- Build quality, Case and design and looks
- Keyboard and Trackpad
- Sound and Speakers
- General subjective performance experience
- Gaming Performance
- Test methods and drivers
- Synthetic 3D benchmarks
- Summarized gaming performance
- Borderlands 2
- Crysis 3
- Wolfenstein: The New Order
- Total War : Rome II
- Battlefield 4 Campaign
- Battlefield 4 Multiplayer
- League of Legends
- Dota 2
- Borderlands The Pre-Sequel
- Alien : Isolation
- World of Tanks
- Team Fortress 2
- Civilization : Beyond Earth
- Bioshock Infinite
- Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling
- Screen / Screen quality
- Overlocking GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5
- Competing gaming laptops / alternatives
++ Main reason to consider:
The combination of very high gaming performance / price, running all games on highest or almost highest settings@1080p, with extra features like very good IPS display, lots of ports (eSata, mini DP, usb 3.0), upgrading options (Sata and M.2) and good enough keyboard. Add to that Eurocom’s 10% off for students and you get a very competitive and powerful gaming laptop for the price.
-- Main reason to avoid:
Close competition from below and above – not the cheapest with 970M as the NP8651 is a good option too for $1270 (but without an IPS and I wouldn’t recommend) and from above the GT60/Asus G751 have their advantages too.
+ GTX 970M + I7 pretty much runs all games on highest or almost highest settings totally smooth with high FPS rates
+ Very good bright 1080p AHVA display with high contrast, very good viewing angles and colors
+ Case, palm rests and keyboard surfaces do not get hot and bottom is kept cool mostly too
+ Lightweight compared to the others with 970M GPU at ~2.6kg
+ No GPU throttling and no to minor CPU throttling (down to 2.4-2.5GHZ, the least) under gaming
+ Nice slim looks with obvious thought invested into the looks, refining the angles. Looks really nice.
+ Eurocom's 10% off for students makes it the cheaper with IPS display
+ Keyboard is not perfect, but good enough and typing is easy on the fingers with almost perfect tactile feedback
+ Enough storage space - 2xSata and 2xM.2 ports easily accessed
+ Lots of connection port - 2xmini DP, eSata, 3xUSB 3.0, SIM, SPD/IF, HDMI
+ Quiet under light load
+ 4-4.5 hours of battery under light load
- Body may not be rigid enough for some (I'm ok with its level though)
- There are cheaper GTX 970M machines
- Space between touchpad buttons and body can invite dust in
- Spaces between other parts of the body are prawn to dust and stuff
- Two of the memory banks are on the other side of the motherboard
- The two Sata bays are one above the others - might invite issues like too high temps around the HDDs (not a huge deal)
- Speakers max volume isn't very high - found myself cranking it to the max in more than a few instances where recorded volume is low
- [Minor] Throttling under full load of Prime95 + Furmark
The Eurocom M5 Pro is Eurocom’s latest top 15.6″ gaming laptop. It’s based on the Clevo P650SE barebone, much like the Sager NP8651. Unlike the Sager NP8651 or the base P650SE sold here and there, the M5 Pro comes with the 1080p AHVA AUO B156HAN01.2 as a default and not with an 1080p TN panel (the NP8651 can be upgraded though) and also, it sports the TPM 2.0 which is used by software to provide some security functionality more seriously.
The M5 Pro is offered with a GTX 970M 3GB or 980M 4GB for now. My unit comes with a GTX 970M as I think it would be more interesting for a larger group of people. The price of $1380 (+shipping) is adequate and expected for this machine, but it does not include OS. Other 970M equipped machines, like the GT60, cost more in accordance. The cheaper Sager NP8651 which is selling for around $1270, does not include an IPS as a default screen (+$45) nor the TPM chip, but other than that and branding, they are pretty much identical.
So, the M5 Pro offers an I7-4710HQ CPU + GTX 970M GPU performance level for $1400, including an IPS display, 2xSATA bays, 2xM.2 ports, 4 memory banks, a lot of ports like eSata, 4xUSB 3.0 (one is combo with the eSata), 2xmini DP and HDMI, that’s a big chunk of ports which might be useful for some. All these qualities together make the M5 Pro a very interesting amd powerful machine for $1400. We’ll see what it’s downsides and advantages in this review, but I must add that it would be hard to compare it to the new GT60 as it is a bit unknown currently, but we’ll compare it to the previous generation with GTX 870M as it’s pretty close to the new one.
