Table of Contents (in short):
- Build quality, Case and design and looks
- Sound and Speakers
- General subjective performance experience
- Gaming Performance
- Screen / Screen quality
- Thermals & Noise handling
- Overclocking (GTX 670MX)
Well, the Eurocom Racer 2.0 is a high end 15.6″ gaming laptop based on the Clevo P150EM barebone, same as the XoticPC Sager NP9150 (and more). It can be configured with any current GPU from GTX 660M to GTX 680M and Radeon 7970M. The default configuration, which is also the one that is tested is as follows:
|GPU||MXM GTX 670MX (w/ Optimus) – upgradable|
|RAM||Crucial 2x4GB 1600MZH CL11|
|HDD||Seagate Momentus XT ST95005620AS 500GB Hybrid HDD|
|LCD Panel||AUO B156HW1 V.4 95% adobeRGB Gamut|
|Thermal paste||Diamond 24 thermal paste|
|Connection ports and additional features||9-in-1 Card Reader; MMC/RSMMC; SD/MiniSD/SDHC/SDXC; MS/MS Pro/MS Duo|
|2-in-1 Module; 802.11b/g/n WLAN + Bluetooth 3.0; Half Mini-Card PCIe; Azure|
|2.0 Megapixels; FHD 1920×1080; 30fps; w/ Samsung HD controller|
The cost is currently 1375$ and there is a 50$ discount or the next week, so the price can be very good if you want its features – the high quality AUO lcd upgrade for a good price and the Hybrid HDD (and the diamond 24 thermal paste too). If you configure it with the I7-3610QM you can save another 37$ and the non-upgrade matte screen will save you another 69$, so actually, if you want to compare the Eurocom to other P150EM laptops, you have to think what you can get for around 1220$ – and you’ll get less than the Eurocom Racer 2.0 (true for the posting date)
Lets start with the case build quality. The case is made entirely out of plastic, but a very sturdy one and I’m very satisfied with it. Most of the case won’t bend even under high pressures and I wouldn’t be afraid if someone mistakebly punch it. However, the upper part of the plastic surrounding the lcd screen itself is suseptible to pressure but the more anoying part is the outer lid – while not soft, it is not as tough as it should be and can be easily bend if you lay some concentrated pressure on it, like in the case of a hit by an elbow . Unfortunately, it is the case with all P150EM laptops and also many others, like the Lenovo Y580. Other than that, the laptop is very sturdy and build quality is convincing. The looks are solid and personally, I find it very pleasing to my eyes and the plastic has a somewhat metallic looks. It does not look outdated to me. Saying that, I’d like very much a metal case and especially a sturdy outer lcd panel lid. It is a matter of taste and I think you should decide for your own.
The keyboard is a (blue) backlit keyboard which is very comfortable. At first it seemed to me that the keyboard is too stiff and I missed a lot of clicks. I still think it should have been more sensitive, although it is my own opinion and taste. I find that I need to press harder than what I want. Other than that the keys return back fast and you can type fast. The blue light is a good thing too. That’s all.
The Eurocom Racer 2.0 comes with Onkyo 2.0 speakers + a subwoofer. The subwoofer is located in in the bottom of the laptop. The sound itself is ok for casual use, but certainly not good, the high and low tones are not good and distorted, the mids are much better but anyway, don’t expect anything. People over the web say it is also the internal soundcard fault, but I can’t find what is the exact soundchip model right now so I can’t say anything accurate except that when trying the same low-cost headphoens I have now connected to the Racer 2.0, the music sounds better, but still not good – the mids and highs sound dry, no life in it (I know, subjective) and the lows sound hollow.
Comparing the audio quality with low cost headphones is not a good comparison, but anyway, it seems that that both the speakers of the Eurocom and the internal soundcard aren’t that good – as all the other P150EMs, I guess. Kinda strange, a good Realtek 888/898 and up soundchip can do magic the cost is just insignificant. Why Clevo doesn’t use it? Anoying. Important to say – I’m not an audiophile.
The Racer 2.0 is very responsive. Using Windows 7 OS, I feel very satisfied with the user experience. The OS boots in about 15-20 seconds – it’s not in the SSD league, but still fast. Coming out of hibernation is a very fast process. I didn’t feel like things get stack and so on.
I won’t do synthetic staff, only games benchmarks. For syntethic benchmarks, you can check the notebookcheck records (or other sites).
Using Nvidia Driver 310.70, Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit fully updated.
Although I recorded the FPSs with Fraps, I didn’t really used them or presented the graphs. I just used a general FPS range. I’m interested in general performance, not specific FPSs, which are anyway depend on the game scene and such things and moreover, I don’t have enough systems to compare to one another. You can get exact numbers from other sites that benchmark and post results, like notebookcheck, Anandtech and more.
For each game, I also wrote how I felt playing, if it was smooth or not.
