EUROCOM X817 Nov, 2014 By: Art Liddle
Editor's note: This review is part of a Cadalyst Labs Report. Read "Mobile CAD Workstations Priced Under $2,500" to learn how this model compares to the others included in the product roundup.
In March 2013 we reviewed Eurocom's Panther 4.0 mobile workstation, which carried a price tag of $7,983 — out of reach for many of us. This time around, with our limitation of $2,500, we were curious to see how Eurocom would respond.
The EUROCOM X8 mobile workstation is a bit larger, and heavier, than the other 17.3" systems in our roundup. It measures 16.5" x 11.6" x 2" and weighs 9 lbs. Its case, which is matte black, has some sculpted edges and a pair of red "tail lights" to give the system some flair. Its power brick is also larger and heavier, measuring 8.3" x 4.5" x 2" and weighing 3.5 lbs. When you place the system and power supply in a carrying case (not included) you'll be carrying more than 14 pounds of equipment.
The EUROCOM X8 offers top performance, maximum storage capacity, and strong battery performance.
Fortunately, the EUROCOM X8 also set the bar in three more desirable ways for this roundup: top mark for total CAD performance, top index score for the Cadalyst benchmark, and maximum expansion capacity. Keep this in mind whenever you're carrying this system around: This kind of computing power and expansion capacity cannot be squeezed into a small, light package.
The graphics card for the EUROCOM X8 is the NVIDIA Quadro K3100M. This powerful, and popular, card includes 4 GB of GDDR5 memory. In combination with the appropriate monitors and the new DisplayPort 1.2 capabilities, this card will drive a total of three external displays using daisy-chained connections. However, its 17.3" LED-backlit display panel (120-Hz refresh rate) and antiglare matte finish and maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 (full HD), should meet the needs of most AutoCAD users. The display's image is bright, the viewing angle wide, and the colors seem accurate.
Eurocom chose Intel's Core i7-4810MQ processor for the EUROCOM X8. This chip includes a 6-MB level 3 cache with four cores and eight threads (virtual processors). Its base speed is 2.8 GHz, with a Turbo mode that bumps the clock speed to 3.8 GHz maximum. The speed adjusts internally based on system demands. Typically, the fewer the virtual processors active, the faster the CPU speed.
The EUROCOM X8 has four 204-pin SODIMM sockets for system memory. Two of these are filled with 8-GB 1,600-MHz DIMMs, for a total of 16 GB. The system supports a maximum of 32 GB. There is ample file storage provided by two drives: a primary Micron mSATA 120-GB solid-state drive and a secondary 1-TB SATA3 (7,200-rpm, 6 Gb/sec) hard disk drive. The external drive bay holds an 8X DVD+/-RW (dual layer) burner. Now, here's an amazing thing about the EUROCOM X8: there are still two drive bays available for additional storage space. The real advantage of the additional storage is it lets you get serious about RAID options with either maximum performance (striped drives) or fault tolerance (mirrored drives). This last option is a must-have for me personally.
Not surprisingly, the EUROCOM X8 has a full-size keyboard with dedicated number pad. The keys are backlit, and you can adjust the brightness and customize the color. There is a touchpad with two buttons, as well as a fingerprint reader off to the side. The touch pad surface is textured with little bumps, something we prefer to the standard slick surfaces of most notebook touch pads. A pair of Onkyo stereo speakers and a subwoofer provide sound for the system.
When it comes to connectivity options, the EUROCOM X8 includes the aforementioned DisplayPort 1.2 connection, a mini DisplayPort 1.2 connection, an HDMI video output, three USB 3.0 ports (one powered), one USB 2.0 port, four audio ports, a Firewire-400 connection, a 9-in-1 card reader, a standard network connector, and a Thunderbolt port — a combination DisplayPort 1.2 and high speed connection (double USB 3.0 specs). An internal adapter supports the 802.11b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0 standards.
For our performance testing, we used a combination of the Cadalyst c2015 benchmark running AutoCAD 2015, and SPECviewperf 11. As usual, we enabled hardware acceleration for AutoCAD, turned off the graphics card's vertical sync, and set the screen resolution to 1,280 x 1,024 (32-bit color). Eurocom chose Microsoft's Windows 8.1 Professional 64-bit operating system.
The EUROCOM X8's Cadalyst c2015 benchmark scores were as follows: total index = 571, 3D graphics index = 1,372, 2D graphics index = 404, disk index = 240, and CPU index = 268. The test results for the SPECviewperf 11 suite of tests, single sample mode only, were as follows: 55.27 for catia-03, 42.18 for ensight-04, 77.61 for lightwave-01, 113.32 for maya-03, 17.70 for proe-05, 61.43 for sw-02, 46.96 for tcvis-02, and 46.34 for snx-01 — producing an average score of 58. The EUROCOM X8's total combined score for the two benchmarks was 629 — tops for this review — earning an A+ for CAD performance on our report card.
The last thing we checked was the battery performance while running the 1,000-loop option of the c2015 benchmark. The EUROCOM X8 includes an 8-cell (89 WH) smart lithium-ion battery. After multiple runs, we found the battery lasted an average of 129 minutes, again tops for the roundup for its class (17.3").
The Whole Package
The EUROCOM X8 proved to be the fastest mobile computer in this roundup. It offers the most storage capacity and the best battery life of any of the 17.3" systems. Eurocom provides a one-year return-to-factory-depot warranty, and one year of technical support; return claims must be made within 5 days and there is a restocking charge of 25% or $35 dollars applied to returned merchandise. The fact that the price for the EUROCOM X8, as configured for this review, is only $2,448 (with ground shipping) is surely the icing on the cake. Highly Recommended.