AVADirect Clevo D900F Design

The basic external design of the Clevo D900F hasn't changed much from the Clevo D901C. It is a very large chassis with a 17" WUXGA LCD. AVADirect does offer custom paint jobs if you don't like the default colors, but the core features remain the same. Here's our pictorial overview of the system to get us started.

Some people like flashy in-your-face notebooks, and the grey/black aesthetics aren't likely to please such users. Those who prefer stylings that are more subdued on the other hand will be right at home.

In terms of expansion ports, it's a little odd that all of the USB ports come off the right side. This can be a bit irritating when you connect the mouse and have to deal with the cable jutting out the side of the laptop. It's not a huge issue, but it would have been nice to get at least one USB port on the other side of the system. We're also still stuck with a total of four USB ports, and while we never had a need to connect that many devices we have heard a few users ask for a couple more USB ports -- especially on large desktop replacement notebooks. One area where Clevo/AVADirect deserves some accolades is in the inclusion of two digital video ports, one DVI dual-link and the other HDMI. We didn't receive any dongles to convert the DVI into VGA or the HDMI into DVI, unfortunately, but such dongles should work.

Looking at the rear of the system, it's easy to understand why there aren't many expansion options on the back. Almost the entire rear of the laptop is dedicated to cooling vents for the hot CPU, GPU, and chipset. The D901C used two of the ventilation slots for graphics cards, while the D900F dedicates two large HSFs and one smaller HSF to cooling the CPU and chipset, with the GPU getting its own large HSF. Obviously, keeping a 130W TDP CPU and 24W TDP X58 chipset cool is no small task. Clevo essentially crams a large desktop cooling solution into a notebook chassis, and in practice it works reasonably well. The D900F isn't a silent laptop by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn't generate any more noise than other desktop replacement notebooks that we've looked at. Even with a heavy CPU load (i.e. 3D rendering), the system runs stable. The bottom and back of the chassis definitely get warm and you won't want this system sitting on your lap, but we can say the same about any other desktop replacement notebook.

There are a few continued sore spots with the Clevo design. One is the keyboard, which still has an odd arrangement for the number keypad. Placing the decimal key at the top left of the number keypad means that anyone used to a standard 10-key setup will invariably hit the wrong button without a lot of time spent adjusting -- and every time you use a regular keyboard you'll need to readjust. Considering there's ample room for a different arrangement, we wish Clevo would make the keyboard a bit wider and give us a standard 10-key layout -- that means oversized Enter and Addition keys on the right, a large Zero key at the bottom left, with the decimal point sitting between the Enter and Zero keys. We would also like to see dedicated Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys, and again that shouldn't be difficult considering the size of the chassis.

Our other complaint is that Clevo continues to offer a glossy LCD as the only option. We have heard from so many users that feel glossy LCDs have no place on laptops that we're very surprised high-end notebook manufacturers don't even provide matte displays as an option. The Dell Precision M6400 gives users the option of choosing a matte display, and since the D900F uses the same size LCD panel it could follow suit. It may be a bit more difficult for Clevo to go that route, since they don't typically sell direct to customers and rely on partners with rebranded notebooks -- i.e. AVADirect -- but we really would like to see fewer "mirror finish" LCDs on notebooks and laptops. The LCD on the D900F also isn't as bright as other current laptops. It's not dim, per se, but 156nits is nowhere near as bright as the 200 to 250nits we see on most other notebooks. The palm rest also has a shiny surface, and we would prefer a matte exterior to avoid fingerprints (at the cost of "pretty" photos).

None of these complaints qualifies as a deal breaker, at least in our view, but considering the wealth of customization options available for other components, we really would like more choice in these areas.

AVADirect Clevo D900F Specifications Eurocom M980NU XCaliber Specifications
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  • MonicaS - Friday, October 30, 2009 - link

    I think the best way to get a high end laptop is to build one. Obviously you are very limited in what you can with a laptop over a desktop, but still the options are enough. The obvious upgrades are HD and Ram. On that note you can Raid to SSD's and put in some serious ram on a 64 bit machine and have a incredibly fast machine. The other benefit of this is that you can basically pick your own laptop to upgrade and not have to buy fugly one.

    Monica S
    Los Angeles Computer Repair
    http://www.sebecomputercare.com">http://www.sebecomputercare.com
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, October 22, 2009 - link

    "Unfortunately, 60GB isn't enough space to install even a small subset of our gaming benchmarks"

    All you have to do is move the game folders to the big drive when you're not using them, and move them back over to C:\Program Files when you need to use them. It takes all of 2 minutes (or 10 seconds for a multitasker) and is surely smarter than wasting hundreds of dollars on bigger SSDs, no? Are we that lazy?
    Reply
  • Draxanoth - Thursday, October 22, 2009 - link

    I see a lot of complaints for no good reason in these comments. If you don't like them, don't buy them. Complaining about something you don't own nor want sounds like bitterness at the price tag.

