Eurocom M5 Pro Review (970M)

Clevo 970M punch

++ Main reason to consider:

The combination of very high gaming performance / price, running all games on highest or almost highest settings@1080p, with extra features like very good IPS display, lots of ports (eSata, mini DP, usb 3.0), upgrading options (Sata and M.2) and good enough keyboard. Add to that Eurocom’s 10% off for students and you get a very competitive and powerful gaming laptop for the price.

-- Main reason to avoid:

Close competition from below and above – not the cheapest with 970M as the NP8651 is a good option too for $1270 (but without an IPS and I wouldn’t recommend) and from above the GT60/Asus G751 have their advantages too.

Availability
Pro : + Very good performance / price with GTX 970M and I7-4710HQ
+ GTX 970M + I7 pretty much runs all games on highest or almost highest settings totally smooth with high FPS rates
+ Very good bright 1080p AHVA display with high contrast, very good viewing angles and colors
+ Case, palm rests and keyboard surfaces do not get hot and bottom is kept cool mostly too
+ Lightweight compared to the others with 970M GPU at ~2.6kg
+ No GPU throttling and no to minor CPU throttling (down to 2.4-2.5GHZ, the least) under gaming
+ Nice slim looks with obvious thought invested into the looks, refining the angles. Looks really nice.
+ Eurocom's 10% off for students makes it the cheaper with IPS display
+ Keyboard is not perfect, but good enough and typing is easy on the fingers with almost perfect tactile feedback
+ Enough storage space - 2xSata and 2xM.2 ports easily accessed
+ Lots of connection port - 2xmini DP, eSata, 3xUSB 3.0, SIM, SPD/IF, HDMI
+ Quiet under light load
+ 4-4.5 hours of battery under light load
Con : - Speakers are between bad and average
- Body may not be rigid enough for some (I'm ok with its level though)
- There are cheaper GTX 970M machines
- Space between touchpad buttons and body can invite dust in
- Spaces between other parts of the body are prawn to dust and stuff
- Two of the memory banks are on the other side of the motherboard
- The two Sata bays are one above the others - might invite issues like too high temps around the HDDs (not a huge deal)
- Speakers max volume isn't very high - found myself cranking it to the max in more than a few instances where recorded volume is low
- [Minor] Throttling under full load of Prime95 + Furmark
More Reviews :

Introduction

Eurocom M5 (P650SE) front and display

The Eurocom M5 Pro is Eurocom’s latest top 15.6″ gaming laptop. It’s based on the Clevo P650SE barebone, much like the Sager NP8651. Unlike the Sager NP8651 or the base P650SE sold here and there, the M5 Pro comes with the 1080p AHVA AUO B156HAN01.2 as a default and not with an 1080p TN panel (the NP8651 can be upgraded though) and also, it sports the TPM 2.0 which is used by software to provide some security functionality more seriously.
The M5 Pro is offered with a GTX 970M 3GB or 980M 4GB for now. My unit comes with a GTX 970M as I think it would be more interesting for a larger group of people. The price of $1380 (+shipping) is adequate and expected for this machine, but it does not include OS. Other 970M equipped machines, like the GT60, cost more in accordance. The cheaper Sager NP8651 which is selling for around $1270, does not include an IPS as a default screen (+$45) nor the TPM chip, but other than that and branding, they are pretty much identical.
So, the M5 Pro offers an I7-4710HQ CPU + GTX 970M GPU performance level for $1400, including an IPS display, 2xSATA bays, 2xM.2 ports, 4 memory banks, a lot of ports like eSata, 4xUSB 3.0 (one is combo with the eSata), 2xmini DP and HDMI, that’s a big chunk of ports which might be useful for some. All these qualities together make the M5 Pro a very interesting amd powerful machine for $1400. We’ll see what it’s downsides and advantages in this review, but I must add that it would be hard to compare it to the new GT60 as it is a bit unknown currently, but we’ll compare it to the previous generation with GTX 870M as it’s pretty close to the new one.

I want to add one important thing that makes the M5 Pro more interesting than some of the others like the GT60/70 and Asus G751 – 10% off for students. This discount makes it a very good deal for those who don’t need the OS pre-installed. That will make the M5 Pro ~16%/$250 cheaper than the GT60/70 and the Asus’ machines.