Well, either it is a driver issue or an inefficient engine implementation, changing the the settings doesn’t change the FPSs almost not at all. FPSs kept at about 15-17FPS, no matter the AA settings. The settings level has a small impact. I think this is some driver + the new WoT v8 bug. I’ll update if there will be any fix.
Anyway, the game is highly playable on highest settings
highest settings, 1080p resolution, a lot of units fighting and 5-6 players at a scene – around 45 FPS. Usually around 55-60 FPS for lighter scenes
TF = Texture filtering
AO = Ambient Occlusion
|Highest, 8xAA, TF on quality, AO on quality||14-18||Not smooth, but playable (though – why?)|
|Highest, 4xAA, TF on quality, AO on quality||19-24||almost smooth, but ok|
|Highest, 2xAA, TF on quality, AO on quality, AFx8||20-24||almost smooth, but ok|
|Highest, 2xAA, TF on quality, AO on quality||24-28||usually smooth|
|Highest, AA off, TF on quality, AO on quality||18-23||almost smooth, overall ok|
|Highest 4xAA, TF on quality, AO off||28-35||smooth|
|Highest, 2xAA, TF on quality, AO off||30-35||smooth|
|Highest, no AA, TF on quality, AO off||38-50, mostly above 40||smooth|
|Highest. 4xAA, TF on quality, AO off||29-45||smooth|
|Highest, 4xAA, 8xAF TF on quality. AO off||29-40||smooth|
I’d suggest using highest settings from the game settings and turning on AO and 2xAA (I used Nvidia control panel, but you might be able to do that through the UI with some mod). These are anyway very very high settings. With 1080p resolution on a 15.6″ or 17.3″ you won’t need to much AA anyway.
|Ultra, 4xMSAA, HDAO||13-16||Not smooth, but OK|
|Ultra, 2xMSAA, HDAO||16-20||Not smooth, but OK|
|Ultra, no MSAA, HDAO||20-22||Not smooth, but Fair|
|Very High, no MSAA, HDAO||22-25||Not totally smooth, but feels good|
|High, 4xMSAA, HDAO||16-17||Not smooth, but OK|
|High, 2xMSAA, HDAO||19-21||Not smooth, but Fair|
|High, no MSAA, HDAO||26-29||Smooth|
|Highest, 8xAF, all on||40-50||Very smooth|
GTX 660M will do the job too
|High||18-20||Not smooth, but playable|
|Custom, Everything on high, AA on Normal||35-40||smooth|
|Custom, Everything on high, AA on high||20-26||almost smooth, playable|
|Custom, Everything on high, AA on extreme||8-11||unplayable|
The AA really kills the Sleeaping Dogs performance, but other than that, you’ll get high fps with everything on and no AA. Even with medium level AA it is very playable and in the worst case you can lower the settings a bit.
The AUO B156HW1 V.4 is a very good 1080p screen. Subjectively, the contrast is very good and the brightness is high too, especially for indoors use (currently it is set on 40% and more hurts my eyes). Currently no objective brightness and contrast tests are available, but I’ll add them later. The screens viewing angles are very good, with a but. The horizontal viewing angles are excellent (although for a TN panel) and you can rest assure that several people can sit side by side and watch a movie, for example. The vertical viewing angles are good, but not as good – when flipping the screen upwords (so you are closer to the lower part of the screen) the screen maintaines most its vitality, but when flipping it upwords, the picture fades quicker. However, keep in mind that it is a very good screen anyway. The colors are excellent subjectively and objectively. Using Datacolor Spyder4Express the screen achieved an actual 94% adobeRGB color coverage and 99%-100% sRGB coverage. NTSC coverage was also something like 90%. So, this screen can be good for professional use too, using Photoshop / Premiere / GIMP and so on.
EDIT: after using this screen for two weeks, I’m unsatisfied. Although not Eurocom fault (all other barebone laptops manufacturers offer such an upgrade), it strikes me as somewhat awkward that an ‘high quality’ 1080p screen colors’ change and get distorted so easily on the vertical line. Even my old 2007 LG something desktop LCD has better viewing angles in the colors aspect. Also, it is a 95% adobeRGB gamut screen, but what’s the idea of having a very accurate 95% gamut screen if the colors change when you move you head a little upwards or downwards?
Saying that, the brightness and contrast are high – no question there. The reading is easy and the colors do look good, but still, I feel this shouldn’t be like that.
The temperatures of the Racer 2.0 are quite good. During games, even the most tasking, the GPU temperature didn’t rised over 72-75 C and while gaming, CPU didn’t get over 75C too. The laptop case itself remained very cool and I didn’t feel uncomfor in my legs or fingers (typing). Note that currently the ambient temperature in my house might be on the lower side, but still. Using OCCT the CPU temperatures got to around 75-82C (depends on the core) – remember that that this is under full load. I didn’t check with Linpack, but the cooling system seems to do its work. No throttling was recorded which is good.
