Last week we posted an article comparing battery life using two different Gateway laptops - laptops that were essentially identical, with the exception of the motherboard, chipset, integrated graphics, and processor. This was a subject that we wanted to investigate closely for a long time, but acquiring laptops that are anywhere near "identical" when you are looking at two completely different platforms can be extremely difficult. Moreover, even companies that had very similar laptops didn't seem to have any desire to have us review their AMD models. Conspiracy theory, were they trying to avoid cannibalizing sales of more expensive laptops, or some other explanation… regardless of the cause, it took us many requests to finally have a mobile showdown between AMD and Intel.


After the initial article went up dissecting battery life under a variety of situations, we have received numerous emails questioning our test methodology, complaining of bias for or against AMD/Intel, and offering other suggestions for how to improve the tests. The battery life article was always intended to be a short preview, and we are well aware of many of the differences between AMD and Intel platforms. This, then, is the rest of the story where we look at general application performance, graphics performance, and provide a full review of both laptops. First, let's start with a recap of the test systems - this time with full specifications.

Gateway NV5214u Specifications
Processor AMD Athlon 64 X2 QL-64
(Dual-core, 2.1GHz, 2x512KB L2, 65nm, 35W, 667MHz FSB)
Chipset AMD RS780MN + SB700
Memory 2x2048MB DDR2-667
Graphics Integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200
Display 15.6" Glossy LED-Backlit 16:9 WXGA (1366x768)
Hard Drive 320GB 5400RPM
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
802.11n WiFi
56K Modem
Audio 2-Channel HD Audio (2.0 Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks)
Battery 6-Cell 10.8V, 4400mAhr, 47.5Whr
Front Side None
Left Side SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro/xD reader
Microphone/Headphone Jacks (2.0 audio with S/PDIF support)
2 x USB 2.0
HDMI
VGA
Gigabit Ethernet
AC Power Connection
Kensington Lock
Right Side DVDRW Optical Drive
2 x USB 2.0
56K Modem
Power Button
Back Side Heat Exhaust Port
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 14.6" x 9.8" x 1.0"-1.5" (WxDxH)
Weight 5.8 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
Alternate colors/models available
Blue: NV5213u
Black: NV5215u
Red: NV5216u
Warranty 1-year standard Gateway warranty
Extended warranties available
Price NV5214u available at Best Buy for $500

Gateway NV5807u Specifications
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6500
(Dual-core, 2.1GHz, 2MB shared L2, 45nm, 35W, 800MHz FSB)
Chipset Intel GM45 + ICH9M
Memory 2x2048MB DDR2-667
Graphics Integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD
Display 15.6" Glossy LED-Backlit 16:9 WXGA (1366x768)
Hard Drive 320GB 5400RPM
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
802.11n WiFi
56K Modem
Audio 2-Channel HD Audio (2.0 Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks)
Battery 6-Cell 10.8V, 4400mAhr, 47.5Whr
Front Side None
Left Side SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro/xD reader
Microphone/Headphone Jacks (2.0 audio with S/PDIF support)
2 x USB 2.0
HDMI
VGA
Gigabit Ethernet
AC Power Connection
Kensington Lock
Right Side DVDRW Optical Drive
2 x USB 2.0
56K Modem
Power Button
Back Side Heat Exhaust Port
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 14.6" x 9.8" x 1.0"-1.5" (WxDxH)
Weight 5.8 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
Alternate colors/models available
Black: NV5814u
Red: NV5815u
Warranty 1-year standard Gateway warranty
Extended warranties available
Price NV5814u available online starting at $580

In terms of core paper specifications, the systems really are as close to identical as we can get. There are no AMD chipsets for current Intel processors, and likewise Intel doesn't make chipsets for AMD processors. We could try to go the discrete graphics route, but virtually all current AMD-based laptops include integrated graphics and that's part of the features equation. We're looking not just at the difference in processors but what the mobile platform as a whole offers from each company. Those familiar with current trends should have an idea of what to expect: Intel has the better processor (faster and lower power), overall chipset features are similar, and AMD (courtesy of ATI) has the better integrated graphics. The question isn't so much who will be faster in various tests, but rather how much faster. That's what we're here to find out.

