Eurocom M980NU XCaliber Design

The Eurocom M980NU XCaliber isn't cut from the same mold as the D900F. Instead, it's an 18.4" chassis similar to the W90Vp. If you set the D900F and M980NU next to each other, most of the dimensions are the same but the M980NU is about an inch and a half wider. The exterior styling is also a complete change from the D900F; whether or not that's a good thing will depend on personal opinion.

The Eurocom M980NU XCaliber is a lot flashier than the D900F and W870CU, and it goes for a mirror-like finish on most of the surfaces. We're not exaggerating either: you could fix your hair using this laptop in a pinch! As always, the big drawback for a mirror finish is the difficulty of maintaining a clean exterior. Unless you plan to wear gloves, the palm rest and other surfaces on the M980NU quickly become smudged. We provided a picture of the palm rest and touchpad after moderate use to show you what we mean. Personally, I don't care how nice glossy finishes look in pictures; they're terrible in actual use.

The glossy finish extends to the LCD, again something that would be right at home in a beauty parlor or a salon. Granted, these heavy notebooks aren't as likely to be used outside where direct sunlight really makes glossy panels a bad design choice, but we still find the panels less than ideal. Other options would be more than welcome. Other than the glossiness, though, the M980NU panel is very nice and surpasses most other LCDs. The color gamut is noticeably better, something which our empirical tests will confirm later.

Another big issue for us is the touchpad, which has the same glossy finish as the rest of the palm rest. There's no clear tactile delineation between the touchpad and the rest of the laptop, with the result being that you'll often move outside the tracking area. Plan on using a mouse whenever possible... but then that should be a given for a gaming notebook, right? (Has anyone else ever tried to play an FPS with a touchpad? It makes gamepads seem downright precise!)

Expansion ports are more conveniently located on the M980NU, with two USB ports on the left and two more on the right; one of the USB ports on the right also doubles as an eSATA port. Like the D900F and W980CU, the M980NU includes two digital video outputs, one dual-link DVI and one HDMI, again with no dongles in the box. The back of the chassis focuses on cooling, with ventilation provided for the two GPUs as well as one HSF for the CPU and chipset. The only connector on the rear is the AC power connector, located in the center.

Looking at the interior, it's obvious that the Core 2 mobile CPUs and NVIDIA 730i chipset run a lot cooler than the Core i7 + X58 combination in the D900F. Each GPU still requires a large HSF, but the CPU and chipset get by with far less cooling. The power brick is still huge, and as we will see later the power draw under load ends up being essentially the same as the D900F. We talked with Eurocom and they said one of their limiting factors for creating more powerful desktop replacement/mobile workstation systems is the AC adapter. Currently, the 220W models are the biggest units on the market, and they feel they could easily add more hardware if they could get more power into the system. It's possible we will see notebooks in the future that fuse two large power bricks in order to run higher-end CPUs and GPUs. Again, such solutions aren't for everyone, but as we said on the AVADirect D900F, the cost of software on professional workstations can dwarf the cost of the hardware, and mobility can be a valuable asset.

You'll note that the keyboard is virtually identical to the keyboard on the D900F. Despite the wider chassis, Eurocom didn't look into a different number keypad arrangement. Instead, there are eight programmable macro keys on the left of the chassis. The benefit is that the keyboard ends up being centered relative to the display and touchpad, but it should still be possible to create a "normal" 10-key arrangement.

Eurocom M980NU XCaliber Specifications Clevo W870CU Specifications
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  • 7Enigma - Thursday, October 15, 2009 - link

    Jarred,

    Ignore these people. They exist in a bubble that revolves around only what they perceive as useful....to THEM. For the rest of us, even though many of us will never need/want a system like this, it is enjoyable to read about how far (and how far left) they have come.

    What's funny is some of these same people will ooh and ahh over the latest $600+ gpu or $1000+ cpu knowing they also will never buy one of these.

    This is a tech site. The purpose is to review and discuss new technology, regardless of what mainstream appeal it has. If that was the case you should only be reviewing sub-$300 cpu/gpu and sub $500 monitors as that is what the vast majority of us purchase. While your at it, forget about hydravision, large capacity SSD's, 3D LCD's/goggles, etc.

