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Eurocom Sky X9W Review: A True Desktop Replacement

The Eurocom Sky X9W delivers desktop workstation-like performance. Image courtesy of Eurocom and Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS.

The Eurocom Sky X9W delivers desktop workstation-like performance. Image courtesy of Eurocom and Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS.

Eurocom has consistently delivered exceedingly powerful mobile systems. Last year, the Canadian company sent us its P5 Pro mobile server (deskeng.com/de/?p=24638), a computer that delivered blazingly fast performance at a premium price. To start off 2016, Eurocom sent us its new Sky X9, a system the company says is the most powerful mobile workstation ever made. With a claim like that, we couldn’t wait to put the Sky X9 through its paces.

Eurocom Sky X9W

  • Price: $6,781 as tested ($2,585 base price)
  • Size: 16.8×12.1×1.6 in. (WxDxH) notebook
  • Weight: 10.8 lbs. as tested, plus 3.0 lb. power supply
  • CPU: 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K quad-core w/8MB cache
  • Memory:64GB 2133MHz DDR4
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro M5000M w/8GB memory and 1536 CUDA cores
  • LCD: 17.3 in. diagonal (3840×2160), non-glare, IPS
  • Hard Disk: Two 256GB PCIe SSD drives configured as a single 512GB OS drive as a RAID 0 array; two 2TB 5400rpm SATA3 redundant data drives configured as a RAID 1 array
  • Optical: None
  • Audio: Line-in, microphone, headphone, S/PDIF-out, plus built-in microphone and speakers
  • Network: Integrated Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 NIC) with two RJ-45 ports, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless LAN, and Bluetooth 4.2
  • Other: Five USB 3.0 (one powered), one USB 3.1 (Type C) Thunderbolt port, two mini DisplayPorts, HDMI-out, 2MP webcam, SD card slot
  • Keyboard: 102-key keyboard with keypad
  • Pointing device: 2-button touchpad and fingerprint reader

Eurocom sells three versions of the Sky X9: a basic version using NVIDIA GTX graphics cards, the X9W and the X9E Extreme Edition with an unlocked BIOS for overclocking. All based on an Intel Z170 Express Skylake chipset, the $2,585 base configuration includes an Intel Core i7-6700K CPU, NVIDIA mobile GPU (graphics processing unit), 16GB of RAM, a 1920×1080 display, and 1TB SATA hard drive, but no operating system. All three versions are housed in similar sculpted charcoal gray cases.

We received the Eurocom Sky X9W, which measures 16.8×12.1×1.6 in. and tips the scales at a hefty 10.8 lbs. This makes the Sky X9W one of the largest and heaviest mobile systems we’ve tested in years. Its huge 330W external power supply (7.7×3.8×1.7 in.) adds another 3 lbs. to the total package. At a time when most modern portable systems are thin and light, the total Eurocom Sky X9W package weighs nearly 14 lbs.

Raising the lid reveals a gorgeous 17.3-in. UHD 4K (3840×2160) IPS (in-plane switching) display with a non-glare surface and 1000:1 contrast ratio, and a backlit 102-key keyboard that includes a separate numeric keypad. A 4.25×2.5 in. touchpad with a pair of buttons and a built-in fingerprint reader is centered below the spacebar. Centered above the display is a 2-megapixel webcam and microphones. There are also a pair of 2.2 watt FORSTER speakers for the Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5 sound system located in raised panels above the top corners of the keyboard, with a subwoofer on the bottom of the case. A round power button is centered above the keyboard and flanked on the left by a panel with LEDs to indicate airplane mode and hard drive activity, and on the right with a similar panel containing the caps lock, scroll lock and number lock indicators. Users can control the intensity, color and effects of both the keyboard backlight and logo illumination on the case lid.

Lots of Ports But Closed Interior

The right side of the case offers an SD card slot, a USB 3.0 port, a USB 3.1 (Type C) Thunderbolt 3 port, a pair of mini DisplayPorts and a Kensington lock slot. The left side provides a pair of RJ-45 network ports, three more USB 3.0 ports (including one that is powered), and audio jacks for line-in, microphone, headphone and S/PDIF-out. The rear panel hosts an HDMI port, an additional USB 3.0 port, and the connection for the external power supply flanked by a pair of air vents. There are lots more air vents along the front and on the bottom of the case. We found it puzzling that a system this big lacked an optical drive bay. The Eurocom Sky X9W is also a closed system: Users are not meant to get inside, although it is possible to open the case from the bottom (after removing a bunch of screws).

