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The Ultra Battle: 7 Intel CULV Notebooks Fight it Out!

Perfomance Benchmarking

Perfomance Benchmarking

Unlike your Intel Atom notebooks, not all CULV machines are built the same way. There are single core and dual core configurations, and factor in that Intel just released a whole new bunch of updated processors for its CULV processor line-up, that just means that performance results will vary somewhat as we mentioned on the first page. By far and large, the choice of processor used is the biggest differentiator in our shootout where raw performance is concerned.

Specifications / Notebook Acer Aspire Timeline 3810t Dell Inspiron 13z HP Pavilion dm3 Lenovo IdeaPad u350 LG T380 MSI X-Slim X340 Toshiba Portege T130
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo processor SU7300 (1.3GHz with 3MB L2 cache) Intel Pentium processor U4100 (1.3GHz with 2MB L2 cache) Intel Core 2 Duo processor SU7300 (1.3GHz with 3MB L2 cache) Intel Pentium processor SU2700 (1.3GHz with 2MB L2 cache) Intel Core 2 Duo processor SU7300 (1.3GHz with 3MB L2 cache) Intel Pentium processor SU3500 (1.4GHz with 3MB L2 cache) Intel Core 2 Duo processor SU9400 (1.4GHz with 3MB L2 cache)
Chipset Intel GS45 Intel GS45 Intel GS45 Intel GS45 Intel GS45 Intel GS45 Intel GS45
FSB 800MHz 800MHz 800MHz 800MHz 800MHz 800MHz 800MHz
Memory 4GB DDR3 3GB DDR3 4GB DDR3 3GB DDR3 4GB DDR2 2GB DDR2 2GB DDR3
HDD 1 x 320GB SATA 5400 RPM 1 x 160GB SATA 5400 RPM 1 x 320GB SATA 5400 RPM 1 x 250GB SATA 5400 RPM 1 x 500GB SATA 5400 RPM 1 x 320GB SATA 5400 RPM 1 x 500GB SATA 5400 RPM
Video ATI Mobility Radeon HD4330 Intel GMA 4500MHD Intel GMA 4500MHD Intel GMA 4500MHD Intel GMA 4500MHD Intel GMA 4500MHD Intel GMA 4500MHD
Of the seven notebooks, you'll note that the Lenovo IdeaPad U350 test notebook came equipped with the lowest end processor in this comparison, the Intel Pentium SU2700 (1.3GHz) single-core CPU. On the other hand, Toshiba's Portege T130 with its Core 2 Duo SU9400 (1.4GHz) has the best processor of the lot, so it's likely that we'll see higher scores in the CPU department there. Oh and of course, the Acer Aspire 3810t machine is the only one with discrete graphics. The Acer Aspire 3810t came specced with the Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 and has switch-able discrete graphics.

Expect to see a range of scores on our benchmark tests that will give you a good idea on what to expect when you grab one of these notebooks and more importantly what sort of specifications you should keep an eye out for. So without further ado, let's load up our ever reliable trusty benchmarks of PCMark05, PCMark Vantage and 3DMark06 for the Acer unit with its discrete graphics card.

PCMark05

It's quite obvious from the results how things stand with the various notebooks. The dual-core versions triumphed over their single core cousins, and the results do show much better performance compared to the usual Intel Atom processor, which typically score around the 1600 mark. The same can be seen on the PCMark Vantage scores, but whether this increased performance matches up to the Intel Atom's superior battery life will be seen on the next page.

We also noted that while Toshiba's T130 did have the best processor of the lot, its scores were average and was pretty much on par with the notebooks loaded with the slightly older Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 processors. Only in the CPU test section did the unit score better, but the difference didn't really matter much in the overall test score.

At this juncture, we would like to comment that we're still running PCMark05 for the benefit of our readers wishing to cross compare results with older notebook machines. That said, please note that Dell's Inspiron 13z failed to run the benchmark despite our coaxing, and as such we have no scores for this segment. However PCMark Vantage ran all fine and well.

Lastly, with only one CULV having a discrete option (the Acer Aspire Timeline 3810t) for its graphics, it's quite obvious that the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 helped it to score much higher in overall performance and also highlights on the performance gap between the normal integrated Intel graphics and the discrete option.

PCMark Vantage

Like PCMark05, a similar results trend can be spotted in PCMark Vantage. HP's Pavilion dm3 continued its lead in the HDD department, while Acer's unit continued to show its dominance in most of the tests thanks to its discrete graphics. While we couldn't test the Dell unit on PCMark05, PCMark Vantage revealed that the unit performed admirably well, coming in third place despite a lower end processor. Then again, these are just artificial benchmark results, so bear in mind you may experience a slight difference in real world usage situations as different applications tap on to various processing resources of your machine.

3DMark06

Since most of the units have no discrete graphics modules, this section will be kept pretty simple with just a comparison of the 3DMark06 scores of the Acer Aspire Timeline 3810t with and without discrete graphics working - this should give you an idea where the rest of the notebooks stand as for as gaming performance goes with just the bare Intel integrated graphics engine.

As you can see, having a discrete graphics processor makes a world of difference. So if desire some multimedia and gaming qualities from your Intel CULV processor bases thin and slim machines, do make a note to look out for the discrete graphics option. At the time of writing this article, we note that some manufacturers (like Dell) have upgraded their offerings with discrete graphics options, but we were unable to obtain any such units when we first began our testing.