    Keep up the good work and try to ignore the trolls. That extra 10min you use to respond to a post like this could be better used GETTING SOME OC NUMBERS ON THE LATEST GPU! (hint...hint) :)
    Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    I, for one, appreciate the review, even if the products are not relevant to me- I'm sure there are people out there that do want a high-end all-in-one/laptop. At any rate, I did want to chime in with a suggestion of what I'd like to see in upcoming mobile reviews: non-cookiecutter netbooks such as the ION-based ones (ex: HP Mini 311), or ones that stand out from the crowd by virtue of better screens (matte), battery life, passive/quiet cooling, etc. Basically, keep doing what you're already doing, as you've already had articles on the Asus 1005HA and CULV. Also, any word on the next-gen Atoms with the new chipset and IGP? Reply
  • mac2j - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    I understand the difficulty in getting samples of new high demand models.

    But if you want to know what a really useful comparison would be:

    High-end Core i7 laptops (Envy 15, XPS16, M15x, MSI etc):

    Aesthetics vs performance (business v multimedia v games) vs battery life vs extras vs cost

    I'd be willing to bet that would be extremely useful for a lot of people and widely cited across the net.

    Personally I ordered a Studio XPS 16 (820QM) almost a month ago and I'm still waiting for it so I'm sure it would take you a while to collect all the samples from the relevant companies... but it would be worth it IMO.
    Reply
  • 5150Joker - Saturday, November 7, 2009 - link

    All the laptops you listed are junk. None of them can hold a candle to the Clevo W860CU and they aren't anymore aesthetically pleasing.

    HP Envy: overheating mac rip off that doesnt have an optical drive.

    Dell SXPS 16: gets so hot you can cook on it while using it. Say goodbye to your sperm count.

    Alienware m15x: competitor to the clevo series and fails. Overpriced, underperforming and poor quality control.

    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Here's me posting my comment for the laptop makers to please offer better choices on LCDs. Its about time to replace my T43, am I really going to have to move from a matte IPS screen to something worse? Reply
  • mac2j - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Why compare a bunch of notebooks that no one buys? The total 2009 sales for every notebook in this article will be in the thousands.

    How about comparing high end notebooks people are actually (trying to) buy.

    HP Envy 15 vs Dell Studio XPS 16 vs Alienware M15x vs MSI Core i7s etc ....

    The choice of systems and the timing of this article makes it a useless waste of space.
    Reply
  • TheQuestian - Tuesday, December 8, 2009 - link

    Irony. Reply
  • 5150Joker - Saturday, November 7, 2009 - link

    Your post along with several others here is a waste of space. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Super-CPU? Check.
    Super-GPU? Check.
    Super-HDs? Check.
    Super-RAM? Check.
    Super-LCD? Wait, what?

    The LCD situation on these laptops is ridiculous. The most important component in any laptop is the LCD screen, and the second is the chassis and keyboard - component specs come in a distant third.

    As long as I have a choice I will never, ever own a laptop with a glossy screen and a native resolution less than 1920x1200 (for ~15" and up.) I don't care if a laptop has the fastest components ever, if you interact effectively with it you might as well be using a "regular" laptop. If you're using these for work, the few seconds you save using faster components to render and compile your projects will be lost many, many times over in human inefficiencies due to interface issues. If you're using them for gaming, you'll get awesome FPS and ability to use super high detail settings that'll be wasted on a dull, reflective screen.

    It's crap like this that makes people switch to MacBook Pros. The components are lousy, the prices are lousy, and the company's policies are lousy, but you get a laptop that's a pleasure to own and interact with. Regardless of your feelings towards Apple, you have to admit they know how to build a laptop - as a complete piece of hardware the MBP is matched by only a handful of PC laptops (mostly "business class" models that the average consumer doesn't even know about), and surpassed by none.
    Reply
  • warezme - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Uh, hello??

    Macbook Pro's have glass glossy screens. You just contradicted your own statement. And for convenience and ease of use, Apple needs to master how its touchpad works and right clicking because it just doesn't work. But if you are going to give points to your system on aesthetics alone I suppose you will learn to live with it dude.



    Reply

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