Eurocom Sky M5 (Clevo P650RE) Review (GTX 970M 6GB, I7)

An upgrade to a fine machine makes a fine machine

++ Main reason to consider:

Very good overall gaming laptop in the more important aspects for a gaming laptop – performance, thermals, keyboard, screen, storage options and connection ports (mostly)

-- Main reason to avoid:

Feature set is lacking – Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 (gen 2), HDMI 2, eGPU option and other options are not available.

Availability

Current pricing is around $1292 for basic version

  • Eurocom, $1292, 10% off for students
  • Amazon, other versions like the P650RE3
  • XoticPC, Avadirect, and many others
Pro : + Very good performance/price ratio with a GTX 970M + I7-6700HQ for $1200-$1300
+ Minimal throttling under gaming load, very good performance
+ The body doesn't get too hot under high load
+ Quite quiet
+ No/Minimal PWM (considerably less or no flickering)
+ GTX 970M 6GB version (Optional)
+ G-Sync, no tearing and no stuttering (Optional)
+ Simple, good looks
+ Not heavy relatively to others with such hardware and price
+ Very comfortable keyboard with good response, resistance, travel depth and clear pressure point
+ Lots of connection ports - USB 3.0, 2xmDP, HDMI and more
+ 2xM.2 slots,= including 1xPCIe NVM M.2. 2x2.5" sata connection
Con : - Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 (gen 2), HDMI 2, eGPU option and other options are not available
- Lousy speakers
- Battery performance in this version is not good for light use (no Optimus)
- CPU and GPU are soldered as well as no eGPU solution
- Build quality could be better - hinges and outer lid.
- No international warranty
- Some kind of electrical background noise with earphones (grounding needed)

Introduction

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - front view

 

The Eurocom Sky M5, based on the Clevo P650RE, is the upgrade of the Clevo P650SE which I reviewed ages ago (link). The upgrade/update includes mostly the new Skylake CPU I7-6700HQ, one PCIe NVMe M.2 slot, the optional G-Sync (and no Optimus) and maybe a little lower weight. This is the most important stuff that has been upgraded. Other than that, it seems like the same laptop pretty much. Same good cooling system with two fans just for the GPU (which is hotter than the CPU), good amount of 2.5″ and M.2 connection ports, good amount of external connection ports like mDP, HDMI and USB. This specific version came with the GTX 970M 6GB GPU, the optional G-Sync and Killer WiFi 1535 card.

However, non of the new updates have been included in this version – no USB 3.1 nor Type-C, no Thunderbolt 3, no HDMI 2. CPU and GPU are soldered.

I’m reviewing it a moment before it is phased out probably and replaced by the new models with the new Nvidia GPU and maybe the new Intel CPU. This review could be useful for those who will be able to purchase for good price at their end.

ComponentDescription
PriceBasic version: $1292 (USD), 10% off for students
CPUI7-6700HQ (2.6GHZ-3.5GHZ, 45W)
MotherboardEUROCOM Sky GM5 / Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)
2xPCI Express x1, 1xPCI Express x16
GPUNvidia Geforce GTX 970M 6GB GDDR5, 1280 shadars core@1037MHZ, GDDR5@1250MHZ, 192-bit bus
RAMG.Skill 2x8GB DDR4@2133MHZ
4 banks of memory available, two at each side of the motherboard
StorageHDD : WD HGST HTS725050A7E630 (non SSHD), 500GB, 7200RPM, 32MB cache, 2 slots total
SSD: M.2 Samsung SSD 850 EVO M.2 120GB (manually installed)

M.2: 2 slots, 2xNVMe PCIe M.2 SSD, 1xSata

LCD PanelIn review: 1080p 15.6", LG LP156WF6-SPB1, IPS, 30-pin eDP
Weight / Dimensions~2.5kg / 5.51 lbs
385 x 271 x 25 mm
15.4" x 10.84" x 1.0"
(w x d x h)
Keyboardwhite backlit, 6 levels including off
Connection Portsright side: 2xUSB 3.0, Kensington Lock, microphone/headphones/S/PDIF, ethernet, 6-in-1 card reader, SIM card slot,
Left: 2xmini DP 1.2, 1xUSB 3.0 (powered), 1xHDMI 1.4
Rear: USB 3.0 combo port, power-in
Camera1080p, 30FPS camera
WiFi / EthernetWiFi: Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter
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)1.05.16 /
Extra featuresEmbedded TPM 2.0
more details

Build quality, Case, design and looks

Build quality is average, nothing special. Base unit and screen outer lid aren’t that firm. Same goes for the hinges. The keyboard and touchpad surfaces are relatively firm and would not easily yield. you can read my description here:

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

Only two images this time. You can check the previous version – P650SE, which looks pretty much the same – link.

 

Maintenance and inner parts

Maintenance is rather easy. The backplate is easily removed by removing ~10 screws. However, installing the bottom piece again is a little problematic due to some sponge near the battery – nothing too series, but annoying.

