- Incredibly powerful for its size
- Affordable and configurable
- Generous connectivity
- Well-built, soft finish
- Game-worthy graphics across the range
- Average screen
- Poor speakers
- Average keyboard
- Average battery life
- Review Price: £653.00
- 11.6in 1366 x 768 matt or glossy screen
- Quad-core Core i7 ‘Ivy Bridge’, 4-32GB RAM
- Choice of HDD/SSD/Hybrid
- Nvidia GeForce GT 650M with 2GB of RAM
The ironically named Monster is as small as gaming laptops come. It’s a bit of a chunky munky, but that’s pretty much a given with serious gaming machines, and it means that it doesn’t compromise on connectivity either – something the average Ultrabook certainly can’t boast.
When we say “serious gaming machine”, we mean it. Our Monster came with a quad-core Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge CPU, 8GB of RAM, 750GB hybrid HDD/SSD for storage and, crucially, a GeForce GT650M with 2GB of dedicated RAM – incidentally, that’s the same card found in the MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
That’s some impressive muscle – doubly so when you consider the small form factor and low 1.77kg weight – and some of it’s upgradeable to even higher specs on Eurocom’s website. Did we mention it has a Killer BigFoot wireless card?
Better yet, the starting price for the Monster is just £653 including postage (the company is based in Canada), and that’s with the same GeForce GT650M 2GB graphics! We’d call that a very worthwhile bargain anytime – based on specs and value alone, this laptop kicks the last of the Alienware M11x laptops to kingdom come.
Eurocom Monster Design
As with so many of the smaller ‘assembler’ companies, Eurocom’s Monster 1.0 uses a Clevo chassis – which we last saw a 17in incarnation of with the Wired2Fire Vector Elite. Overall, the W110ER Monster 1.0 is a good case.
It comes in a dark bronze colour that makes a nice change from the usual shades of black. The entire lid and keyboard area are covered in a soft-touch, patterned finish that is lovely to feel, doesn’t show up fingerprints and provides a more secure grip. It also makes resting your palms while typing much more pleasant.
As with the Vector Elite there’s no bling; in other words, no blinking logos in all the colours of the rainbow, no floodlights that illuminate your desk, and no brightly coloured sections or backlit controls. While it will never be called sexy we certainly don’t mind a more understated approach, though we’re sorry the lack of lighting extends to the keyboard.
Eurocom Monster Build
Clevo seems to improve the build quality of its chassis with each generation, and in keeping with this trend the Monster is sturdy all-round. There’s no creak or excessive flex, panels are neatly fitted, and it all feels pretty durable. The rubberised outer finish contributes to this, as does the lack of glossy sections.
Eurocom Monster Connectivity
Considering this is an 11-inch laptop we’re talking about here, albeit a chunky one, connectivity on this small gaming machine is simply superb. On the left, we have a Gigabit Ethernet jack, VGA and HDMI for video, headphone and microphone jacks, and twin USB 3.0 ports.
The front houses a spring-loaded SDXC card reader, while the right hosts a single USB port and the power jack. The usual Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth combo is also present, though 3G doesn’t seem to be on the menu.
Eurocom Monster Usability
Usability is the first area where the Eurocom W110ER Monster 1.0 has a bit of a hiccup. The keyboard is visually attractive, and its small keys sport good action with plenty of travel.
Nor, we’re glad to say, is there any flex – an annoyance we’ve come across with some previous Clevo chassis, and indeed with laptops from larger brands.
Where it falls down just a little is layout, with a tiny right-shift key right next to the ‘up’ cursor key and a second Fn key. We suppose that for all the 2 percent of gamers out there who still use cursor keys rather than WASD, having these full-size is essential – but as a right-shifter I’ll take the up and down arrows being the size of a single key any day. Still, overall the Eurocom Monster’s keyboard is certainly usable.
We have fewer complaints about the touchpad. The same textured soft finish found on the rest of the chassis can get a little wearing after a while, and it’s occasionally a tad jittery. Otherwise it’s responsive, with a nice click to its buttons.
Eurocom Monster Screen
IPS is only just beginning to make its way into high-end laptops like the Asus Zenbook Prime range and MacBook Pro with Retina, so we weren’t expecting one here given this laptop’s affordable price.
Still, we’re pleasantly surprised to find a matt option for the Monster’s 11.6in 1,366 x 768 TN display. Eurocom is currently one of the few system integrators to offer this, and it’s definitely what we would recommend going for.
By TN standards, meanwhile, the Eurocom Monster’s screen is decent but nothing more. Viewing angles are average, and even sitting straight-on you’ll need to be careful how you tilt the screen as subtle contrast shift may mean you lose shadow detail that the display can normally distinguish.
You’ll also find that things aren’t quite as vibrant as on some higher-brightness glossy screens, but that’s a price we’ll happily pay for the lack of reflections. However, there’s no real backlight bleed or noticeable clouding to spoil things, and everything’s pretty sharp due to the same res as most 13-inch laptops being packed into the smaller display.
