Intel's Core i7 is one of the most innovative CPU releases to date. It's fast, efficient, and cutting edge. The thing about cutting edge though, is that you'll often pay a premium to gain access.
What about if you're a laptop user? Usually, you'll have to wait several months for either AMD or Intel to release a mobile version of its new processors. These mobile CPUs have smaller packages as well as lower power usage. So what options do you have if you want the latest CPU in a laptop? You have to compromise on several fronts:
• Price: prepare to pay a premium for laptops that are able to take desktop processors.
• Battery: these hybrid desktop-replacements are power hungry. Mobile computing is not one of their strong points.
• Size: because of the space and cooling requirements, these laptops are often very thick, close to a 1U chassis when closed.
• Weight: they're back breakers.
We decided to talk to AVADirect, one such company that is launching a new desktop Core i7 mobile platform. We asked them to attempt to convince us on the merits of such a mammoth laptop. Our questions are in bold.
What differentiates the AVADirect Core i7 notebook from, say a seemingly identical system like the one from Eurocom?
AVADirect: Both AVADirect and Eurocom utilize the same hardware from the same OEM. This OEM is Clevo, based in Taiwan which is not widely known to the general public. However, its systems are used by various resellers and Integrators such as previously mentioned Eurocom, Alienware, Pro-Star and Sager.
What differentiates AVADirect from these other companies is our distinctly wide array of customization options. No other VAR offers the level of selection in our configurations, thus this is our main advantage over the competition, freedom of choice. That being said, if the selection seems a bit overwhelming, our knowledgeable sales staff is always eager to build you a perfect system amidst plethora of options.
The benefits of using a desktop CPU are clear, you get the latest technology early, without waiting for a mobile CPU version to be released. But you trade this for heat, power usage and size. How does the AVADirect system combat this?
AVADirect: Unlike your normal notebook cooling, which combines the heat of the processor, chipset, and other chips together via heat pipes, each of the major components are cooled by their own respective heat sink and fan. If you notice on the underside of the D900F, there are four fan vents on the bottom of system. Each of these fan vents hide a large copper heat sink and a dedicated low-profile fan. This ensures that each component is sufficiently cooled for maximum stability and longevity.
Consumers are leaning towards thinner, lighter products, like ultra-portables and netbooks. How does the AVADirect Core i7 notebook fit in, considering its hefty size and weight?
AVADirect: The Core i7 notebooks are not designed to be used by mainstream consumers. This particular D900F notebook was designed for gaming enthusiasts, engineers, scientists, CAD designers, and other users who need the most performance from a mobile system. This is not your standard home/office notebook, where netbooks have a clear advantage.
We understand the AVADirect Core i7 notebook is a desktop replacement. Its weight and size, as well as pitch, indicate it not to be an ideal mobile computing platform, therefore used mainly stationary. At its current base price of $2538.26, could one not build a more powerful actual Core i7 desktop?
AVADirect: Absolutely. However, while a desktop provides a better performance and higher upgradability to value ratio, that benefit is moot if the person using the system is constantly traveling or even moving around their place of business or at home. So, the bottom line is if you're looking for a mobile workstation with the power of quad-core desktop CPU, up to 12 GB of RAM, high-end graphics both gaming and professional (professional graphics card to be released later on this year), up to 3 SATA or SSD drives for storage and all the necessities then the D900F [is ideal]. We realize weight can be an issue to some people but that's the "price" you pay, besides the price itself of course.
In the current pricing economy, people are seeking out lower cost alternatives. Where do you see this system fitting in; with what kind of purchaser?
AVADirect: As stated before, this notebook is not intended for the mainstream consumer such as your typical home/office user. The vertical markets that we are targeting with this system know very well the cost of a high-end workstation. With some desktop workstations costing more than a new car, the price point we are offering this notebook at is a great value for the performance and benefits that it offers.
If I was a gamer, with a $2600 budget, how would you convince me to go with the AVADirect Core i7 laptop, versus a small desktop that would otherwise be able to pack more hardware and be more expandable?
AVADirect: We do not convince or push our customers into a solution that is not right for them. We listen to their needs and wants and offer recommendations to what might be the perfect system for them. We do not push features and options that the customer does not want. Every customer is unique and so is the system we build for them.
However, to answer the question, if you were an Enthusiast Gamer who was always on the move or constantly going to LAN parties, then this system would be a great fit. For gamers with all budgets, we have many great gaming notebooks and desktops that can match and exceed their ever growing needs for quality, speed and bragging rights.
Thanks to AVADirect for answering some of our questions.
Now, we're still not quite convinced of laptops in this category. Laptops that utilize the latest desktop CPUs command a big premium, as you read above. If you're going to frequent gaming events, our opinion is a SFF box, that will be able to pack more upgrades. The main advantage here is that the screen is integrated, so you don't have to lug around a separate LCD.
Of course, you also get a powerful desktop CPU. If you have to have the best of the best, and don't mind to pay the premium then these types of desktop-replacement solutions are worth looking into. But always consider your options and longevity.