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - motherboard

Both CPU and GPU are soldered. The GPU has two dedicated fans and three heatpipes. The CPU has two heatpipes and one fan. It makes sense, because the GPU is hotter with such hardware. I would add one heatpipe between these two in order to share the thermal load.

Keyboard and touchpad

From the Eurocom M5 review (Clevo P650SE)

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

Speakers are unchanged: “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

With the Samsung 850 Evo M.2 SSD, the laptop feels very fast.

Added CPU-Z and GPU-Z screenshots.

 

Gaming Performance

Test Methods & Drivers

OS : Windows 10, fully updated

Drivers: Nvidia Geforce 368.81

Synthetic 3D benchmarks

3DMark and Time Spy 1.0 performance:

 

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review -3DMark Time Spy 1.0.0 Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review -3DMark

 

Summarized gaming performance

Performance is relatively good. The Sky M5 GPU clocks remain on their highest. The 6GB VRAM helps a bit in some situations probably, though not so much in 1080p.

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - gaming 1080p benchmarks

29 18 23 Anno 2205

Crysis 3

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Crysis 3 GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Thief

Thief sees some advantage using Mantle API over the DX11. Heavily Vulkan/DX12 optimized games/game engines should see much higher improvements.

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - thief GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Bioshock Infinite

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Bioshock Infinite GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Civilization : Beyond Earth

Performance is a little strange. I guess maybe some of the graphics settings of the “high” preset with newer NV drivers result in lower FPSs..

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Civilization Beyond Earth GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Total War : Warhammer

The new Total War stuff. The 3D engine has been vastly improved and performance is much better than in the case of Total War : Attila

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Total War Warhammer DX12 GTX 970M 1080p BenchmarksEurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Total War Warhammer DX11 GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Total War : Attila

The new iteration of Total War : Rome II, Attila is a much more demanding game and FPSs are much lower.

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Total War Attila GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Metro : Last Light

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Metro Last Light GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Battlefield 4 Campaign

BF4 campaign benchmark

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Battlefield 4 GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

World of Tanks

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - World Of Tanks GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Shadow Of Mordor

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Shadow Of Mordor GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Dark Souls III

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Dark Souls 3 GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Ashes Of Singularity

As already we know, Maxwell GPUs see no advantage from DX12, at least not in Ashes Of Singularity

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Ashes Of Singularity GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Star Citizen

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Star Citizrn GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Fallout 4

The new Fallout 4 is rather demanding, but the benefits of the high graphics presets are not clear to me.

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Fallout 4 GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

The Talos Principle

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - The Talos Principle GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - Rise Of The Tomb Raider GTX 970M 1080p Benchmarks

Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling

As described before, the GPU has three dedicated heatpipes and two fans and the CPU has two heatpipes and one fan. Cool air is sucked from below and thrown out of the rear and left (user’s left).

Four tests:

1. Idle, power saver mode

2. Gaming : Ashes Of Singularity benchmark. “Crazy” settings, “High performance” power mode.

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

4. Prime95 + Furmark on 1366×768 test, AAx2. “High performance” power mode.

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - CPU and GPU temperatures stress test 2

The P650RE/Sky M5 is pretty good in terms of thermal handling. Throttling goes only as far as base clocks, even under Prime95 + Furmark load levels.

Throttle CPU average stable CPU MAX GPU
34 41 Idle
2.6-2.7GHZ 78 80 Prime95
2.6-2.8GHZ 83 86 71 Prime95 + Furmark
70 70 70 Ashes Of Singularity

Heat

From the P650SE review:

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

The P650RE does very well, in my opinion. It’s a relatively thin and lightweight laptop for such hardware and it handles heat pretty good even under the most stressing load. As said before, clocks go down only to around the base clocks plus a little. That’s relatively good.

GPU was throttling under Furmark + Prime95, but not under games like Ashes of Singularity and Crysis 3 and kept its maximal clocks.

 

Here is a table that shows the temperatures and the throttling state:

Throttle CPU average stable CPU MAX GPU
34 41 Idle
2.6-2.7GHZ 78 80 Prime95
2.6-2.8GHZ 83 86 71 Prime95 + Furmark
70 70 70 Ashes Of Singularity

Noise

Again, pasted from the P650SE review. In short, relatively quiet.

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 Sky M5 uses the LG LP156WF6-SPB1 as the default 1080p option. This panel has been used in many other laptops, you can check the quality here and here. Generally, this IPS screen is good and has high maximal brightness. It is not exceptional in terms of contrast or colors, but it is good.

About PWM – I couldn’t detect any low frequency PWM mechanism symptoms with my camera. In notebookcheck’s PWM tests of the P651RG, no PWM was detected as well.

Battery Performance

With Optimus off (probably because of G-Sync thing), the Sky M5 isn’t easy on the battery.

UPDATE: There is a chance I could do better by using Clevo Control Center and maybe enabling Optimus via the bios (though it means no G-Sync)

Eurocom Sky M5 Clevo P650RE Review - battery performance

 

 

Issues

Nothing in special.

