/MS Pro/SD/MMC reader
BDROM/DVDR Combo Drive
HDMI
Gigabit Ethernet
2 x USB 2.0
Dual-Link DVI
Right Side 4 x Audio/Microphone jacks
Optional TV Tuner Input
1 x eSATA/USB 2.0
1 x USB 2.0
Kensington Lock
Back Side 4 x Heat Exhaust
Power Adapter
Operating System Windows Vista 32-bit or 64-bit, Windows Server
Dimensions 17.28" x 11.77" x 1.89-2.70" (WxDxH)
Weight 12.98 lbs (with 4-cell battery)
Extras 2.0MP Webcam
98-Key Keyboard with 10-Key
10 touch-sensitive multimedia keys
8 customizable/programmable buttons
Fingerprint Scanner (Optional)
Warranty 1-year standard Warranty
2-year and 3-year extended warranties available
Price Starting at ~$2600 online.
Tested configuration priced at $4432.

Since the M980NU uses Core 2 processors, we once again have several configuration options for the CPU. Eurocom offers everything from the P9700 up through the QX9300. There are plenty of other CPUs that would work in the M980NU, but Eurocom figures most users interested in this sort of system probably aren't going to want anything less than a 2.8 GHz dual-core CPU.

In something of a change from previous SLI notebooks, the M980NU uses an NVIDIA chipset, the 730i (MCP79). Previously, SLI notebooks used an Intel chipset with an nForce 100/200 PCI-E splitter. The one feature that we would like to see that isn't included is hybrid graphics -- the ability to switch between integrated graphics and discrete graphics. (Note that the Alienware M17x offers this functionality, and it's still possible to get nearly three hours of battery life with the M17x -- despite it being a gigantic desktop replacement system.) As you would expect for a high-end laptop, graphics options are limited to NVIDIA's top options: the GTX 260M and the GTX 280M. You can order the M980NU in single or SLI graphics configurations. It appears that Eurocom charges around $430 per GTX 260M and $600 per GTX 280M, which makes desktop GPUs like the GTX 285 look downright affordable, considering you get roughly twice the performance of the GTX 280M for "only" $350.

Eurocom sticks to higher end memory configurations, starting at 2x2GB and scaling up to 2x4GB. You can choose between DDR3-1066 and DDR3-1333 if you opt for the 8GB configuration; the 2GB SO-DIMMs are all DDR3-1333 parts. You can also choose between a standard DVDRW, a Blu-ray reader, or an extremely expensive Blu-ray recorder. Most users should find either the Blu-ray reader or standard DVDR more than sufficient.

Again, storage options are likely to cause the most confusion if you're not sure what you're looking for. Eurocom supports three hard drives along with an optional fourth hard drive in place of using an optical drive. That means they can support RAID 0/1/5/10 -- with the latter two requiring either three+ or four hard drives respectively. Unlike AVADirect, Eurocom charges extra if you want to configure a RAID set. In terms of HDDs/SSDs, Eurocom doesn't provide quite the same selection as AVADirect, but they do provide all of the important options. Users can choose a 320GB or 500GB Seagate 7200 RPM hard drive, 64GB/80GB/160GB Intel SSD, 250GB OCZ Vertex SSD, or a whopping 512GB Solidata X4-512 SSD. The first hard drive can also be a 120GB or 128GB SSD. Of note is that the fourth hard drive only gives an option of using the 250GB OCZ Vertex (at least for now).

Where the Clevo D900F offers the fastest current CPU in a notebook, the Eurocom M980NU focuses on graphics power. The test system we received includes Intel's fastest Core 2 Extreme QX9300 mobile CPU. The drawback is that NVIDIA's GTX 280M SLI is extremely expensive, to ¬-the tune of $1200, and it still doesn't offer the performance of $400 desktop parts. Battery life is also going to be a sore spot, and with a weight of 13 pounds this definitely isn't a notebook you want to lug around any more than you absolutely have to.

