Eurocom M98NU XCaliber Gaming Notebook Review

Introduction and Specifications

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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