Competing gaming laptops / Alternatives

  • Currently, many GTX 970M equipped laptops are out there for the same price, sometimes considerably less. The Gigabyte P55Wv5, Asus GL502VT (which I don’t like as much), MSI GE62 and more. All have some advantages and disadvantages, but at this point it would be better to wait for the new stuff and laptops with more eGPU options and/or the more powerful GPUs.

Conclusion

Well, the Eurocom Sky M5 is a good gaming laptop in many of the more important aspects for gaming – gaming performance (no throttling under gaming), good thermals of the CPU and GPU and the laptop’s body, good keyboard, good display, enough slots for two M.2 SSDs and 2.5″ drive, relatively low weight. The P650RE is an updated version of the P650SE, but it’s basically the same and indeed, both of these have been popular.

The P650RE does lack some important features that are related to future upgradability – no eGPU solution, no Thunderbolt 3 port, no MXM GPU (the GPU is soldered). Some other features could also be useful – HDMI 2.0 and others.

But the big issue with all the GTX 970M equipped laptops is that they are about to become obsolete, if the forecasts of the new models with the new Nvidia GPU models are correct and the performance has been, again, vastly improved for the same price level – this hasn’t happened for around 2-2.5 years now. Given that the P650RE has no option for future 3D upgrade like TB3, MXM or other solution, recommending it becomes a problem. It is the same with laptops like the Asus GL502VT, MSI GE62 and others. The Alienware 15 R2 has eGPU solutions – both TB3 and Dell’s proprietary (and slower) solution, though it’s not a sure thing all Thunderbolt 3 laptops will get the appropriate bios update that will allow them to work with an eGPU.

Bottom line, a good laptop, upgradability is not good. Clevo does have other laptops, more expensive, with Thunderbolt 3 port and MXM GPU, though.

.

  • sftXdpvmy9v3

    Hey Junky, planning on doing a review for EUROCOM SKY MX5 R2 any time soon?

    I know that only major difference is the pascal card, but I do you think thats enough to get rid of some of the cons?

    • Well, I’m pretty limited in my ability to get the laptops, but the MX5 R2 is a P650RS-G, I think, so you can check the P650RS-G review
      http://www.gaminglaptopsjunky.com/clevo-p650rs-g-review-gtx-1070-i7-hq/

      I hope to check it at some point, though

      What are you looking for exactly? there are some interesting options with an I7-6700K CPU

      • sftXdpvmy9v3

        Thanks for the review link! One of my concerns is the screen bleed that seems to plague almost every single clevo laptop reviews I’ve seen. Is it that noticeable?

        this is the model I’m considering, just the default config: http://www.eurocom.com/ec/configure(2,396,0)ec

        • I think that in most cases that’s the screen’s fault. Almost all the latest models use some variation of the LG LP156WF/WF6 and all have “light bleed” and in many cases people simply talk about the bad black levels.

          What can I tell you, the manufacturers indeed use a relatively low quality display. But, you can choose/replace to a better panel in some cases, if you are up to it

          The MX5 R2 is the Clevo P650RS and you can see that the basic display is the same as I said – LP156WF6-SPB1 (maybe the SPB1 variation is better, not sure)

          • sftXdpvmy9v3

            Eurocom offers Samsung LTN156FL02-101, which is a 4k screen. Do you think this would be a decent enough upgrade so that it won’t have the light bleed issue? I don’t feel too comfortable with replacing the panel myself.

            • From what I saw, this model isn’t that great. I’d consider manual replacement

              • sftXdpvmy9v3

                Thanks for the reply @cultivated:disqus . Screen’s a pretty big factor for me, so this is a deal breaker on MX5 R2 🙁
                Is there any other pascal based Eurocom or other laptops you would recommend? I’m based up in Canada, thus my fixation with Eurocom (best cost to value ratio up here).

                • But you think you won’t do a manual replacement?
                  All the 1080p models I’ve checked with the new panels were the same more or less, including GT62VR, GL502
                  Do you want 15.6″ only ?

                  • sftXdpvmy9v3

                    I probably won’t do manual screen replacement.
                    I haven’t heard any complaints of light bleed in GT62VR or GL502. Do they use the same panel?

                    • GL502VM: LP156WF6-SPB6
                      GT62VR : LG 156WF6 [DELL P/N: 3874Y]
                      These are variant of the same models. Probably not of the same quality exactly, but don’t be surprised to see some of it. Anyway, from my experience, it doesn’t matter a lot unless you are going to use a lot of a really black screen

  • The Bakers

    The Sky M5 is being phased out and replaced by the Pascal based MX5 R2, I wonder if Eurocom will drop the price…

    • Yes, it is. They have 10% off for students. I think these are the P650RP6 and P650RS (or P670s for 17.3″ versions)

  • rusufer

    is eGPU likely for any TB3 USB 3.1 laptops? It seems like it will be heavily dependent on hardware vendor support and its always very slow in that front.

    I was considering this initially but your reasons to avoid is very convincing.

    • Well, I think that in the case of Clevo, there is a good chance we’ll see bios support thanks to a very lively modding community (especially PremaMod)
      At this stage, I’d certainly wait. The new models should be here soon