Eurocom M98NU XCaliber Gaming Notebook Review - HotHardware

Eurocom M98NU XCaliber Gaming Notebook Review

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Hard-core gamers are all about squeezing the best performance they can out of their rigs, while ensuring that the visual quality of the games they play are at the highest settings possible. As desktop PCs typically have access to higher-end components than notebooks--and are also far more configurable, upgradable, and tweakable--the vast majority of gamers opt for desktop systems. But with the increased performance potential of today's notebook components and their portability (LAN party anyone?), high-end gaming notebooks are becoming increasingly popular with the gaming crowd.

That said, you still won't see the same performance potential from a gaming notebook over a gaming desktop; and you'll typically pay more for the same level of performance from a notebook. Take for example the Eurocom M98NU XCaliber gaming notebook. Not counting the just-launched Intel Core i7 Mobile processor family, the M98NU XCaliber uses the speediest mobile CPU available (the 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9300) and a pair of the fastest mobile GPUs (the Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M in SLI mode). The M98NU XCaliber also comes with 8GB of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM, two hard drives (one of which is an SSD), a Blu-ray drive, an 18.4-inch display, an integrated webcam, a biometric fingerprint reader, Bluetooth, and a 7-in-1 card reader. With such a fully-loaded system, its lofty $5,720 price tag is somewhat understandable.


To keep things in perspective, a (relatively) similarly-configured Alienware Aurora ALX desktop gaming system easily costs over a $1,000 less. Then again, try dragging an Aurora ALX to a LAN party and see how far you get. Also, just because the M98NU XCaliber we tested and reviewed here costs well over five grand, doesn't mean that you'd necessarily have to configure your notebook the same way or spend as much. Using Eurcom's online configurator, we were able to get the price of the M98NU XCaliber down to just $2,175--albeit eschewing in the process the vast majority of components that make the unit such a compelling mobile gaming machine. Also using the configurator we managed to generate a system price that was nearly $10,000--but do we really need three 512GB SSDs and a Blu-ray burner? Eurocom's president, Mark Bialic, tells us that most customers "buy this model with lower specs," within the $2,499 to $3,499 price range. And if you are lucky enough to live near one the stores where Eurocom products are sold, Bialic claims that some configurations can be found for as much as 10-percent less than they sell direct from Eurocom.

Eurocom M98NU XCaliber
Specifications & Features (as tested)

  • CPU: 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9300
  • FSB: 1066MHz
  • Chipset: Nvidia nForce 730i
  • Memory: 8GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM (2x SO-DIMMs)
  • Graphics: (2x) Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M (1MB) - SLI
  • Display: 18.4-inch 1920x1080 LCD
  • Hard drives: 120GB SSD; 500GB 7,200rpm SATA-300 NCQ
  • Optical drive: Combo 2x Blu-ray reader & 8x DVD+/-RW drive
  • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet; 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi
  • Sound: 7.1-channel HD audio; five built-in speakers (including a subwoofer)
  • Operating System: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
  • Battery: 4-cell High Capacity Li-Polymer, 14.8V, 4,650mAh, 68.82Wh
  • Additional Internal Components: 2.0-Megapxel Webcam; biometric fingerprint reader; Bluetooth V2.0 module; 7-in-1 card reader (MMC/RSMMC/SD/Mini-SD/MS/MS Pro/MS Duo); ExpressCard 34/54 slot
  • Bundled Software: CyberLink PowerDVD; CyberLink DVD Suite; Upek Protector Suite 2009
  • Dimension: 2.73x17.28x11.77-inches (HWD)
  • Weight: 13.0 pounds
  • Additional Accessory: Carrying case/backpack
  • Warranty: 1 Year Return to Factory Depot with 1 Year of Tech Support

 

Direct Price (as tested): $5,720, Starting at $2175



Eurocom sent the M98NU XCaliber to us just prior to the official release of the Core i7 Mobile processor family. Since the Core i7 Mobile release, Eurcom has also started selling a Core i7-based notebook--the W870CO Cheetah--which could be configured similarly to the M98NU XCaliber (except that the W870CO Cheetah can only use a single GPU).

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pretty nice setup. to bad the cpu choice is not up to date...

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Very expensive for the majority of the people. It's the premium you pay for new technology (especially the new mobile i7).

In a few months, you'll be able to purchase a laptop with mobile HD 5000 series for a couple grand less. Still dual GTX 280 is pretty sick. What's the battery life on this beast?

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It definitely kicks some tail... but is priced for that coveted "lottery winners" demographic.

But the best feature is that it's not red and black, like all the other gaming laptops we've seen lately. :)

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i'm not sure i'd even splurge like that if i won the lottery =\ lots of other goodies to buy that aren't so overpriced.

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And that's why you could never win the lottery, Martin! From what I've read, the average lottery winner clears $3m and is broke within 3 years.

I figure this is because people like you and I, who spend their money wisely, don't constantly spend our income on lottery tickets. :)

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The Core i7 configured W870CO Cheetah is a better bet considering that mobile i7 has already been out for some time now and a update is in a very immediate future. Buying a Core 2 series is investing loads on a 2 gen old proc.

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This will play well to the "Haves" audience.

It's a fast and capable computer too, but many companies are shooting for that pinnacle price point segment these days so the competition will be fierce. It's gonna be crowded at the top and when it's all over we'll get some stellar deals on everything that didn't sell in January.

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