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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  • 7Enigma - Thursday, October 15, 2009 - link

    Not to mention a person buying one of these expensive monsters probably doesn't think twice about having a spare (or 2) extra charged batteries lying around. Another $100-200 for double/triple the battery life at little extra inconvenience turns these rigs from "only near a power outlet" to "1-2 hours of heavy work".

    Everyone complains about the pitiful life on a single charge, but DTR's more than any other laptop probably fit into the multiple battery pack club as what's an extra couple pounds when it's already a pig?
    Reply
  • Pirks - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    If you haul this mATX in your car, not on foot, then you won't feel the difference. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    The two areas where these sort of systems make the most sense are:

    1) Businesses where they want to have a mobile workstation. Yes, companies do use stuff like this. I've heard examples of construction and oil companies that can fly out and stay at a site, doing all the computer work locally using something like a D900F. It's far easier to pack that around and plug in than to pack mouse + keyboard + mATX + LCD.

    2) People with very limited space that move around frequently. The prime example for this is military personnel. I've heard from quite a few that say, "I wish I could get a desktop, but it's just not practical in the military." Still, you really need to be a dedicated gamer to plunk down $2500+ on a notebook that will be slower than $1500 desktops, and it can't be upgraded (outside of RAM and HDD).

    I'm sure there are a few other instances where these sort of systems make sense, but for typical users I'd strongly recommend a moderate laptop and a desktop if possible.
    Reply
  • Marcel17 - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Yeah , thanks for the review but you shouldn't have...
    Myself , Ill gust replace my aging inspiron 8600 with a sweet 16 ,XPS 16 that is once it's available with W7 , I guess another month or two .
    Reply
  • InternetGeek - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Are you guys aware that the 3 laptops you're reviewing in this article are actually made by Clevo themselves? AVADirect and Eurocomm sell Clevo laptops made to order. Reply
  • InternetGeek - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Not at all. I like Clevo laptops, but I would call out the fact you're reviewing products coming from the same manufacturer a bit more strongly and not as a fact about just one of the companies. They deserve credit for the job they do. But as you guys used to do with GPUs, that is tell us who's using the reference design and who isn't, I think you should do the same with these laptops.

    I liked the part in which you contrast the different platforms. One uses more desktop parts, the other uses more mobile parts. That was good. Same as with SLI. It really doesn't make sense for a laptop to use SLI given the limited resolutions they run at.

    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Page 2: TITLE: "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."

    So yes, I am fully aware of who makes the base notebook chassis. I would have called it a Clevo roundup, but Clevo isn't the company actually sending these systems for review so I give credit AVADirect and Eurocom. Does it matter that they're Clevo units? Like any ODM, Clevo has good designs and bad designs, so I review the product rather than the source company.
    Reply
  • rmlarsen - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Nobody would buy these ugly behemoths except for a very small number of users with specialized needs, (e.g. engineers needing to run simulators or CAD programs in the field). I cannot understand how you serve your readers by continuing this article series. Maybe you have become a little too cozy with Clevo? Or you are letting your own fascination with the biggest-most-bad-ass-computing-machine-in-a-lug-able-box-with-monitor cloud your judgment of what is worthy of publication?

    And while I am ranting, please no more articles about almost identical Atom & Intel 945 based netbooks.

    You are really diluting the authority of Anandtech's (mostly excellent) reviews with these semi-irrelevant articles.

    -RML
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    AnandTech, as you might have noticed, covers more than just CPUs, GPUs, and motherboards. I agree that few people are interested in buying these, but they do represent a market and I think it's useful to at least periodically look at the high-end DTR segment. I'm pretty much done with $3000+ notebooks for a while (just need to finish one other review), but as the mobile reviewer it's actually my job to review... laptops and notebooks and netbooks.

    So, if you don't want me to review Atom netbooks, or Intel 945 laptops, that just eliminated about 90% of the mobile market. How exactly does a review like this dilute AnandTech? Do you disagree with the commentary (i.e. these are expensive systems that we don't recommend for most people, but yes they're the fastest notebooks)?

    I'd be more than happy to hear suggestions on what you want me to review in the mobile segment. Keep in mind that actually acquiring the laptops is often more difficult than writing the review, sadly. I spend a fair amount of time just trying to get new laptops sent my way, and several companies that I'd like to review haven't shown any interest. As such, I'm working to grow the mobile section in any way I can, including putting together roundups of Clevo based notebooks on occasion.
    Reply
  • 5150Joker - Saturday, November 7, 2009 - link

    I very much appreciate the fact that you wrote the article. Don't let these idiots make you think otherwise. There is a large market out there for these gaming laptops and contrary to what the uninformed people posting here think, they're not nearly as heavy as they think. I ordered a W860 a few days ago and it weighs 7 lbs yet it comes packed with an i820qm, 4 gb ddr3, gtx 280m gpu and a beautiful display. Reply

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