Gateway NV5214u - AMD
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  • balancedthinking - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    What has this discussion to do with me beeing located in germany? Nice work looking up my IP btw. Am I not allowed to critisize you because I am not american? What kind of excuse ist that?

    Am I not allowed to critisize you because the EU fined Intel for ripping of european customers? Am I not allowed to critisize you because AMDs foundry spin of is located in germany at the moment, while building a new fab in new york? Is that your excuse?

    After all, AMD is an american company and the funny thing is, I am neither on the payroll of AMD and also do not write for a competitor.

    Still I like underdogs and I do not like underdogs beeing treated unfairly. I also own an AMD Laptop with HD 3200 and I have too much fun playing with it to let you deceive other customers into spending MORE money to get a crippled IGP, a few percent battery life and cpu performance.

    How many students do you know? I know plenty and the MAJORITY only has a laptop and no desktop. There are also A LOT of students who can not afford a 1000$ gaming laptop but they definitely have fun to play counter strike with their mates.

    You know who cares about a few percent battery life and cpu performance? Intel marketing, because they can tell people their plattform is actually "better" in certain areas.

    Sound familiar huh?

    regarding your "alternatives".

    The 500$ one only has a T4200, your review is about a T6500. You can not tell if the T4200 has an advantage over the AMD system regarding battery life and performance! It definitely will be slower than the T6500 and the Nvidia IGP will not help the battery life, neither will the T4200.

    It also has no HDMI, only VGA. So no fun with family and friends showing them your latest vacation pictures on the big flatscreen.

    The 8200M G is also a very old IGP that is a lot slower than the HD 3200 (3dmark 06 1000 vs. 1600 points) and has no HD content features.

    The 600$ alternative also has the slower and more power hungry T4200. The HD 4330 is faster than the HD 3200 but not that much (2600 vs. 1600 points 3dmark 06). On the other hand, it is a dedicated graphics solution so I highly doubt that the battery life with the T4200 will be any better than the gateway AMD system. HDMI is also missing!

    So you pay an extra 100$ to loose the HDMI port and get the same battery life and cpu performance the AMD system has for 500$. The gpu is better but it will cost you 20% extra.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    I just had to point this one out:

    You state that the 8200M is a "lot slower than the HD 3200". 1000/1600=0.625, or in words the 8200M gives 62.5% the score of the HD 3200.

    You then state that "the HD 4330 is faster than the HD 3200 but not that much". 1600/2600=0.615, or in words the HD 3200 gives 61.5% the score of the HD 4330, or in other words a larger gap than between the HD 3200 and the "lot slower" 8200M.
    Reply
  • scientia - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    I have to agree. The "review" bears no connection to reality. I use an HP Pavillion with a 2.0 Ghz AMD mobile Athlon 64 and Radeon 200 M grapics everyday. The notion that a notebook with a bit more than twice as much CPU doesn't have enough is ludicrous.

    I also have an HP Pavillion Centrino system with a 2.0 Ghz Pentium M. The two systems have very similar CPU power but the Centrino definitely has worse graphics. For example, I have to reduce the resolution on my AMD system with playing against it on Warcraft 3 with LAN and the Centrino is unable to run Civ 4 which runs fine even on my older AMD notebook.

    The CPU in my notebook spends the great majority of its time running at 800 - 1000 Mhz so the extra CPU power on the Intel system will not be noticeable except in benchmarks. Whose leg are you trying to pull, Mr. Walton, when you claim that Intel system feels snappier?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    A 2.0GHz Pentium M with GMA 900 graphics is a different era, I'm sorry to inform you, just as a Radeon 200M is a different beast than the HD 3200. Do not make the mistake of thinking nothing has changed during the past four years, because it has.

    As I pointed out, the last time I tested an Intel IGP in a large selection of games (GMA 950), it failed to load 2/3 of the titles. The GMA 4500 now loads over 3/4 of titles. Even two years ago, Intel's IGP was about 1/4 the performance of the ATI and NVIDIA IGPs. Now (in games where drivers are working), the advantage is less than 100%.

    Discussing notebooks from the past is a true disconnect from "reality". Please look at current offerings - as I have done in this review - if you want to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the various platforms.
    Reply
  • tempestor - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    This is fun! :)

    I have no idea from what hat you pulled Germany. OK, you are from Germany, cool, i am from Europe too - Slovenia, but i don`t think Jarred with his remark (fabs in Germany) meant anything "racist".

