EUROCOM Tornado F5 Mini-MonsterBook Review Thread

Discussion in 'MSI Reviews & Owners' Lounges' started by Mr. Fox, Jan 24, 2017.

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  1. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    EUROCOM TORNADO F5 EXTREME EDITION


    The amazing Tornado F5 was delivered to me the afternoon a January 23, sent from Eurocom World Headquarters, in Nepean, Ontario, Canada. Discussion of a review began back in October of 2016 and it has been a long wait. We opted to postpone the review until the 'Extreme Edition" was available.

    I mention this at the onset because Eurocom is not your typical notebook vendor. The company was founded by a man of unusual vision, who values innovation and quality products. They are one of the few notebook specialty companies that you will find that share the values of genuine enthusiasts and understand our contempt for BGA filth. They are an advocate for us with Clevo and the manufacturer of the model under review, as well as Intel and NVIDIA, and they support those of us that are not willing to compromise on soldered trashbooks. You can read a little more about the company on their “About Us” page.

    Now, before you start questioning my motives and dismiss me as a shill for Eurocom, let me set the record straight. I do not work for them. I have built a friendship with them, just as I have HIDevolution. They are a @Prema partner shop, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the price of admission to awesomeness. The reasons have to do with shared values and common passions. They share our contempt for mediocrity and hatred of the control freaks that dominate the industry. And, the reason all of this is relevant is because the Tornado F5 is absolutely not your typical 15-inch “gamer-boy” turdbook.

    Core Specifications (as tested):
    • Intel Core i7-7700K CPU
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5x)
    • 64GB DDR4-3000 (4x16GB G.Skill RipjawsV F4-3000C16-16GRS)
    LG Philips LP156WF6 (FHD IPS) 15.6" LCD 60Hz Matte w/ G-Sync
    • Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter
    • Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Controller
    • 1x Thunderbolt 3™ Controller / USB 3.1 Type C
    • 3x USB 3.0
    • 1x HDMI 2.1
    • 1x mini-DP 1.2​

    I am not going to spend a great deal of time covering the specs. There are other places you can get that information. If you are really wanting to investigate all of the finer details with the minutia on things like screen quality and what-not, you’re in the wrong place. Here are a couple of links you can check out.

    My review is going to ignore all that fluff and give you the perspective of a notebook enthusiast that is obsessed with performance, overclockability, upgradability and serviceability. Now, please do not take that the wrong way. The fluff is nice, but it is only icing on the cake. If there is no cake under the icing, or the cake tastes like crap, only a fool or a sugar-addict is going to bother eating it.

    First Impressions:
    The Tornado F5 is very attractive. It is built well and surprisingly light, at least by my standards. In fact, one of the first things I noticed, and had reservations about immediately, is how light this bad boy is. I have had about 24 hours to become familiar with it, and I am very pleased with its build quality and aesthetics. In every respect it looks good and feels like a high quality product. While being light is not important to me, I know it is to some of you. Let's just say I am no longer disturbed by how light it is... not even a little bit.

    The IPS display panel is very good. The colors and blacks look great, the maximum viewing angles are excellent and 1080p is the absolutely perfect maximum resolution for a 15-inch screen. Any higher resolution would be miserable to use and anything less than FHD would suck. Literally everything about the display is pleasing. Oh, yeah... it's G-Sync as well. The only way it could be better is if it were 120Hz. But, I am planning to overclock it and if it responds well to that the 60Hz refresh rate may not actually matter much in the grand scheme of things. I will report on how that goes when I get around to it later this week. The reviews linked above have more details on the screen, or you can check it out at the Panelook.com web site (also linked in specs section above).

    Initial Observations:
    Performance potential seems to be superior. Its capacity to endure extreme overclocking will be proven during the period of my review, or it will be destroyed in the process. And, all of you will have a front-row seat to bear witness to what it is capable of, and what it is not. I have no doubt that in terms of performance this little beast is going to kick the teeth out of all the pathetic over-priced BGA competition alternatives out there.

    As expected, out-of-box thermals are quite poor. This seems to be the story facing all of us today, regardless of brand. Even the low-TDP jokebooks being passed off as high performance products suffer from extreme temperatures. In some cases, poor quality control, lackluster engineering, and haphazard assembly practices exacerbate this. If you are in the market for a new notebook with discrete graphics and a CPU with any amount of performance flair to it, get used to the idea that one of the first things you are going to need to do is either take it apart to do things over again the right way, or pay someone else to do it for you. But know this: nobody is going to care as much about it as you do, so save your money and do it yourself.

