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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  • GeorgeH - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Wow, with all the missing words and ascerbic tone you can definitely tell I posted that way to early in the morning. ;)

    I cited the MBP because it has both exceptional design and widespread familiarity, and because a lot of the consumers that "convert" to Macs do so because they're used to the dramatically inferior consumer PC designs you'll find on the shelves of Best Buy and the like.

    Citing something like an 8730W would have been more appropriate, but not many people even know what they are and even fewer have had the opportunity to see one in person. This isn't about me saying "Apple Rocks!" it's about me emphasizing that the design of a laptop is orders of magnitude more important than its spec sheet. With cheap LCDs and tacky glossy surfaces completely inappropriate to their price brackets, these laptops appear to be all spec sheet, no design.
    Reply
  • gstrickler - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    MBPs are available with either glossy (standard) or matte (optional) screens.

    Right click (2 fingers on trackpad and click) works just fine. It's not the same as having a 2 button mouse, but a mouse is often not convenient on a notebook and the 2-finger click is a lot better than having to use a separate right click button when using a trackpad.

    You might try doing some research and/or using one before posting inaccurate info.
    Reply
  • Gholam - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Touchpads suck anyway, Trackpoint > all. Reply
  • gstrickler - Saturday, October 17, 2009 - link

    I guess that explains why just about everyone except Lenovo has abandoned the trackpoint?

    Or maybe, it's because very few people like them. I thought the trackpoint sounded cool when IBM introduced it in the '90s, then I tried it and found it doesn't work nearly as well or as fast as a mouse or trackpad. Yes, I've tried more recent ones. I'm clear that you like it, but you're in a very small minority and that's why the trackpoint and trackball have disappeared from almost every machine in favor of the trackpad.

    The touchpad/trackpad may "suck", but they're better than anything yet devised except for the modern optical mouse. Unfortunately, a mouse isn't always convenient when using a notebook/laptop/netbook, so the touchpad/trackpad wins by virtue of "sucking less" and having fewer drawbacks than all the alternatives.
    Reply
  • drfelip - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    And laptops such as the Alienware M17x makes good use of them. Clevo should implement that in these laptops! Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Yea, the weight is less than these and it's still a burden traveling with it :) But I can't resist the WUXGA. Plus the machine is pretty speedy at C2D 2.2GHz. Full blown Vostro 17" for $850 thanks to Anand Hot Deals.

    As for these, it just doesn't make sense any way I look at it.
    Reply
  • Lifted - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    Not that I am interested in one of these at the moment, but it would have been interesting/useful to have at least a single $1,000 - $1,500 desktop included in the benchmarks. Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    I will never buy a glossy screen. Not on a desktop LCD, especially not on a laptop. Reply
  • Gholam - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    These are huge, fragile, plastic boat anchors, stuffed to the gills with desktop components and tiny whiny fans struggling to keep them from melting. High end is Lenovo ThinkPad W700/W700ds, Dell Precision M6400, HP EliteBook 8730w - not this crap. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    I'd say some of those characteristics apply to the W870CU (it feels less durable, that's for sure), but I don't think I'd say these are "fragile" notebooks or that the fans are "tiny and whiny". The fans are about the size of what you find in high-end GPUs, and while noisy under load they're not high-pitched like some fans.

    I'll agree that the Precision M6400 is a much nicer build, but it also offers less performance if that's what you're after. And FWIW, Eurocom also takes the time to certify their "mobile workstations" for use with professional applications -- something that's absolutely necessary if you ever need support from one of the software companies.

    But yes, they're definitely huge... just like most mobile workstations. If you're going to put two GPUs or a desktop CPU into a notebook, that's pretty much a foregone requirement.
    Reply

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