I want to add one important thing that makes the M5 Pro more interesting than some of the others like the GT60/70 and Asus G751 – 10% off for students. This discount makes it a very good deal for those who don’t need the OS pre-installed. That will make the M5 Pro ~16%/$250 cheaper than the GT60/70 and the Asus’ machines.
|Price||Basic version: $1375 (USD)|
Test: $1384 (upgrade to 2x4GB 1866MHZ Corsairs)
|CPU||I7-4710HQ (2.5GHZ-3.5GHZ, 47W)|
|GPU||Nvidia Geforce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5, 1280 shadars core@1037MHZ, GDDR5@1250MHZ, 192-bit bus|
In my unit - revision FF
|RAM||Corsair 2x4GB DDR3@1866MHZ |
4 banks of memory available, two at each side of the motherboard
|Storage||HDD : WD HGST HTS725050A7E630 (non SSHD), 7200RPM, 32MB cache|
|LCD Panel||In review: 1080p 15.6", AUO B156HAN01, AHVA, 30-pin eDP, 88/88/88/88viewing angles. |
|Weight / Dimensions||~2.6kg / 5.72 lbs|
385 x 271 x 25 mm
15.4" x 10.84" x 1.0"
(w x d x h)
|Keyboard||white backlit, 3 levels|
|Connection Ports||right side: 2xUSB 3.0, Kensington Lock, microphone/headphones/S/PDIF, ethernet, 6-in-1 card reader, SIM card slot, |
Front: card reader
Left: 2xmini DP 1.2, 1xUSB 3.0 (powered), 1xHDMI 1.4
Rear: e-Sata/USB 3.0 combo port, power-in
|Camera||1080p, 30FPS camera|
|WiFi / Ethernet||WiFi: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8723BE PCI-E |
Ethernet: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC
|Speakers||2.0 "Onkyo" speakers above the keyboard surface|
|Battery||4 cell, 62Wh|
|Bios / EC version (test unit)||1.03.02 /|
|Extra features||Embedded TPM 2.0|
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.
Clevo did some work on the P650SE case, making it a little more metallic in looks (some brushed metal finish on the outer lid and bottom surface around the touchpad) and also added some more refined angles to the case, giving it a feel of immature spaceship. The machine outer lid has a metalic finish and generally the M5 Pro looks stylish, rather slim for a high end gaming laptop and modern.
Maintenance and inner parts
It’s easy to open the backplate – just remove 10-15 screws and you are good to go. What will be revealed to you are two ram banks, two sata connection ports, two M.2 connection ports, battery, CPU, GPU and their heatsink, Wifi Card and other stuff. You’ll notice that the GPU has two fans working to suck the heat out of the GPU cooling system and one for the CPU. The CPU and GPU have two separated cooling systems and heatpipe. I’m not sure this is the right way to do things as the CPU will get high heated and throttled and the GPU barely scratches high temps in my test (63C max in Crysis 3, for example).
The two Sata connection ports are placed one above the other and I’m not sure how safe it is, and though I guess that if you can hold it firmly in its place, it should be ok, I’m also guessing that the HDDs might get a little warm in this small room for both of them.
The CPU and GPU are not replaceable and you cannot change the GPU or CPU later on, in a non-Clevo fasion.
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.
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.
The M5 Pro in its basic form comes with a 500GB 7200RPM HDD. It’s felt that it’s not a 5400RPM basic HDD, but I’d rather have some SSHD or small M.2 drive for the OS and stuff like that, as it is not smooth. However, I don’t think that it is necessary to pay for it ahead if you can maange installing your own OS or cloning the existing one.
Otherwise, I’m pretty ok with the M5 Pro.
OS is Windows 8.1 fully updated and drivers in use are the Nvidia 344.75.
All the games I’ve tested have been tested on 1080p resolution only. Currently no higher resolution devices are available to me and frankly, I don’t think that there is need for more than 1080p for 15.6″ or maybe a little more than that, like 2560×1440 or 2560×1600 should be perfect for gaming, at most.
With everything on, running and jumping and shooting and dying at the “boom” scene with a lot of particles, the 970M doesn’t even scratches and you’ll get almost 60FPS as a minimum and well above that on average.
Crysis 3 runs well on very high settings @ 1080p with MSAAx2 (changed that from the usual SMAAx2TX test). Using SMAAx2TX instead, the FPSs are much higher and gameplay smoother.
