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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  • psonice - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    These things aren't really mobile - they're huge, weigh a ton, and have totally inadequate battery life. So what you have really is a desktop machine with a built-in keyboard and monitor. I'd call that an all-in-one :) Reply
  • gstrickler - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    [quote]The only reason to avoid such a large battery appears to be weight, and the W870CU is 3 pounds lighter than either of the other notebooks if that matters to you -- but it still weighs almost 9 pounds.[/quote]If it's over 7.5 pounds travel weight (including battery and AC adapter, excluding carrying case), it's not a notebook or laptop. You can call it a transportable, an all-in-one, or a even a portable computer, but please don't refer to them as notebooks.

    If it doesn't get at least 2 hours runtime on battery, it's definitely not a mobile or portable computer, although the transportable or all-in-one name works.

    We really need some industry standard definitions for these, but until we have them, please refrain from using notebook to refer to 9 to 12 pound computers.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    I'd say we need less artificial market segmentation with dumb terms. For example, "netbook" was originally used to refer to cheap, small, light, low-powered laptops. However, you now have "netbooks" in 11-15" screen sizes and at prices pushing well into mainstream laptop territory. I'd argue that laptop/notebook should just refer to the basic form factor, and don't bother trying to differentiate on other features such as size and battery life. Reply
  • IlllI - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    what that comment about something being beaten with an ugly stick?
    these machines are the epitome of function over form. well, i guess it does what its suppose to do.. but i'd be embarrassed to be seen in public with something that has all the aesthetics of a mobile phone from 1988





    Reply
  • - Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - link

    LOL!! Reply
  • Whoeverulike - Monday, September 22, 2014 - link

    The D900F is a great machine. We have run virtually ours 24 hours a day since 2009 so that some going. Now though, its time for some spares to protect our investment so we can earn the value from buying premium hardware. But guess what? Hardly anyone can help us with simple things like screen inverter or chassis feet, not even a cable to rewire the 4-pin DIN power jack lead to the inverter brick. Isn't that surprising? Maybe it isn't to those here but I am a little shocked by it. And now at a time when people like me come looking at sites like this, we are expecting to see something about long term use cases. The D900F and machines like it, before and since are about the nearest that [gaming] laptop users who also possibly have another use for the machine as well, are likely to come to a custom build. But as MonicaS says below building one, if you can do it - if you can know how you are buying for long term return on investment is about the only way one can actually justify some pretty hefty prices especially when we talk about no stripped down power unit but full monty desktop processors like the core i7 in the D900F. It will be interesting if someone else posts in response to this. I didn't see a button to alert me if there is another post to look at. Originally I came by to see if there was a direct contact at Anandtech who may know how to help us in our quest. Reply

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