Hands on with the Ivy Bridge mobile processor

Hands on with the Ivy Bridge mobile processor

Summary: The new Ivy Bridge processors will offer longer battery life and better performance than previous models. This hands-on overview shows that to be the case.

TOPICS: Processors

When Lenovo recently sent me the new ThinkPad X230 laptop to test, it came with an usual caveat. The laptop was one of the first ones with Intel's new Ivy Bridge mobile processor, but I couldn't talk about it. Intel had an embargo on the Ivy Bridge, so I was free to cover the ThinkPad but not admit what processor it had inside. That embargo is now over, so I can finally offer my thoughts on the new Ivy Bridge from Intel.

The X230 was shipped to me with the Intel Core i5 3320M processor. This is a dual-core processor capable of four threads that clocks at 2.6 GHz. It has HD 4000 integrated graphics which is the best graphics from Intel for mobile solutions to date.

See related: First peek at Intel's Ivy Bridge chips for upcoming Ultrabooks | Free Wi-Fi could boost Ultrabooks in business laptop market | Mac, PC solid state drives aren’t compatible | Quick look at the Lenovo ThinkPad X230 (hands-on) | AMD’s ‘Trinity’ challenge to Intel’s Ivy Bridge: Will it convince OEMs?

A great place to start for information about what Ivy Bridge brings to the PC is the overview from ZDNet's Laptop and Desktops. It gives a detailed look at the Ivy Bridge mobile processors compared to previous models. As this article points out, the 3320M processor in this ThinkPad is not the ultra-low voltage Intel will produce for Ultrabooks, rather this is the standard mobile processor running at 35 watts.

In place of benchmarks for this processor I have been using, since I don't have an earlier processor to compare, I will give my impressions of using the ThinkPad with Ivy Bridge. The battery life on the X230 is a solid 7 hours over time, with typical power management. I can squeeze 8 hours using stringent (but capable) power management settings. The Ivy Bridge processor does run longer than previous processors I have used.

The graphic capability of the Ivy Bridge is quite good, as all graphic-intensive applications run well on the X230. I haven't found any non-game applications that don't run well using the Ivy Bridge, but of course it won't match discrete graphics chipsets.

My usage of the Lenovo ThinkPad X230 with the Ivy Bridge mobile processor speaks well for Intel and this new generation of mobile chip. The laptop runs for almost all day and performance is quite good. Intel has hit a home run with the Ivy Bridge mobile processor based on my experience.

Topic: Processors

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  • Battery Capacity

    Just wondering, did you isolate the battery capacity difference, if any, from the improvement in time between battery charges?
    • typical battery

      This laptop has a standard battery like other Thinkpads I have used with earlier processors. It has Lenovo's Rapid Charge technology that provides 80% charge in just 30 minutes. Otherwise it is typical and not a large battery.
  • Have you tried the Win 8 Release Preview on this laptop, James?

    I ask because I am curious as to how Win 8 performs on Ivy Bridge chips. My curiosity over this issue stems from my own experience with Win 8 RP on my Parallels virtual machine running on my iMac core i7 with a SSD boot drive.

    (To those curious, I allocated 4 GB of memory and 2 cores to that virtual Win 8 machine. And to my MS friends online, you will be happy to know that Win 8 RP is blazing fast on my system.)

    I like everything about the Win 8 Metro experience except when it is on a desktop environment. Not being able to have multiple application windows open at one time just doesn't cut it for me and many others. And using a mouse instead of multi-touch (as Metro was designed for) is just a pain in the old rear end.

    However, in a tablet environment, Metro's live tiles and single open app design excels. And the few Metro Apps that I have experienced have impressed me.

    But I digress.

    If Win 8 can run well on a dual core Ivy Bridge processor than the mobile ultra low voltage version might run just as well in a tablet design. That would be the Windows tablet I would buy (and I plan on doing so.)

    However, since it is all but confirmed that Office will be released for the iPad ecosystem, there is no need for me to purchase a Win 8 RT tablet.
    • Office

      Regardless of office apps Being on the iPad, it still does not have an effective file system (although that could be included). Unless you are just doing quick document editing, I see no real value of having office on the iPad. It just doesn't offer enough.
      • I'm sort of with you...

        I also prefer to see a file system and see where my work actually is.


        Many are discovering that seeing a file structure is not required to get work done.

        For instance, a best friend of mine is getting her masters degree and has been using an iPad exclusively. She writes her academic papers, keeps notes, and reads texts entirely in the iPad.

        And her writing app allows her to keep versions, and "see" each of her documents effectively. She can even create chart data and functioning spreadsheets.

        She uses a great quality, touch-typing Bluetooth keyboard when she needs it....and just uses the iPad alone when that is desirable. She says it's very easy, battery life is obviously outstanding, and it's easier to always have with her than a laptop (obviously).

        So while having folders and directories is nice...I'm not sure it's "necessary."

        Now that I'm thinking about it....it reminds me of when *I* went from a command-line interface with commands like "dir *.doc" and "xcopy *.* \docs\temp"

        I didn't think I would deal with "explorer" windows and managing files that way....but I don't think I would go back to that either!
      • mistake

        Do not mistake filesystem and directory hierarchy (aka tree structure).

        Filesystem is just technology what rules how data is written and read from the disk. It does not include how programs show files to the user.
      • The file system

        The iPad obviously has an file system, just like every other UNIX system out there.

        There is simply no general purpose file browser, like Windows Explorer on Windows or Finder on OS X. This is because each and every application in iOS is sandboxes and no application can see other application's files. Therefore, such an file manager will be able to only see it's own files --- as is the case with the numerous file manager applications that already exist for iOS.

        I don't think Windows RT will have file manager either, because it is following the same security model.
      • @lelandhendrix

        I feel like that scenario would resulting me ripping my hair out, haha. I could never imagine doing actual work on an iPad. It's nice to surf the web and do simple tasks (I am typing on one right now) but when things get serious I see no other option than a full computer OS. But hey, if it works for her then that is great.
  • More better to come

    Next month should see the quad-core ULV variants start appearing. I'm already impressed with the UX21 from Asus, and am also waiting for HP's Elitebook 2170p to see what it can bring to the table. If mobile SB hasn't inspired folks to upgrade their Core 2 Duo clunkers then mobile Ivy Bridge certainly should. 2012 is a great year to buy a new notebook.