Canada-based Eurocom customizes and sells everything from gaming notebooks to mobile workstations. Their new Tornado F5 is a 15.6-inch gaming notebook with a twist. It uses socketed desktop-class processors, rather than their mobile equivalents, and has options for up to the Nvidia’s flagship GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. We’ve seen 15.6-inch notebooks with the GeForce GTX 1070, but this is the first time we’re seeing the GTX 1080 in a chassis smaller than 17.3 inches.
This notebook has some of the best end-user upgradeability we’ve seen, and packs a tremendous amount of power. It may not win many design awards, but it’s king of the hill when it comes to performance in a 15.6-inch chassis.
The Tornado F5 is a built-on MSI 16L13 chassis customized by Eurocom. It bears a close resemblance to the MSI GT62VR gaming notebook in most respects, though is noticeably thicker to accommodate its more powerful desktop-class components. Indeed, its 1.6-inch thickness is hard to miss, as that’s around three-quarters of an inch thicker than a slim gaming notebook like the Asus RoG Strix GL502VS. The rest of its 15.6×10.6 inch chassis is on par with a typical 15.6-inch notebook, though. The thickness of the chassis makes the Tornado F5’s 6.5 pound weight seem lighter than it actually is. Some of the 17.3-inch desktop replacements we test can be nine pounds or more.
The palm rest area and back of the lid are thin brushed aluminum. It looks good up close. Design-wise, the only part of the Tornado F5 that might stand out is its multi-colored backlit keyboard. Otherwise, the generic exterior isn’t memorable in a market awash with fancy-looking gaming notebooks. The Tornado F5’s exterior is almost entirely devoid of design accents; there isn’t even a logo on the back of the lid. This can be a pro or a con, depending on your preferences. On the plus side, the Tornado F5 could be the ultimate stealth notebook if you need to use it in an environment where something flashy like the Lenovo IdeaPad Y900 would be out of place. Aside from the Eurocom’s thickness, there’s little about this notebook that hints of the desktop-class power inside.
Despite being predominantly plastic, the Tornado F5 has a sturdy feel. The chassis has almost no lateral flex, and the surfaces of the notebook don’t cave in or budge to any noticeable degree when pressed with a finger. The lid flexes rather easily, but didn’t show ripples in the display when we pressed in from behind. That’s a good sign. The display’s hinges are also plenty solid. We like the fact the lid can go back about 90 degrees past vertical, whereas many notebooks tend to call it quits at 45 degrees.
End-user upgradeability is one of the key selling points for the Tornado F5. Unlike the majority of gaming notebooks sold today, this model has a removable processor and graphics card. Six Phillips-head screws on the bottom of the chassis come off to reveal most of the components. Two of the memory (RAM) slots are unfortunately located on the other side of the motherboard, which requires extensive disassembly to access. We didn’t attempt to tackle that. Either way, there’s easy access to just about everything else. The storage capabilities of this notebook are especially impressive, consisting of two M.2 Type-2280 (80mm) slots for solid-state-drive (SSD) storage, and a traditional 2.5-inch bay.
Eurocom Tornado F5 Input and Output Ports
Ports are in relatively good supply on the Tornado F5. The left edge of the chassis has the audio ports, including line-in, SPDIF, and separate microphone and headphone jacks. It seems odd that there are no other ports on this side. The right edge holds the SD card reader and three USB Type-A 3.0 ports.
The remainder of the connections are on the back of the chassis, and includes the Ethernet jack, a USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3 support, a full-size HDMI-out, mini-DisplayPort, and the four-prong AC power jack. The HDMI port is version 2.0, which gives you the ability to output to a 4K display at 60Hz. Only the status indicator lights are on the front of the chassis. We’re glad to see these, as most notebooks today leave them out.
Eurocom Tornado F5 Screen and Speakers
Eurocom offers two display choices on the Tornado F5. Ours has the standard 15.6-inch 1080p (1920 x 1080) panel, while a 4K (3840 x 2160) panel is available as an upgrade.
The overall picture quality of our 1080p panel was excellent, with ample sharpness, brightness, and color saturation. Eurocom specifies the panel has above-average 72 percent coverage of the NTSC color space. The panel itself uses in-plane switching (IPS) technology to provide nearly unlimited viewing angles. The picture looks good, even from an extreme angle. We furthermore appreciated the panel’s anti-glare surface; it does a good job of minimizing reflections in well-lit areas.
