The Eurocom Sky X4C Gaming Laptop Video Review
Michael Alba posted on June 03, 2019 |
Is this gaming laptop a good fit for professional users?

Full Written ReviewThe Eurocom Sky X4C “Mobile Supercomputer”

Video Transcript: Here on, we often review so-called mobile workstations. That’s a name that OEMs give to their own products to indicate that they meet the needs of a professional user base. But mobile workstations don’t have a monopoly on high-end specs, and they have a counterpart in the consumer market: gaming laptops. Today we’re looking at the Eurocom Sky X4C, a powerful gaming laptop with bleeding edge specs. It’s not a mobile workstation, but is it suitable for professional use? Let’s take a look.

The Specs

The first thing you’ll notice about the Sky X4C is its massive size, which is typical of gaming laptops. That means lots of room for components, but it really drags down the portability of the Sky X4C. It weighs seven and a half pounds, which is not light for a laptop, and it comes with this massive AC adapter which adds on another 3 pounds. But we’ll get back to portability later.

The tradeoff for the massive chassis is that there’s space for really impressive specs. This is the first laptop we’ve reviewed that supports the new NVIDIA RTX graphics cards, and we had the GeForce RTX 2080 in our review unit. That’s a very powerful card, but it’s the highest you can go in the Sky X4C. Not yet supported are Quadro RTX cards, though Eurocom tells me they will be at some point. But in the meantime, that might throw off pro users who are accustomed to the enterprise features of Quadros.

The Sky X4C also offers really good CPU options, up to the Intel Core i9-9900K we had in our unit. That’s got 8 cores, whereas most mobile workstations top out with a six core processor. However, unlike many mobile workstations, there’s no options for Intel Xeon processors, which, like Quadros, are a bit more enterprise-focused. So while the processor specs on the Sky X4C are really good, they’re a better fit for gamers than for professionals.

Memory on the Sky X4C can go from 16 to 128GB, which is higher than many, but not all, mobile workstations. The storage capabilities, however, are through the roof, and with two SSD M.2 slots and two SSD or HDD drives, you can cram up to 20 TB of SSD storage on the Sky X4C. That’s a lot of bytes.

The ports on the Sky X4C are another great feature of this laptop, because there’s a lot of them. On the left side of the device there’s an Ethernet port, a Thunderbolt USB-C, a Non-Thunderbolt USB-C, two USB 3.1, and a multi-card reader. On the right side there’s a line-in jack, a mic jack, a line-out jack, a headphone/S/PDIF combo jack, a USB 2.0 port, and another USB 3.1. Finally, on the back, there’s an HDMI port, two mini DisplayPorts, and the power port.

The price of the Sky X4C ranges a lot, from about $1700 on the low end to about $17,000 on the high end. Our review unit, with the GeForce RTX 2080, Intel Core i9-9900K, 64GB of memory, and 1TB SSD storage was a little over 5 grand. But one of the really great things about the Sky X4C is that it’s completely user-upgradeable, so if you buy one and decide later on that you want more memory or storage or better processors, you can easily make that change.

The Performance

The Sky X4C really excelled in our standard gamut of benchmarks. For professional use we rely on two benchmarks by SPEC, the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation. SPECviewperf 13 measures a computer’s graphical capabilities in professional visualization applications such as CAD, and SPECworkstation 3 measures a computer across all categories that would define it at a workstation. In both tests, the Sky X4C got phenomenal scores across all categories, with a couple exceptions: it falls really, really flat in Siemens NX, and it’s underwhelming in general compute operations, despite its 8-core processor. In almost every other category, the Sky X4C easily surpassed all the mobile workstations we’ve tested this year.

In Passmark PerformanceTest, another general performance benchmark, the Sky X4C again did great, with the highest Passmark score we’ve gotten this year by a decent margin. Its biggest shortcoming, though, and this was by a lot, was in the Disk Mark subtest. So the read and write speeds, at least on our review unit, were abnormally low.

Next we tested the display of the Sky X4C. It’s a 15.6 inch display, and our review unit had a 3840 x 2160 resolution, but you can also get it in 1920 x 1080. Our display was pretty average in terms of color coverage, hitting 98% of the sRGB color space but only 74% of Adobe RGB. It’s also on the dim side with an average of 256 nits at 100% brightness and a contrast ratio of 800:1. The Sky X4C was great at color accuracy, with an average Delta E of 0.99, but both accuracy and brightness vary around the screen by as much as 3.3 Delta E and 18% luminance.

The one test that the Sky X4C really failed was our battery test. Failed isn’t really the right word. The battery performs exactly as advertised, which is to say it averages about 130 minutes of typical use. If you wanna push the Sky X4C, you’re not even going to make it to an hour. We got 52 minutes in our heaviest tests, and the most we managed to squeeze out of this battery was only 155 minutes, less than three hours. The poor battery life is a huge constraint on the Sky X4C’s portability, and means it’s not a great option for getting work done on the go.

The Rest

One thing you’ll notice right away about the Sky X4C is this fancy keyboard backlighting. I’m not much of a gamer myself, but they seem to enjoy colorful keyboards, and the Sky X4C delivers. You can customize the keyboard endlessly with different colors and patterns, so I guess that’s cool. The keyboard itself is really nice to type on, and includes a numpad which I always appreciate. But the trackpad isn’t very good, so you’ll probably want to use one of the six USB ports for a mouse.

Just above the keyboard is a little panel with lights to indicate things like power, whether any of the lock keys are on, whether airplane mode is on, and whether the disk is in use. I found this more annoying than helpful because it was constantly blinking at me, but I suppose it could come in handy.

Though the battery life is really poor on the Sky X4C, you can easily remove the battery, so you could theoretically swap it with a charged spare. But you can’t hot swap it, you have to power the computer down, switch the battery, and then restart it. So it kind of seems like more trouble than it’s worth to carry an extra battery around for what may only be an extra 50 minutes anyways. So I think you’ll just have to accept that the Sky X4C is meant to exist near a power outlet. Just don’t forget your AC adapter. Did I mention how huge this thing is?

So can the Eurocom Sky X4C, a gaming laptop, replace a mobile workstation? Yes, but only under the right circumstances. First, you have to be comfortable with the limited mobility of the Sky X4C. If you want a mobile workstation to be, well, mobile, then this isn’t for you. Second, you have to be comfortable with the consumer-level processor specs. The processors in the Sky X4C are truly superb, they crushed our benchmarks, but they’re not in the professional tier that you would find in most mobile workstations, and as such, they lack some enterprise benefits like ECC memory, for instance. But if you don’t care about that, then by all means, these are great specs.

I think there’s some engineers out there who would be more than happy with the Sky X4C. But despite its great performance, I think a lot of professional users may want something a little more professional.

But we want to hear what you think: Would you use a gaming laptop for professional work? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for watching, and until the next one, go do something else.

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