Riddle me this: When is a portable PC not a laptop? When it’s so heavy you’re afraid if you put it on your lap you’ll never be able to get up again. Though we wish Eurocom’s Panther 2.0 had shipped with a weightlifter’s belt, our testing left little doubt that the chiropractor bills will be worth it. This outlandishly large machine has the power and flexibility of a true no-compromise mobile workstation.
To be fair, in 1983 the original Compaq Portable weighed in at around 28 pounds—this behemoth weighs just 15 pounds, including the power supply. However, instead of a 9-inch monochrome monitor, you get a 17.3-inch, 1920x1080 pixel, LED-backlit display. That’s full HD resolution—combined with the Blu-ray player, five speakers, and a subwoofer, you’ve got yourself a portable movie theater, as well.
If performance trumps portability, this mobile workstation is the fastest, most flexible system you’ll find anywhere.
It’s not the 17-inch monitor, though, that sets this machine apart. The size and weight are necessary to support the power and features of a desktop PC. The rig is engineered to run desktop and workstation-class CPUs; our test system sported a Core i7-980X Extreme running at 3.33GHz with six cores, but the platform supports Xeon processors as well. Two AMD Radeon HD 6970M XT graphics cards, each with 2GB of GDDR5, work together with CrossFire technology.
Our test system included 12GB of RAM and two drives, one 256GB solid-state drive and one 500GB 7,200rpm hybrid drive. If that’s not enough, there’s room to expand with two more, and the system supports RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 configurations. Even the CPU and graphics cards can be upgraded; this is one of the most expandable and upgradeable mobile systems we’ve ever tested.
As you’d expect from those specs, the system blew through our tests. Whether in CPU, graphics, or I/O-intensive tasks, it will run with all but the top overclocked, gaming desktop machines. Upping the resolution on our Call of Duty 4 test to 1920x1080 didn’t even phase this system; it still delivered 191fps. The only test where it fell down was the battery drain test; we only made it through 30 minutes of a DVD before the battery gave up.
At 16.76x11.44x2.43 inches, the Panther’s as bulky as it is heavy. All of that surface area, though, is put to good use. The keyboard is large, with a separate numeric keypad. There are two USB 3.0 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, FireWire, DVI, HDMI-out, and HDMI-in so you can play your Xbox on the big screen.
When we tested the Malibal Nine X7200 built on the same platform (Holiday 2010), we gave it a Kick Ass award. The Panther 2.0 has even more impressive specs, easily earning the award. Its size, weight, and limited battery life make it appropriate for only a small subset of users, but its performance and flexibility define a new class of mobile gaming systems. $5,373 www.eurocom.com
Eurocom Panther 2.0
Desktop-class performance; room for four hard drives; upgradeable CPU and graphics.
Extremely heavy; very short battery life; no 990X?
3.3GHz Intel Core i7-980X
Micron 256GB SSD SATA 600 RealSSD C300, 500GB 7,200rpm hybrid, SATA 300
Hitachi-LG CT10N Blu-ray player
2x AMD Radeon HD 6970M XT, 2GB
17.3-inch, LED-backlit, 1920x1080
HDMI out, HDMI in, DVI, Ethernet, two USB 3.0, three USB 2.0, eSATA, FireWire, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, headphone, mic, line-in, S/PDIF out, media reader, webcam, fingerprint sensor
13 lb, 3.2 oz / 16 lbs, 8.7 oz
Eurocom Panther 2.0
Premiere Pro CS3 (sec)
Photoshop CS3 (sec)
Proshow Producer (sec)
Far Cry (fps)
Call of Duty 4 (fps)
Our zero-point notebook is an Asus G73Jw-A1 with a 1.73GHz Intel Core i7-740QM, 8GB DDR3/1066, two 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drives, a GeForce GTX 460M, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. Far Cry 2 tested at 1680x1050 with 4x AA; Call of Duty tested at 1680x1050 with 4x AA and 4x anisotropic filtering.