While it's not the first laptop we've heard of that features a 19-inch display and two graphics cards running in a scalable link interface, the Eurocom M590K Emperor is the first such laptop we've laid hands on. And we like both marquee features very much: the laptop offers one of the most impressive gaming experiences money can buy. That said, as with most products equipped with new technologies, the M590K Emperor is particularly expensive (our loaded configuration cost $5,430)--even for a high-end gaming laptop--and especially in light of the fact that you can get almost as many frames per second from far less expensive systems, though only a few other niche vendors offer 19-inch models at this time (original equipment manufacturer Clevo is said to have built a similar model for Sager and SavRow). We recommend the M590K Emperor only to deadly serious, mobile gamers who are willing to spend top dollar for a system that's more portable than any desktop PC gaming rig.
The M590K Emperor is the largest laptop we've ever seen: It runs just shy of 19 inches wide, approximately 13.5 inches deep, and more than 2 inches thick. Weighing 14.7 pounds on its own, and 17.7 with its immense AC adapter, you do not want to make a habit out of carrying this laptop around; that said, the M590K Emperor is far more portable than even the smallest desktop PC gaming rigs from Alienware, Shuttle, and Falcon Northwest, with which it is intended to compete. On the other hand, there are other gaming laptops that offer comparable performance in a smaller package: the 17-inch XPS M1710 weighs less than 9 pounds. We found the M590K Emperor to be a bit rickety; the hinges creaked a bit when we moved the lid, though the lid itself seemed fairly sturdy.
The M590K Emperor includes a full-size keyboard, and a dedicated (though rather squished) number pad, as found on other large desktop replacements, such as the HP Pavilion dv8000 and the Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV600. We found the keyboard too mushy for extensive typing but totally adequate for the purposes of gaming. The M590K Emperor's touch pad and mouse buttons are all very big--again, another plus for gaming.
For any gaming laptop, audio and visual interfaces are critical. With a 19-inch diagonal display, the M590K Emperor unquestionably has the competition beat on size. Though the 1,680x1,050 native resolution is lower than that of some 17-inch laptops, the M590K Emperor's display offers a nice balance of screen real estate, crispness, and readability. It's bright, too: with our Minolta LS-100 luminance meter, we measured its maximum brightness at 192cd/m², compared to the XPS M1710's 170 cd/m². Though the M590K Emperor's four stereo speakers lack the rich bass tones we got from the Qomsio G35-AV600, they're loud and clear and delivered excellent audio quality overall in our tests. Above the display sits a 1.3-megapixel Webcam.
Gamers will find almost all of the ports, jacks, slots and connections they'll need on the M590K Emperor. Audio ports include headphone and microphone jacks, a line-in jack, and an S/PDIF output. Video ports include S-Video (output and input), VGA and DVI outputs, and a connection for an external antenna, so that you can tune in a noncable television signal. There are also five USB 2.0 ports and one four-pin FireWire port. Networking connections include Gigabit Ethernet; 56K modem, Intel PRO 802.11a/b/g wireless (a $95 upgrade), and Bluetooth (a $79 upgrade). Finally, you get an 8X multiformat, double-layer DVD burner, a 4-in-1 media card reader, and a Type II PC Card slot; there's no support for ExpressCards. Eurocom keeps the included software to a minimum. You can have your choice of Microsoft Windows XP Home, XP Professional, XP Professional x64, or Linux; our test unit came with XP Pro.
Priced at $5,430, our M590K Emperor unit came configured with extremely high-end components; the base configuration costs approximately $3,500. The Eurocom M590K Emperor is the first laptop we've tested to feature a scalable link interface configuration, using two Nvidia GeForce Go 7800GTX graphics cards with a total of 512MB of video GDDR3 memory. Also onboard were a 2.21GHz AMD Turion 64 MT-40 processor; 2GB of DDR RAM (400MHz); and a 100GB, 5,400rpm hard drive. For the sake of comparison, we also tested two late-model 17-inch gaming laptops: the $4,215 Dell XPS M1710, configured with one newer Nvidia GPU, as well as a $1,999 Toshiba Satellite P105-S921, also configured with one slightly lower-end Nvidia card, the GeForce Go 7900 GS.
Running the M590K Emperor through CNET Labs' benchmarks yielded some interesting results. For one thing, it ran fairly hot; to the left of the touch pad was an especially warm location. The M590K Emperor delivered nearly 122 frames per second (fps) in our Doom 3 test, compared with the XPS M170's 108fps; the Satellite P105-S921 notched about 86fps, on a par with Dell's previous XPS model, the M170. We found similar margins in our F.E.A.R. test, in which the M590K Emperor again took a slight edge over the XPS M1710 with 75fps. In our SysMark test, however, which tests the processor rather than the GPU, the M590K Emperor trailed all other systems, with score of 163. Clearly, the M590K Emperor offers a very high-end gaming experience, but you can have almost as many frames per second for more than $1,000 less with the XPS M1710, and you can have a totally adequate experience with any of the other systems for far less than that. The one thing you can't have on any of those other systems is the 19-inch display. (We did not run a battery life test on the M590K Emperor.)