Considering very few games can use more than two CPU cores, users interested in gaming performance might be better served by a Core 2 Duo T9900 (3.06GHz). The "downgrade" would also shave $550 off the price of the system, and while intensive multithreaded CPU performance would obviously be lower the gaming performance should improve -- by up to 20% in CPU limited situations. Either way, the M980NU will handle pretty much any current game at 1920x1080, though not always at maximum detail with 4xAA. If you're looking for the fastest current gaming notebook and you don't want to buy an Alienware M17x, give the M980NU XCaliber a look.

AVADirect Clevo D900F Design Eurocom M980NU XCaliber Design
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  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 15, 2009 - link

    I think LAN party goers is a far smaller market than CAD/CAM companies that need a mobile workstation, personally. I'd also say military gamers that are deployed would be more than LAN attendees (though that might be close). I've also heard of professional athletes getting something like this, but they're a VERY small niche. LOL Reply
  • kagey - Monday, October 19, 2009 - link

    I appreciate the review and like to see these plus other laptop ODMs rather than just Sony, Dell, HP, etc.
    You have hit it right on the head, it's a niche market. They are DTR machines, that are portable but not without a plug-in sooner than later (within 45-60 mins).
    Having a Sager NP9850 and the 3000 price tag that goes with it, I can say it has its pro's and con's but for what it's used for it was worth it. It could of been cheaper (always)!!! Buying a desktop or mATX was not an option for the portability that's necessary. Who'd lug around an LCD, not I. Build quality compared to other laptops I've owned is hands down better. Swaping CPUs (which I've done cause I had a better one), GPUs or HDD, ram, without taking the who machine apart is a 1000 times easier. All MFRs are getting better but some are there already.
    As far as the LCD (glossy), yes there's glare at times and it can be a pain. I do like the LCD more than any other laptop I've owned to date plus the 18.4 inch screen is huge. I haven't owned an LED LCD yet though, maybe next. This laptop does fit into a Targus backpack XL617 as well plus you do get a workout carrying (i.e. lugging) it around.. lol. Yes it's about 15 lbs all said and done carrying it.
    I don't regret the purchase as it's serving the purpose. .02 cents
    Reply
  • FXi - Thursday, October 15, 2009 - link

    Very, very pleased that you included a mainstream desktop machine in the tests. It really is important that people get a sense of perspective before they spend this kind of money. You have to "need" or "want" portability badly for the cash to performance outlay.

    That said Intel really kind of did Clarksdale a bit backwards.
    The quads should have come next spring and been 32nm and the dual's should have been 45nm and introduced first. I'll never understand why they reversed that.
    They really needed to hit basic clock parity with the QX9300. Yes the 920 is faster, but it doesn't set enough distance between itself and it's older cousin. That leads to comparisons like this article and a lot of soul searching between "new" vs "old" design purchase decisions.
    It is also almost unfathomable why they didn't include USB 3.0 in the PM55 spec. Intel is a founding member of the coalition the developed the spec. USB changes come around every 5-10 years, so getting 10x the speed of USB 2.0, lower CPU utilization in the process, makes this a kind of must have item. In desktops it doesn't matter as much because you can just throw in a pci-e card and get USB 3.0 whenever you feel like it. But for a laptop, USB is THE way it does most of it's communicating with the outside world. How fast and efficient (and how numerous) those USB ports are is a really big deal on notebooks. To have introduced a "high end" Quad core system and to have foregone this basic 10x increase in outside world communication is like delivering a Ferrari with 70 series tires on it. Great engine, great looks but missing a key component of how it talks to the road. It really is a feature that should not have been left out, no matter what delay it took to get it included.

    Faster 32nm Clarkdale, at least 2.53 base speed on all 4 core operation.
    USB 3.0 IN the Intel chipset, not as an add in chip.
    SLI designs and hybrid Intel IGP or low end integrated GPU for power savings when simply surfinng.
    M6400 designs, not M17x garrishness or Clevo "chicklet" keyboards we got rid of in the 80's.