As an added bonus, the 1080p panel has Nvidia G-Sync support. This feature synchronizes the frames-per-second (fps) output of the graphics card with the refresh rate of the monitor. The Tornado F5’s 1080p panel is rated for a 60Hz refresh rate, meaning only 60 fps in games is visible at a time without tearing. Nvidia G-Sync therefore won’t get much use in this notebook, since nearly all of its graphics card choices are more than capable of pushing 60 fps average at a 1080p resolution in today’s games. This is even truer if you opt for the GeForce GTX 1070, or the top-shelf GTX 1080, as our review unit was so equipped.
The downside of G-Sync is that it doesn’t work alongside Nvidia Optimus; that means this notebook has to run off of its dedicated graphics card the entire time, and can’t switch to the integrated graphics on the processor to save power. This undoubtedly had some negative effect on the Tornado F5’s battery life, but as we’ll see, it still did rather well in our battery life test.
The Tornado F5’s speakers are above the keyboard deck. This location works well, as the sound isn’t going to be blocked by your wrists while typing. Moreover, the fact they’re aimed upward at the user means the sound is as clear as it’s going to get. A small subwoofer on the underside of the chassis provides some needed low-end. We found the speaker setup had ample volume and reasonable clarity, even if the overall sound signature was on the hollow side. But for notebook speakers, it’s hard to lodge a complaint.
Eurocom Tornado F5 Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the Tornado F5 is largely identical to those on MSI’s gaming notebooks, like the GT73VR. It’s not specifically branded as a SteelSeries model on this notebook, but looks and feels exactly the same. It has flat, chiclet-style keys with comfortable spacing. The tops of the keys have a smooth and slightly grippy finish. The keys themselves have plenty of up-and-down travel for good tactile feedback, even if it is a bit rubbery. The keyboard deck has no flex.
We’re slightly disappointed by the fact the Home and End keys are doubled up as secondary functions with the Page Up and Page Down keys; on a notebook this large, they really should be their own keys. We also aren’t fans of the two-thirds-size keys in the number pad. The arrow keys being forced into the main keyboard are further complicate the layout by truncating the size of the right Shift key, and the number pad’s ‘0’ key. We imagine we could adapt to these layout changes if we used this notebook on a consistent basis.
Something else the Tornado F5 lacks is a set of dedicated gaming macro keys. We’ve seen 14-inch notebooks like the Aorus X3 Plus include them, so size isn’t the issue.
The included KLM software allows for control over the keyboard’s three lighting zones. Each zone can be changed to one of the approximately 16.8 million colors in the RGB spectrum. The backlighting is bright enough to be visible in the daytime, shining nicely through the symbols on the keys. The software also allows you to set a lighting pattern, such as breathing and pulsing. The backlighting can also be turned off using this software, an important consideration. The software lacks the ability to save profiles.
The touch pad is offset to the left in the palm rest. Its anti-glare surface is the right size relative to the 15.6-inch display on this notebook. This touch pad is of the traditional variety, with two dedicated left- and right-click buttons. We found these a bit stiff and too loud when clicked for our comfort, but still prefer them over the buttonless touch pads with clickable surfaces that seem to dominate the notebook scene. We had no trouble using this touch pad throughout our testing period.
Eurocom Tornado F5 Performance
The main selling point for the Tornado F5 is its desktop-class, end user-upgradeable hardware. Unlike most other notebooks on the market, this one has a socketed Intel LGA processor. It can be swapped and replaced as opposed to BGA processors, which are soldered to the motherboard. The processor in our review unit is Intel’s flagship Core i7-7700K “Kaby Lake” quad-core, the fastest offered in the Tornado F5 as of this writing. It has a base frequency of 4.2GHz, and can reach 4.5GHz in its “Turbo Boost” mode. Compare this to the Core i7-7700HQ commonly found in gaming notebooks, which runs at just 2.8GHz, and is limited to 3.8GHz in Turbo Boost.
Graphics performance is another selling point for the Tornado F5. Eurocom offers this model with several different cards, including the VR-Ready Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 and GTX 1070. We’ve already seen these cards in 15.6-inch notebooks, like the Asus RoG Strix GL502VS and the Gigabyte P55W v6. However, the Tornado F5 also offers the GeForce GTX 1080, which is Nvidia’s flagship mobile card. It’s very close to the desktop GeForce GTX 1080 Founder’s Edition in overall performance. At the time of this review, we weren’t able to find another 15.6-inch notebook that offered this much graphics performance.