My experience was pretty good with both settings. The new TXAA looks better, but more taxing
Skyrim is no problem for the 970M at 1080p. Setting Ambient Occlusion on “quality” is fine for the 970M and Skyrim will still run at above 60FPS.
For some reason, the minimal FPSs for Thief built-in benchmark remains low and around the same level even for medium settings (“normal”) – might another bug or inefficiency.
Anyway, the gameplay was smooth even at the highest settings, I’ll upload some videos soon
Wolfenstein runs pretty well on 1080p and totally smooth. The 62FPS is the 60FPS cap rseult. The 15FPS is probably at some point where I tabbed out of the game or something – I didn’t have such low FPSs at any point.
The I7 + 970M handle well Total War : Rome II at highest settings@1080p with high average of 40+ FPS.
While running the game on highest settings, the FPSs weren’t as high as 45FPS when a lot of units were in sight but more like 25-30 FPS, which is still good for such a game on highest settings. Future updates might make it better, I think.
On Ultra settings@1080p the minimal FPS is 40+ with very high average. That’s excellent. Nothing more to say really..
Battlefield 4 Multiplayer with ~60 players was not too heavy for the I7 + 970M, however I must say that I barely succeeded in getting into situations when I actually see a lot of players directly, so it was probably not very taxing for the CPU and GPU.
But it is a realistic scenario for gamers and you can feel safe about BF4 MP gaming (not that I think that ultra settings are a must anyway)
League of Legends didn’t even maxed the CPU and GPU which were both underutilized. Minimal FPSs are around 63FPS which is very good and gameplay was very smooth.
UPDATE: seems like the CPU clocks were far from high for some reason (windows bug?), so I retested with ThrottleStop running, keeping clocks at 2.8GHZ. Resutls now are much higher
Don’t know why the I7 + 970M don’t get higher FPSs than that in Dota 2 as I got higher FPSs with slower GPUs before, so it might be some software issue. Anyway, FPSs are high and good.
UPDATE: same as LoL – had tested again with fixed CPU clocks (2.8GHZ) and results are higher.
Seems much like Borderlands 2 3D engine and results are also around the same. The Pre-Sequel might be a little bit more heavier, but graphics looks the same to me.
One thing, though, while gaming I saw that in some scenes the FPSs drop real low and upon checking the HWInfo info, I saw that one CPU core is maxed out by BL:TPS. It seems like this one really uses mainly one core of the CPU and it might get choked by it too, although the I7 cores is not really a slow core. An current AMD core might be more choking (but let’s wait for the Carrizo CPUs)
This new and supposedly scary game is not really a matter for the 970M and not for much slower GPUs like the 850M. Runs well on highest settings, what else to say..
For some reason, I’ve found myself throwing away too many hours on this game (not with this machine though, don’t worry). It’s nice to have your own tank.
FPSs are excellent even at highest settings@1080p with FXAA on and all the extra effects. It’s a bit strange that even on medium settings, the minimal FPS remain around the same. Anyway, runs great.
Couldn’t get good readings on minimal FPS for some reason, but the average is very high and is about x2.5 the 850M DDR3 results from the Electra 2.
I think the minimal FPSs are mainly at some point of loading or something like that, but not sure
Stress tests and throttling behavior
As described before, the GPU and CPU both have two separated cooling systems and heatpipes with the CPU having a single fan and the GPU two fans which only one of the,m spins under light load. Cool air sucked from the bottom of the machine (hence, it’s important to keep its bottom above the sitting surface) and is thrown fromthe left and rear ventilation holes.
1. Idle, power saver mode
2. Crysis 3 and BF4 MP gameplay. “very high” settings with SMAAx2 For Crysis 3, “Ultra” for BF4. Both at 1080p resolution. “High performance” power mode.
3. Prime95 torture test. “High performance” power mode.
4. Prime95 + Furmark on 1280×720 test, AAx2. “High performance” power mode.
5. Prime95 and Prime95 + Furmark tested again with CPU -50mV and -100mV CPU voltage.
I’ve mistakebly used “quiet” mode instead “performance” mode in the Clevo Control Center. Using “performance” mode, there is no GPU throttling and no to minor CPU throttling even under full load of Prime95 + Furmark. Also, fan speed is higher.
Moreover, you can set the fan speed to Maximum via the Clevo Control Center to reduce temperatures even more.
You can see that CPU is in trouble here, getting to high temperatures even without Furmark working. This graph doesn’t show it, but under full load (Prime95 + Furmark) or Prime95 without any clocks/volt modifications,
the CPU would automatically throttle (check update above) due to going pass the TDP limitation. See more info about that in the throttling section.
