Eurocom M98NU XCaliber Gaming Notebook Review

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Usage Experience



Unlike some systems that come pre-loaded with applications--many of which are useless to most users (often called "bloatware" or "crapware")--the M98NU XCaliber thankfully comes with few extras pre-installed. In fact, the bundled CyberLink PowerDVD and CyberLink DVD Suite aren't even pre-installed--if you want to watch Blu-ray movies or burn discs, you'll have to manually install the CyberLink software yourself from the included disc. A simple application ("BisonCap") comes preinstalled for accessing the webcam, and the installed Upek Protector Suite 2009 takes advantage of the notebook's biometric fingerprint reader. A simple "Game Key Configuration" app is included for recording key macros for the notebook's Game Keys; and a "Set Color Key" app resides in the taskbar for setting the interval for which the notebook's LED lights change color.

 

 

 BisonCap webcam software

 Upek Protector Suite 2009


 

 

 Game Key Configuration app

 Set Color Key app


For everyday use, to say that the M98NU XCaliber's 2.53GHz Core 2 Extreme QX9300 processor, 8GB of RAM, dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M GPUs, and 120GB SSD are overkill is an understatement. No matter what mainstream tasks you throw at this system, it is more than capable. When we played the Blue-ray version of I Am Legend, the system's CPU utilization never went above 20-percent, while the Iron Man DVD never peaked above 10-percent. It was only when played back the 1080p QuickTime trailer for Zombieland that we saw CPU utilizations head up to about 40-percent. Note that these percentages are the maximum we saw, and the average CPU utilizations during playback for these different video types were actually lower.

 CPU-Z: CPU

CPU-Z: Mainboard

 CPU-Z: SPD

 CPU-Z: Graphics


Image quality while watching these movies, as well as during game play, was excellent--being driven by the dual Nvidia GPUs and displayed on the 18.4-inch 1920x1080 screen. The display is glossy, which can suffer from distracting reflections, depending on the lighting environment under which it is being used.

 

 1080p QuickTime trailer for Zombieland


As to audio quality, we were initially underwhelmed by what we heard coming out the M98NU XCaliber's five speakers--two speakers on the front of the unit, two on the back, and a subwoofer located on the bottom of the unit. However, once we started tweaking the speaker settings--including changing the sound settings from the default Stereo setting to 5.1 Surround--we started to like what we heard, but we were still disappointed by the unit's bass response... Until, that is, we turned on the Dolby Natural Bass setting and cranked it up to the highest setting. Once we had the audio settings the way we liked, we were impressed by the quality and loudness of the audio for music, movies, and games, as well as okay bass response. The quality still doesn't compare to what you would get from a set of decent powered speakers, but it still outshines anything you'll hear from most other notebooks.


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