As you no doubt know, when it comes to trying to pack the performance needed to undertake serious video gaming in a laptop, it comes down to a very tricky balance between speed and portability. Try to shove too much power in a gaming laptop and for all intents and purposes, it ceases to be a portable PC —heavy, bulky and with little battery life. Go too far in the other direction, though, and you end up with something that’s svelte but unable to play games on anything but the lowest settings. I just spent some quality time with a gaming laptop that manages to strike the perfect balance: the Eurocom M3. It’s a compact, lightweight laptop with the power to chew through pixels and polygons while keeping frame rates high. Eurocom says the M3 is the most powerful 13-inch notebook ever made and everything I’ve seen supports that claim.
Looks Good, Performs Better
The Eurocom M3 is one of those PCs that looks a lot better in person than in photos. In pictures, it may come off as a little bland, especially when compared to other gaming rigs that are lit up like a UFO or decked out with all sorts of aggressive trim.
The fact that its case is dark grey and black hides the fact that the M3 is actually quite nicely sculpted until you see it in person. It’s not flashy or over the top, but quite attractive in an understated manner.
The looks don’t give much away about its capabilities, but there are clues if you look hard enough. It’s slim for a gaming laptop but a bit thicker than most notebooks. When you view it from the side, the extra large slots for airflow with the gleam of a metal heatsink behind are tough to miss, as is the fan —mounted behind a grill on the M3’s underside.
It isn’t until you open it up and power it on that you begin to get a true sense that this isn’t just any old compact laptop.
First, startup is fast. That’s thanks to the hybrid drive in the test model that combines the speed of an SSD with the capacity of a hard disk. The matte IPS display is bright, with wide viewing angles and is extremely crisp —Full HD on the compact 13.3-inch screen means you have to try hard to see a pixel.
And those pixels will be moving fast. The Eurocom M3 is packing an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 65 mobile GPU with 2GB of DDR5 VRAM. The CPU is an Intel Core i7 with 8GB of DDR3-1600 SODIMM memory.
These components combine for wicked fast gaming performance (see the benchmarks on the left).
It’s a pretty sweet rig for watching video too…
Don’t Forget the Sound
Audio shouldn’t be overlooked as part of the gaming experience and the Eurocom M3 was impressive on this front as well. With Soundblaster Cinema, High Definition Audio and pair of built-in Onkyo speakers, it sounded better than most laptops and some portable sound systems.
And Security (Trusted Platform Module)
The Eurocom M3 I tested featured a TPM 1.2 chip from Infineon Technologies. This means increased security for transactions, remote access and communications through on-chip encryption.
- 13.3-inch matte IPS backlit LED display at Full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) and 700:1 contrast ratio
- Intel Core i7 (Haswell) CPU
- 8 GB DDR3 RAM (one slot free)
- NVIDIA GTX 765M GPU with 2GB DDR5 VRAM, Optimus 2.0
- As tested, storage was 1 TB Seagate Momentus hybrid drive
- Bays available for two additional sSATA SSDs with RAID capability
- 2.0 MP webcam
- USB 2.0, three USB 3.0, HDMI out, VGA, Audio, Gigabit LAN, Bluetooth, memory card
- 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Backlit keyboard with 3 stage lighting
- 62 wH Lithium Ion battery rated at up to 5 hours of use
- Windows 8 (test unit was running windows 8.1)
- 3.19 cm thick, weighs 2 kg
For full specs, check out the Eurocom M3 product page.
What I Would Change
Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot I can find fault with when it comes to the Eurocom M3.
I find the built-in trackpad is a bit small for my liking (it’s about half the size of the one in my 11-inch MacBook Air). I found the matte black lid —which has almost a rubberized feel to it— may look awesome, but collects dust. Neither the power adapter nor the notebook itself appear to have an indicator light that lets you know it’s recharging. Finally, the battery is rated at about 5 hours of use, but when I ran streaming HD videos over Wi-Fi with the brightness at about mid way, I saw just over 3 hours —so not terrible (especially for a high performance gaming rig), but not great, either.
That’s about it.
Solid Gaming Laptop, Stealth All-Purpose Rig?
I think the point has already been made that the Eurocom M3 is going to make gamers happy.
But after playing around with it for a week, I can’t help but think this would be a great laptop to have in general. Admittedly that’s letting a lot of graphical power go to waste, but hear me out.
The M3 is loaded. You don’t need any upgrades to end up with a compact Windows 8 laptop with all the power you’ll ever need, a beautiful display, very usable and backlit keyboard and tons of storage space. That Onkyo sound system means there’s no need for hooking up an external speaker. And, unlike many gaming laptops, the M3’s design is very subtle. No splashy glowing LED logos or futuristically sculpted cases here. You could use this computer in a boardroom and no one would say a thing. About the only thing you’d be giving up compared to a typical business notebook is a few hours of battery life.
And on your lunch break, you could fire up Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls.
If you want to check out the Eurocom M3 for yourself and maybe compare it to other leading gaming laptops, Best Buy has you covered.