However, under gaming conditions you won’t have any problem and the M5 Pro / P650SE handle itself good enough.
Note: It’s a bit colder here now, so you might get somewhat higher temperatures in a more sunny weather. Anyway, I waited for the temps to be more stable before taking a read.
I was mistakebly using the “Quiet” profile from Clevo via their Control Center application. That was the cause to much of the automatic throttling I observed – GPU throttle disappeared completely and CPU kept much higher clocks, with a minimum of 2.1GHZ and an average of 2.3-2.4GHZ, at the least. However, it’s much louder.
I’ve observed no advantage in gaming (Metro LL, Bioshock), but for long periods of gaming and in a hotter season, the throttling might be more noticeable and you’d want to set the M5 Pro to “Performance” mode.
I would still use the “quite” mode mostly, because you’ll get close to 100% 3D performance in gaming and a much quiter experience.
In short, the CPU does throttle under full load, mainly due to TDP limitations in this case. If you need high CPU performance for long periods (rendering big projects, for example), reducing the clocks to 2.7-2.8GHZ with ThrottleStop (link to ThrottleStop) or downvolting the CPU or increasing max TDP limitation would prevent throttling up to some point – both can be done with Intel XTU (link).
The I7-4710MQ in my case was throttled mainly because of TDP limitations, so increasing the TDP limitations would help, but will also result in higher temperatures. I guess that a Broadwell CPU update would help a lot (should be here around Spring 2015, according to Intel).
Under Full load, I couldn’t really escape throttling,
which is unclear to me why (see update above). Even when setting the clocks to 2.4-2.6GHZ which under those settings, the CPU TDP does not go over the 47W limit and not even close to it, I’d still get a throttling effect. I think this behavior is configured in the bios, and for these settings I have no access to. I’m waiting for the unlocked modded bios update from Tech|Infernos’ Prema.
However, under gaming conditions, no throttling was observed and you’d get max 3D performance.
Here are the settings I’ve tried:
|GPU throttle||CPU throttle|
|Idle||No (=not at all)||No (= no to minor)|
|Prime95 Maximum fan speed||No||No|
|Prime95 2.6GHZ +Furmark||No||Yes|
|Prime95 + furmark||No||Yes|
|Prime95 -56mV||No||Partial – 2.4-2.5GHZ average|
|Prime95 + furmark cpu -56mV||No||No|
|Prime95 + furmark cpu -100mV||No||No|
|BF4 MP||No||No|Even -100mV downvolt and limiting the clocks to 2.5GHZ didn’t prevent the throttling, even though the TDP limitation was kept under 47W and temps weren’t high either, leading me again to think it is some kind of programmed behavior which was not well thought (and again, maybe an unlocked bios or bios update ould fix these problems). I didn’t tried to raise the the TDP limit AND limiting the clocks alltogether, because I fill that’s something almost no one will do. Moreover, as said above, under gaming you’d get the highest 3D performance, which is what this machine aimed at. (See update above)
With “Performance” profile :
With “Quiet” profile :
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.
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.
The M5 Pro basic screen option is the AUO B156HAN01.2 which is a pretty good and known 1080p AHVA display. I’m very content with it in the M5 Pro – high contrast and brightness, good colors and very good viewing angles. It’s the same one in use in some other laptops like the Asus N550JK.
Viewing angles are very good, with colors and brightness at minimal distort:
93% sRGB coverage, and good contrast@brightness ratio. At a very common setting of 50% brightness, you’d get a very low black level of 0.18. It’s also something you’d feel – easy reading and writing using this display. Color accuract (post-calibration) is good for normal use.
Under light load of web browsing via WiFi, you’d get around 4-4.5 hours of use, which is nice, but it’s mainly due to the high capacity of the 62Wh battery and not the efficiency of the machine (around 15W/h).
Under very low work load or idling (no WiFi, low screen brightness, no backlighted keyboard), you could squeeze around 5.5 hours of juice.
I’ve used MSI AfterBurner (version 4.0 currently) to do that and these are the settings:
1. 970M core@1140MHZ (+106MHZ overclock) which is around 10% overclock
Couldn’t overclock the VRAM to 10% as it crashed time after time when running any game. The core overclock was pretty stable and only once Crysis 3 crashed, but I’m not sure if the overclock was the reason.