ComponentDescription
PriceBasic version: $1375 (USD)
Test: $1384 (upgrade to 2x4GB 1866MHZ Corsairs)
CPUI7-4710HQ (2.5GHZ-3.5GHZ, 47W)
GPUNvidia Geforce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5, 1280 shadars core@1037MHZ, GDDR5@1250MHZ, 192-bit bus

In my unit - revision FF
RAMCorsair 2x4GB DDR3@1866MHZ
4 banks of memory available, two at each side of the motherboard
StorageHDD : WD HGST HTS725050A7E630 (non SSHD), 7200RPM, 32MB cache


LCD PanelIn review: 1080p 15.6", AUO B156HAN01, AHVA, 30-pin eDP, 88/88/88/88viewing angles.
Weight / Dimensions~2.6kg / 5.72 lbs
385 x 271 x 25 mm
15.4" x 10.84" x 1.0"
(w x d x h)
Keyboardwhite backlit, 3 levels
Connection Portsright side: 2xUSB 3.0, Kensington Lock, microphone/headphones/S/PDIF, ethernet, 6-in-1 card reader, SIM card slot,
Front: card reader
Left: 2xmini DP 1.2, 1xUSB 3.0 (powered), 1xHDMI 1.4
Rear: e-Sata/USB 3.0 combo port, power-in
Camera1080p, 30FPS camera
WiFi / EthernetWiFi: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8723BE PCI-E
Ethernet: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Speakers2.0 "Onkyo" speakers above the keyboard surface
Battery4 cell, 62Wh
Bios / EC version (test unit)1.03.02 /
Extra featuresEmbedded TPM 2.0
more details

Build quality, Case, design and looks

Good enough. The case itself is not totally firm, but it will withstand high enough pressure, more than needed for the usual case. Also, the motherboard is not too close to the case plastic, so even a small flex won’t hurt the inner parts almost definitely. The screen outer lid is not totally sturdy, as in many other laptops, but it’s bent outside and small pressure does not affect the panel inside itself, so some effective protection exists in the M5.

The keyboard and touchpad surfaces won’t easily yield and are good enough for quick typing as far as sturdiness goes.

However, there are some points that might be a problem – the touchpad surface itself is not spaced from the main case body, but the touchpad button are, and that might cause problems with dust and food and other stuff getting in. Same goes for the keyboard keys, but maybe the structure itself prevents dust and liquid entering the space beyond the keys themselves, like in the thinkpads.

The screen hinges do not feel weak.

Looks

Clevo did some work on the P650SE case, making it a little more metallic in looks (some brushed metal finish on the outer lid and bottom surface around the touchpad) and also added some more refined angles to the case, giving it a feel of immature spaceship. The machine outer lid has a metalic finish and generally the M5 Pro looks stylish, rather slim for a high end gaming laptop and modern.

Maintenance and inner parts

It’s easy to open the backplate – just remove 10-15 screws and you are good to go. What will be revealed to you are two ram banks, two sata connection ports, two M.2 connection ports, battery, CPU, GPU and their heatsink, Wifi Card and other stuff. You’ll notice that the GPU has two fans working to suck the heat out of the GPU cooling system and one for the CPU. The CPU and GPU have two separated cooling systems and heatpipe. I’m not sure this is the right way to do things as the CPU will get high heated and throttled and the GPU barely scratches high temps in my test (63C max in Crysis 3, for example).

The two Sata connection ports are placed one above the other and I’m not sure how safe it is, and though I guess that if you can hold it firmly in its place, it should be ok, I’m also guessing that the HDDs might get a little warm in this small room for both of them.

The CPU and GPU are not replaceable and you cannot change the GPU or CPU later on, in a non-Clevo fasion.

 

Keyboard and touchpad

Keyboard. In short, not great, but good. Keys tactile feedback exists to some good extent, but I feel like it should be much more pronounced as I’m finding myself clicking the keys too hard. The keys also very much held firmly with clear pressure points and I could type rapidly with ease. The keyboard is relatively quiet and generally I’m content with it. The keyboard is backlit with three level – off, low and high and provides enough backlit for typing in the dark( mooahahaha ). The keys surface, maybe, could be more gentle for the finger in such a premium model.

Touchpad. Basic, but works well. The surface itself again could be more gentle for the fingertips. Buttons respond well too, but as I mentioned in the build quality section, the space between the button and the case main body might be too inviting for stuff to get it and make trouble, as time goes on and we’re getting older and drunker.

Sound & Speakers

Same thing as with the other “Onkyo” Clevo speakers – shallow, in-box, bassless sound. Don’t expect to enjoy the fullness of your music music with itand don’t be surprised if stuff sounds very different with other speakers.

General subjective performance experience

The M5 Pro in its basic form comes with a 500GB 7200RPM HDD. It’s felt that it’s not a 5400RPM basic HDD, but I’d rather have some SSHD or small M.2 drive for the OS and stuff like that, as it is not smooth. However, I don’t think that it is necessary to pay for it ahead if you can maange installing your own OS or cloning the existing one.

Otherwise, I’m pretty ok with the M5 Pro.

Gaming Performance

Test Methods & Drivers

OS is Windows 8.1 fully updated and drivers in use are the Nvidia 344.75.

All the games I’ve tested have been tested on 1080p resolution only. Currently no higher resolution devices are available to me and frankly, I don’t think that there is need for more than 1080p for 15.6″ or maybe a little more than that, like 2560×1440 or 2560×1600 should be perfect for gaming, at most.

 

Synthetic 3D benchmarks

Should I add anything else?

