Plus-sized notebook packs Sandy Bridge Extreme


— 6:00 AM on February 13, 2012

Do the low-voltage processors in ultrabooks offend your power-hungry sensibilities? Are desktop replacements just not fast enough? Eurocom's new Panther 4.0 "super-notebook" might be just what the doctor ordered—if the doctor ordered weight training. Inside a 17.3" chassis that tips the scales at just over 12 lbs, the Panther sports not only Intel's top-of-the-line Sandy Bridge Extreme CPU, but also a pair of MXM slots ready for CrossFire and SLI configurations. Those MXM slots are limited to mobile GPUs, of course, but the CPU is the very same six-core Core i7-3960X found on the desktop.

The Panther is likely to be more at home sitting on a desk than in one's lap. If the weight doesn't crush your thighs, the heat thrown off by the chassis will surely cook them. Still, it's hard not to appreciate the hardware that can be stuffed into the Panther's oversized, 2.5"-thick frame. In addition to its ample CPU and graphics horsepower, the system can accommodate up to 32GB of RAM, four 2.5" hard drives or SSDs, and an ExpressCard 34/54 device. All the usual wireless amenities are included, and the port complement bristles with three USB 3.0 connectors, FireWire, eSATA, an S/PDIF out, and a whole host of display outputs.

Then there's the screen, which serves up 1920x1080 pixels with what appears to be a TN panel. Customers have their choice of matte or glossy screen coatings, which is a nice touch, and Eurocom notes that a 3D-ready 120Hz display option is "coming soon." Unfortunately, there's no mention of future plans for a screen with true 24-bit color.

The lack of chiclets on the Panther's backlit keyboard gives me hope the thing has a better feel than typical notebook keyboards. However, given the expansive palm rest, I'm a little surprised Eurocom didn't go with a larger touchpad. There's no reason to skimp when so much real estate is available, even if most users are going to be using mice.

Eurocom hasn't revealed how much this beast will cost, so it's hard to know what sort of value it really offers. At the very least, it should be the most powerful portable PC around. Systems are scheduled to start shipping on March 15, so we'll have a better sense of the damage soon. I have to admit I'm curious to check one out, if only to see how many minutes the 78Wh battery lasts.

   
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