    There is no doubt that loosey-goosey standard power specifications from Intel contribute to the problem. Since the release of Haswell, it seems stock voltage is always way too high and power limits are way too low, and even the mightiest CPUs tend to run like crap using BIOS defaults. Unfortunately, most notebook manufacturers and their sellers adhere to Intel's recommendations for these default values. So, in addition to dealing with having to take active steps to address workmanship, engineering and quality control issues, you can also count on spending a fair amount of time in tuning to get the most performance and lowest temperatures from your shiny new laptop. If you are not prepared to do these things, do yourself a favor. Save your money, buy a Chromebook and a game console. Just being real here folks... no matter how much you spend, the OOBE is almost always going to suck as it relates to performance and thermals. That's why we call ourselves enthusiasts, right?

    In the case of the Tornado F5, I could not be happier to see that the heat sinks are well made and appear to be substantial enough to do a fine job of managing the heat. In fact, one of the first things I did was tear it apart, de-lid the CPU and applied liquid metal paste under the IHS. Contact between the IHS and heat sink seem to be excellent and it responded very favorably to these steps. The decrease in temperatures was immediate and substantial. Using the right amount of voltage helped a lot as well. The fact that both of my 7700K machines can run 5.0GHz on stock voltage, load Windows, run some benchmarks, surf the web and watch YouTube videos without blue-screen crashes is ample confirmation that stock voltage is way too much for stock clocks.

    The Chiclet keyboard will definitely take some getting used to for me. It looks like a million bucks and the LED backlighting is outstanding. It seems to be a very high quality keyboard. I am not used to this style of keyboard. The short key travel is pure weirdness to me, but the keys are all highly responsive and have a nice tactile feel to them. The Windows key is on the right and the Delete key is in the wrong spot, so I will have to get used to that as well. (I keep hitting the Insert key when I am expecting Delete, LOL.)

    The touchpad is very nice as well. I had to force myself to use it because I avoid using touchpads on all laptops. I just do not like them and prefer using a mouse. But, based on my experience with this one I can tell you that when I have no option to use a mouse I will not be nearly as miserable as I normally am when I have to use a touchpad. It is responsive to touch and the discrete buttons have a satisfying tactile feel. They have a deeper and subtle hollow sound to them and not the obnoxious “click-clack” sound that seems so common. The best thing about it is that it is not a buttonless click-pad abortion like what seems to be popular with many consumers… thanks Apple and Dell… NOT.

    So, on day one the only real thing I can see that I wish were different is all three USB ports are on the right side. Not a huge problem for me, but if we can only have three, it would be nice to have one on each side and one in back. To be fair, the TB3/USB Type C port is in back. When I get around to transitioning to Type C, I probably won’t care about all three USB ports being on the right side. Even now it’s a minor gripe that is eclipsed by a plethora of things that are worthy of celebration.

    OK, I have already wasted enough of your time with all of this mumbo-jumbo. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

    Pros:
    • Modular Design (socketed CPU and MXM) supporting service, repairs and upgrades and cherry-picking
    • Desktop Skylake and Kaby Lake “K” series CPUs with extreme overclocking support and high TDP
    • Excellent build quality and light weight
    • Outstanding aesthetic qualities
    • Easy access to drives, CPU and GPU and two memory slots
    • Excellent display quality, with high viewing angles and oustanding clarity
    • The world’s only current generation non-Clevo notebook worthy of purchase by enthusiasts
    • Excellent service and support by an industry leader and innovator in the high performance notebook market (see Updates section below)

    Cons
    :
    • 15-inch form factor (17-inch is my preference). Move this to “Pro” if you prefer 15-inch
    • 60Hz IPS refresh rate
    • Storage is limited to 3 drives (2x M.2 2280 and 1x 2.5” HDD/SSD)
    • Access to memory under keyboard may not be easy (TBD)
    • No USB 3.0 ports on left side and rear panel.
    • Battery is cable-connected to motherboard (popular trend, but not my favorite)​

    TL;DR??? Let me summarize this for you in as few words as possible.
    • Excellent
    • Awesome
    • Bad-ass
    The meaningful part of my review will follow in the two posts below. Who doesn’t like pictures and videos? I hope you enjoy them. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them. I will answer them if I can. Please ask in the thread (not private message) so everyone can benefit from the answers. Oh wait... I have PM turned off. Never mind. Please ask in the thread and I will PM you if I need to.

    It is not part of my Tornado F5 review, but I also received a 780W AC adapter, which is Eurocom’s creation. It is a sweet compliment to any laptop. It is almost four times more power than this machine needs, but you’ll see why it is so sweet in the videos that follow. I will do a separate review of the monster-brick using my larger Über-Beast to see what it is capable of.

    UPDATES

    01/26/2017:
    The 60Hz IPS display panel is not overclockable. Tried a variety of settings and the screen goes black. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. It's still a super nice display running stock, but as long as things work right, more is always better when it comes to clock speeds.

    01/27/2017:
    Meanwhile, back at the laboratory... with the blessing of @Eurocom Support... a cure for the cancer is forthcoming.
    **Click to Open Spoiler**
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    01/30/2016:
    One of the Pro bullet points above mentions the excellent service and support. These videos are just a couple of examples. Be sure to visit their YouTube channel for more.