    Anyway - my quotes were carefully picked - so you can see i wrote some favoring AMD too! Not what you did. You only listed quotes favoring Intel. Bad boy! And i did write that one of my quotes was out of context... you really don`t have to repeat that.

    Some time ago a friend of mine had to choose between two notebooks very similar to the ones compared in this article. Yes, i did recommend him Intel version, but he wanted to save 30 EUR (cca 50 USD) and picked AMD version. Is he happy with his choice? Yes. But he NEVER uses his computer on battery and he doesn`t care about how fast some page in web browser loads. Oh... and he doesn`t play games either or watch HD movies. So i guess AMD option is ok for him. And Intel would be ok too!

    About "snappier" - you will know the meaning of this word when it hits you. And i can tell you - i have a WD 3200BJKT drive now in my notebook and the performance is up by 20% at least (according to original WD 1600BEVS or something HDD (a shitty 160 gb 5400 rpm drive)). So yes, HDD has impact on how fast things load (OS, webpages, games,...) - note that Jarred.

    About games - if you KNOW you can`t play some game on a notebook is sometimes better than to KNOW you can`t play it good. Meaning: playing some game on a slow computer gives you wrong impression of the game thus not liking it. So it is better to not play it at all.
    I don`t think graphics is HUGE advantage for AMD. It is like bread - it feeds you, but the taste is plain!!!

    HD playback: average Blue-Ray movie in Slovenia costs around 40-50 EUR. Do you really think a person that spends 500 USD (cca 320 EUR) would regularly watch HD movies on that notebook? I don`t think so.

    Don`t get me wrong about underdogs. I really like AMD`s graphics division. I think they are way better than nVidia. But glory days of their CPU division are loooooooong gone. And computers are still mostly about CPU, not GPU.

    M.

    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    Your being in Germany (where AMD has facilities) is suspect. I make a point of checking IP addresses for people that apparently have blinders on, considering guerrilla marketing tactics have been employed by many. "Am I not allowed to critisize you because the EU fined Intel for ripping of european customers?" What does the EU and Intel have to do with criticizing me? Whether or not you work for AMD is still unknown, as obviously you wouldn't admit it.

    You blame me for bias but say you like to root for the underdog. "Rooting" for someone is the definition of bias. I went into this expecting nothing but curious as to the results. I did not expect 25% better battery life, though the general performance and GPU results were pretty much a given. Concrete numbers are always good, even if they hurt your feelings since you own an HD 3200 laptop.

    I love how 28% more battery life has become "a few percent". Nice blinders. I like how 25% faster performance on average (outside of games) is also meaningless. The Pentium T4200 shouldn't be much slower than the T6500, http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?p=67&a...">as these desktop results show. The loss of 5% clock speed and 1MB L2 results in a drop of 5-10%. Power requirements should not change appreciably, as it's still a 45nm chip and Intel doesn't have the advanced C-states on the T6500 or T4200.

    I have already stated (repeatedly) that the NV52 at $500 is the better solution for entry-level mobile gaming. It is not without compromises, but if basic gaming is that important and you can't spend a dollar more it's the way to go. I feel strongly that people who are so concerned with gaming performance will be better served by reassessing their needs and wants; do they really need the extra features or are they buying in because of marketing? Do they really need a laptop at all, considering a gaming desktop for $500 (including OS and LCD) can easily outperform laptops costing twice as much?

    I'm done with this conversation. You repeatedly exaggerate areas that benefit your pro-AMD stance and downplay everything else. Enjoy your AMD HD 3200 laptop, but just because you think it's great doesn't mean it is the best solution for everyone. It's one possible option out of dozens of competing notebooks and platforms.
    Reply
  • tempestor - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    btw: article not working from page 8 on.

    M.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    Not sure what happened, but somehow when I tried to add some charts last night the "gaming" page got blown away. I have corrected the error now. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    News flash: any article written is going to be opinion. Intel's opinion and AMD's opinion doesn't count for squat with me; I gave you a rundown of the market as I see it, after using a variety of laptops. Objective and neutral doesn't mean I have to be nice to a company offering an overall inferior solution. Unbiased certainly does not mean I have to root for the underdog.