Eurocom M5 P650SE 970M 3DMark

Summarized gaming performance

First of all, lets overview the performance for highest settings@1080p across the board:

Eurocom M5 Pro Review Gaming  performance

 

The 970M runs all these games on 30FPS and up, on highest/almost highest settings@1080p and for most of them considerably higher FPS than that. Now, for the more interesting part, comparing performance between the 850M DDR3 (Electra 2), 860M + I7 (notebookcheck), 870M (notebookcheck) and 970M (Eurocom M5 Pro). I’ve used built-in benchmarks and for Crysis 3 I’ve used the notebookcheck way of testing. The 850M DDR3 was thrown into the mix in order to understand what you are giving up when you are going with a 850M compared to a 970M (like getting the Asus N550JK):

970M vs 870m vs 860m vs 850m ddr3 performance 970M vs 870m vs 860m vs 850m ddr3 relative performance

These results are simple average and not very accurate – different games have different results – but they give us some idea. So, if we look on the difference in percentage, we’ll see that :

a. The 970M is around 2-2.5 faster on average than the 850M DDR3. So when you’re getting the Asus N550JK for example, for $900-$950, it is considerably less cost effective than the P650SE for $1300-$1350, especially when keeping in mind that you’ll get the same screen quality (with the M5 Pro, for other Clevo P650SE you’ll have to add it as an upgrade)

b. Compared to the last generation second-place champion, the 870M, the new GTX 970M is around 35% faster on average. Looking at the benchmarks above reveals (too dramatic?)  that in some games you’d get even up to 40-50% advantage with the 970M. And keep in mind that it comes for the same price or almost the same price, and lower power consumption. That’s the jump from Kepler to Maxwell II (and ofcourse the market play).

c. Compared to the $900-$1000 section best/more interesting gaming laptops which all have a GTX 860M (forget about BF deals), the 970M is around 80% faster, making it a lot more cost effective. The cheapest GTX 860M equipped laptops I’ve seen so far was selling for around $800 (Y50 I5, CyberpowerPC HX6-105, Shark 3.0), making them almost as cost effective as far as gaming performance / price goes, but not too close. Moreover, none had such a good IPS display. The VN7-591G with an IPS display was selling for $900.

So, conclusion, beyond that it’s a very fast and power efficient chip (compared to previous generations), is that it’s more cost effective compared to not only the 870M it replaces, but also compared to the sweet spot of GTX 860M for $800-$1000.

Borderlands 2

With everything on, running and jumping and shooting and dying at the “boom” scene with a lot of particles, the 970M doesn’t even scratches and you’ll get almost 60FPS as a minimum and well above that on average.

Crysis 3

Crysis 3 runs well on very high settings @ 1080p with MSAAx2 (changed that from the usual SMAAx2TX test). Using SMAAx2TX instead, the FPSs are much higher and gameplay smoother.

My experience was pretty good with both settings. The new TXAA looks better, but more taxing

Skyrim

Skyrim is no problem for the 970M at 1080p. Setting Ambient Occlusion on “quality” is fine for the 970M and Skyrim will still run at above 60FPS.

Thief

For some reason, the minimal FPSs for Thief built-in benchmark remains low and around the same level even for medium settings (“normal”) – might another bug or inefficiency.

Anyway, the gameplay was smooth even at the highest settings, I’ll upload some videos soon

Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein runs pretty well on 1080p and totally smooth. The 62FPS is the 60FPS cap rseult. The 15FPS is probably at some point where I tabbed out of the game or something – I didn’t have such low FPSs at any point.

Total War : Rome II

The I7 + 970M handle well Total War : Rome II at highest settings@1080p with high average of 40+ FPS.

While running the game on highest settings, the FPSs weren’t as high as 45FPS when a lot of units were in sight but more like 25-30 FPS, which is still good for such a game on highest settings. Future updates might make it better, I think.

Battlefield 4 Campaign

On Ultra settings@1080p the minimal FPS is 40+ with very high average. That’s excellent. Nothing more to say really..

Battlefield 4 Multiplayer

Battlefield 4 Multiplayer with ~60 players was not too heavy for the I7 + 970M, however I must say that I barely succeeded in getting into situations when I actually see a lot of players directly, so it was probably not very taxing for the CPU and GPU.

But it is a realistic scenario for gamers and you can feel safe about BF4 MP gaming (not that I think that ultra settings are a must anyway)

League of Legends

League of Legends didn’t even maxed the CPU and GPU which were both underutilized. Minimal FPSs are around 63FPS which is very good and gameplay was very smooth.

UPDATE: seems like the CPU clocks were far from high for some reason (windows bug?), so I retested with ThrottleStop running, keeping clocks at 2.8GHZ. Resutls now are much higher

Eurocom M5 Pro Review League of Legends performance

Dota 2

Don’t know why the I7 + 970M don’t get higher FPSs than that in Dota 2 as I got higher FPSs with slower GPUs before, so it might be some software issue. Anyway, FPSs are high and good.