    01/31/2017:
    Also check out the review by Brother @Charles P. Jefferies found here: Eurocom Tornado F5 (MSI 16L13) Review

    02/15/2017:
    A design defect has been corrected. The CMOS battery is placed on the inaccessible side of the motherboard, making is impossible to clear NVRAM properly with the motherboard installed. That problem has been corrected by using an extension cable to move the CMOS battery to the accessible side of the motherboard. Now NVRAM can be easily cleared by simply unplugging the CMOS battery.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    02/17/2017:
    Thermal management testing added to review. See post #227 for more details.

     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
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  2. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    Here comes the good stuff...

    VIDEOS

    [TR3][/TR3]

    PHOTOS & SCREEN SHOTS & INITIAL BENCHMARKS

    Note: none of the benchmarks posted in this section are offered as examples of complete tuning and highest performance capabilities. They were primarily for thermal testing and I have not actually begun tuning this machine yet. So, just down and dirty overclocking that is not optimal. But, the scores look nice in spite of that. Examples of "real" overclocking will be placed in post #3 below. The images in this post are static views of what is shown in the review video.
    *Click to open spoiler*
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    *Click to open spoiler*
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    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
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  3. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    Let the mayhem begin!!!

    CRIPPLED STOCK FIRMWARE RESULTS (Firmware Mods Pending)

    [​IMG]

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    3DMark 11 - P22551 - CPU 5.0GHz | GPU +215 Core / +550 Memory: http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/11937906
    [​IMG]
    Fire Strike - 19200 - CPU 4.9GHz | GPU +215 Core / +550 Memory: http://www.3dmark.com/fs/11537407
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    Sky Diver - 41150 - CPU 4.9GHz | GPU +215 Core / +550 Memory: http://www.3dmark.com/sd/4511528
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    PREMA BIOS MOD HAS BEEN DEPLOYED - WE HAVE LIFT-OFF!!

    @Prema BIOS is working like a charm, as we would expect from El Jefe... Memory seems completely stable at 3000. BCLK works, 0% spread spectrum... it's all looking real good.

    [​IMG]
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    Here's a 3DMark 11 with a moderate overclock. Windows 7 rocks.

    http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/11944150
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    http://valid.x86.fr/igp6v8
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    http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/11946356
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    http://www.3dmark.com/fs/11572495
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    Heaven & Valley - Extreme Presets - CPU set at 4.7GHz and GPU running with stock clocks.
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    http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/11982307
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    http://www.3dmark.com/fs/11691518
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    Terror in a small package. Here is a new #1 score for single GTX 1080 Notebook GPU.
    http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/12189174
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    And, a new #1 score for single 1080 Notebook GPU in Time Spy
    http://www.3dmark.com/spy/1793791#
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    http://www.3dmark.com/fs/12693072
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    http://hwbot.org/submission/3556996_
    http://www.3dmark.com/fs/12693141
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    http://hwbot.org/submission/3556998_
    http://www.3dmark.com/fs/12693191
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2017
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  4. Prema

    Prema Your Freedom, Your Choice

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    @Mr. Fox
    Thank you for your character, enthusiasm, humanity and the endless time spent in dedication to all of us!
    Thank you for all the reviews, tutorials and risking your own hardware to help wherever you can!
    Thank you for being our mentor, playmate and friend, thank you for being one of us!
    In the name of the entire Notebook Enthusiast Community Rebels:


    Happy Birthday!
    [​IMG]

    Pssst...I think you can actually click that ↑↑↑
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
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  5. Spartan

    Spartan Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    [​IMG]
     
  6. FredSRichardson

    FredSRichardson Notebook Groundsloth

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    I'm psyched out of my mind! :)



    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
  7. ssj92

    ssj92 Neutron Star

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    Don't forget to make a nice review in a separate thread for the 780W adapter. It deserves it. ;)

    Looking forward to the performance of this beast.
     
  8. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    Updated post #1 and #2.

    @ssj92 - if all goes as planned that review will be posted tomorrow. That is my intent. You can get a glimpse of it in both of the above videos.
     
  9. keftih

    keftih Notebook Evangelist

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    Very nice! I haven't had a chance to watch the video yet, but based on the photos, it looks like a very thorough review. Can you share what fan speed your thermal readings were taken at?
     
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  10. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    Thanks. I hope you enjoy the videos. I will try to have the teardown video editing done and uploaded by Friday.

    Max fan. This machine would benefit from fans that run faster and push more air. I'm sure the focus was on making a machine that was pleasantly quiet. Even with max fans it's not even remotely close to being loud. I tested that on my wife for confirmation, too. I could leave it on max fans 24/7 and not irritate her, and that is saying a lot. She is very noise-sensitive (as are many females). I also tested the decibel levels in the review video.
     
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