by Kevin O'Brien
One of the main factors between notebook and desktop hardware has always been that desktops get the faster processors. Those processors put out more heat, consume more power, and are larger in size, which usually prevents installation into notebooks. The AVADirect D900F aims to change that, offering configurations that include the new Intel Core i7 975 Extreme Edition processor. Pair that with an NVIDIA 280M GTX graphics card, 6GB of DDR3 memory, and a 17" WUXGA display, and you get an extremely fast mobile workstation or gaming rig.
AVADirect D900F Specifications:
Build and Design
The AVADirect Clevo D900F appears at first glance to be a bit lacking compared to most notebooks on the market, with function being more important than form in the design phase. The look and feel seems dated compared to other notebooks on the market and the quality of the plastics seem underwelming for a notebook with such a high starting price. If this were any other notebook we might say there is no excuse for it, but then you realize it was designed to handle a desktop-class processor, high-end graphics card, and all of the cooling for that equipment.
The build quality of notebook is in the same category as the design; more emphasis was placed on performance than build quality and the end result is flexible plastic and a not-so-durable feeling chassis. The screen lid has some give to it, and the palmrest and keyboard could probably use some additional support. While the outside could use a face-lift the inside looks amazing. After you remove two access panels and the battery you have direct access to multiple heatsinks and cooling fans, the graphics card, processor, RAM slots, dual hard drive bay, and single additional drive bay. You can tell that most of the design went into cooling the notebook, most likely to prevent it from bursting into flames when the Intel Core i7 processor is under significant load.
Screen and Speakers
For high-detail gaming the AVADirect Clevo D900F offers a 17.1" WUXGA (1920x1200) LCD, which in our testing turned out to be quite nice. At full brightness it is easy to view even in a brightly lit office, although with the glossy surface it might not hold up well to outdoor viewing. Vertical viewing angles are average compared to other WUXGA panels we have seen, with about 25 degrees of play forward or back before colors start to distort. Horizontal viewing angles are much better, with colors staying true to roughly 75 degrees to each side. Beyond that angle, reflections overpower the picture displayed on the screen. While gaming we didn't notice any sort of lag or streaking.
Speaker performance is weak compared to other large gaming notebooks, but this isn't unheard of on some high-end gaming notebooks that are running cramped on space. The speakers have little bass or midrange, sounding very tinny at higher volume levels. While the speakers might work well for a small dorm room, headphone or external speakers would be the most preferred option.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the D900F is a full-size model with number pad. Spacing is average compared to most notebook keyboards, with some slightly condensed function keys on the left side of the keyboard. Gamers will enjoy the proper control key position, in the far lower left-hand corner, instead of an Fn key. Support underneath the keyboard could be better as there is some slight give under harder typing pressure. Individual key action is smooth with only a mild, almost-muted click given off when pressed. While you might get away with stealth typing on the D900F in a classroom, the fan noise will definitely give you away.
The touchpad is an appropriately sized Synaptics model, with a nice, mildly textured matte surface. It is snappy and responsive, with no lag noticed while gaming. Sensitivity is excellent, even with the default settings. The touchpad buttons are the shallow feedback kind, needing a solid positive press to activate. When pressed they give off a soft click sound, not that loud compared to the fan noise of the notebook while gaming.
Ports and Features
Considering the overall size of the D900F, we expected it to have a greater port selection. That being said, it rates about average compared to other gaming notebooks on the market. In total this notebook has four USB ports, one eSATA, HDMI, DVI, FireWire, TV, modem, LAN, and audio jacks. For expansion it offers an ExpressCard/54 slot and SDHC multi-card slot.
Right: Four USB, Kensington Lock slot.
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