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The Ultra-thin Platform Battle: AMD Congo vs. Intel CULV

To the Victor the Spoils

To the Victor the Spoils

Based on the benchmark results on the last two pages, it seems like the Intel CULV platform has a leg up compared to the AMD platform. AMD's once mighty IGP is no longer enough to trounce Intel's solution as its graphics performance is hardly much better. In fact, if you take into account the whole platform's performance, Intel's stronger processing and memory performance figures give it the overall advantage.

AMD's value proposition however is still very strong as can be seen here with the HP Pavilion dm3 retailing for only S$1499 with a Radeon HD 4330 discrete graphics module. This gives the AMD platform quite a bit of advantage in pricing and gaming capabilities over the Intel equivalent that we tested in this article for S$1599 (with no discrete graphics solution).

Not to forget is Intel's Switchable Graphics feature that's supported on the mobile Intel 4 series chipset, which allows some of the newer Intel CULV processor based notebooks to seamlessly transition between the IGP and discrete graphics options. So it seems like AMD may have lost its advantage there. However given that these Intel notebooks are priced much higher than the AMD platform, the latter still has the price/value advantage.

That said, while the AMD ultra-thin notebook may be cheaper, the Intel equivalent in this comparison does come across as the better model for everyday usage as well as a better performer for more compute/multimedia intensive applications. With over five hours of battery life thanks to the low 10.21 watts power consumption compared to AMD's 17.92 watts that's running off just the IGP, Intel's CULV platform is probably what you would want to opt for if you want all-day computing. Considering that those power stats are based on the semi-intensive continuous video playback, you're bound to get a lot more if you're just performing standard productivity tasks (sans the highly variable impact from wireless internet surfing).

If you're on a budget and are looking for an ultraportable computer though, AMD still offers a decent deal with a platform that works fine. In fact if the HP Pavilion dm3 based on the AMD platform didn't come equipped with discrete graphics, it would be cheaper yet. Also, its overall portability ratio isn't too bad given that we've encountered equally less impressive ratios on the Intel platform from manufacturers who haven't put much effort in optimizing their products.

 

At the end of the day, both platforms are equally capable in our eyes, though we are picking Intel as our winner for this one. Until when AMD hits back with a more power efficient platform, Intel's options are currently the better (though slightly more expensive) choice for users who are looking to squeeze every last drop of battery juice from their notebooks while on the road. We'll see how AMD will fare with the Nile platform that's due for launch later this year, and we're read reports that the new AMD Neo X2 Geneva processors for this platform will boast a TDP of 15 watts - definitely an improvement!

Intel however will be pushing for 32nm CULV class processors this year that's based on the Arrandale core (the current mobile variant of the Core i3, i5 and i7 processors) while running on the existing Calpella platform. It is indicated that this updated platform will maintain a TDP of 18 watts, but bear in mind that the Calpella platform features an integrated chipset, so the 18W TDP refers to how much energy the entire platform will use (and not just the processor).

If you haven't yet bought a notebook and can afford to wait, the later half of this year looks to be shaping up for an ultra thin and light notebook battle of renewed proportions. So do keep a patient hand on the wallet, and an ever watchful eye for that right model. If you're in the market for an ultra-thin and light notebook right now, our verdict is clear:- the Intel platform easily earns our recommendation if you can fork out more for better performance and battery life, but go with the AMD platform if you're on a budget or in need of a competent entry-level mobile gaming machine. So get your priorities right!