AVADirect isn't hiding the fact that the Clevo D900F Core i7 desktop replacement laptop isn't its design. Actually, the system builder goes out of its way to let you know it's a white-box PC by leaving Clevo--the name of the OEM/ODM company responsible for making the laptop--in the model's name. What, then, does AVADirect bring to the table? Well, it's the company willing to drop a full-on Core i7 desktop processor into the bare-bones chassis and load it up with all manner of other performance goodies, and then stand behind the build quality while you take advantage of some of the best mobile computing performance money can buy.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$3,894.75/$2,497.58|
|Processor||3.3GHz Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Quad Core|
|Memory||6GB, 1,066MHz DDR3|
|Storage||30GB SSD (2); 500GB 7,200rpm HDD|
|Graphics||1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Premium SP1 (64-bit)|
|Dimensions||15.6 inches wide by 11.7 inches deep|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||12.1/15 pounds|
While we were impressed with AVADirect's build quality on its desktops, assembling a bare-bones laptop isn't nearly as remarkable. Basically, AVADirect picks out generic models designed by the likes of Clevo, Asus, MSI, and Compal, plugs in some components, and then sells them.
Of course, there's more than that going on, such as making sure all the parts play well together. It's just that there's no expert cabling to praise, nor can we give AVADirect credit for designing from the ground up a system running on one of Intel's latest performance desktop processors. On the flip side, we can't blame it for the D900F's boring looks, lack of multimedia controls, or the constant din of fans. What we can say is if you don't like the metallic gray and black plastic of this model, AVADirect will custom paint it in one of 10 colors for $350.
The D900F is mobile in so much as you can move it and its massive power brick more easily than you could a desktop, monitor, keyboard, and mouse. This thing is huge and heavy, though, and it sits high, jacked up on rubber risers to let the four fans in the base of the notebook move air. If you need a workstation or gaming rig to travel with occasionally, this is a viable option.
The 17-inch wide-screen LCD offers a 1,920x1,200 native resolution, which is the current default for a high-end 17-inch screen. It performed well, with good color and dynamic range for entertainment, Web surfing, office productivity, and gaming. Above the screen is a 2-megapixel Webcam; a mic is built into the frame below the screen.
At the top of the keyboard are three quick-launch buttons and the power button. To the lower left of the keyboard are two buttons that can be programmed for macros. The keyboard itself is a matte black with white markings; function keys are marked in orange. It's a reasonably comfortable keyboard, though there is some flex to it. It has a full number pad. To the left and right of the keyboard and at the front edge are speaker ports. Audio is quite full sounding and gets respectably loud. Audio I/O jacks sit in the front between the two speakers. There's no volume dial or any other independent media controls.
|AVADirect Clevo D900F Core i7||Average for category [desktop replacement]|
|Video||DVI, HDMI, Webcam||VGA-out, HDMI|
|Audio||4 speakers, headphone and microphone jacks, S/PDIF out, built-in microphone||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks.|
|Data||4 USB 2.0, eSATA, mini-FireWire, multiformat card reader||4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD card reader|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||Blu-ray player/DVD burner||DVD burner or Blu-ray|
As for ports, inputs, outputs, and networking, there was nothing we really saw missing from this build. On the right are four USB ports and on left are a Blu-ray player/DVD + -RW drive along with, well, everything else really. A DVI port and power input are at the back, but that's it.
The D900F can be outfitted with a lot of components and AVADirect offers more options than its competition. There are eight Intel processors, both Xeon and Core i7 to choose from. Hard drives and solid-state drives can be mixed thanks to the system's three 2.5-inch bays. It supports up to 12GB of memory and there's a choice of three manufacturers. You can even pick your thermal compound. Everything gets fully tested and burned in by AVADirect.
The Asus W90VP-X1 remains our current leader in laptop gaming performance, but the D900F is right behind it, and that's only in our 1,920x1,200 test; the AVADirect actually beat it at lower resolutions. What's more impressive is that the D900F handily topped all of the other performance laptops we've tested. Its processing results were more on par with the Alienware Area-51 X58 gaming desktop running a 3.2GHz Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition and 12GB of 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM.
Battery life, as expected, is pretty poor, at just 1 hour and 8 minutes on our video playback battery drain test. We don't usually expect such a monstrous laptop to last long on battery power, but it is worth noting that other performance desktop replacements, such as the Gateway P-7808u and MSI GT725-212US, can last far longer away from an outlet.
AVADirect includes an industry-standard, one-year warranty on parts; a three-year option is available for $308. Lifetime labor coverage is included. Technical hardware-related support is included for the lifetime of the laptop and is accessible via an online request form or toll-free during the company's business hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.