Eurocom Monster Speakers
We’re also a little disappointed with the Monster’s speakers. With a few impressive examples of decent audio from small chassis recently, we were hoping the Monster would live up to its name here, but the sound it manages is underpowered and tinny.
In other words, it’s adequate for casual games and YouTube, but not what you want to listen to an explosive soundtrack – let alone actual explosions – on. As such, headphones or external speakers are a must.
Eurocom Monster Performance
Performance is just as stonking as the Monster’s monstrous spec-list might lead you to expect. First off, there’s the quad-core ‘Ivy Bridge’ Core i7 processor, which in our sample was an i7-3920XM, a 2.9GHz CPU which can clock up to 3.8GHz and supports up to eight virtual cores. As you may already know from those last two letters on the model name, that means this is the Extreme Edition of one of Intel’s chips – and it alone will set you back $1,085 over a regular Core i5, which is the base option.
Now let’s just get one thing straight: Intel’s Extreme Edition processors, both in desktop and laptop configurations, are ridiculous. There is no other word for the amount of money you’re paying for a relatively small performance gain, and there is no game on planet earth that needs one to look and play its best.
With that out of the way, 4GB of RAM is standard but our review spec came with 8GB, which adds $120. You can upgrade to 16GB for $440, but at that stage we would just install the RAM yourself.
The 750GB hybrid hard drive is also an improvement over the 500GB plain HDD that’s included by default, but in order for the storage to keep up with the rest of the system and to provide an absolutely smooth Windows experience, we would seriously consider spending an extra $100 to get the 256GB Crucial SSD option instead.
Eurocom Monster Gaming
Gaming is where things get really interesting for the Monster, thanks to its Nvidia GeForce GT650M. Given this, it should significantly outperform even the 15in Acer Aspire Timeline U M3 581TG, which only had a GT540M to call its own.
TrackMania Nations Forever (average fps, 720p, Medium Detail)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat (average fps, 720p, Medium Detail)
Naturally this little Eurocom munched like a Cookie monster through our standard gaming benchmarks at 720p. In fact, in many games it provided just as smooth an experience as the Wired2Fire Vector Elite with its AMD Radeon HD 6990M, though if you crank the detail up in demanding titles the more premium card will pull ahead.
However, an average of over 95fps in our Stalker test is nothing to sniff at, and neither is 37fps in Crysis at High Detail. Though it’s getting on a bit, the original Crysis still sets a standard that has rarely been exceeded in gaming graphics. It scales very well, but with everything at maximum we haven’t yet found a single-card laptop that could play it smoothly. Indeed, notching details up to max at the same 1,280 x 720 resolution returned a less playable 25fps average.
Inevitably for such a small chassis, the Monster does get rather warm and noisy while under stress, especially when gaming. However, that’s the nature of the beast’s size.
Eurocom Monster Battery Life
The Monster uses a pretty hefty battery pack for such a small laptop, coming in at 5600mAh/62Wh. However, thanks no doubt in part to the Extreme Edition processor, it only managed just over three and a half hours in our battery test. Mind you, we were able to get longer out of it with manual regular usage, but activating this laptop’s dedicated graphics will net you even less than that figure.
Eurocom Monster Value
By any measure, Eurocom’s W110ER Monster 1.0 is pretty decent value, especially in its £653 base configuration, which gets you an Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a fast 500GB HDD and of course that 2GB GeForce GT650M. In fact, upgrade the hard drive to an SSD and you’ve got yourself a pretty competent miniature gaming system.
German MySN (which also ships to the UK) charges around the same for an identical Clevo chassis with a Core i3, 2GB of RAM, less video memory and a smaller hard drive, while a Dell Alienware M14x with similar specs will set you back around £1,050. Admittedly, in the latter case you’re getting a better-looking chassis with a far superior keyboard and a screen that blows the Monster’s out of the water, but we’re also talking about a larger, bulkier machine here and nearly £400 of extra change.
Despite its quirky keyboard, temperamental touchpad and average screen, the 11.6-inch Eurocom Monster is a great gaming laptop if you’re after something that’s as portable as they come while remaining affordable. It offers excellent connectivity and is highly configurable, with specifications that really have no business in such a small chassis. Last but far from least, featuring a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT650M across the range means that even demanding titles can be run at reasonable detail levels on the base spec.
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Score in detail
Screen Quality 7
Battery Life 6
Processor, Memory & Storage
|Processor||Intel Core i5-i7|
|Memory (RAM) (Gigabyte)||4-32GB|
|Hard Disk Drive (HDD) (Gigabyte)||OptionalGB|
|Solid State Drive (SSD)||Optional|
|Blu-ray Optical Drive||No|
Graphics & Sound
|Graphics||GeForce GT 650M|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Operating System||Windows 7|