UPDATE: same as LoL – had tested again with fixed CPU clocks (2.8GHZ) and results are higher.

Eurocom M5 Pro Review Dota 2 performance 2

Borderlands The Pre-Sequel

Seems much like Borderlands 2 3D engine and results are also around the same. The Pre-Sequel might be a little bit more heavier, but graphics looks the same to me.

One thing, though, while gaming I saw that in some scenes the FPSs drop real low and upon checking the HWInfo info, I saw that one CPU core is maxed out by BL:TPS. It seems like this one really uses mainly one core of the CPU and it might get choked by it too, although the I7 cores is not really a slow core. An current AMD core might be more choking (but let’s wait for the Carrizo CPUs)

Alien : Isolation

This new and supposedly scary game is not really a matter for the 970M and not for much slower GPUs like the 850M. Runs well on highest settings, what else to say..

World of Tanks

For some reason, I’ve found myself throwing away too many hours on this game (not with this machine though, don’t worry). It’s nice to have your own tank.

FPSs are excellent even at highest settings@1080p with FXAA on and all the extra effects. It’s a bit strange that even on medium settings, the minimal FPS remain around the same. Anyway, runs great.

Team Fortress 2

Couldn’t get good readings on minimal FPS for some reason, but the average is very high and is about x2.5 the 850M DDR3 results from the Electra 2.

Civilization : Beyond Earth

I think the minimal FPSs are mainly at some point of loading or something like that, but not sure

Eurocom M5 Pro Review 970M Civilization Beyond Earth performance

Bioshock Infinite

Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling

As described before, the GPU and CPU both have two separated cooling systems and heatpipes with the CPU having a single fan and the GPU two fans which only one of the,m spins under light load. Cool air sucked from the bottom of the machine (hence, it’s important to keep its bottom above the sitting surface) and is thrown fromthe left and rear ventilation holes.

Four tests:

1. Idle, power saver mode

2. Crysis 3 and BF4 MP gameplay. “very high” settings with SMAAx2 For Crysis 3, “Ultra” for BF4. Both at 1080p resolution. “High performance” power mode.

3. Prime95 torture test. “High performance” power mode.

4. Prime95 + Furmark on 1280×720 test, AAx2. “High performance” power mode.

5. Prime95 and Prime95 + Furmark tested again with CPU -50mV and -100mV CPU voltage.

Eurocom M5 Pro temperatures performance mode

*** UPDATE:

I’ve mistakebly used “quiet” mode instead “performance” mode in the Clevo Control Center. Using “performance” mode, there is no GPU throttling and no to minor CPU throttling even under full load of Prime95 + Furmark. Also, fan speed is higher.

Moreover, you can set the fan speed to Maximum via the Clevo Control Center to reduce temperatures even more.

***

You can see that CPU is in trouble here, getting to high temperatures even without Furmark working. This graph doesn’t show it, but under full load (Prime95 + Furmark) or Prime95 without any clocks/volt modifications, the CPU would automatically throttle (check update above) due to going pass the TDP limitation. See more info about that in the throttling section.

However, under gaming conditions you won’t have any problem and the M5 Pro / P650SE handle itself good enough.

Note: It’s a bit colder here now, so you might get somewhat higher temperatures in a more sunny weather. Anyway, I waited for the temps to be more stable before taking a read.

Heat

The M5 Pro / P650SE designed well enough so the case upper part itself does not get hot and there’s no problem using the keyboard, touchpad and palm rests even under the highest load. The bottom gets a little more hot, but nothing crucial. That’s one advantage of not-so-thin laptops.

Throttling

*** UPDATE:

I was mistakebly using the “Quiet” profile from Clevo via their Control Center application. That was the cause to much of the automatic throttling I observed – GPU throttle disappeared completely and CPU kept much higher clocks, with a minimum of 2.1GHZ and an average of 2.3-2.4GHZ, at the least. However, it’s much louder.

I’ve observed no advantage in gaming (Metro LL, Bioshock), but for long periods of gaming and in a hotter season, the throttling might be more noticeable and you’d want to set the M5 Pro to “Performance” mode.

I would still use the “quite” mode mostly, because you’ll get close to 100% 3D performance in gaming and a much quiter experience.

***

In short, the CPU does throttle under full load, mainly due to TDP limitations in this case. If you need high CPU performance for long periods (rendering big projects, for example), reducing the clocks to 2.7-2.8GHZ with ThrottleStop (link to ThrottleStop) or downvolting the CPU or increasing max TDP limitation would prevent throttling up to some point – both can be done with Intel XTU (link).

The I7-4710MQ in my case was throttled mainly because of TDP limitations, so increasing the TDP limitations would help, but will also result in higher temperatures. I guess that a Broadwell CPU update would help a lot (should be here around Spring 2015, according to Intel).