Our evaluation unit came with an Intel Core i7-6700K, a 4GHz quad-core CPU with 8MB cache, a maximum turbo frequency of 4.2GHz and a thermal design power rating of 91 watts. This 14nm Skylake processor also includes Intel HD Graphics 530. Several other less expensive CPUs are also available. Eurocom also equipped our system with an NVIDIA Quadro M5000M mobile GPU, with 1536 CUDA (compute unified device architecture) cores and 8GB of GDDR5 memory, increasing the system cost by an $1,379. The base-level Sky X9W comes with an NVIDIA Quadro M3000M.

Although 16GB of system memory comes standard, you have lots of choices. Our evaluation unit came equipped with the maximum capacity of 64GB of 2133MHz memory, installed as four 16GB DDR4 260-pin Micro SODIMMs (small outline dual-inline memory modules), which added $1,095 to the system price.

Eurocom Sky X9W

There’s room inside for up to 5TB of storage, but the interior is not easily accessible, not even to replace the battery. Image courtesy of Eurocom.

There are also lots of storage options. The base configuration includes a 1TB 7200rpm Hitachi Travelstar SATA hard drive, but there are actually two 2.5-in. drive bays and Eurocom offers standard drives of up to 2GB capacity and solid-state drives (SSDs) ranging from 128GB to 2TB, both with RAID array capabilities. There are also two internal slots for SSD M.2 card-based drives ranging from 120GB to 512GB. Our evaluation unit came with a pair of 256GB Samsung SSD PCIe drives in a RAID 0 array hosting the operating system and a pair of 2TB Samsung 5400rpm drives in a RAID 1 array for data. This drive configuration added $1,206 to the total system cost.

While a 2-in-1 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WLAN+Bluetooth 4.2 plus Intel Wireless-AC 8260 card is included in the base configuration, Eurocom also offers both higher- and lower-end network cards. An eight-cell lithium-ion battery and 330 watt auto-switching worldwide power supply come standard.

You would think that the absence of an optical drive would leave room for a larger battery. But with all those hard drives, a power-hungry CPU and high-end GPU, our evaluation unit managed just 2 hours 17 minutes before shutting down. Throughout our tests, the Sky X9W ran relatively cool and quiet, averaging just 33dB at rest (compared to 29dB ambient background noise). The noise level climbed to 46dB under heavy compute loads (about the equivalent of an office conversation).

Desktop Performance

Thanks to its fast CPU, abundance of memory and high-end graphics card, the Eurocom Sky X9W turned in the best performance we have ever recorded for a mobile workstation. On the SPECviewperf test, which focuses solely on graphics, the Eurocom Sky X9W beat all competitors, often by a wide margin, even surpassing the performance of many desktop workstations.

For our SOLIDWORKS tests, we have recently begun using the new SPEC SolidWorks 2015 benchmark. This new evaluation performs nine graphics tests and two CPU tests. Although this marks the first review in which we are publishing these new results, we did go back and retest several other systems we previously reviewed. With its fast CPU and high-end mobile graphics system, the Eurocom Sky X9W turned in great results on this real-world performance evaluation.

We also ran the SPECwpc benchmark and the Eurocom Sky X9W beat the competition on nearly every aspect of this demanding test. Although the 64.90 second average rendering time on the AutoCAD rendering test was 8 seconds slower than last year’s Eurocom P5 Pro, that still placed it near the top of the field.

Of course, all this power comes at a hefty price. As equipped, our Eurocom Sky X9W priced out at $6,781 (including $172 for the Microsoft Windows 10 Professional 64-bit operating system that came preinstalled), just $19 less than the most expensive mobile systems we’ve ever tested. Eurocom also offers other operating systems, or you can order the system without an OS and install your own. The price also includes a one-year warranty with return to depot service, but you can extend the warranty to two or three years for $151 or $323, respectively.

The Eurocom Sky X9W is meant to replace a desktop workstation for power users on the go, and it delivers on this promise. But its weight and price will likely make it a niche product, a super portable for those willing to carry both the weight and the cost that all the power demands.

