Eurocom Panther 2.0: Design & Build Quality
We would have agreed with you until the Eurocom Panther 2.0 showed up at our door. While we've seen plenty of large Desktop Replacements (DTR) here at HotHardware, we've rarely seen one that takes the concept this far towards its logical conclusion. All told, the Panther 2.0 is packing more desktop grade parts than it has laptop components. The Panther is a beast.
The first thing you'll notice about the Eurocom Panther 2.0 is the sheer size and heft of it. No one will ever confuse this monster with an ultraportable, no matter how blurry their eyes are. At 16.76 inches long, 11.44 inches wide and nearly two and a half inches thick, and weighing in at nearly 12 pounds fully equipped, the Panther 2.0 is a true DTR. For some perspective, you could fit four Macbook Airs inside the Panther's volume and still have space left over for a dozen iPhones. Quite simply, comparing the Panther 2.0 to most other DTRs puts them to shame.
While the Panther's proportions are almost comical, there is nothing funny about its design. The Panther 2.0 exudes quality and purpose, from the rock solid feel of the chassis to the brushed aluminum lid. While there is certainly a lot of plastic here as well, the internal structure is made of magnesium and the entire machine feels extremely sturdy. We suspect the LCD lid is only finished in aluminum and is mostly plastic underneath, but it felt very rigid and wasn't prone to flexing. The lid is attached by a pair of quality hinges with a very nice feel.
The body of the machine feels like a single solid block of plastic coated magnesium. The chassis has a structural rigidity rarely seen in consumer electronics. The overall feel of the machine is probably most comparable to a unibody Macbook Pro, it is that solid. The fit and finish of the Panther 2.0 is excellent as well. As previously mentioned, the top of the LCD lid is covered by two pieces of brushed aluminum separated by a shiny plastic insert that displays a blue LED backlit Eurocom logo. While most of the inside of the laptop like the LCD bezel and hinges are covered by shiny plastic, the entire palm rest is finished in brushed aluminum.
Taking a peak under the hood reveals a total of four blower style fans used to keep the components cool. Each blower sits on top of a copper heatsink with integrated heatpipes. The two units on the left of the image above are for the two graphics cards. The two units on the right are for the CPU and motherboard. At the top, above all this cooling hardware, are two banks of hard drive bays, as well as the battery and slim optical drive. The hard drive bay in the center supports two hard drives and the secondary bay in the corner sits above the optical drive. While the Panther 2.0 is capable of supporting up to four hard drives, equipping it with a fourth hard drive replaces the optical drive.
The battery is located on the opposite corner. The Panther 2.0 sports a 88.8 watt-hour battery, which would be pretty respectable for an ordinary laptop, or even an ordinary DTR. However, in the Panther, with its full-power desktop components, the battery barely manages over a half hour of battery life under medium load. Considering the Panther 2.0 is a "desktop replacement", you are better off thinking of the battery as a built-in UPS, in which case 30 minutes is quite reasonable. This machine simply shouldn't be used unplugged.
For such a well spec'd machine, you would expect the Panther to have a lot of connectivity options and it delivers in spades. All of the connections and ports are placed along the left and right sides except for the AC power connector which was wisely placed on the back. Along the left side of the machine are two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-out, HDMI-in, DVI, eSATA, IEEE1394b, S/PDIF, RJ-45 Ethernet and an all-in-one card reader. Along the right side of the machine are three USB 2.0 ports, headphone port, microphone port, line-in and audio-out. Of particular interest is the HDMI-input. This allows you to plug in an HDMI device to use the Eurocom's LCD screen as a standard monitor. The bank of four audio connections along the right side can also be used to output full surround sound.