Under Full load, I couldn’t really escape throttling, which is unclear to me why (see update above). Even when setting the clocks to 2.4-2.6GHZ which under those settings, the CPU TDP does not go over the 47W limit and not even close to it, I’d still get a throttling effect. I think this behavior is configured in the bios, and for these settings I have no access to. I’m waiting for the unlocked modded bios update from Tech|Infernos’ Prema.

However, under gaming conditions, no throttling was observed and you’d get max 3D performance.

Here are the settings I’ve tried:

GPU throttle CPU throttle
Idle No (=not at all) No (= no to minor)
Prime95 No No
Prime95 Maximum fan speed No No
Prime95 2.6GHZ +Furmark No Yes
Prime95 + furmark No Yes
Prime95 -56mV No Partial – 2.4-2.5GHZ average
Prime95 -100mV No No
Prime95 + furmark cpu -56mV No No
Prime95 + furmark cpu -100mV No No
Crysis 3 No No
BF4 MP No No

Even -100mV downvolt and limiting the clocks to 2.5GHZ didn’t prevent the throttling, even though the TDP limitation was kept under 47W and temps weren’t high either, leading me again to think it is some kind of programmed behavior which was not well thought (and again, maybe an unlocked bios or bios update ould fix these problems).  I didn’t tried to raise the the TDP limit AND limiting the clocks alltogether, because I fill that’s something almost no one will do.  Moreover, as said above, under gaming you’d get the highest 3D performance, which is what this machine aimed at. (See update above)

With “Performance” profile :

 

With “Quiet” profile :

 

Noise

Under light load / watching movies you won’t hear a thing and the cooling system does a good job being quiet and efficient. Anyway, you can change behavior through the HotKey control center.

Under high load or gaming, the fans will spin faster and will be audible, but not to such extent as to be too annoying, using “quiet” mode. If you’ll use the “performance” mode, you’ll hear the fans changing between medium and high speeds.

Screen & Screen quality

The M5 Pro basic screen option is the AUO B156HAN01.2 which is a pretty good and known 1080p AHVA display. I’m very content with it in the M5 Pro – high contrast and brightness, good colors and very good viewing angles. It’s the same one in use in some other laptops like the Asus N550JK.

Viewing angles are very good, with colors and brightness at minimal distort:

 

93% sRGB coverage, and good contrast@brightness ratio. At a very common setting of 50% brightness, you’d get a very low black level of 0.18. It’s also something you’d feel – easy reading and writing using this display. Color accuract (post-calibration) is good for normal use.

 

ContrastBrightnessBlack levels
780 258 0.33
sRGBadobeRGBNTSC
93 69 64

Battery Performance

Under light load of web browsing via WiFi, you’d get around 4-4.5 hours of use, which is nice, but it’s mainly due to the high capacity of the 62Wh battery and not the efficiency of the machine (around 15W/h).

Under very low work load or idling (no WiFi, low screen brightness, no backlighted keyboard), you could squeeze around 5.5 hours of juice.

Eurocom M5 Pro Review : Battery

 

GPU Overlocking

I’ve used MSI AfterBurner (version 4.0 currently) to do that and these are the settings:

1. 970M core@1140MHZ (+106MHZ overclock) which is around 10% overclock

Couldn’t overclock the VRAM to 10% as it crashed time after time when running any game. The core overclock was pretty stable and only once Crysis 3 crashed, but I’m not sure if the overclock was the reason.

 

overclocked 970M performance difference overclocked 970M performance difference in percentage

 

Well, as in my GTX 860M overclocking results, Thief didn’t respond (what? why? something’s phishy). BF4 got a performance advantage at around the same rate of the overclock (there are variations for each run of the scene) and Crysis 3 did get a nice boost.

However, I’m not sure how much room for overclocking is there really for the 970M.

Issues

Competing gaming laptops / Alternatives

  • Other GTX 970M gaming machines:

    • MSI GT60 Domintaor with GTX 970M, I7 and 1080p IPS display for $1500 before coupons (don’t see coupons currently). It comes with an ac Wifi card as a default, installed OS, better speakers and has better thermals under full load. However, if you don’t need the OS, the Clevo based 970M equipped machines are more cost effective almostin any case
    • Sager NP8651 (Amazon w/OS, XoticPC – no OS, many others like LPC digital). Same Clevo P650SE barebone – might be cheaper even with the IPS display upgrade, but does not include the thermal paste upgrade to Diamond 24 as a default nor the TPM 2.0. With all these upgrades, it will cost the same
    • Asus G751JT 17.3″ with 16GB RAM, 1080p IPS, I7-4710HQ, probably better cooling, but much heavier. A good competitor for those who want a 17.3″ gaming laptop anyway

     

    On the other side of things, the GTX 860M is fast enough to run many games on very high settings@1080p and the VN7-591G (Newegg) or one of the other $1000 gaming laptops with an 1080p IPS display, GTX 860M and I7-4710HQ for $900-$1000 ($900 on BF) will be enough for most.

Conclusion

Well, few things.Let’s talk about the M5 as 970M machine and also if it’s a good deal for gamers.

