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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  • strikeback03 - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

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

    Doesn't mean that no users play 3D games, it means that the majority never do, some small percentage play infrequently, and some smaller percentage would regularly.

    Also, an AMD blog is probably not the best place to look for a balanced view of an AMD/Intel comparison.
    Reply
  • flipmode - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    AMD's mobile products have always been rebranded desktop products - which have always been rebranded server products. In the best cases, the CPUs run at lower voltages and lower speeds.

    Intel has, interesting, done the opposite, as far as I can tell. They designed the Pentium M from the ground up for mobile, and turned that into Core 2 for the desktop, and turned that into Nahalem for the server.

    This is all in spite of the fact that several years ago, AMD stated that it was placing mobile above desktop in terms of importance. But technology has a natural flow between the two poles of server and mobile, with desktop stuck in the middle. AMD chose to flow from high to low, Intel chose to flow from low to high. It seems that Intel's choice was the better one.
    Reply
  • blackshard - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    Approximately it is true, but consider that these 65nm mobile AMD parts have absolutely no correspondence in desktop market. These are Family 11h processors and are a mixture of old K8 (execution units) and newer K10 processors (memory controller, power management).
    Actually Athlon QLs is the least attractive from a performance and power management point of view. I hope Walton will get some ZM/RM processors from AMD to make a clear comparison.
    Reply
  • mircix - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    Ok. Great article and I have a simple question. I am interested mostly in Avid, witch is a professional video editing software, and 3ds max. 3ds for movie CGI. I'm not looking for a desktop's working station performace, but something decent. I've runned 3ds 2009 on a 1.6 gh and intel gms 950, hp pavilion dv100 and works. but slow. So, for closure: 3ds max and Avid : AMD or Intel? Thank you Reply
  • jamawass - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    Although the conclusions of the article are correct, the graphical charts for gaming comparisons are sneakily designed to minimize the tremendous advantage AMD has in gaming performance over Intel. If this performance is as unimportant as the author states ( Kia vs Hyundai) why not represent it in bar chart form like all the other results? As another poster said, testing games like the Sims or WoW would be much more meaningful on these platforms than FPS.
    I don't think anyone buys a laptop of this price for gaming but I've owned an AMD one like it and on overseas trips I would take FarCry along and fire it up for some casual gaming something I wouldn't be able to do on a similarly spec'd Intel laptop.
    We know Intel has the superior mobile design but objectivity would be nice so independent decisions can be made as to how important gaming is to a potential buyer.
    Reply
  • IHateMyJob2004 - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    I really want a laptop for wordprocessing. All I want is a cheaper (processing power not needed) laptop with a high resolution. 1920x1200 is what I want but this also seem to be a segment that Every manufacturer is ignoring. This is how a utilitarian wants to use alaptop and I'm sure I am not the only one out there.

    And I agree with what you said. Unelss the primary use for a laptop is games and movie watching, the 16:9 and 16:10 ratio screen is stupid. Widescrees are in, but I view them as short screens. And short screen suck for word processing and software develeopment. Give me a 5:3 ratio screen! Bring them back!

    The only thing I am really curious about in terms of performance is how much better a low cost laptop is if it has a dedicated viddeo card with its own memory versus a laptop where the video card uses system memory. I'm mostly concerned with any lag that is associated with the video card due to how it uses memory.

    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    See, plenty of people like the widescreens for writing tasks, as you can have 2 800px columns of text on a 1920px screen side by side. I don't like the current move to 16:9 from 16:10 though, that is obviously a step back. Reply
  • mczak - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    This article clearly shows that AMD desperately needs updated mobile platform (Tigris). In terms of chipset won't be much of an update (rs880m/sb710) but finally 45nm cpu (Caspian - probably same as regor for mobile market). Won't be enough to close the gap (those 65nm Athlons didn't do too well against 65nm C2D neither) but at least something more competitive (so together with the price advantage and better graphics maybe a competitive package). Reply
  • mczak - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    forgot to mention, that platform better show up soon. Against Intel's Calpella platform (with Arrendale cpu) it will look quite bad I assume, and even the graphics advantage could disappear. Fortunately for AMD, Arrendale shouldn't show up before 2010, though that's not that much time left... Reply
  • weeaboo - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    I don't play it personally, but I imagine that one of the most common game people play on their non-gaming laptop is World of Warcraft. On this kind of platform I think performance figures on the MMOs of yesteryear would be more interesting than a plethora of FPS games. Reply

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