Great gaming performance; Lightning-fast SSD; Soft-touch finish makes system easy to grip
Relatively dim display; Keyboard feels cramped; Short battery life
The 11-inch Eurocom Monster crams the latest Intel Ivy Bridge processor and Nvidia graphics chip into a small-but-powerful gaming laptop.
Eurocom's 11-inch Monster ($1,444) may be small, but with its Intel Ivy Bridge processor, Nvidia 650M graphics and solid-state drive, it packs more than enough power to go toe-to-toe with some of the biggest and baddest gaming machines on the planet. But a gaming machine needs more than strong performance numbers to be considered a must-have.
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Pop the lid and you'll see the same rubberized material and grid pattern found on the Monster's wrist rest and touchpad. The keyboard deck also gets a rubberized treatment, although no grid pattern. In the top left corner of the Monster's keyboard deck sit the system's green Wi-Fi, hard drive, caps lock, number lock and scroll lock indicators. Opposite those is the Monster's large power button complete with a blue LED.
Measuring 11.5 x 8.3 x 1.5 inches and weighing 4 pounds, the Eurocom Monster is lighter than the Alienware M11x (4.4 pounds), but it has a chunkier profile. The Alienware measures 1.3 inches thick. Overall, the Monster reminds of an oversized premium netbook.
Images were still sharp and colors accurate while watching a 1080p trailer for "The Amazing Spider-Man." Viewing angles, however, were subpar, making it tough to watch Peter Parker's exploits at a 45-degree angle.
Eurocom built the Monster's speakers into the rear of the Monster's underside, which caused the audio to sound slightly muffled when the notebook was in our lap. That issue aside, the Monster pumped out crisp and accurate audio.
While listening to Jay-Z and Kanye West's "H.A.M." bass notes were on point, and the dramatic breakdowns in the song still had the same intense impact as they would on a larger system. The heavy guitar riffs and guttural sounds of All That Remain's "Overcome" were equally clean.
Keyboard and Touchpad
That said, the direction keys on the right side of the keyboard are incredibly small, so gamers accustomed to using those to navigate might have a difficult time. Touch typists will also be frustrated by the shrunken right Shift key.
The Monster's Elan multitouch touchpad features the same textured rubberized material found on its keyboard deck. Overall, we found the touchpad to be accurate and well-suited for gaming.
The Eurocom Monster managed to remain cool when pushed to its limits. After running "Batman: Arkham City" on its highest settings for 15 minutes, the Monster's keyboard was still a relatively cool 83 degrees. The touchpad was a bit hotter at 94 degrees, while the system's underside was 95 degrees. We consider temperatures of 95 and below to be comfortable.
That's not to say the Monster doesn't generate its share of heat. In fact, the left corner of the notebook's underside, where the system's vents are located, reached 108 degrees.
Graphics and Gaming
With the graphics set to auto-detect, the Eurocom Monster ran "World of Warcraft" at a blistering 179 frames per second. That's better than the Samsung Series 7 Gamer's (Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M with 2GB of RAM) 167 fps and the ASUS G75VW-DS71's (GeForce GTX 660M GPUs with 2GB of RAM) 158fps. When we set the graphics settings to max, the Monster still managed 96 fps, besting the category average of 16 fps and the ASUS G75VW's 88 fps.
The Eurocom Monster also managed to party with the big boys when it came to running "Batman: Arkham City." With the graphics at their lowest setting and the resolution set to 1,366 x 768 (the Monster's max), we cleaned up Gotham's streets at a brisk 41 fps. When we pumped the graphics up to Very High and switched on Direct X11 and 4X MSAA, the Monster dropped to an unplayable 22 fps.
It's worth noting that rendering graphics on the MSI GT60's 15-inch and the ASUS and Samsung's 17-inch displays at their native resolutions requires more processing power than it takes to the Monster's to power its lower-res 11-inch display.
The Eurocom Monster is the smallest Ivy Bridge notebook yet to land in our labs. But don't let its diminutive footprint fool you. The Monster's 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-3720QM quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM and 120GB SSD make for a potent combo.
On the PCMark 07 test, which measures a PC's overall performance, the Monster scored 4,299. That's almost double the category average of 2,476 and nearly 1,000 points better than the MSI GT60's score of 3,336 (2.3-GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor, 12GB of RAM and dual 500GB, 7,200-rpm HDDs). The Monster even managed to outclass the Samsung Series 7 Gamer, which scored 3,611 on the same test (2.3-GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor, 16GB of RAM and dual 750GB 7,200-rpm HDDs).
The Monster's 120GB SSD made quick work of our LAPTOP File Transfer test, moving 4.97GB of mixed media files in 45 seconds. That's a rate of 113 MBps. The average ultraportable manages 45 MBps.
Just as impressive was the Monster's blazing boot time: just 19 seconds.
Our $1,444 Eurocom Monster review unit came with a 2.6-GHz Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3720QM quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 120GB SSD and Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics chip with 2GB of RAM. If you're looking for even more power, you can step up to the big leagues and outfit the Monster with a 2.7-GHz Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3820QM quad-core processor, 16GB of RAM and 600GB SSD for $3,409.
If, however, you're in the market for a gaming machine and are on a sub-$1,000 budget, you can pick up a Monster with an Intel 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-2410M dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 7,200-rpm HDD and Nvidia GeForce GT 650M with 2GB of RAM with no operating system installed for $899.
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|CPU||2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-3720QM quad-core processor|
|Operating System||MS Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit)|
|RAM Upgradable to||16GB|
|Hard Drive Size||120GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||n/a|
|Hard Drive Type||SSD Drive|
|Optical Drive Speed||n/a|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GT 650M w/ 2GB DDR3 memory|
|Wi-Fi Model||Realtek RTL8723AE|
|Touchpad Size||3.4 x 1.7|
|Size||11.5 x 8.3 x 1.5 inches|