The Tornado F5 supports up to 64GB of DDR4 memory via four DIMM slots on the motherboard. Our review unit was equipped with 32GB total, comprised of two 16GB DDR4-2400 DIMMs. This is plenty for gaming and most demanding applications. Having four memory slots on a 15.6-inch notebook is notable.
Eurocom sent our Tornado F5 review unit with a wicked-fast 1TB RAID 0 array of two 512GB Samsung 960 Pro SSDs. It showed as a single drive in Windows Explorer. In CrystalDiskMark, to follow, this array had an incredible 2,795MB per second sequential read, and 2,704MB per second sequential write. That’s simply off the charts. RAID 0 roughly doubles the sequential transfer performance of a single drive. However, in real life, you’re unlikely to see any noticeable performance gain from RAID 0. This storage array was one of the most expensive additions to our review unit. Windows 10 Pro 64-bit was installed on the RAID 0 array in our review unit.
For secondary storage, the Tornado F5 has a traditional 2.5-inch bay. It was populated in our review unit by a 1TB Hitachi hard drive running at 7,200RPM. Combined with its two M.2 Type-2280 SSD slots, the Tornado F5 offers an impressive amount of storage for a 15.6-inch notebook. For a more economical configuration, we recommend a 250GB or 512GB SSD for the operating system, and a secondary hard drive for storage.
Our review model had the Killer 1535 card for wireless connectivity, though Eurocom also offers this notebook with Intel’s 8260 and 8265 cards. Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity was included in our review unit, as well. The wireless range and signal strength of both radios seemed fine in our testing.
Our Eurocom Tornado F5 review unit has the following technical specifications:
- 15.6-inch FHD display (1,920×1,080 resolution, IPS panel, anti-glare surface, Nvidia G-Sync support, non-touch)
- Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
- Intel Core i7-7700K quad-core processor (4.2GHz, up to 4.5GHz Turbo Boost, 8MB cache, 91W TDP)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 w/ 8GB GDDR5X dedicated memory
- 32GB DDR4-2400 RAM (2x 16GB; 64GB max. supported – 4x 16GB)
- 1TB PCI Express RAID 0 SSD array (2x 512GB Samsung 960 Pro M.2 Type-2280 drives)
- 1TB 2.5-inch HDD (HGST HTS721010A9E630)
- Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 wireless network adapter
- Bluetooth 4.1 (Qualcomm Atheros QCA61x4)
- 1-year limited warranty
- Dimensions: 15.6 x 10.64 x 1.59 inches
- Weight: 6.45 lbs.
- Starting price: $1,666
- Price as configured: $4,116
Eurocom Tornado F5 Benchmarks
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
Eurocom Tornado F5 Heat, & Noise
Two large exhaust fans and an array of copper heatsinks are responsible for the Tornado F5’s thermals. The fans exhaust directly out the back of the notebook; this is preferable to side-mounted exhausts in our view, as there’s no possibility warm air could blow on your hands while using an external mouse.
The Tornado F5’s default fan profiles are well-behaved, generating a minimal noise level while running standard tasks like office productivity. We rarely noticed the fans running outside of benchmarking and gaming scenarios. Moreover, their RPM didn’t appear sensitive to tasks that spike the processor usage for brief periods, like opening a website. You don’t have to worry about the RPM constantly ramping up and down.
The fans increase their RPM while gaming. We found the overall noise level was tolerable. There is some motor noise, but a lack of any real whine that would typically be characteristic of thinner notebooks with slimmer fans. The Tornado F5’s thick chassis allows it to accommodate healthy-sized fans, which help keep the noise level down. This isn’t a silent notebook by any means, but is unlikely to disturb in most environments. Even in a very quiet room, we found the notebook’s fan noise wasn’t a distraction. The dedicated maximum fans button at the upper right of the keyboard is useful for extended gaming sessions to keep the notebook running as cool as possible.
We measured exterior surface temperatures using an IR thermometer after our benchmarking session. The keyboard and palm rest area reached just 91 degrees F, and the underside of the chassis a mere 98 degrees F. These are exceedingly low temperatures for a gaming notebook. Nonetheless, we wouldn’t recommend gaming with the Tornado F5 in your lap, as its cooling performance greatly depends on getting fresh air from grates on its underside.
