Laptop Thoughts: News & Reviews on Laptops, Netbooks, Slates, and More.

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All posts tagged "intel"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sandy Bridge Laptop Tests Reveal Performance Boost

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 12:00 PM

"But under the hood, much has changed. As we reported from CES, "highlights of the second-generation Core processors, built around a new 32nm microarchitecture, include more energy-efficient performance and improved 3D and graphics performance. Intel claims that with this new generation of CPUs, content creation is up to 42 percent faster and gaming up to 50 percent faster than with previous generations."

Sandy Bridge is out and everyone is chomping at the bit to see what it can really do. CNET has their hands on a laptop provided by Intel to put it through its paces and the results are quite pleasant. Almost everything, with the exception of multimedia performance, is faster, stronger, better. As for multimedia? Well, it certainly trumps a lot of existing integrated solutions but it still lags behind discrete video cards. That is hardly a surprise though and the big question is is the video performance just enough to satisfy most people? Considering that many have lived with old Intel GPUs, I would say yes. It even seems capable of some degree of low-end gaming. Of course, games are not the only benefit but the most obvious one. And check out the battery life! So while tablets may be the new hotness, it looks like laptops have their own song to sing.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Laptop and Netbook Battery Usage: The Breakdown

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 08:00 AM

For the life of me, I can't find the article that I pulled this graphic from! I seem to recall it was on a Microsoft blog, but every search I use fails to find it. Regardless, it's legitimate and quite enlightening I think. It demonstrates the reality of battery/power usage on current laptops/netbooks, and busts the myths that some people still cling to, such as:

  • "If I switch from a hard drive to an SSD, I'll get better battery life!". Nope, not really - modern hard drives are ultra-power efficient and assuming your system has sufficient RAM, switching to an SSD won't do much for your battery life.
  • "Turning off Wifi and Bluetooth will get me better battery life" Perhaps, but only slightly - at only 4% of power consumption, networking technologies being turned on or off won't make a big dent in power consumption.

The biggest thing that will allow you to eek out maximum battery life on your laptop? Turning down the screen brightness. Nothing else you can do will make as big of a difference as that one change. The good news is that as we see more integration of chipset functions and GPU functions into the CPU, the overall chipset and GPU chips will use less power, and ultimately give us better battery life. That's why the new AMD Fusion APUs (CPU + GPU) and Intel's Sandy Bridge CPU + GPU chips are so interesting...they will bring about a level of chip-level power savings that we haven't seen thus far.

I think 2011 is going to be a great year for laptops and netbook!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Intel SSD 310: Honey, I Shrunk The Hard Drive!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 11:01 AM

"The 310 isn't about performance, rather form factor. The SSD in Apple's new MacBook Air is just the beginning - OEMs are beginning to shed the limits of traditional hard drive form factors as SSDs don't need to house a circular platter. The mSATA interface is physically a mini PCIe connector (similar to what you'd see with a WiFi card in a notebook) but electrically SATA. The result is something very compact. The full sized mSATA 310 measures 50.8mm x 29.85mm and is less than 4.85mm thick. Total weight? Less than 10 grams."

This is fantastic to see - one of the most impressive things about the Macbook Air that I was testing is that Apple managed to cram a 50 Watt Hour battery inside that incredibly slim chassis. One of the reasons they were able to do that is because they crammed basically the entire laptop other than the battery in the upper-third portion of the bottom chassis; the rest was left for the battery. And how did they accomplish that feat? By taking the SSD out of the traditional 2.5" chassis and putting the chips into a small daughterboard. It looks like other laptop vendors are going to be following in Apple's path, which is great. Bring on the choice!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Native USB 3.0: Intel Chief River Platform - Coming September 2011

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 06:00 PM

"Intel recently notified its partner about its latest platform Chief River that adopts 22nm Ivy Bridge processors with native support of USB 3.0, according to sources from motherboard makers."

For those of us that are on the quest for native USB 3.0 (and of course devices), it's looking more and more like we'll be waiting until nearly this time next year to see Intel onboard. Intel's Chief River platform will use 22nm Ivy Bridge processors. Mass production is expected to start in September 2011 with shipping systems early in 2012, so don't throw out those USB 2.0 devices yet!

Saturday, October 16, 2010 Intel X25-M SSD Review and Giveaway

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Laptop Thoughts Articles & Resources" @ 10:00 AM

"Replacing your traditional hard drive with an SSD, or solid state drive, is one of the latest ways to bring speed to your system allowing you to get into Windows faster, and thus get to work quicker. Intel was kind enough to send over one of their Intel X 25-M SSDs for us to test out, and another for us to give away to a reader."