Well, as in my GTX 860M overclocking results, Thief didn’t respond (what? why? something’s phishy). BF4 got a performance advantage at around the same rate of the overclock (there are variations for each run of the scene) and Crysis 3 did get a nice boost.
However, I’m not sure how much room for overclocking is there really for the 970M.
Other GTX 970M gaming machines:
- MSI GT60 Domintaor with GTX 970M, I7 and 1080p IPS display for $1500 before coupons (don’t see coupons currently). It comes with an ac Wifi card as a default, installed OS, better speakers and has better thermals under full load. However, if you don’t need the OS, the Clevo based 970M equipped machines are more cost effective almostin any case
- Sager NP8651 (Amazon w/OS, XoticPC – no OS, many others like LPC digital). Same Clevo P650SE barebone – might be cheaper even with the IPS display upgrade, but does not include the thermal paste upgrade to Diamond 24 as a default nor the TPM 2.0. With all these upgrades, it will cost the same
- Asus G751JT 17.3″ with 16GB RAM, 1080p IPS, I7-4710HQ, probably better cooling, but much heavier. A good competitor for those who want a 17.3″ gaming laptop anyway
On the other side of things, the GTX 860M is fast enough to run many games on very high settings@1080p and the VN7-591G (Newegg) or one of the other $1000 gaming laptops with an 1080p IPS display, GTX 860M and I7-4710HQ for $900-$1000 ($900 on BF) will be enough for most.
Well, few things.Let’s talk about the M5 as 970M machine and also if it’s a good deal for gamers.
One. The M5 Pro is a good machine in my opinion, for gamers. You get the maximal performance of I7 and GTX 970M with a very good 1080p IPS display, good enough keyboard and nice looks. Lots of connection ports and optional storage spaces of two SATA and two M.2 ports. The M5 Pro also features two default extras – TPM 2.0 chip and Diamond 24 thermal paste for the CPU. The I7 + GTX 970M will run almost any current game on highest or close to highest settings@1080p, so you are left with very little to desire for in that front. For $1375 that’s a good deal as except good speakers you get a very complete package with little to complain about. True, there is a chance for throttling under very high load, but that’s hardly the case in gaming and even under very high CPU + GPU load the M5 Pro handles itself well.
Two, the competition and your needs. Well, first of all, what bothers me most is that, if you think about it, the GTX 860M is good enough for you and there are $900-$1000 machines with IPS display (or easily replaceable display) with 860M. Maybe not with as much features as the M5 (and other 970M equipped machines), but with good enough 3D performance and enough features, like the VN7-591G with 860M, 1080p IPS, I7 (check competitors section). You can get a machine that will run your games and stuff on very high settings@1080p for less and have niceties like IPS display, do you really need more?
Now, about the competition – the GT60, Asus G751 and Sager NP8651 all close on the M5 Pro from below and above and the Sager NP8651 with same upgrades costs the same. The GT60 and Asus G751 both have their advantages and disadvantages with no clear winner, especially if you want an OS included in the price. It’s hard to say the any of them is the best 970M equipped laptop as it depends on your needs and discounts. But Eurocom has one Ace in its sleeves – 10% off for students. With this ongoing discount, you’ll get the cheapest 970M equipped machine that also has IPS display, opening a gap of $250 compared to the GT60/70 and Asus G751 machines if you don’t need the OS, which is 20% price difference and makes the M5 totally worth it over the others.
So, bottom line, as a 970M machine it’s a very good machine with little to really complain about. If you want a 970M equipped machine and don’t need an OS and/or have use for the TPM 2.0 security functionality, then it’s a very good option and with Eurocom’s 10% off for students that’s the most cost effective 970M + IPS machine given that you don’t need an OS (and even if you do) and you’ll get the TPM and Diamond 24 thermal paste extras.
However, one good question is whether you really think that you need that much 3D power. The 860M, as said above, is good enough for most 1080p gamers and the 970M is about the turning point, in my opinion and according to benchmarks, where 1080p gaming is no more a too much for the hardware (which is good for gamers) – not sure everyone “needs” that much power and as always my recommendation would be really to first figure out what you want and really need (as far as gaming / 3D power). If you’ve decided that you want a 970M machine, the the M5 Pro is a good option and if you are a student or can find one that will buy it for you, you’ve got a hell of a deal in your hands and I’d totally recommend it. Otherwise, there are cheaper 850M/860M equipped machines and in few years you can replace it, if you’ll really feel it’s not enough.