The Tornado F5 didn’t fare as well with regards to its internal component temperatures. HWMonitor indicated the Core i7-7700K processor in our review unit hit 100 degrees C, and the GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card hit 91 degrees C. We’d normally expect these temperatures to have a detrimental effect on its benchmark scores, but that wasn’t the case here. As a matter of fact, the Tornado F5 performed extremely well in our testing.
To test whether the graphics card was throttling back its performance, we logged its operating frequencies using GPU-Z over a 30-minute gaming session in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Despite the relatively high temperature, the GeForce GTX 1080 maintained its boost clock rather well, and its memory clock was also steady. Therefore, it would seem the Tornado F5’s gaming performance is unaffected by the high temperature.
Enthusiasts in our forums have reduced the component temperatures by “de-lidding” the processor, applying special thermal paste, and undervolting the processor. Take a look at the MSI 16L13/Eurocom Tornado F5 Owner’s Lounge thread if you’re interested. Again, we’d like to point out we had no performance-related issues due to component temperatures with our Tornado F5 review unit running out of the box. The components all ran within their published maximum operating temperatures.
Eurocom Tornado F5 Battery Life
We use our Powermark benchmark in Balanced mode to measure battery life. This test is run at approximately 50 percent screen brightness, and includes a variety of tasks from office productivity and web surfing, to gaming and video playback workloads.
The Eurocom Tornado F5 lasted for 2 hours and 54 minutes in Powermark. That’s a respectable time for a gaming notebook of this stature. It even outlasted the significantly less powerful Gigabyte P55W v6. The Tornado F5’s time is made all the more impressive by the fact it had to run off its dedicated graphics card while on battery; it couldn’t switch to the integrated graphics on the processor because the display supports Nvidia G-Sync, which is currently incompatible with Optimus.
These results can be considered a worst-case scenario. You could probably get another half hour to 45 minutes out of the Tornado F5 if you kept the screen brightness down, and performed non-demanding tasks.
Eurocom Tornado F5 Power Adapter
The Tornado F5 may be powered by one of two adapters, depending on the configuration. Our top-shelf review unit with its Core i7-7700K desktop processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card included the more powerful 330-watt adapter. A 230-watt adapter is also offered.
The 330-watt adapter is literally about the size of a brick. We measured the adapter at 7.8×3.9×1.6 inches, and the total weight including the cables at 3.1 pounds. The cables and adapter stretch 9 feet, 4 inches end-to-end. The wall connector has three prongs.
You’ll have a hard time finding a more powerful 15.6-inch notebook than the Eurocom Tornado F5. In a market where most gaming notebooks use lower-clocked mobile processors, the Tornado F5 packs a socketed Intel desktop processor. The Intel Core i7-7700K in our review unit was Intel’s flagship quad-core processor. This notebook is also notable for having the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card as an option, which up until now we hadn’t seen in anything smaller than a 17.3-inch notebook.
Despite its desktop-class components, the Tornado F5 had acceptable fan noise in our testing, and a relatively cool-running chassis. Its benchmark scores topped our charts, and would even give high-end gaming desktops a run for their money. The Tornado F5’s battery life was also surprisingly good, outpacing competing notebooks. It won’t let you go unplugged for more than three or so hours, so you’ll want to keep its massive power adapter close at hand.
The Tornado F5’s generic looks can be a pro or a con, depending on your preferences. We’d like a little more flare when we’re spending this kind of money. The notebook starts at $1,666, but our review unit topped $4,116 with all of its upgrades. A more balanced configuration with a GeForce GTX 1060 or GTX 1070, 16GB of RAM, and one SSD should be doable for under $2,500. It does rather well in terms of value against its competitors if you keep the component loadout reasonable.
All told, we’re impressed with the Tornado F5 inside and out. If you prioritize performance and upgradeability in a relatively portable package, this monster should be at the top of your list.
- Stellar gaming performance, as equipped
- Good quality keyboard and touch pad
- IPS display looks great
- Excellent end-user upgradeability
- Cool-running chassis, and acceptable fan noise under load
- Generic looks
- Thick chassis
- Components can run hot, as equipped
- No dedicated gaming macro keys