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Engineering Computing Resources
October 3, 2016
Eurocom has proven that it can deliver very powerful mobile systems. The Canadian company’s Sky X9W mobile workstation we reviewed last spring was one of the fastest portable systems we have ever tested, although its price and weight certainly made it a niche product. We recently received the Eurocom Sky DLX7, which the company claims is “the most powerful ‘desktop laptop’ ever made,” based on the fact that it includes an LGA1151 socketed CPU typically found in desktop systems. With a claim like that, we couldn’t wait to subject it to our tests.
The Eurocom Sky DLX7 is a 17.3-in. laptop based on the Intel Z170 Express Skylake chipset. The $2,666 base configuration includes an Intel Core i7-6700K CPU unlocked for overclocking, an NVIDIA Quadro K3100M mobile GPU (graphics processing unit), 16GB of memory, a 1920x1080 display, and a 1TB 7200rpm SATA hard drive, but no operating system.
The system we received came housed in a sculpted charcoal gray case measuring 16.72x11.81x1.6 and weighing a hefty 9.2 lbs. Its huge 330-watt power supply (7.75x3.75x1.75 in.) adds another 3.1 lbs. While most modern mobile systems have become thin and light, the Eurocom Sky DLX7 weighs more than 12 lbs.
Raising the lid reveals the display and backlit 102-key keyboard and numeric keypad. Our evaluation unit came with a very nice 17.3-in FHD (1920x1080) IPS (in-plane switching) display with a non-glare surface, 300 nts brightness and 700:1 contrast ratio that covers 72% of the NTSC color gamut. A 4K UHD (3840x2160) IPS display with a 1000:1 contrast ratio and 100% Adobe RGB color gamut is a $353 option.
A gesture-enabled 4.25x2.5 in. touchpad with a pair of buttons and a built-in fingerprint reader is centered below the spacebar. Centered above the display is a 2-megapixel webcam and microphone array. There is also a pair of 2-watt speakers for the built-in Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5 sound system located in raised panels above the top corners of the keyboard, with a subwoofer on the bottom of the case. A trapezoidal-shaped power button is centered above the keyboard with a V-shaped panel below this with LEDs to indicate airplane mode, hard drive activity, caps lock, scroll lock and number lock. Users can also control the intensity, color and effects of the keyboard backlighting and assign hotkey combinations to launch other programs.
Lots of Options
The right side of the case offers a single USB 3.0 port; an S/PDIF-out jack; audio ports for headphone, microphone and line-in; and a security lock slot. The left side provides an RJ-45 network port, two additional USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.1 (Type C) Thunderbolt 3 port, a multi-card reader, and a combined eSATA/USB 3.0 port that remains powered for recharging devices even when the system is off (as long as the computer is connected to a working A/C outlet). The rear panel hosts a single HDMI port, two DisplayPorts, and the connection for the external power supply, flanked by a pair of air vents. There are many more air vents on the bottom of the case. As is becoming quite common, there is no optical drive bay; instead Eurocom sells optional external DVD and Blu-ray drives. As was true of the Sky X9W we reviewed previously, the Eurocom Sky DLX7 is also a closed system. Users can remove the battery to access a SIM card socket, but otherwise, users are not meant to access the interior (although access is possible after removing multiple screws).
Our evaluation unit came equipped with an Intel Core-7-6700K, a 4.0GHz quad-core CPU with 8MB cache, a maximum turbo frequency of 4.2GHz and a thermal design power (TDP) rating of 91 watts. This 14nm Skylake processor also includes Intel HD Graphics 530. Several other less expensive CPUs are also available. Eurocom also equipped our system with a high-end NVIDIA Quadro M5000M mobile GPU, with 1536 CUDA (compute unified device architecture) cores and 8GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory, increasing the system cost by an additional $1,417. The slightly less expensive Quadro K5100M is also available as well as a choice of three NVIDIA GTX graphics cards.
Although 16GB of system memory comes standard, with its four 260-pin SO-DIMM (small outline dual in-line memory module) sockets, you can equip the Sky DLX7 with up to 64GB of memory. Our evaluation unit included 32GB of RAM, installed as two 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 modules, adding $392 to the system price.
There are also many storage options. In addition to the 1TB 7200rpm Western Digital Travelstar SATA hard drive, our system also included a Samsung 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), adding $583. The Eurocom Sky DLX7 can actually accommodate two 2.5-in. hard drives and two M.2 SSDs, both with RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 configurations, and the company offers 17 different SATA drives ranging from 128GB to 2TB and 16 SSD options ranging in size from 120GB to 1TB.
While a two-in-one 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WLAN+Bluetooth 4.2 plus Intel Wireless-AC 8260 card is included in the base configuration, Eurocom also offers both higher- and lower-end network cards. An eight-cell lithium-ion battery and 330-watt auto-switching worldwide power supply come standard.