One. The M5 Pro is a good machine in my opinion, for gamers. You get the maximal performance of I7 and GTX 970M with a very good 1080p IPS display, good enough keyboard and nice looks. Lots of connection ports and optional storage spaces of two SATA and two M.2 ports. The M5 Pro also features two default extras – TPM 2.0 chip and Diamond 24 thermal paste for the CPU. The I7 + GTX 970M will run almost any current game on highest or close to highest settings@1080p, so you are left with very little to desire for in that front. For $1375 that’s a good deal as except good speakers you get a very complete package with little to complain about. True, there is a chance for throttling under very high load, but that’s hardly the case in gaming and even under very high CPU + GPU load the M5 Pro handles itself well.

Two, the competition and your needs. Well, first of all, what bothers me most is that, if you think about it, the GTX 860M is good enough for you and there are $900-$1000 machines with IPS display (or easily replaceable display) with 860M. Maybe not with as much features as the M5 (and other 970M equipped machines), but with good enough 3D performance and enough features, like the VN7-591G with 860M, 1080p IPS, I7 (check competitors section). You can get a machine that will run your games and stuff on very high settings@1080p for less and have niceties like IPS display, do you really need more?

Now, about the competition – the GT60, Asus G751 and Sager NP8651 all close on the M5 Pro from below and above and the Sager NP8651 with same upgrades costs the same. The GT60 and Asus G751 both have their advantages and disadvantages with no clear winner, especially if you want an OS included in the price. It’s hard to say the any of them is the best 970M equipped laptop as it depends on your needs and discounts. But Eurocom has one Ace in its sleeves – 10% off for students. With this ongoing discount, you’ll get the cheapest 970M equipped machine that also has IPS display, opening a gap of $250 compared to the GT60/70 and Asus G751 machines if you don’t need the OS, which is 20% price difference and makes the M5 totally worth it over the others.

 

So, bottom line, as a 970M machine it’s a very good machine with little to really complain about. If you want a 970M equipped machine and don’t need an OS and/or have use for the TPM 2.0 security functionality, then it’s a very good option and with Eurocom’s 10% off for students that’s the most cost effective 970M + IPS machine given that you don’t need an OS (and even if you do) and you’ll get the TPM and Diamond 24 thermal paste extras.
However, one good question is whether you really think that you need that much 3D power. The 860M, as said above, is good enough for most 1080p gamers and the 970M is about the turning point, in my opinion and according to benchmarks, where 1080p gaming is no more a too much for the hardware (which is good for gamers) – not sure everyone “needs” that much power and as always my recommendation would be really to first figure out what you want and really need (as far as gaming / 3D power). If you’ve decided that you want a 970M machine, the the M5 Pro is a good option and if you are a student or can find one that will buy it for you, you’ve got a hell of a deal in your hands and I’d totally recommend it. Otherwise, there are cheaper 850M/860M equipped machines and in few years you can replace it, if you’ll really feel it’s not enough.

  • Huck

    GLJ, I recently purchased this from the CAD deal with 10% student discount. I am noticing a problem with random throttling of cpu on battery power. Sometimes it operates at full speed of 3.3 ghz (4710hq), but sometimes it seems randomly limited to 1.5 ghz. Any thoughts on this? I also have an issue where before the battery is close to fully drained (I’d say around 15-20% left), it will simply shut off and I can only turn it back on after plugging it in. Did you notice any of these problems? Thanks.

    • 1. The throttling is an intended bevahior actually. What power mode are you using and are you aware of the Clevo control center?
      2. The 15-20% battery thing is strange actually

      • Huck

        Thanks for the reply. I am aware of the Clevo control center. I have everything on performance (though the performance power consumption option isn’t available when on battery as it reverts to balance). As for the reduced clock, the fact is sometimes when I wake my computer up, it will operate at 3.1 ghz in prime on battery. Other times, it will be limited to 1.5 ghz. The lack of consistency is what is somewhat troublesome. I am down to 31% battery and will see if the shut off happens again well before the battery should be drained. And I know it was not drained in the previous attempts as after plugging it in and turning it back on, it reads at over 20%.

        • but what is the windows power mode?
          under “balanced” power mode, the cpu clocks will dance between the bottom 800mhz and the top ~3.3ghz, depending on the usage level with higher usage => higher clocks
          But, on battery, it is programmed to reduce performance and I’m not sure it can be changed without a bios change. You can try the Prema bios mod (which I installed too) and see if you can change some bios configuration

          I’m sorry – I don’t have it no more

          • Huck

            Well this time it got down to 6% battery before shutting down. I at least got a warning about very low battery and the screen brightness forced to lowest setting so hopefully all is okay on that front.

            • are you sure it is not set to go to sleep after some time without use?

              Check the prema mod for the P650SE: https://biosmods.wordpress.com/p6xxse/

              Also, a new bios version should come up soon from Clevo, so watch up
              You can trust the stability of Prema unlocked bioses

              • Huck

                Well, I think it has behaved normally the last several rundowns, so hopefully this is no longer an issue.

