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Review: The Eurocom Tornado F5W Workstation Storms Ahead of the Field

Eurocom has once again proven that it can deliver some powerful mobile systems. The Canadian company recently sent us its Tornado F5W, a customizable and upgradable 15.6-in. laptop. Like the company’s Sky DLX7 system we reviewed last year (DE, October 2016), the Eurocom Tornado F5W includes a LGA1151 socketed CPU, enabling the system to support a wide range of Intel Xeon CPUs.

Image courtesy of David Cohn.

Image courtesy of David Cohn.

The Eurocom Tornado F5W is based on an Intel C236 workstation chipset. The $1,374 base configuration includes an Intel Xeon E3-1240 CPU, an NVIDIA Quadro M1000M mobile graphics processing unit, 16GB of memory, a 1920×1080 display, and a 1TB 7200rpm SATA hard drive—but no operating system. Even after adding a copy of Windows 10, the base configuration would likely perform quite well. But the system Eurocom sent us to review contained some much more impressive components.

Housed in a sculpted charcoal plastic case surrounding a heavy-duty aluminum alloy chassis, the system measures 15.35×10.56×1.6-in., but weighs just 6.45 pounds. A 230-watt power supply comes standard in the base configuration. Unfortunately, the large 330W power supply (7.75×3.75×1.75-in.) that came with our system added another 3.1 pounds, making the total package a hefty 9.55 pounds.

How the Eurocom Tornado F5W ranks on our price vs. performance scale.

Raising the thin lid, which flexes easily, reveals a Eurocom logo centered below the 15.6-in. in-plane switching panel. The backlit 102-key keyboard and numeric keypad has a nice feel, though some keys were oddly placed and served multiple functions.

Our evaluation unit came with a 1920×1080 matte full high-definition panel with a 700:1 contrast ratio and 72% National Television System Committee color gamut. A 3840×2160 UltraHD ISP panel with similar specs is available for $100 more.

A 4.25×2.5-in. touchpad with a pair of buttons is centered below the spacebar. Centered above the display is a 2-megapixel webcam and microphone array. There is also a pair of 2-watt speakers for the built-in Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 sound system. Four small trapezoid-shaped buttons in the upper-right corner of the keyboard deck provide power, keyboard backlight, display and cooling fan controls, whereas LEDs along the front edge of the case show drive activity, wireless LAN, battery, caps lock and number lock status.

Lots of Options

Our evaluation unit came equipped with a 3.6GHz Intel Xeon E3-1270 v5 quad-core “Skylake” CPU with 8MB cache, a maximum turbo frequency of 4.0GHz and a thermal design power (TDP) rating of 80 watts. This 14nm processor adds $83 to the base price. A 3.7GHz Xeon E3-1280 ($333) is available.

Eurocom also offers a range of NVIDIA graphics cards, including the Quadro M1000M included in the base configuration, as well as the M3000M ($250) and M5000M ($1,583). The system we received came with a Quadro M4000M, with 1280 compute unified device architecture cores and 4GB of GDDR5 memory, increasing the system cost by $917.

Although 16GB of RAM comes standard, with its four 260-pin small outline dual in-line memory module sockets, you can equip the Tornado F5W with up to 64GB of memory, as in our evaluation unit. Installed as four 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 modules, all that extra memory added $842 to the system price.

There are also various storage options. In addition to the 1TB 7200rpm hard drive provided in the base configuration, the Eurocom Tornado F5W can accommodate two M.2 PCIe solid state drives with RAID 0 and 1 configurations, as well as a single SATA hard drive, making it possible to equip a Tornado F5W with up to 8TB capacity. Our system included a single Samsung 960 Pro 2TB M.2, adding $1,666 to the base configuration.

Although the base price includes a Realtek 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth combo, our system included an 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WLAN + Bluetooth 4.1 Killer wireless-AC adapter, which added an additional $58.

An eight-cell lithium-ion battery comes standard and powered our system for 3 hours and 20 minutes before shutting down. Throughout our tests, the Eurocom Tornado F5W ran cool and quiet, averaging just 35dB.

Leading the Field

Thanks to its fast CPU and high-end graphics card, the Eurocom Tornado F5W turned in benchmark results that placed it firmly near the top of the field of mobile workstations. On the SPECviewperf test, which measures pure graphics performance, the F5W ranked as the fastest 15-in. laptop we have ever tested.

On the SOLIDWORKS test, the Eurocom Tornado F5W was also the clear winner, turning in results nearly equal to some of the most powerful 17-in. laptops and even rivaling the performance of many desktop systems.

On the demanding SPECwpc benchmark, the Eurocom Tornado F5W ranked close to the top of the mobile workstation pack. Only its average time of 78.3 seconds on our AutoCAD rendering test proved disappointing, taking nearly 30 seconds longer than the fastest mobile workstation on this multi-threaded test.

Of course, the F5W’s performance comes at a hefty price. As equipped, our Eurocom Tornado F5W would cost $5,450, including $166 for the Windows 10 Professional 64-bit operating system that came preinstalled, and $313 for a three-year warranty. (Only one year of return-to-factory coverage and support is included in the base price.) That price makes the Eurocom Tornado F5W one of the most expensive mobile workstations we have tested in the past four years.

As has been true of other Eurocom mobile workstations we have tested in the past, the Tornado F5W is meant to replace a desktop workstation for power users on the go. Although it certainly delivers the goods, as configured, this Eurocom system will likely appeal to a small but demanding set of users for whom performance matters more than price.

Eurocom Tornado F5

  • Price: $5,450 as tested ($1,374 base price)
  • Size: 15.37×10.56×1.6-in. (WxDxH) notebook
  • Weight: 6.45 pounds as tested, plus 3.14-pound power supply
  • CPU: 3.6GHz Intel Xeon E3-1270 v5 quad-core w/8MB cache
  • Memory: 64GB 2400MHz DDR3
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro M4000M w/4GB memory and
    1280 CUDA cores
  • LCD: 15.6-in. diagonal (1920×1080), non-glare, IPS
  • Hard Disk: 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD drive
  • Optical: none
  • Audio:line-in, line-out, microphone, headphone/SPDIF,
    plus built-in microphone and speakers
  • Network: integrated Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 NIC) with one RJ-45 port, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless LAN, and Bluetooth 4.1
  • Modem: none
  • Other: three USB 3.0 (one powered), one USB 3.1 (Type C) Thunderbolt port, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI-out, 2MP webcam, six-in-one card reader
  • Keyboard: integrated 102-key backlit keyboard with numeric keypad
  • Pointing device: integrated two-button touchpad

More Info

Eurocom Corporation

 

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.