Clevo W880CU with GTX 480M now Shipping from AVADirect

Last month NVIDIA announced their new GTX 480M mobile GPU, a trimmed down version of the desktop GF100. Sporting 352 CUDA cores out of a potential 512 on the chip (11 of the 16 Streaming Multiprocessors are enabled), the 480M looks to reclaim the mobile performance crown and bring DX11 to NVIDIA laptops. The first two notebooks to list support for the 480M were older Clevo designs: the D900F with desktop Bloomfield processors, and the X8100 with support for 285M SLI, 5870 CrossFire, or a single 480M. (Note that at present, no one is ready to ship the X8100 with 480M, and we're not sure what the attraction would be for that platform unless you can get two 480M chips in SLI.) Both of those notebooks are huge, weighing in at over 12 pounds and not counting the power brick, so we were interested in seeing the 100W 480M fit into something a bit smaller.

We can now add a third notebook to the list, again from Clevo, with the W880CU. This time it's a tweaked version of the W870CU; it's not clear how much has changed in the design, but the weight of 8.3 pounds is quite a bit less than the other 480M options. Earlier this month we did a performance head-to-head comparison of the GTX 285M and HD 5870 using identical laptops from AVADirect with the Clevo W860CU chassis. Not surprisingly, no one is trying to stuff the 480M into a 15.6" chassis (yet?), but outside of the increased chassis size we've got a W880CU on the way with the same components as the W860CU head-to-head. Next week we will be able to definitively answer the question of how fast the 480M really is in comparison to equivalent systems with 285M and HD 5870.

If you're interested in a preview, NVIDIA sent us a reviewer's guide for the 480M with their performance results. Obviously, the benchmarks run by NVIDIA run the risk of being cherry picked, but they do provide a large number of comparisons with a variety of games. If the numbers are correct the 480M looks like it will outperform a single Mobility 5870 by around 30% on average, with certain settings combinations resulting in a >50% performance increase relative to 5870. NVIDIA will also make the argument that besides adding DX11 support, the 480M also features CUDA and PhysX functionality. All of that is true, and perhaps more importantly the 480M is finally powerful enough to allow use of PhysX in games like Batman without killing frame rates.

Given the prices and lack of battery life, gaming laptops are obviously a niche market that won't appeal to everyone. For those that want maximum performance from a notebook, however, GTX 480M looks to deliver the goods. If you're not interested in waiting for our full review, AVADirect is the first company in the US to start shipping W880CU gaming notebook with 480M, and it's available for order now. You can also get the D900F gaming notebook with a desktop CPU and 480M. Looking at the previous generation W860CU and W870CU, the upgrade to the W880CU and 480M comes with a hefty $700+ price premium. For roughly the same price (actually slightly less), you can also pick up the Clevo X8100 from Eurocom with HD 5870 CrossFire. Until 480M SLI comes along, that should remain the fastest DX11 gaming notebook option, but our experience with single GPU notebooks has always been more pleasant than trying to get the most out of multi-GPU setups.

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  • SimKill - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    This comment might come off as somewhat hypocritical from someone who owns a Clevo M860ETU but I think laptop manufacturers are going in the wrong direction. Just thinking about gives me that 'what the hell is happening in the world' moment (in a somewhat positive way though).

    I believe that the 480M might be too powerful for a laptop. Make no mistake, I like powerful but for a laptop shouldn't there be atleast _some_ semblance of battery life? My Clevo gives 2 hours tops, which I consider o-k, and if I recall the W860 had somewhere in the region of 60-90 minutes of battery right, or was that 64 tops? Shouldn't the manufacturers atleast supply a larger capacity battery.
    I might get responses on the lines of 'this is really just a portable desktop, and not meant for battery life', but deep down inside of me I believe that every manufacturer should strive for _atleast_ 2 hours of battery.
    I really really wish there'd be more breakthroughs that give us super-ultra battery life with very little performance loss that is associated with 'plugged-in' vs 'on battery'.

    Also, for people who go 'get a desktop' I'm a student who's just moving around everywhere and a laptop/baggable computer is far more convenient since there's no issues of power outlets on college campus anyway.

    P.S. My post may come out as incoherent but its just hard to absorb how much power is in a laptop nowadays.
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  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    If you read my review of the W870CU (http://www.anandtech.com/show/2858 -- it's essentially the same design as this one), the battery was a major complaint. It's not like this is a small notebook to begin with, and the battery compartment is actually reasonably large. That Clevo chooses to use a tiny 3-cell battery in a laptop this size is mind boggling to me. 3-cell batteries are what you put in small netbooks, not in DTRs! I agree with this complaint and think if nothing else Clevo should have a 6-cell or even 9-cell upgrade available. Not everyone will want that, but the option would be appreciated. Reply
  • Ananke - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    Considering my experience with breaking laptop hinges, which btw is a common issue across all brands, I see no point in spending a lot of money in a laptop, which will experience mechanical breakdown even before its electronics is outdated. Several years ago laptops were better quality as mechanical parts versus electronics, now is the other way around. So, thank you, but will pay close to nothing for a laptop that will last close to nothing, regardless the performance. Reply
  • Ethaniel - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    Maybe I'm just crazy, but nobody thought of splitting the keyboard in half (something similar to what Microsoft did with their old ergonomic keyboards) and putting the touchpad right in the center of the notebook? I just see wasted space there... Reply
  • ggathagan - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    There's not enough room to do that without making the keys the size of Chiclets or creating some other non-standard keyboard layout. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, June 29, 2010 - link

    or wtf is up with that number pad design? they have more than enough room for the usual enter and+ keys, this isn't a 15" notebook they are trying to squeeze a number pad onto Reply

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