Eurocom D901C Phantom-X
When it comes to the desktop replacement category of laptop PCs, users want the power and utility of a full-fledged computing rig without the hassle of being chained to a particular desk. Eurocom obliges with the D901C Phantom-X, a boxy behemoth that makes a few questionable compromises to deliver potent performance in a (theoretically) portable package.
Clad in an unassuming black shell reminiscent of classic business-centric Dell laptops, the Phantom-X won't win any beauty pageants. This laptop measures 15.9 by 11.9 by 2.4 inches and weighs 12 pounds, so it's likely to stay firmly rooted on a desk or table unless you plan to incorporate it into your weight-lifting regimen. And you'll want to have a power outlet nearby, as the Phantom-X clocks in a paltry 1 hour, 19 minutes when freed from its ingot-like power brick.
But desktop replacements are about performance, not portability or battery life, and the Phantom-X delivers power in spades. The model we tested sports a 3GHz Xeon Quad Core X3370 processor, 8GB of RAM, and two 80GB solid-state drives hosting Windows Vista (meanwhile a 7200-rpm 320GB hard-disk drive provides file storage space). Add to those components a pair of nVidia GeForce Go 9800M GTX graphics processors running in SLI, and you have a devastating combo. It posted a tantalizing score of 133 on our WorldBench 6 performance test suite. That alone makes it a speed king.
Meanwhile, on Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and Unreal Tournament III, this desktop replacement dominated. At high settings and a resolution of 1680 by 1050 pixels, the Phantom-X delivered frame rates of 48 frames per second and 87 fps, respectively. For perspective, consider the Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q708, which earned a scored of 100 on WorldBench 6, but notched frame rates of 52 fps and 75 fps on the two game tests. Eurocomm's machine can also run at an even higher resolution. Adjusted to its native setting of 1900 by 1200 pixels, it drove Unreal Tournament III at a respectable 50 fps. Its 17.1-inch screen is bright and clear under typical fluorescent lighting--more than adequate for extended gaming sessions.
The Phantom-X offers DVI and VGA ports, a 7-in-1 card reader, a combination Blu-Ray drive and DVD burner, a Webcam, S-Video input and output jacks, and a TV tuner, in addition to the standard modem, ethernet, Express Card, USB, and bluetooth options. Line-in, S/PDIF-Out, Mic and Headphone Jacks are lined up along the front of the case, which you'll likely be utilizing to supplement the two built-in speakers: these adequately play CDs and MP3s, but if you're looking for a bit of bass or hoping to capture the dulcet subtleties of weapons fire, you'll want to bring in your own set of speakers or headphones. For audio quality, Toshiba's Qosmio X305-Q708 still rules the roost.
The laptop stands on four stubby legs, and four fans run along the bottom of the frame, cycling out warm air. Even after extended use, the whirring of the fans remained reasonably quiet--louder than a whisper, but not bad. Though the machine runs fairly warm, it never gets uncomfortably hot: Park it on your lap, and you'll cut off the circulation to your legs long before you risk scorching yourself.
The Phantom-X's trackpad is adequate, but most gamers will want to swap in a proper gaming mouse anyway. In contrast, the machine's keyboard--a vital, permanent fixture--feels cramped. Though the full, proper number pad is a welcome addition, it leaves little breathing room for the rest of the system's keys, many of which--including the arrows and the all-important (for gaming) Function row--are undersize.
The Phantom-X lacks dedicated media shortcuts, forcing users to rely on function-button combinations. Another issue is questionable key placement, which can wreak havoc on the unwary. Take the Sleep hotkey, which lies sandwiched between hotkeys for lowering the volume and muting the sound. Tap the wrong key as you answer your phone, and you've suddenly suspended your laptop and dropped out of the World of Warcraft raid that was the centerpiece of your day. The Phantom-X sports a pair of programmable 'Game Keys' for setting up short macro commands, but programming them entails consulting the manual and finding an arcane (but essential) applet.
If your chief concerns are power and versatility, and you aren't fazed by the hefty price tag($5950) and the strictly utilitarian design, the Eurocom Phantom-X is worth a look. If you're a little more price-conscious, however, you might do better with an alternative such as the HP HDX18, the Gateway P-7811FX, or the Alienware m17, each of which delivers fairly good gaming performance at a fraction of the Phantom-X's cost.
Eurocom D901C Phantom-X
The Phantom-X packs plenty of power and versatility, but suffers from a lackluster layout and design.
- Packs a substantial amount of hardware
- A surprisingly quiet package
- Woefully cramped keyboard
- Pricey, no-frills chassis