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Introducing Clevo's W870CU "laptop"
Clarksfield is targeted at what Intel calls "standard laptops," which I suppose means anything that can cool a 45W CPU. Don't get your hopes up for thin-and-lights or ultraportables, then. The mobile Core i7 is more about portable horsepower than absolute portability, and thus far systems have been restricted to sizes 15 inches and above.

Instead of sampling Clarksfield in reasonably portable 15" systems, Intel elected to send out Clevo's W870CU "performance desktop replacement notebook." The performance desktop replacement bit is fitting, I suppose, but notebook? You have got to be kidding me. The W870CU measures 16.2" x 11" x 1.8-2.2", which feels absolutely massive after a year of reviewing netbooks and ultraportables. Here's how it looks alongside a 13.3" Acer Aspire Timeline and a 10" Eee PC:




Yeah, the W870CU is huge. And heavy, too. Our sample weighed in at around nine pounds on my bathroom scale, which is considerably more than I'd want to lug around in a briefcase or backpack. Heck, even carrying the Clevo around the house is a bit of a chore.

Not only is the W870CU too heavy to sit comfortably on one's lap, but its bulky proportions also restrict where you can actually open it up. You really do need a proper desk to use the system comfortably. This is true of all desktop replacement portables, though. The Clevo may have generous proportions, but in practical terms, it's no larger than other players in the desktop replacement segment. Also, the WU870CU is easily more portable than even a small-form-factor desktop PC. A Mini-ITX system with a similarly-sized 17" LCD is going to be more cumbersome to transport than this land barge of a laptop, and that's before you throw in a keyboard, mouse, and maybe some speakers or headphones. Consider, too, that the Core i7 hasn't yet made its way to Mini-ITX motherboards.

Processor Intel Core i7-920XM 2GHz
Memory 4GB DDR3-1333 (2 DIMMs)
Chipset Intel PM55 Express
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M 1GB
Display 17.3" TFT with 1600x900 and LED backlight
Storage Intel X25-M 80GB solid-state drive
Toshiba DVD+/-RW
Audio 6-channel HD audio via Realtek codec
Ports 4 USB 2.0
1 DVI
1 HDMI
1 CATV input
1 eSATA
1 1394A FireWire
1 RJ45 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet via Realtek controller

1 analog headphone output
1 analog front output
1 analog rear output/line input
1 analog center-sub output/microphone input
Expansion slots 1 SD/SDHC/MMC/MS/MSPRO/xD
1 ExpressCard/54
Communications 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi via Intel W-Fi Link 5300
Input devices "Full size" keyboard with numpad
Sentelic trackpad with multi-touch scrolling and programmable gestures
Internal microphone
Camera 2.0 megapixel webcam
Dimensions 16.2" x 11.0" x 1.8-2.2" (412 mm x 279 mm x 45-55 mm)
Weight ~9 lbs (4 kg)
Battery Li-Ion 3800mAh, 42Wh

The W870CU can be configured with any one of Intel's Clarksfield-based mobile chips. Our review unit predictably came equipped with a range-topping Core i7-920XM clocked at 2GHz, and Intel threw in a first-generation 80GB X25-M SSD for good measure. The chassis can actually accommodate two hard drives, making it easy for folks to combine solid-state and mechanical drives to balance performance and storage capacity. It's also possible to run a pair of drives in a RAID 0 or 1 configuration.

On the graphics front, our sample packs Nvidia's GeForce GTX 280M—the green team's flagship mobile GPU. Don't let the name fool you, though. The 280M is actually based on the same G92b GPU that has powered desktop GeForce 9800 GTX+ graphics cards for more than a year. In fact, G92b is just a die shrink of the original G92 GPU that debuted in the GeForce 8800 GT nearly two years ago.

Despite its age, the 280M is still formidable in the mobile world. It's a DirectX 10-class part with 128 stream processors and 1GB of dedicated GDDR3 memory, after all. Under load, the core runs at 583MHz, the shaders at 1450MHz, and the memory at 950MHz. These clock speeds drop precipitously when the GPU isn't in use, with the core clock falling to 200MHz, the shaders to 400MHz, and the memory to 120MHz if you're just idling at the Windows 7 desktop.

The GeForce isn't your only option for this system. It can be configured with a GTX 260M or a Mobility Radeon HD 4870XT, instead. The spec sheet also suggests that you'll be able to swap in an MXM 3.0 Type B card with Nvidia's next-gen mobile GPU "when available."

Since the W870CU is built to order, I won't dwell further on the rest of our test unit's specifications. Keep in mind that you can load this system up with Bluetooth, 8GB of memory, and a Blu-ray reader or writer if you so please. One may ditch the optical drive in favor of a third hard drive bay, too.