Intel Sandy Bridge for laptops review
With the market for desktop PCs shrinking every year, more and more people are abandoning their PCs in favour of laptops. It’s easy to see why: with Intel’s Core architecture cramming desktop levels of power into affordable portables, even a budget laptop is often all anyone will ever need. Now, with the advent of Intel’s latest microarchitecture, Sandy Bridge, its mobile Core processors promise to soar yet further into the performance stratosphere.
Sandy Bridge is set to take pride of place in everything from affordable budget notebooks to premium mobile workstations, and Intel’s gone back to the drawing board for the 15-strong range of Core-i3, i5 and i7 processors.
The first flush of models are built on a 32nm process, with Intel’s integrated HD graphics squeezed onto the same silicon die as the CPU, and support for DDR3 memory of up to 1600MHz. In addition, Intel’s Turbo Boost technology has reached its second generation, and a new instruction set, Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), serves to accelerate repetitive operations such as those required by media conversion software.
There’s a baffling array of options too, with dual-core, four-threaded Core i3, i5 and i7 processors aimed at the mainstream audience, plus Performance and Extreme Edition models sporting quad-core, eight-thread architecture.
A quiet revolution
It’s perhaps fitting that our first sight of a Sandy Bridge laptop didn’t exactly bowl us over. Indeed, those expecting visual fireworks will be seriously disappointed. Acer’s Aspire 5750G is shod in an understated dark grey chassis and, were it not for the specification sticker ruining the surprise, we could have mistaken it for any mid-range 15.6in notebook.
Beneath that mild-mannered exterior, however, lies Intel’s Core i7-2630QM processor. Sat squarely in the upper echelons of Intel’s newly revamped line-up of Core i7 processors (see table for full details), the Q in the processor’s name denotes that the 2GHz i7-2630QM is one of the four-core, eight-thread models, and with a 45W TDP it’s a processor you can expect to see making its debut across many manufacturers’ desktop replacements and mobile workstations in the coming months.
While that base clock of 2GHz might not sound particularly quick, Intel’s Turbo Boost 2 technology is now capable of pushing clock speeds much higher than previously; up to a maximum of 2.9GHz in the case of the i7-2630QM. As ever, the maximum speed increase is reserved for single threaded applications, but Turbo Boost 2 now allows for the CPU speed to be increased while all four of the processor’s cores are working flat out.
|Dimensions||385 x 254 x 38mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i7-2630QM|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia Optimus (Intel HD 3000 graphics/Nvidia GeForce GT540M)|
|Graphics card RAM||2.00GB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||596GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Toshiba MK6465GSX|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Optical drive||Slimtype DVD A DS8A5SH|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Speaker location||Above keyboard|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||5hr 43min|
|Battery life, heavy use||1hr 26min|
|Overall application benchmark score||2.06|
|Office application benchmark score||1.51|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||2.33|
|Encoding application benchmark score||1.81|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||2.58|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||81fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition|
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