You would think that the absence of an optical drive would leave room for a larger battery with longer battery life. But with all of those hard drives, a power-hungry desktop CPU and high-end mobile GPU, our evaluation unit managed just 2 hours 28 minutes before shutting down. Throughout our tests, the Eurocom DLX7 ran cool and quiet, averaging just 34dB at rest (compared to 29dB ambient background noise), climbing to just 44dB under compute loads (less than a typical office conversation).
Thanks to its fast CPU and high-end graphics card, the Eurocom Sky DLX7 turned in some of the fastest performance we have ever recorded for a mobile workstation. The only system to routinely surpass it on standard benchmarks was the Eurocom Sky X9W we had previously reviewed, which with double the memory bested it on several of the SPECviewperf tests.
On the SOLIDWORKS test, the Eurocom Sky DLX7 was the clear winner, surpassing every other mobile workstation we have ever tested.
We also ran the very demanding SPECwpc benchmark, and here again the Eurocom Sky DLX7 outperformed all but the Eurocom Sky X9W. But while its average rendering time of 65.7 seconds beat most other mobile systems, the Eurocom Sky DLX7 was nearly 16 seconds slower than the Lenovo ThinkPad P70, the current mobile rendering king.
Of course, as we have learned from past reviews, all of this power comes at a hefty price. As equipped, our Eurocom Sky DLX7 would cost $5,223 (including $166 for the Windows 10 Professional 64-bit operating system that came preinstalled). While that’s $1,500 less than the Eurocom Sky X9W we reviewed earlier this year, it is still among the most expensive mobile systems we have ever tested. That price also includes only one-year of warranty coverage with return to depot service, but you can extend the warranty to two or three years for $146 or $313, respectively.
Like the Sky X9W, Eurocom Sky DLX7 is meant to replace a desktop workstation for power users on the go, and it delivers on this promise. But as was true for its sibling, the weight and price of the Eurocom DLX7 will likely appeal to a small but demanding set of users for whom performance matters more than portability and price.
Mobile Workstations Compared
|Eurocom Sky DLX717.3-inch 4.0GHz Intel Core i7-6700K quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro M5000M, 32GB RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD||HP ZBook Studio G315.6-inch 2.8GHz Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5 quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro M1000M,32GB RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD||Lenovo ThinkPad P5015.6-inch 2.8GHz Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5 quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro M2000M, 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD||Lenovo ThinkPad P7017.3-inch 2.8GHz Intel Xeon E3-1505M v5 quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro M4000M, 16GB RAM, 500GB PCIe SSD||Dell Precision 771017.3-inch 2.9GHz Intel Xeon E3-1535M quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro M5000M, 32GB RAM, 512GB SATA HD||Eurocom Sky X917.3-inch 4.3GHz Intel Core i7-6700K quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro M5000M, 64GB RAM, two 256GB PCIe SSDs and two 2TB SATA HDs|
|Price as tested||$5,223||$2,999||$2,353||$3,623||$3,890||$6,781|
|Operating System||Windows 10||Windows 10||Windows 10||Windows 7||Windows 10||Windows 10|
|SPECviewperf 12 (higher is better)|
|SPECapc SOLIDWORKS 2015 (higher is better)|
|Shaded Graphics Sub-Composite||4.90||2.27||2.89||2.41||2.40||4.36|
|Shaded w/Edges Graphics Sub-Composite||6.31||3.05||3.63||3.42||3.21||5.58|
|Shaded using RealView Sub-Composite||6.49||2.32||2.95||3.41||2.85||5.07|
|Shaded w/Edges using RealView Sub-Composite||10.45||4.03||4.92||5.89||4.93||8.36|
|Shaded using RealView and Shadows Sub-Composite||7.26||2.13||2.68||3.87||2.94||5.17|
|Shaded with Edges using RealView and Shadows Graphics Sub-Composite||10.92||3.49||4.30||6.19||4.85||8.11|
|Shaded using RealView and Shadows and Ambient Occlusion Graphics Sub-Composite||18.11||3.19||3.30||7.97||5.70||6.81|
|Shaded with Edges using RealView and Shadows and Ambient Occlusion Graphics Sub-Composite||25.53||4.62||5.01||12.01||8.74||10.28|
|Wireframe Graphics Sub-Composite||3.86||3.16||3.26||3.02||2.99||3.76|
|SPECwpc v2.0 (higher is better)|
|Media and Entertainment||2.93||2.29||2.43||2.60||2.57||3.38|
|Autodesk Render Test (in seconds, lower is better)||65.70||76.80||82.80||50.00||85.60||64.90|
|Battery Test (in hours:minutes, higher is better)||2:28||5:18||4.37||5:15||5:30||2:17|
Numbers in blue indicate best recorded results. Numbers in red indicate worst recorded results.
About the Author
David Cohn is a consultant and technical writer based in Bellingham, WA, and has been benchmarking PCs since 1984. He is a Contributing Editor to Digital Engineering, the former senior content manager at 4D Technologies, and the author of more than a dozen books. Email at [email protected] or visit his website at www.dscohn.com.Follow DE