Ultra High End Gaming Notebook Roundup

Author: SKYMTL
Date: May 3, 2016
Product Name: MSI GT72S Dominator Pro / Origin EON17-SLX / Eurocom SKY X9
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A Closer Look at the Eurocom SKY X9

Pricing aside, the SKY X9 is something of a unique solution, even among the august company in this roundup since Eurocom has by far the most comprehensive configuration tool in the industry. The number of options is dizzying and can actually become a bit daunting for novices hence why several pre-configured setups are also offered. In this case I opted for something that would put desktop systems to the test so I canít really fault Eurocom for the five grand price tag.

As with all Eurocom notebooks, when buying the system with Windows pre installed (the system is also available without an OS installed) it comes in a completely virgin state without any needless bloatware. Once I get to the MSI Dominator Pro, youíll see why this is so important. However for the time being letís just that itís nice being greeted by a simple software stack containing applications for sound setup and performance modes rather than countless popups.

The Sky X9ís Sager-sourced chassis is a fully plastic affair but that doesnít necessarily mean that build quality suffers since thereís very little top cover flex. With that being said, at just over 10lbs and two inches thick, Eurocom needed to add a good amount of structural stability to insure damage wouldnít occur when this thing is being carried around. ďCarriedĒ is a loosely used term though since the X9ís massive size and weight leads to limited mobility.

With such a high price point one would assume there would be some distinct styling here but that isnít the case with these stock Sager setups. Instead they use a plain, understated design thatís completely black with the only departure being a quartet of faintly glowing LED strips on the top cover.

On the X9ís inner areas thereís continuation of the same black motif and a vast expanse plastic once again. Larger 17Ē notebooks like this one typically exhibit a good amount of palmrest flex due to the large amount of uninterrupted surface area between the notebookís edges and the trackpad but the X9 held things together nicely. There was only a slight amount of movement but that didnít detract from the typing or gaming experience. That palmrest does pick up a ton of palm prints through.

While the design is utilitarian at best, there is certainly some room for improvement. It would have been great to see Eurocom or their partner Sager minimizing the 17Ē screenís bezel in an effort to either maximize visibility or at least attempt to shrink down the bulky chassis. I just canít emphasize enough how bulky the SKY X9 feels.

The keyboard and trackpad arenít anything spectacular and like the rest of the Eurocom SKY X9 they can best be described as utilitarian, without any standout features. There are no gaming macro keys, the LED backlighting lacks options and, unlike the MSI Dominator Iíll be talking about later, the extra space alongside the keyboard hasnít been used for value-added shortcut functions. It just feels like youíre buying a Ferrari and equipping it with cloth seats from a bargain-basement Mitsubishi Mirage; they do a good job of holding your butt but thatís about it.

Despite the X9 being marketed as an ultra high end portable gaming companion, I continually found myself reaching for my trusty Logitech G105. It isnít that typing is particularly bad on this notebook but it simply lacks sufficient key travel and bounce-back is lethargic. This leads to a mushy feeling which not only negatively impacted typing but was detrimental to gaming, particularly due to the closeness of the keys to one another. Regardless of the title, I struggled to acclimate to the keyboardís quirks and ended up avoiding it like the plague.

Eurocomís trackpad is just that: a trackpad that does its job but not particularly well. Its surface has a good amount of resistance and the two physical buttons are a welcome addition when compared to all of the horrible integrated setups out there. Unfortunately, palm detection ended up being a bridge too far and the fingerprint reader never did work properly.

Sound is handled via a pair of up-firing 2W Foster Audio speakers which are protected by these meshed-in areas. Thereís also an accompanying down-firing subwoofer. Although the sound is processed through a SoundBlaster X-Fi DSP and these speakers are quite powerful, the audio quality they push out relatively clear though a bit on the muddy side when bass-heavy tracks are used. I also found that the meshed covers are magnets for dust or other fine particles and are almost impossible to clean.

In terms of connectivity, thereís certainly nothing to complain about though I would have liked to see an included mini Displayport to DisplayPort adapter so the X9 could have been easily hooked up to an external display. If anything, these pictures demonstrate just how massive this notebook really is.

On the left edge the X9 houses a pair of LAN ports that connect directly to the Killer NIC, a trio of USB 3.0 ports (one of which features AC/DC charging capabilities) and jacks for headphones, a mic, line-in and S/PDIF. Meanwhile, the right hand side includes two mini DisplayPort 1.2 outputs, a combo USB 3.1 Type-C / Thunderbolt connector, another USB 3.0 port and finally a 6-in-1 card reader.

The SKY X9ís rear-facing area is mostly given over to ventilation but thereís a lone power input, another USB 3.0 connector and a HDMI 1.4b output. This would have been an excellent location for one of the Mini DisplayPort connectors but unfortunately those are oddly located on this notebookís right edge.

Other than an epic amount of ventilation areas, thereís really not much going on below the chassis. The four large rubberized feed keep the X9 firmly planted in place while also adding a bit of height so the subwoofer can project its sound downwards with a minimum of roadblocks.

Getting access to the SKY X9ís interior couldnít be easier and there isnít a single Warranty Void if Removed sticker to be seen. Eurocom actually encourages you to upgrade their notebooks and have several upgrade kits available for their older systems to bring them up to todayís performance expectations.

In the configuration above, thereís a pair of GTX 980M cards installed on the left side in the motherboardís two MXM 3.0b slots while the desktop-class CPU enjoys its own dedicated heatsink in the upper right hand corner. The memory is also easily accessible but the storage drives and M.2 slots are located below the battery so getting to them will require the removal of a few more screws. All in all this layout is extremely well done with nearly every component lying within reach and extremely clear ventilation pathways for all of the hot running items.

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