The highest-performing CPU isn't just for desktop rigs
When AVADirect offered to send us a Core i7 notebook, we said, hell yeah, and immediately cleared off space in the Lab—a lot of space, because the D900F not only sports a powerful desktop CPU but also the powerfully large proportions you’d expect from a desktop replacement. At 15.5x11.75x2.5 inches with a carry weight of nearly 15 pounds, the D900F is portable in only the loosest sense of the word. You certainly wouldn’t want to lug this thing around on a regular basis.
What it offers instead is the best damn applications performance we’ve ever seen from a notebook. That’s primarily due to the machine’s 3.33GHz Core i7-975 Extreme Edition proc, but the two 80GB Intel X25-M SSDs in RAID 0 no doubt also help. The closest-performing notebook we’ve tested—Lenovo’s W700 ThinkPad, with its 2.53GHz Core 2 Extreme Q9300—was more than 50 percent slower than the D900F in our Premiere Pro CS3 and Photoshop CS3 benchmarks, and more than 80 percent slower in ProShow Producer and MainConcept. Indeed, in all those tests, the D900F was within 10 percent of the 3.6GHz Velocity Micro desktop system that held our desktop benchmark records for months until Maingear’s 4GHz ePhex unseated it in August.
The D900F's Clevo body has no trouble accommodating the highest-performing Core i7--it ran Prime 95 for 24 hours without incident.
While the D900F isn’t intended to be a gaming notebook, per se, we’d expect a desktop replacement, particularly one at this price, to serve all of our needs, not just work chores. In our standard gaming benchmarks, the D900F blew away the competition—including notebooks with CrossFire graphics—in Quake 4, but performed only average in FEAR. We don’t hold its FEAR score against it as FEAR has grown increasingly unreliable and we’re retiring it this month. To gather more usable information, we also tested the D900F with Far Cry 2 and Call of Duty 4, where we achieved respectable frame rates of 34.5 and 68.9, respectively, with the resolution set to 1680x1050 (down from the native 1920x1200) and visual quality at the highest settings. The D900F likely wouldn’t satisfy the needs of a hardcore gamer, but then again, we don’t know of any mobile graphics solution that would.
Aiding its mission as a desktop replacement, the D900F is generously appointed for entertainment purposes. It’s equipped with a Blu-ray reader, the notebook’s four speakers put out good sound, the screen’s glossy surface adds vibrancy to movies and games, and the port selection includes HDMI, a front-mounted headphone jack, and a 7.1 channel S/PDIF output. There’s even a cable port (although our model was not equipped with a TV tuner card).
Those features along with useful others such as an ExpressCard slot, a media reader, a webcam, four USB ports, and eSATA make the D900F a well-rounded machine. Again, this isn’t the machine for a road warrior—besides being cumbersome, the D900F’s 12-cell battery couldn’t run a movie for much more than an hour on a full charge. But if space issues have you considering an alternative to a full desktop setup, or if you need a machine you can occasionally take with you, the D900F is a solid choice.
Core i7 performance; feature-packed; decent for games.
At 15 pounds it's hardly portable; battery life sucks; expensive.
Premiere Pro CS3
Our zero point notebook uses a 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo E6700, 2GB of DDR2/667 RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a GeForce Go 8600M, and Windows Vista Home Premium.
3.33GHz Core i7-975 Extreme Edition
Two 80GB Intel X25-M SSDs in RAID 0, 500GB Seagate ST9500420AS (7,200rpm)
Matshita BD-CMB UJ130AS MD ROM / DVD+/-RW
Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M
DVI, HDMI, Ethernet, modem, eSATA, FireWire, three analog in/out, S/PDIF out, four USB, 7-in-1 media reader, ExpressCard