                I do have one question about coil whine as my 970m seems to be giving off quite a bit. I had done some unigine heaven benchmarking to compare performance and noticed it sounded terrible in that game. But even in BF3, it is pretty bad (not quite as loud, but putting your ear near the right speaker and it is quite evident). I tried searching, but I don’t see really any reports of coil whine for the 900m series. Anything you have come across?

                • What do you mean? are you talking about the speakers or the fans?

                  • Huck

                    The gpu itself. It is not the fan or the speakers (speakers on mute). When I exit bf3 or unigine, the fans are still on high till the temp drops down enough but the whine disappears immediately.

                    • hmm, if you are totally sure it’s not the fans or speakers, and it indeed comes from some chip, then it might be that some part is overloaded electrically:
                      1. PSU? try to figure out if it’s the PSU itself – I had such problems before.
                      2. Some capacitor/s on the motherboard itself
                      3. Probably not the GPU without knowing really nothing

                    • Huck

                      I tested with PSU and on battery. No change. But since it is only observed in game and disappears immediately upon exiting said game while fans remain on high, that is why I attribute it to the 970m in one way or another.

                    • hmm. Well, you can try and run Prime95 only and see if it goes – it will load the CPU only with no 3D functions at all, so it should focus us more

                    • Huck

                      I have been using prime95 during my undervolting. Never noticed any. Just tested though and with my ear right near the back right speaker, I can hear a faint mechanical sound that appears and disappears in conjunction with prime95 starting and stopping. However, no where near the levels as experience in game.

                    • it’s probably the electrical load, maybe from some capacitor. If you really want, you can try and locate it by opening the laptop and setting the fans to a low speed and running some light 3D stuff

                      But I’m not sure it’s needed – it occurs in many electrical devices. Usually I can hear such a noise from small smartphone psus, if everything is quiet

  • luca

    hi, I heard a lot of issues with screen bleeding in this laptop and with that panel, is this true?

    • this specific panel?
      Generally, IPS and AHVA have bleeding phenomenon where you’d see some light emitted on parts of the edges, but that’s usually when the screen is totally black and it’s apparent more or less in almost all of them
      Not really an issue in my opinion, and anyway – it’s not a sign of malfunctioning

      • luca

        Thank you for the fast reply ;).. yep I know is a common issue in IPS screens, but I was asking you that because I heard a lot of people complaining on how strong the bleeding is on this laptop (that screen), sometimes is so strong that they asked for a refund. anyway how is your screen in dark games? Is that problem so annoying? Thank you

        • I don’t have it anymore, but I don’t recall even noticing it. If I would try to find it – I would, but I don’t remember that I’ve been bothered by it
          It was also on the W230SS I tested – at first I was very annoyed, but really, didn’t matter to me in practice

          • luca

            Ok thanks, I hope I’ll be lucky with my screen 😉

            • wait, what – you got this one? you know there is 10% off + you can pay in CAD saving some more money, right?

              • luca

                Man I’m an Italian living in Portugal, but this pc is the same everywhere: Santech c37 in Italy and Clevo p651 in Portugal, same specs, same screen, just different name 😉

                • yea, these are all Clevo rebrand. For how much you get it in portugal?
                  I think you can get the N551JM which is quite nice too, although it comes with a GTX 860M and not 970M

                  • luca

                    I’m buying it with 980m and IPS screen for 1800 euros, but take in count that in all Europe the prices are always very high for notebooks, for example 999 $ are always 999€ for us ahah!! I’m always travelling but I like also gaming without compromises, all details on ultra and good screen, I saw Clevo p150sm with a 95% gamut screen option without bleeding problem, but is like 4cm thick!!! This one is good, but I’m still deciding, because I don’t want to end playing dark games with white corners on my laptop at all

                    • 1. na, you won’t see it while gaming unless the screen is really really defective

                      2. Are you sure 970M won’t suffice? it’s a lot of money. Even 970M options are a lot of money.. you could buy flowers instead

                    • luca

                      Ahahah I know is a lot of money, but I saw a lot of tests showing how much low are the temperatures with the 980 m due to the bigger case, and plus u got 15+ fps in all games on ultra :):).. I wanted an upgradable one, to choose the 970m now and a 980m 8Gb in future, but they’re all thick and heavy!! So for now is the slimmest 15″ with 980m that stays reasonably cool

                    • you get 30+ FPS with the 970M too!
                      As you wish anyway, but you might want to think about it

                      Also, I think it might be much cheaper to order from Eurocom anyway, if you pay in CAD

  • octiceps

    Hi Junky, thanks for the review! Do you have the calibrated ICC profile? I have a P650SG with the same AUO B156HAN01.2 panel.

    • thanks!!

      I don’t, but I’ll ask my friend to get it for me (he has my P650SE now)

      • octiceps

        Great, really appreciate it

        • didn’t forget – it will take me time

          • octiceps

            No worries

  • Interested

    I noticed that the battery is embedded. where would I find a replacement battery for this?