Ah, SSD. The three-letter word that makes the heart of a hardware geek start to flutter. The technology, while still somewhat young, holds some impressive advantages and is only getting better. The Intel X25-M SSD is well-known for it's performance prowess, and Josh Smith over at has reviewed it. And, lucky you, there's a contest to win one. Head on over to check it out and enter the contest!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New And Improved X25-M For Your Solid State Pleasure

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:30 PM

"While Intel is sampling 25nm MLC NAND today it's unclear whether or not we'll see drives available this year. I've heard that there's still a lot of tuning that needs to be done on the 25nm process before we get to production quality NAND. The third generation drives will be available somewhere in the Q4 2010 - Q1 2011 timeframe in capacities ranging from 40GB (X25-V) all the way up to 600GB."

Wait, did they say 600GB SSD? Is it true that SSDs might just start reaching similar capacities as traditional hard drives? Yes, you can get hard drives that hit 2TB, but for most people, they usually end up with something around 320-500GB with a new computer. One still expects a premium for SSD, but with these larger capacities, and hopefully, increased popularity, we might see some economies of scale going on and making an SSD a more standard purchase for a computer. Even if these new fangled SSDs become more cost effective, I would probably stick with traditional hard drives for storage or archival purposes. At least until 600GB becomes 2TB.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Intel's Sandy Bridge To Somewhere

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:00 PM

"That's all going to change starting next year. This time it's the masses that get the upgrade first. While Nehalem launched with expensive motherboards and expensive processors, the next tock in Intel's architecture cadence is aimed right at the middle of the market. This time, the ultra high end users will have to wait - if you want affordable quad-core, if you want the successor to Lynnfield, Sandy Bridge is it."

The huge force that is Intel continues moving along at a steady pace. While AMD is fighting back with its Bobcat and Bulldozer chips, Intel's Sandy Bridge seems to be a continuation of moves first seen with the Core i3 and i5 processors. Processing power is increasing, as expected, but the integrated graphics are what have caught my eye. While integrated graphics offered low power consumption and great 3D performance at a great price, its 3D capabilities were laughable at best. While Sandy Bridge will not be toppling the discrete GPU market, it is edging into the lower end and that means that the lowest bar for computing will offer something worthwhile. Programs like Google Earth will run even more smoothly, and 3D accelerated browsers are right around the corner. We might be watching the next push in computing fads!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Double Your Pleasure With Intel's New Atom

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 09:00 AM

"Intel first made mention of its upcoming dual-core Atom for netbooks back at Computex, and now it's making good on its promise with the ready-to-ship Atom N550. The chip operates at 1.5GHz, with 1MB of cache and support for DDR3 memory, and "similar" battery life to the Atom N450. Intel is billing it as a more "responsive" experience, which will make sense as a selling point to anyone who has attempted any serious multitasking on a netbook."

Netbooks helped breathe new life into the computing landscape. By offering small, lightweight laptops with "just enough" computing power, they opened up a whole new segment of the market. Times have changed, and computing requirements have gone up, albeit marginally. Mostly, it seems as if our expectations have grown, and Intel seems to have finally gotten the message. Dual core Atoms have existed for a while now, but they were more designed for nettops instead of netbooks, but the new N550 changes that. With dual-core Atom based netbooks, browsing Flash heavy pages or watching videos will be a bit snappier. Of course, the big question is whether dual-core Atoms are overkill, just like more powerful GPUs? I, for one, welcome out dual-core overlords.

Tags: hardware, intel, atom, n550

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Which is More Important to You? Battery Life or Graphics Performance?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Laptop Thoughts Articles & Resources" @ 09:00 PM

"Overall, we love this lightweight notebook's gorgeous design, snappy performance, and amazingly comfortable keyboard. But which of these two configurations is best? While both received a "highly recommended" rating of 4 stars, we gave our coveted Editor's Choice award to the Intel-powered T235 because it lasted 50 minutes longer (6:10 versus 5:20), it had better Wi-Fi connectivity, and it copied files faster than its AMD-based counterpart. Overall performance was pretty much a wash, though the T235D did a little bit better in graphics tests and gaming."

It's always interesting when two laptops have identical parts but differ on CPU and chipsets; you get to see how each CPU and chipset change factors that are otherwise virtually impossible to measure head to head. In this case, going with an Intel CPU and GPU gets you 50 minutes of extra battery life for $20 more. The AMD option brings better graphics performance to the table, and a savings of $20. Which is more important to you? Battery life or better graphics performance? For me, it's better battery life - hands down.

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