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Eurocom Panther 5SE: The Incredible Hulk of notebook computers

Tom Henderson | Aug. 27, 2013
Eurocom rocked us with the most powerful per-pound choice in a notebook that we've seen to date. The Panther 5SE came with 4TB of storage, 64GB of DIMM3 memory and eight Xeon cores. You won't find the Panther at the big-box retailers – the version we tested runs $7,500. But we rate this device highly for its extreme flexibility and muscularity.

As a laptop, it would plentifully breeze our legs; because of its four bottom-side mounted fans, we suggest it be placed on a table unless you need your lunch heated on your lap.

Look and feel
The unit shipped to us had a 17"-inch display, high-density raster, and a fast chipset that sports an Intel Xeon 3.1GHz processor with eight cores/16 threads. This CPU alone is worth more than the price of a MacBook Air at retail. There's a full 101 keyboard, and although it doesn't have sculptured keys, the keys are rectangular and have a reasonable feel to them for touch typists.

The keyboard's QWERTY keys are pushed to left-of-center, and getting used to the key positions vs. the centered touch pad and mouse keys proved initially disconcerting. We found ourselves needing to additionally lift our hands, as the height of the keyboard is not quite two inches above the plane of the desk that it sits on.

In the center of the touchpad/mouse button combo is a fingerprint reader that worked correctly for Windows 2012. The combination of the keyboard offset and the unusual reader/touchpad/mouse buttons took longer for us to adjust to than we anticipated. We also needed to move the adjustments for the touchpad as it didn't seem to match the display geometry well, but the adjustment took only seconds until we were happy with it.

The display is a 17-inch full-HD (FHD or 1920x1080) bright LED display. It has a glossy surrounding bezel rather than matte coating, which in areas with many light sources could make the display perimeter awkwardly reflective, although the display is clear, vivid, and responded quickly with no perceived image persistence.

There is a 5.1 speaker system installed, a rarity in most notebooks, but we rated the fidelity as just "good" and the "subwoofer" is inaudible if there's any background noise. In a quiet room, however, we decided it was a good multimedia machine. Gamers and content producers might salivate.

Aiding multimedia are a number of output jacks for audio and video, including DisplayPort v1.2; DVI-I (SL); HDMI 1.4a out w/HDCP; headphone; microphone; S/PDIF output; and (audio) line-in. There's a full 30fps onboard camera built into the top of the display bezel as well. Skype never looked so good.

Storage holds a max of 4TB today, a factor of how many small drives can be installed in the form factor. The drives can be made into several combinations in terms of RAID, and can also be composed of SSD drives. External storage can be connected through a Fireware 800 jack or through USB 3 and USB 2 jacks.

Cloud or network attachment comes through a Gigabit Ethernet jack or an integral WiFi 802.11b/g/n/n+ connection. An ExpressCard slot on the side of the metal chassis could accommodate more network connections like LTE or other services, but we didn't test the ExpressCard connection.


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