More Info

Mobile Workstations Compared

Eurocom Sky X9W4.3GHz Intel Core i7-6700K quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro M5000M,
Dell Precision M3800 G22.3GHz Intel Core i7-4712HQ quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M, 16GB RAM HP ZBook 14 G22.6GHz Intel Core i7-5600U dual-core CPU, AMD FirePro M4150 and Intel HD Graphics 5500, 16GB RAM BOXX
GoBOXX G19802.8GHz Intel Core i7-4980HQ quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro K1100M,
P5 Pro4GHz Intel Core i7-4790K quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro K510,
WS602.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ quad-core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M,
Price as tested $6,781 $2,109 $2,115 $3,365 $4,489 $2,600
Date tested 1/23/16 5/25/15 2/20/15 2/4/15 2/4/15 1/17/15
Operating System Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1 Windows 7 Windows 7
SPECviewperf 12 (higher is better)
catia-04 102.23 15.16 15.09 21.26 64.64 21.26
creo-01 84.55 15.36 16.57 20.28 48.70 19.98
energy-01 10.52 0.34 0.06 0.32 2.61 0.32
maya-04 75.56 13.85 9.09 18.20 48.84 17.90
medical-01 40.75 4.30 2.70 5.71 23.93 5.71
showcase-01 45.87 8.55 7.58 10.35 27.86 10.63
snx-02 87.30 15.30 20.06 22.10 58.41 22.05
sw-03 121.63 25.41 29.21 34.53 97.38 32.32
SPECviewperf 11 (higher is better)
catia-03 104.72 32.18 32.53 47.85 80.24 45.66
ensight-04 142.29 17.38 17.51 24.55 86.39 24.09
lightwave-01 82.57 60.00 65.87 77.62 94.51 64.37
maya-03 156.70 62.83 61.30 81.14 178.55 77.78
proe-05 19.05 13.92 9.70 21.57 22.67 18.26
sw-02 71.69 39.91 43.45 52.31 81.17 47.80
tcvis-02 77.67 28.59 13.38 37.24 70.60 36.95
snx-01 146.18 23.77 23.55 31.76 89.35 31.85
SPECapc SOLIDWORKS 2015 (higher is better)
Graphics Composite 6.07 1.85 1.75 n/a n/a n/a
Shaded Graphics Sub-Composite 4.36 1.70 1.30 n/a n/a n/a
Shaded w/Edges Graphics Sub-Composite 5.58 2.27 1.32 n/a n/a n/a
Shaded using RealView Sub-Composite 5.07 1.57 1.16 n/a n/a n/a
Shaded w/Edges using RealView Sub-Composite 8.36 2.76 1.88 n/a n/a n/a
Shaded using RealView and Shadows Sub-Composite 5.17 1.38 1.39 n/a n/a n/a
Shaded with Edges; RealView & Shadows Graphics Sub-Composite 8.11 2.29 1.61 n/a n/a n/a
Shaded using RealView & Shadows & Ambient Occlusion Graphics Sub-Composite 6.81 1.12 2.90 n/a n/a n/a
Shaded with Edges using RealView & Shadows & Ambient Occlusion Graphics Sub-Composite 10.28 1.74 3.40 n/a n/a n/a
Wireframe Graphics Sub-Composite 3.76 2.36 2.27 n/a n/a n/a
CPU Composite 3.03 2.41 3.14 n/a n/a n/a
Time in Seconds
Autodesk Render Test (lower is better) 64.90 79.38 124.28 55.39 56.88 63.60
Battery Test (higher is better) 2:17 5:34 7:28 2:15 2:17 3:13

Numbers in blue indicate best recorded results. Numbers in red indicate worst recorded results.

About David Cohn

David Cohn has been using AutoCAD for more than 25 years and is the author of more than a dozen books on the subject. He’s the technical publishing manager at 4D Technologies, a contributing editor to Digital Engineering, and also does consulting and technical writing from his home in Bellingham, WA. Watch for his latest CADLearning eBooks on AutoCAD 2015 on the Apple iBookstore, at Amazon, and on the CADLearning website. You can contact him via email at david@dscohn.com or visit his website at www.dscohn.com.