    You think gaming is far more important in a budget laptop than I do, and then you keep trying to put in me a corner that I'm not in. I don't think "NOBODY plays 3D games on laptops"; I think there are plenty of people that do so, but that there are even more people that don't. Is it "marketing BS" (to use your phrase) to promote gaming as something everyone should look for in a laptop, especially when it reduces battery life by 25%? Your "balancedthinking" reads more like anti-Intel marketing, while my article has no problems pointing out the shortcomings of both AMD and Intel. Which is actually the "balanced" opinion?

    Is Spore playable on the HD 3200? Yes. Is it a great experience? Not at the level of other laptops that have better GPUs and only cost slightly more. Does it also run on the Intel IGP? Yes, at roughly half the performance of the HD 3200, but still providing playability at 800x600. You're saying twice the performance at 800x600 is a great thing (ATI HD 3200), but six times the level of performance is meaningless?

    "Barely adequate" is not an Intel marketing statement, that's my opinion backed by cold, hard numbers. There are plenty of games that do not run acceptably on any current IGP (Mass Effect, Riddick: Dark Athena, and Call of Duty World at War all fall into that category, and Assassin's Creed might as well be there considering it looks like crap at minimum detail settings). Many others hover around 20 FPS on the HD 3200. Mouse cursor movement at 20FPS is sluggish and choppy, making for a less than enjoyable experience. I played and tested quite a few games on these laptops, and at best performance (and quality) was acceptable (Company of Heroes, UT3, and similar games that aren't too taxing).

    Considering I can find laptops that handle gaming at native LCD resolution with roughly twice the performance of the HD 3200 (or only slightly higher performance but with increased detail) and it only increases price by 30% (that's 30% more cost for 300% more gaming performance), it's very limiting to suggest that people should only consider entry-level IGP solutions.


    Here's an unbiased conclusion for you:

    Intel has the better mobile solution at pretty much all price points - i.e. better battery life with acceptable performance (Atom) or better battery life and performance (Core 2).

    AMD has the better mobile gaming solution for less than ~$600, but it will still struggle with many 3D games and there are titles that it simply can't run. Casual gamers should be fine.

    Intel + NVIDIA or ATI GPU is the better mobile gaming solution for anyone spending more than $650, and in fact will win in every category except battery life tests (where it's bested by Intel-based laptops with IGPs).

    Amazingly enough, that's the condensed version of what I said in the conclusion.

    FWIW, QuickTime 1080p movie trailers run better on the Intel NV58, and so do YouTube and Google videos. ATI's drivers are better with resolution support, but ATI also doesn't provide generic reference drivers for laptops so the NV58 currently runs with drivers that are six months old. GMA 4500 should handle Blu-ray playback, but you'd need an appropriate application (i.e. PowerDVD Ultra) and a Blu-ray drive, which is not something most people add to a $500 laptop.
    Reply
  • balancedthinking - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    Funny:

    "You think gaming is far more important in a budget laptop than I do, and then you keep trying to put in me a corner that I'm not in. I don't think "NOBODY plays 3D games on laptops"; I think there are plenty of people that do so, but that there are even more people that don't."

    look at your previous post

    "Again, what percentage of laptop users actually play 3D games on a regular basis - or at all?"

    You do not even remeber what you wrote only hours ago...

    I am not talking about playing the latest blockbusters like "cod world at war" on a laptop with IGP. I am talking about those 2-5 year old classics that still shine and are very playable on the amd system and just not on the Intel system like Age of Empires 3, Anno, Warcraft 3, Flatout, Tomb Raider, Dungeon Siege, gothic, counter strike, half life 2, flatout and many more.

    Also very funny you bring up Spore as a game where the Intel IGP is supposed to do quiet well.

    "Does it also run on the Intel IGP? Yes, at roughly half the performance of the HD 3200, but still providing playability at 800x600."

    Intel is only able to reach half the performance because they leave out a lot of effects and it just looks horrible on an Intel IGP.

    http://blogs.amd.com/patmoorhead/2009/01/23/why-sp...">http://blogs.amd.com/patmoorhead/2009/0...may-look...
    Reply

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