This 15.6-inch multimedia notebook features an Nvidia graphics card powerful enough for gaming, two hard drive bays and an anti-glare full HD screen starting under $900. Here's our teardown.
Eurocom, a custom notebook reseller specializing in gaming notebooks and high-performance mobile workstations, is no stranger to a multimedia laptop like the Fox 4.0. Eurocom has been building custom PCs since 1989. Companies such as Eurocom are commonly referred to as "resellers" since they purchase notebook chassis from manufacturers like Clevo and them heavily customize the components (processor, graphics, storage, wireless cards, etc.) and sell those built-to-order notebooks to their customers.
Build and Design
The Fox 4.0 is a built-on Clevo W150ERM customized by Eurocom. Clevo notebooks have a reputation for offering no-frills designs and powerful performance but not much else.
The W150ERM has a bland exterior made of all plastic which gives it a low quality feel. The plastic rattles when tapped and just doesn't inspire confidence. Chassis strength is average; it bends somewhat when twisted. The lid fares somewhat better and unless extreme pressure is used, ripples don't appear on the screen. Fit and finish is satisfactory - there are no rough edges or excess gaps between parts.
The W150ERM is chunky at 1.7" tall though light enough at just over six pounds. Design-wise is by-the-book utilitarian; no accommodations were made for style. Fortunately glossy plastic is absent from most of the chassis save for the screen surround.
Those looking to upgrade the W150ERM will be satisfied with the large access panel on the chassis bottom offering access to the RAM and storage drives - that's right, this notebook has two storage drive bays. This is one of the only 15.6" notebooks on the market with more than one bay (natively). Eurocom offers a third storage drive by replacing the optical drive with a storage drive caddy.
Input and Output Ports
This notebook has an abundance of ports including USB 3.0 and eSATA. While this isn't as many ports as you'll find on larger 17-inch Clevo notebooks the total number of ports is pretty impressive for a 15-inch laptop. Photo descriptions are left to right.
Front: Status lights
Back: Kensington lock slot, battery pack
Left: AC power jack, cooling exhaust vent, VGA, Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0, media card reader (top), HDMI (bottom), eSATA/USB combo jack
Right: Headphone and microphone jacks, S/PDIF, USB 2.0, tray-load DVD burner
Keyboard and Touchpad
Another thing Clevo notebooks haven't been known for is their input devices. The W150ERM has a Chiclet-style keyboard with extra spacing between the keys. While I had no issues typing as I normally do, I certainly wish the tactile feedback was improved. It feels much too light and loose and sounds cheap.
The keyboard has a separate numeric keypad though it's a three-column layout; it takes some getting used to. It's disappointing that the home, end, pgup and pgdn keys are not dedicated.
The Synaptics touchpad is actually quite nice; it has a smooth surface and is appropriately sized for a 15.6" screen. The two dedicated buttons have good feedback and are quiet; I find the latter extremely important. The biometric fingerprint reader is situated between the buttons. I found the touchpad to be a little too sensitive; sometimes the cursor would jump while I was typing. This is correctable via the included touchpad software, though.
Screen and Speakers
Eurocom equips the W150ERM with a full HD (1920x1080 resolution) display. Several variants are available; our version is the base one with the anti-glare coating. It's a good quality unit with ample brightness and satisfactory but not impressive saturation. Eurocom offers a 95% gamut display which should be much more colorful.
The anti-glare coating is greatly appreciated since unlike a glossy surface, there are no reflections from light sources. The 1920x1080 resolution is excellent for productivity - it has 50% more viewing space than the 1366x768 resolution found on most 15.6" notebooks. This means less scrolling and the ability to use two windows side-by-side without squashing them.
The two stereo speakers located under the palm rest are a letdown; they sound tinny and have no bass. In the past I haven't complained about poor speakers on notebooks but as of late, most mainstream 15.6" notebooks in this price range include name-brand speakers that are much more usable.
Performance and Benchmarks
Our Eurocom Fox 4.0 review unit has the following configuration:
Our review unit is 87% more expensive than the base model thanks to $715 worth of options. The most expensive one is the Core i7-3820QM processor (+$349), a top-shelf model and amongst the fastest around. Other options include 8GB of RAM (+$110; 2x 4GB; 1x 4GB is standard); the 750GB hybrid hard drive (+$87; 500GB 7200RPM is standard); Windows 7 Professional (+$151; no OS is standard); and the Intel wireless card (+$18; a generic 802.11n module is standard). Overall it's not the most economical of configurations; stick with the base i7-2670QM quad-core processor (which is more than fast enough for most people) and RAM and the price becomes $1,082. Something I like about this notebook is its two internal drive bays; this is a rarity amongst 15.6" notebooks. This makes it more flexible as a result; for example, you could have a small Solid State Drive (SSD) in one bay as the primary drive and a large secondary hard drive for storage. Eurocom offers a third storage bay via replacing the optical drive (a DVD burner, in the case of our review unit) with a caddy that holds another storage drive. Eurocom offers a variety of SSD and hard drive combinations.
The W150ERM undoubtedly put up some impressive benchmark numbers. As equipped this notebook is powerful enough for just about anything including modern 3D gaming; the Nvidia GeForce GT 650M can run most modern games at the display's native 1920x1080 resolution with medium settings. There are more powerful graphics cards available in a 15.6" notebook but not at this notebook?s starting price point. The quad-core i7-3820QM processor is a total monster and excellent for encoding, rendering, photo/video editing and of course gaming.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark and measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark Vantage measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 is a newer benchmark and measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark06 measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
Heat and Noise
One fan is responsible for the W150ERM's cooling system; it jets hot air out the left side of the chassis. At idle it's nearly silent but under full load it gets loud and can be heard across a medium-size room. The fan activity seems to be a bit erratic as well; sometimes the fan spools up quickly for a period of a few seconds and then turns off. Wouldn't it make more sense (from a user's perspective) if the RPMs stayed down and simply remained on a bit longer? Again this notebook is no frills and for what it's worth, the cooling system does a good job; the left side of the notebook gets lukewarm but not more than that. It's impressive that this cooling system is able to reign in a powerful quad-core processor and Nvidia graphics card.
I measured just three hours and 20 minutes of battery life during our standard battery run down test (Windows 7 Balanced power profile, 70% display brightness, wireless active and refreshing a webpage every 60 seconds). This is definitely on the low side for a modern 15.6" notebook, even a desktop replacement model. Lowering the display brightness to minimum would likely extend the battery life out another half hour or so but that still isn't above average.
Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):
The W150ERM continues Clevo's tradition of offering a no-frills notebook with excellent performance; the W150ERM turned in some chart-topping benchmark scores. This is one of the few 15.6" notebooks on the market with two drive bays (with a third available by replacing the optical drive). Other things I like about this notebook include the good anti-glare 1920x1080 resolution display and solid amount of input and output ports.
Aside from those features this notebook really is no frills. The all-plastic design is as bland as they come and it feels cheap; the keyboard has mediocre feedback and also feels cheap. The build quality is just average; the cooling system while effective is loud under full load; the battery life is less than expected for a modern 15.6" notebook at under four hours; last but not least the speaker quality is less than acceptable.
Overall the W150ERM (or Fox 4.0 as branded by Eurocom) is worthy of consideration if you're in the market for a nondescript notebook with a lot of performance, a good screen, flexible storage options, and want something different than the usual big-name offerings. Beyond that, it is tough to recommend next to mainstream 15.6-inch notebooks that satisfy in all the areas this notebook does not.