    I have an M570etu, which is the dual core version of the GTX280 Clevo model with the orange trim. It's a lot better looking in person, those pictures are awful. 3.2ghz I think but I'd have to check. My battery life is 3 hours non-gaming. It easily functions as both a mobile and a gaming machine. I don't have any problems with Call of Pripyat in HD either. i7 in a laptop is overkill, and if you want one with a decent battery life that's a poor choice. Why is anyone surprised by that?
    Reply
  • Meaker10 - Saturday, October 17, 2009 - link

    You can already get official mobile drivers for all laptops for windows 7 the same version as the desktop set for the HD 2,3 and 4 series. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, October 17, 2009 - link

    True, but the real question will be whether this is a one-time thing (because Win7 is launching and ATI has to have valid drivers or they'll be in deep trouble), or if this is a change going forward. I'm inclined to think it's just for the Win7 launch, since they don't provide mobile drivers for anything besides Win7. Vista and XP users are still the vast majority of people and will be for a good while to come, and there are laptop users that literally haven't received updated ATI drivers in years.

    I'll keep an eye on things, and hopefully ATI will change their stance officially at some point. At present, searching for ATI Mobility Radeon drivers for XP and Vista only gives you the choice of X1800 or earlier GPUs. It looks like perhaps the integrated HD 3200 on laptops might also have up-to-date drivers in XP/Vista, but discrete GPU laptop owners are out of luck for now if they don't upgrade to Win7.
    Reply
  • jmhorridge - Saturday, October 17, 2009 - link

    I and my work colleagues must regularly fly to other countries for a week or two, and there perform computations (economic forecasting) that can occupy a quad-core for 2 or 3 hours. These big DTR laptops (or luggables) are the only way to get the job done. Battery life is not an issue -- always used plugged in.
    An mATX system (with monitor) would weigh twice as much, might not suit all voltages, and, in a suit case, would bust the flight weight allowance. However, everyone is allowed to carry on a laptop -- no matter how big.

    I'm very pleased to see such machines reviewed.

    Mark Horridge
    Reply
  • Kishkumen - Friday, October 16, 2009 - link

    "it appears most notebook manufacturers are convinced users aren't interested in matte LCDs anymore."

    Then they are wrong and I will not buy their product. I've passed up some pretty awesome notebooks over the past couple of years. Looks like I'll be passing up many more. If I'm the only one who can't stand glossy displays, then so be it, but I'd rather go without then pay good money for something that is the visual equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard for me.
    Reply
  • EBH - Thursday, October 15, 2009 - link

    Falcon NW should have been in the review. Their machines > than any Aienware

    http://www.falcon-nw.com/">http://www.falcon-nw.com/
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 16, 2009 - link

    I'm not sure why you say Falcon is so much better than Alienware. They're basically the same thing as AVADirect, but with far fewer options.

    Fragbox DRX = Clevo D900F with custom paint.
    Fragbox TLX = MSI MS-1722 (GX720) with custom paint.
    I/O = MSI MS-1361 (X340)with... yup, custom paint.

    AVADirect also offers all three of those, with optional custom paint. Pricing definitely isn't in favor of FNW, though perhaps they have better customer service. Let's see, using as close to identical options as I can get (including custom paint on the AVADirect models):

    D900F AVADirect = $4545
    Fragbox DRX = $6086

    MSI GX720 AVADirect = $2229
    Fragbox TLX = $2625

    MSI X340 AVADirect = $1292
    I/O = $1727

    I think the main draw of Falcon is if you want a special paint job with some custom image (i.e. not just the Exotix Single Color option). That can add over $1000, but at least then you have something truly unique. Anyway, inasmuch as performance and features are concerned, Falcon was in this review, albeit indirectly. The same goes for WidowPC and ProStar and anyone else that uses whitebook chassis.
    Reply
  • nortexoid - Thursday, October 15, 2009 - link

    I'm sure most would be better off buying a desktop (of the same caliber) and a cheap netbook for mobility, and for the same price as these ghastly beasts.

    The only market I can see for these things is someone who goes to LANs more often than he should, and who would rather port around a 10lb+ notebook than a desktop + LCD or all-in-one. But this has to be a very small niche market.
    Reply

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