    • I don’t know. I guess you could get batteries from the reseller – but I’m not sure. You can call them and ask, I’ll try to find out too

  • HanumaraTinku

    I think the Prema mod is Out
    so if possible update the review with the results from Prema bios.

    • THANKS!
      What would have me test?

  • fanboy

    Excellent review, the 970M kills my year and a half old 770M in the benchmarks. I wonder when we’ll see a replacement for the i7 4700 series that have been used for a while. My personal laptop has a hard time keeping the cpu temps under control.

    • thanks man
      I don’t expect much performance gains in the CPU front from Broadwell, but you might get a much energy efficient CPU and that will be translated to better laptop overall + higher clocks under load

  • Jon

    How do you think the m5 pro will fare against the p5 pro now that the p5 will be able to house the 965m gpu http://www.eurocom.com/ec/future()ec

  • Alex

    Hi, thank you for the review.

    Do you know other laptops with the 860m and an IPS diplay?

    I still can’t decide to go for an 860m graphic card or to go to a 970/980m.

    • Hi and thanks!
      1. Currently the 970M laptops are more cost effective for the most part
      2. maybe you should for the 960M/965M – I think they should be very tempting and for aorund $1000

      • Alex

        the 960M would be ideal but it’s not sure when it’s going to be released.

        I’d like a laptop with a 17″ IPS screen but there are not that easy to find.

        • The Y70 and VN7-791G are 17.3″ with IPS display, but I’d try and wait at least two months to see what comes instead the 860M

          • Alex

            Thanks again for your help. I want a bit more storage options than those models. I think 965m is probably perfect for my needs but laptops with 970m are not that much more expensives. I’m also not sure whether to get a 15 or 17 inch display as 17 inch screen don’t make massive difference but it makes the laptop significantly bigger although it won’t move mich. I narrow it down to those models: Clevo P651, MSI GE62/GE72 and gigabyte P35/P37.

            • And the heavy AW15 that was selling for like $1060 with 965M and an IPS. Reviewing this one now – nice machine, maintainability is not easy, but it has 1xSATA and 2xM.2 storage options
              a bit heavy, but thermals and keyboard are very good, sound is not bad and performance is near maximal, thanks to the non-throttling features.

              • Alex

                I’ve read the AW15 is really good but it is quite loud. I think I prefer the Clevo P650. I just need to decide which screen and GPU I want then pick one I selected but I’m really indecisive.

  • Daniel Starikov

    Great Review, thanks! What is your opinion on getting a model with a 980m? I am a student and don’t need to buy an os, making this by far the best option for 900 series and your review pretty much sealed the deal. The 970m + ac wifi with the 10% off costs 1262. The 980m + ac costs 1505. Is it worth it, and should the added power + heat be a concern? I believe the 980m model is actually a p650sg, which is slightly thicker (.1 inch I think), so that might help with cooling a bit. Basically, I need a laptop that would last for a couple of years playing modern games at 1080p.

    • thanks!

      I now see that I missed the Civilization performance graphs..
      Anyway, the 970M is pretty powerful anyway, so although it’s tempting to get a 980M, is it really what you need (even a 860M is quite powerful). Better save those $250 for something else, no?
      What do you think?
      And yea, the price is pretty good

      • Daniel Starikov

        That’s pretty much what I’m thinking. I was planning on buying a y50 with an 860m or something with an 870m, but then this came out. The upgrade should be worth it price/performance ratio wise. The 980m is supposed to be 25% faster than the 970m, but then the 970m can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. If I hold onto it for a few years then the 980m is probably a better option. Also that extra gB of VRAM will probably be helpful if games like Shadow of Mordor become common (I’ve heard that it runs fine on 3-4gB, but then I’ve also heard reports of it being very glitchy at times). I just ordered a 512gb 840 evo and that plus the stock 500gb hdd should last me a while, at least until m.2 drives go down in price. I’ll be ordering this within the month, as soon as my quarter ends probably, so about 2 weeks. In the end it’ll probably come down to how much money I have left over after buying books and paying for next quarter’s classes, but if I have a sufficient amount I’ll pick up one with the 980m. Thanks!

        • More than 970M is “needed” really only if you’re going above 1080p AND want maximum settings.
          Really, I would just give this money to someone or buy flowers to somebody or keep it ..

  • Frank

    Hi, can you tell me how test the fps performance of each games? I bought a MSI GT72, but I don’t know how to get every games’s benchmarks, should I download and install every games? and what software should use to test it? thank you.

    • 1. I’m using either FRAPS or the built-in game benchmark to take readings

      2. Yes, you need to install the game.. :

  • Patrick Ortega

    Well the 900m series is seriously putting up a hefty fight. Already we have the 970M kicking the PS4. I wonder if the P650 can mount screens from the W650 since they are of similar size. I wonder…