AMD vs. Intel: 10 notebooks tested

AMD vs. Intel: 10 notebooks tested

Summary: We put two of the toughest chip makers up against each other to see which has the biggest heart for notebooks.

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We put two of the toughest chip makers up against each other to see which has the biggest heart for notebooks.


Contents
Introduction
Acer TravelMate 4150LMi
Asus A6000
Asus W5000A
Dell Latitude D610
HP NC8230
LG LW60 Express
MSI Megabook S260
MSI Megabook S270
Samsung M40 plus
Toshiba Tecra M3
Specifications
How we tested
Editor's choice
About RMIT

For this series of tests we wanted to pit the fastest mobile Intel offering against the fastest mobile AMD offering. We asked the vendors to supply the following: One notebook PC equipped with an AMD processor (we suggested either a Mobile Athlon 64 or Turion 64) and/or one notebook PC equipped with an Intel Pentium M processor (we suggested Pentium M 533Mhz FSB and 2MB of L2 cache). The notebook must also be configured with 512MB SDRAM. We actually received products with three distinct chipsets:

Intel Chipsets
There are three main Intel chipsets that are components of its Centrino technology, the 915PM, 915GM, and 915GMS. The 915GM and the 915GMS both have integrated graphics processors which also share system memory, the 915PM has a third-party graphics accelerator. The integrated graphics processor has a hardware Pixel Shader but emulates the Vertex Shader in the notebook's CPU.

The 915GM and 915GMS are generally targeted at slim, lightweight, power-frugal laptops. They run 400MHz front side bus (FSB), whereas the 915PM runs a 533MHz FSB. All three Intel chipsets support DDR2 memory, which gives both a performance and power saving advantage over DDR memory, and 915PM and 915GM also support dual channel.

ATI Chipset
One notebook, the MSI MEGABOOK S270, came equipped with an AMD Sempron Mobile 3000+ and featured the ATI Radeon Xpress 200M chipset -- ATI's mobile chipset for AMD notebooks.

The Xpress 200M includes an integrated graphics processor, a derivative of ATI's Radeon X300 technology, which can use both local and shared-system memory to help keep costs and power usage down while still returning good performance. The ATI solution offers full DirectX 9 support with both Pixel Shader v2.0 and Vertex Shader v2.0 in hardware. The chipset supports both DDR and GDDR memory types and AMD's HyperTransport interface speeds of 800MHz and 1GHz.

SiS Chipset
The second of the AMD-based notebooks, the Asus A6000, came equipped with a Turion ML-40 and featured a mobile derivative of the SIS 755FX called the M760GX.

The chipset supports DDR memory and has a HyperTransport compliant bus driver technology to support AMD mobile Athlon 64 processors with up to 1600MT/s data rates. The integrated Mirage 2 graphics engine has a 256-bit 3D pipeline but its Pixel Shader is only compliant to Direct3D 8.1. The A6000 did include a third-party graphics solution in the form of an nVidia GeForce Go 6200.

Power Saving
Power saving features on both Intel and AMD chips may appear similar but differ in the degrees to which they have been implemented. The Intel Pentium M chips support six distinct speed and voltage combinations, using its enhanced SpeedStep technology.

The AMD Turion chips use the similar stepping of processor speed and voltages, but this is carried out in finer 100MHz increments/decrements; this should allow more flexibility to balance load and power consumption demands for the AMD processor.

Thermal Issues
We decided to measure the temperature of the hot spots under the base of the notebook, and also the temperature of the air issuing from the fan/heat-exchanger. We were surprised at how hot some of the notebooks became on a hard surface like a laminex bench top. The highest temperature measured was 45.6°C -- not far from scolding hot.

Intel vs AMD
To be blunt, sourcing high-performance AMD-based notebooks for this test was less difficult than extracting teeth from a fully grown chicken -- but only just. After much chasing, only two vendors submitted an AMD-powered product -- MSI and Asus. Interestingly, both vendors had their Intel-powered notebooks at the Lab with no chasing needed.

We should point out that the rarity of AMD product is not the fault of AMD, rather vendors, in Australia at least, do not seem to stock adequate quantities of high-performance AMD-equipped notebooks. Acer, for example, has a humdinger of a notebook the Acer Ferrari 3400 that is equipped with a mobile Athlon 64 but the company was unable to ship a single unit to the lab during the entire month of May.

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Intel, Laptops, Mobility

Andrew Shepherd

About Andrew Shepherd

IPD:23666

Anthanasia Zafiris

About Anthanasia Zafiris

IPD:23666

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8 comments
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  • hmm lets see he said.......If you simply need a powerful notebook without too many bells and whistles, such as widescreen display, and more importantly you want to minimise the damage to your credit card then definitely look at the Acer TravelMate 4150 priced at just AU$2299. I believe this is a ridiculous price and I think this article does not do justice considering what has been reviewed. This guy is an intel spokesman!
    anonymous
  • How about Clevo D900T ($2999)for a barebone system packs a punch with more features than most of what you have evaluated. Please expand beyound your current limited known Companies.
    anonymous
  • I know AMD v's Intel but Apple smoke them all

    You know a G4 15" is lighter, faster, and has long battery life. Ok it does not run x86 natively and is fractionly more expensive than the editors pick. At $3,649 for a fully loaded (much better graphics than those tested too) or $3199 for a base model. Seriously, for normal business use there is not much it cannot do against XP.
    anonymous
  • good review!

    Well I just bought an LW60Express, not the base model either, and I am very pleased, specially as I paid less than $2400. :)
    Jondalar-650a3
  • LG LW60

    I bought an LG LW60 with 1Gb RAM for just under $2300 (about 2 days before this review came out), and I pretty much agree with the review of it... The display and keyboard are excellent, and having the keypad is a HUGE improvement over other similar sized laptops.<br/><br/>

    The Instant-On works pretty well, though if you are watching DVD's on the train (on the way to/from work...) I have noticed that if there is too much bouncing around it just hangs and has to be switched off/on, whereas the Windows apps such as Power DVD just skip for a bit. Oh yeah, the remote control that stores in the pcmcia slot is brilliant, it even works with Power DVD, WMP, etc.
    <br/><br/>
    Overall, the review is spot-on with this laptop... I am certainly very happy with it.
    anonymous
  • Asus a6000

    You need to clarify which model of the a6000 you are using they all come with a letter designation after the a6000 (i.e a6000u/n/k/l etc)

    They are very different machines depending on this letter.

    The nvidia graphics on the a6000 is only available on the very highest spec and is not available everywhere.

    All the other models (infact any amd 64 notebook/setup) using the sis graphics have a MAJOR MAJOR problem.

    The SIS graphics 661/MX (aka mirage series) use the memory controler to allocate video bandwidth. on the SIS m760 setup the chipset memory controller is not present (because of the amd64 intergrated on chip).

    The problem here is that the combination results in a severe lack of bandwidth to the graphics chip (espeically when the cpu is throttled). Meaning simple XV overlay of video etc is corupted alot. It also means that Dual head must be droped in resolution.

    This is a serious bug, and is a testament to ASUStek's engineers (there are also other brands with similar issues) hastily putting together a platform...
    anonymous
  • LG LW60 Express

    I went out and bought the LG after reading your comparisons. There's very little information about the computer up here, and I don't think its even available in the U.S. Anyhow I took a chance and I'm very happy with my decision. I can't seem to get the type of battery performance out of it that your reviewer did but other than that I have to say for the price, the look and performance of the machine can't be beat. Cheers for the review, if I hadn't come across it I would have probably gone with a Toshiba.
    anonymous
  • Apple = Intel
    becherovka-089d0