AVADirect Clevo X8100 Core i7 Gaming Notebook Review

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There are two main types of road warriors in this world. First, there are the ones who value portability over all else. These users are more concerned with battery life and ease of transportation than they are with raw performance, and it's because of them that netbooks -- the very epitome of portability -- have become such a popular market segment. At the other end of the spectrum sit the users who crave as much performance as they can get, and they're willing to trade battery life and lightweight designs to get it. At the extreme end, we call these mobile PCs 'desktop replacements,' which is exactly what they are.

Boutique system builder AVADirect deals with PCs of all shapes and sizes, and the one we're looking at today -- the Clevo X8100 -- is every bit a desktop replacement rig, and then some. Built around Intel's mobile Core i7 platform, the powerful processor is just the beginning of what the X8100 has to offer. Driving the monstrous 18.4-inch LCD display are two GeForce GTX 285M videocards (the fastest mobile graphics in Nvidia's stable) in an SLI configuration, and the rest of the spec sheet is equally obscene. AVADirect held little back, equipping our review system with 8GB of DDR3 1066 memory, a blazing fast 256GB Crucial RealSSD for OS and application chores, and even a Blu-ray reader for watching high-definition movies in between LAN parties. Toss in a full-sized keyboard with gaming macros, a nifty light display, quiet but effective cooling, and several other subtle touches and what you end up with is not just a desktop replacement, but for the average user, a desktop destroyer.


Custom Clevo X8100 Gaming Notebook built by AVADirect

AVADirect Clevo X8100
Specifications and Features (as tested)

Model

Clevo X8100
Display

18.4" (1920 x 1080)
CPU

Intel Core i7 820QM 1.733GHz
Memory

8GB DDR3 1066MHz (2x4GB)
Graphics

2 x Nvidia GeForce GTX 285M 1GB GDDR3 (SLI)
Storage

Crucial 256GB RealSSD C300 (MLC)
Western Digital 640GB Scropio Blue
Optical

Blu-ray Reader/DVD Burner Combo
Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
Wireless

Intel 802.11 A/G/N
Webcam

2.0 Megapixel
Wired Internet

10/100 Ethernet
Ports

3 USB 2.0, eSATA/USB Combo, 1 FireWire, HDMI In/Out, DVI, VGA, ExpressCard, eSATA, 7-in-1 Media Reader, CATV
Weight

12.35 lbs with battery
Dimensions

17.3" x 11.8" x 1.7" (WxDxH)
Warranty

2 Year Parts / Labor
Price

$3975 (as configured)


At nearly $4,000, this customized Clevo's price tag is as big as its chassis, and every bit as heavy too. Including the battery, the whole shebang weighs over 12 pounds, enough to cause a hernia if you plan on lugging this thing around to and from work and on frequent business trips, but then again, that's not what this was built for. As far as portability goes, the Clevo X8100 is best suited for LAN parties, overnight gaming sessions at a friend's house, or to kick your desktop tower to the curb when you're short on space.


By all accounts, this is the most powerfully spec'd gaming laptop to yet come through HotHardware's labs, and throughout the course of this review, we'll be keeping the target audience in mind. We have no intentions of glossing over the obvious flaws, but at the same time, we're not going to spend a ton of time berating the poor battery life, because let's be honest, if you need 3+ hours of run time, you have no business shopping a high end gaming notebook with dual videocards in the first place. What we're much more interested in is how well AVADirect and Clevo can mesh all the top shelf parts into a cohesive computing experience worthy of a $4,000 price tag, and for that, you'll need to keep reading to find out.

 

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