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.


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
How we tested
Editor's choice
About RMIT

HP NC8230
CPU -- Intel

The HP is one of the biggest notebook submitted, with a display big enough to satisfy most desktop users. At 2.84kg the charcoal grey HP is no lightweight, but given the features set this is in line with comparable notebooks.

It sports a solid Magnesium alloy case, but in spite of the stiff, flex-resistant display, it only takes a mild tap on the back to unsettle the image, but it would take rather excessive force before any damage would result.

The 15in widescreen display features backlighting and a native resolution of 1280 x 800 resulting in Windows text that is large and readable. However, the non-glare, non-reflective finish does introduce some "speckle" that can render the white on light blue text a little harder to read, which is in contrast to the highly-reflective displays of the LG for example.

Driving the display is an ATI Mobility Radeon X600 processor that undeniably has plenty of grunt, the HP had the highest score in 3Dmark 2001 and the third highest score in 3Dmark 2005 -- just pipped by the LG for second place.

The NC8230 is not quite as wide as the Samsung so we cannot criticise the lack of numeric keypad as there is simply not enough space. Instead HP located the speakers on either side of the keyboard. The speakers performed well, with surprisingly loud and rich audio quality -- arguably only eclipsed by the Samsung.

The keyboard is rather standard fare for a notebook with a row of special function keys along the very top including quick launch buttons, WLAN enable/disable and volume control. The HP features both a three-button trackpoint and a three-button touch pad. The third button in both cases activates horizontal and vertical scrolling via the pad or pointer, and the pad also has a vertical scroll area on the far right side.

The WLAN covers b, g, and a and while the LAN was inexplicably not working on our unit it apparently is a gigabit adaptor.

The HP has three USB2 ports and a Firewire port, we were surprised that the notebook also had a DB9 serial connector which is a rare breed nowadays but very useful when consoling into routers and the like.

The notebook only caters for SD memory sticks but to be fair, it is the most popular and widely prevalent form of memory for cameras and MP3 players. However, where many of the other vendors provided DVD burners the HP only has a DVD ROM CD-R/RW combo.

The HP's single memory expansion slot was unoccupied so the 512MB of DDR2 resides on the motherboard. It can be expanded to a maximum of 2GB.

At 1.73GHz, the CPU is clocked slightly below some of the other Intel-based units tested however it performed well in our tests. Unfortunately we were unable to run our business application benchmark on the HP -- we had a slight software problem that we were unable to resolve in time -- however the Content Creation application benchmarks were slightly below average.

The battery benchmark is based on the same test scripts as the business application benchmark and as a consequence we were unable to run our battery life tests however HP claim the 14.4V 4.8Ah battery is good for four hours and we can see no reason why the HP could not achieve this when compared it to similarly featured notebooks.

In winter the HP would keep your lap cosy and warm; its peak temperature of 38.9°C was the third highest measured.

Product HP Compaq nc8230
Price AU$3795
Vendor HP
Phone 13 12 34
Very good connectivity with Gigabit LAN, A/B/G WLAN and optional Bluetooth.
Very good performance and audio, large hi-res display, sadly unable to run business app benchmark or score would be higher.
Good range of features and performance with an above average price.
Service ½
3-year limited on-site warranty.
Rating ½
HP NC8230

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Intel, Laptops, Mobility

Andrew Shepherd

About Andrew Shepherd


Anthanasia Zafiris

About Anthanasia Zafiris


Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. :)
  • 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.
    Overall, the review is spot-on with this laptop... I am certainly very happy with it.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Apple = Intel