    These are a few of the things that "should" have been in systems aimed at the audience that can afford these things. What we got isn't the above. And lack of sales will be blamed on the economy rather than the real issue, "a failure to successfully innovate".

    $.02
    Reply
  • Pirks - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    It's like four times cheaper to build a mATX box and throw it in your car with a nice 22" LCD monitor whenever you gotta go somewhere. Same "mobility" as these behemothbooks, but with better hardware, and less money wasted.

    I mean if you're rich these are totally normal ones, why not waste a few grand here and there, but for practical not rich middle class people who look for price/performance/mobility balance these are poor choices.

    I wasted almost $2k on an Alienware M17 and probably will never do it again. It's working great and everything, games are flying light speed and all, but every time I think I could get much better hardware for $1k I feel uneasy... with the same mobility as this box, that needs power outlet anyway... nah, these gamebooks are a mixed bag, I'll probably go for cheapo 17" Dell next time + my own mATX box, that's for me is as portable and "mobile" as all these Alienwares, Clevos and similar fat bricks
    Reply
  • InternetGeek - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    These are DTR machines. You buy them because you don't want to have the big clunky box and what not anymore.

    I for one gave up desktops after buying my DTR. At work I have the work provided workstation and they allowed me to use my own keyboard (ergonomic) and trackball. At home I use my DTR and I'm quite happy with it. When on the move I just use my WinMo and OneNote. That's it. No need to keep hauling stuff around when you realize there's a lot of free services that will let you keep all your PCs synchronized.

    I for one use "My Phone" for backing up my info, and the let live have my calendar and emails. Same goes for contacts.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    mATX slim cases are pretty far from being "big clunky", they are somewhat bigger than 12 pound DTR we're talking about, but when you stuff 'em in a bag with 22 incher and K/M there's not a huge difference in weight/size compared to DTR + its humongous power brick + mouse + carrying bag for all that, trust me. Reply
  • InternetGeek - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Well, just the pic of someone hauling their entire pc around along a 22incher makes me lol. So, if you think that's practical for you go ahead and knock yourself out :).

    I agree those Clevo machines are huge to the point of missing the point of a laptop. 3 Harddrives, SLI, 18inches. Crazy. You can still get good performance without going all that way in adding crazy hardware like that.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    What's the difference between hauling around huge 12 pound Clevo with its 6 pound power brick versus very small mATX slim desktop case, 22" LCD and K/M? Answer: none or very little. Got my point now? Reply
  • InternetGeek - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Bluntly put, a DTR is designed to be carried around. The entire set up is made so it can be carried around in a bag. Laptop bags can also play the role of your backpack so you can put books, magazines or whatever you want in them.

    Carrying around a Desktop PC is done for LAN parties. And even then you try to minimize what you haul. Again, I do think seeing someone carrying around their PC because they can get the Desktop performance/Experience wherever they are funny. I'd love to see that during a Tech event. Pic of the year for sure.

    In any case, DTRs have their purpose which I think they cover quite well. Until I got mine I built every single system I had (I built my first PC when I was 12), and to be honest, I think it's an awesome path to try. I would only ask for upgradable GPUs.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Technically, the power brick weighs in at two pounds. I'd say that's a pretty big difference between DTR laptop (15 pounds including a backpack and mouse) and LCD + mATX + backpack + keyboard + mouse. A 22" LCD will weigh about that much on its own, and you need a good backpack for carrying such a display... I don't even know where you'd find one.

    This is not to say that people should go but DTRs, but if you know the limitations and are okay with that they fulfill a need. I don't think anyone would actually want the task of carrying around a complete mATX system with peripherals if they could avoid it. The only reason to go that route is for performance at the cost of mobility.
    Reply

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