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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  • 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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