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

MSI Megabook S270
CPU -- AMD Semperon

Other than minor cosmetic changes, one's black and the other is white for example, the S260 and S270 are externally identical. The display, speakers, sound chip, keyboard, ports and touchpad are all pretty much the same.

However, there are some fundamental differences between the two systems internally, although we should note that with the smaller capacity battery pack fitted the S270 weighs only 1.9kg compared to the S270 and its larger battery at 2.15kg.

The TFT display may be the same but it is driven, in the case of the S270, by an ATI Radeon Xpress 200M graphics processor with 64MB of shared system memory. We were surprised that the S270 did not outperform the S260 in all the 3D graphics benchmarks; only in 3Dmark2005 was the S270 slightly faster. One reason the S270 did not fare better is that it was only configured with 256MB of DDR compared to at least 512MB of memory in all the other systems under test.

The AMD notebooks arrived very late in the test cycle and there was not time to have the vendor fit additional memory, and this is not a user upgrade option. The maximum external resolution supported by the S270 is 2048 x 1536.

Network connectivity is slightly better than the S260 again with wireless coverage of 802.11b/g but not "a" and the wired LAN topping out at 100Mb but also with additional Bluetooth functionality. Because the S270 includes Bluetooth the fourth button above the keyboard behaves slightly differently and toggles the WLAN functions on and off with a small LED indicating the mode as follows: off -- all disabled, blue -- Bluetooth enabled, green -- WLAN enabled, blue/green WLAN and Bluetooth enabled.

The S260 was only configured with a DVD ROM CD-RW combo whereas the S270 had a dual layer DVD writer.

The only Semperon processor in the group was fitted to the S270 and was clocked at a respectable 1.79GHz. However performance was quite poor in all the tests that mattered; an extra 256MB of memory to bring the S270 in line with the other notebooks would probably go a long way to correct this performance deficiency.

We initially tested the battery life of the S270 "as is" but it soon became apparent that the larger battery on the S260 also had twice the capacity of the S270's. Our initial result for the S270 was pretty appalling -- one hour and 21 minutes -- but then the result was also flawed by incorrect power management settings. We ran the test a second time -- but this time to be fair with the S260's larger capacity battery -- and were still disappointed with the battery life at just two hours, 50 minutes.

Interestingly, the AMD CPU-based S270 ran hotter than the Intel-based S260 with peak spot temperatures of 34.4°C and 33°C respectively and exhaust fan temperatures of 33.9°C and 27.5°C respectively. While the S270 was hotter than the S260 we should note that the S270 ran considerably cooler than many of the Intel based notebook's, notably the hot running Toshiba.

Product MSI Megabook S270
Price AU$2499
Vendor MSI
Phone 02 9748 0070
Below average in this group.
Poor performance, relatively poor battery life, display is nice but detail too fine and could results in eye strain, average audio.
Average features set at a below average price but performance was poor.
2-years on-site pickup and return (Australia only) plus International. 1-year battery.
MSI Megabook S270

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Intel, Laptops, Mobility

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