The following the hottest core during OCCT Linpack. Maxed at about 83-85C. However, it was when I held the laptop in the air – on mu laps, the cores got to as high as 88C. So, you should probably use a cooling pad if you intend to do a linpack test.
Noise – in idle state, the laptop is quite and the fan sometimes spins lightly and you can hear it. It won’t matter while concentrating or playing a game, but it might be anoying ( I find it a bit anoying in the silence of the night). under heavy load you can, ofcourse, hear the fan spinning, but personally it didn’t bother me while playing LoL (for example). Anyway, in a not very quite environment (like in the day), the fan noise won’t be too noticable.
Unfortunately, for some reason, it seems that the Racer 2.0 just sips its battery. I don’t know if it’s a matter of drivers or what, but the the Racer 2.0 lasts only 2 hours and 15 minutes under the “battery eater reader” test. It seems very strange to me as other Clevo P150EM based laptops last longer. I’m pretty sure it is some kind of drivers / bios / Windows thing.
I used MSI Afterburner to overclock the core and memory. The maximum I tried to overclock is 20% for the CPU and about 70% for the GDDR5 memory based on the fact that even the GTX 660M GDDR5 can do it and the result was that it is can be overclocked to such a degree (no error during OCCT, games, 3DMark 11).
I didn’t had any success in disabling the clocks limits in MSI Afterburner and nvidia inspector, for some reason, keeps throwing a “divided by zero” error and I can’t use it. So I used a max overclock of 20% for the core as a benchmark, but I’m pretty sure you can take the 670MX much higher if you will. Anyway, this is just a show of the capabilities of the new Kepler cores and how much effect it has on performance.
For benchmark I used 3DMark 11 basic edition and Skyrim. The tests are – stock, 20% cpu core OC, 20% cpu and memory OC, and 20% cpu OC and 30% memory oc – in order to check bottlenecks.
Skyrim benchmark is just wondering about riverwood. BL2 benchmark is running, fighting and standing near the sanctuary.
|OC / Clocks||3DMark 11||% differnce||Skyrim opening (AO on)||Borderlands 2 (Highest)||difference|
|Stock (core@600MHZ, memory@700MHZ)||P3767, G3537, Ph7887||0||~20||39-40||0|
|20% core only – core@720MHZ, memory@700MHZ||P4322, G4145, Ph7506||17.1%||~22||44-45||12-13%|
|20%: core@720MHZ, memory@840MHZ||P4415, G4231, Ph7592||19.6%||~22||~49||~20%|
|core@720MHZ (20%), memory@910MHZ (30%)||P4446, G4268, Ph7422||20.6%||~22||50~||~20%|
We can see that the memory bottlenecks the abilities of the cpu to some degree, but you won’t gain too much gaming performance by simply OCing the memory itself.
I used Skyrim as a benchmark without too many mods and that probably has an effect. Maybe mods that make a good use of the GPU will result in higher differences in FPS. Borderlands shows some nice improvment. When both the cpu and gpu are overclocked by 20%, we really get 20% bump in performance, at least in the scene I’ve tested. Although it is scene dependant, when doing the same in a scene (like running from specific point to another specific point), the gain is good – 15-20% easily.
The overclocking is easy and you can get good performance gain, in case you need it – like when playing on the edge of 24 frames per second in an FPS, like BF3.
Now, what about the temps?
|OC / Clocks||OCCT GPU test temps (5 minutes)||Borderlands 2|
|Stock (core@600MHZ, memory@700MHZ)||65C||56c|
We can see that the temps are still good. Remember that currently it is quite cold at my home and you might get higher temps. I do not use any cooling pad and the laptop is on my legs, warming and gets warm in return.
Several conclusions. First, if you need a laptop that will last long time on one battery charge – that laptop ain’t for you. Although I’m pretty sure that the battery issue has something to do with drivers / Windows / bios, currently this is the situation, and Eurocom reply to me didn’t unveil any future plans to handle it (although they might be working on a fix).
Now, regarding the laptop’s performance. First of all, you’ll get your GTX 670MX and I7-3610QM/I7-3630QM performance – this comes as no surprise. I didn’t notice any throttling, which is a good thing. Compared to the competitors (MSI GT60, Sager NP9150) the Racer 2.0 offers the Hybrid HDD / 128GB Crucial m4 SSD, Diamond thermal paste and the AUO screen upgrade for low price. sometimes they also have some nice discount, so if you want the advantages Eurocom has to offer, you get a very good laptop for a better price, loaded with some nice features (SDD/Hybrid HDD) for a good price.
For a 15.6″, the Racer 2.0 offers a very good package and generally, you can’t go wrong since it is at least as cost effective as the Sager offerings. If you are interested in an 1300$ laptop and you don’t need windows OS included in the price, this is an excellent choice. Sometimes there are good coupons on the MSI GT70, but without coupons available, this is easily a good choice.
If you are interested in the GTX 680M performance level, I’d suggest checking other options in the price range, like the MSI GT70 – but it is a 17.3″ and not a 15.6″ laptop.