Thursday marked the official launch of Windows 7, so perhaps we can finally put those Mac versus PC commercials behind us. Whatever your feelings towards Vista, the fact remains that it garnered a less than stellar reputation. As we discussed in our Windows 7 RC1 article, many people have the impression that Windows Vista is awful but they can't tell you why. Microsoft hopes to change things with the launch of Windows 7, a.k.a. Windows Vista 2.0.

One of the sore spots for Windows, and Vista in particular, has always been battery life. We have discussed this previously, but the simple fact of the matter is that Mac OS X on a MacBook is easily putting any Windows laptop to shame when it comes to mobility. There are many potential contributing factors, including better optimization of the hardware/software combination, tweaks to perhaps enable lower voltages by default on Intel CPUs, and the ability to keep the CPUs running in deeper sleep states more of the time. We will have an updated comparison with OS X in the near future, but to date everything appears to be in favor of Apple MacBook; Windows 7 improves the situation.

Microsoft has a white paper detailing some of the changes in Windows 7 that should result in improved battery life. We have already explored this topic previously, but those are only preliminary results. Moving forward, the laptops we review are going to shift to Windows 7 instead of Windows Vista, and today marks the onslaught of the Windows 7 laptop releases. One of the first Windows 7-based laptops to arrive in our labs for testing comes from ASUS.


We looked at the ASUS UL50Vt running on Windows 7 Home Basic and found that ASUS could deliver nearly 7 hours of battery life while surfing the Internet -- and that's using our heavy Flash-based tests. One of the more interesting aspects of the ASUS UL series is that they allow overclocking of the ULV processors -- typically 1.73GHz instead of the default 1.30GHz, though in low-power states it's also overclocked from 800MHz to 1066MHz. The overclocking is achieved by simply raising the FSB from 800MHz to 1066MHz; since the chipset and other components can all run a 1066FSB already, the only component that's truly overclocked is the CPU, and it has no difficulty running at 1.73GHz.

We have the final release version of the ASUS UL80Vt in our hands, and we have begun testing. Today we provide a quick look at what the laptop offers and our initial impressions.

ASUS UL80Vt Overview
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  • 7Enigma - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    I'll do it for you. Using an old review from April09 where they posted the min/WHr:

    MacBook2008 got a 6.36

    Asus gets a 6.32 (531min / 84 WHr)

    It is important however to note if the testing methodology (ie websites used/etc.) have changed significantly since the 2008 Macbook review and if so in which direction (my guess would be more draining now).

    If they are directly (or closely) comparible then you have to factor in weight difference and price, and of course CPU/GPU performance differences. Since the price is $150 cheaper, the weight difference IMO would have to be significantly lighter for the MacBook to justify (build-quality, OS, intangibles aside).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    All I know for certain is that the old results had Apple at 6.36 (as mentioned), but the tests are not the same as the ones I used for the Windows laptops. Anand has the new Internet tests I'm using (I ran them on Linux, so they should run fine on OS X), so when he's had a chance to run numbers we can make the comparison. The UL80Vt is twice the relative battery life of most Windows laptops, and over three times the relative battery life of higher-spec units. I can't say for certain whether it has matched or surpassed the latest MacBook, but it should be very close if not better. Reply
  • Pirks - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    "32% in DivX encoding, and xxx% in CINEBENCH R10"

    xxx%? Really?! Are you hiding something from us Jarred? ;)))
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    LOL... sorry, I was still running tests at the time and obviously missed that. It's 12% BTW; text updated. Reply
  • mczak - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    I'm wondering why asus uses a overclocked ULV chip. Presumably they increase voltage a bit when overclocked to guarantee stable operation right? So in this case power should be very similar to LV chips (+30% for higher clock plus something additional for more voltage - ULV chips are 10W, LV 17W). So why not get a non-overclocked LV chip like the SL9600 in the first place? 2.133Ghz, 6MB cache, should cost about the same as the SU7300. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    CPU-Z reports the voltage as 0.875V -- at the overclocked 1.73GHz setting. The ULV parts are essentially CPUs that work well with very low voltages, and they usually have better overclocking headroom. Anyway, it appears that even overclocked, the SU7300 isn't consuming more than perhaps 12-13W. (I'll have to do more testing to verify that figure for the full review.) When you have a laptop that uses 9.5W on average for Internet surfing, an extra 3W is a big deal. Reply
  • mczak - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    Those 0.875V are presumably at idle? Would be way below published VID range under load (hopefully cpu-z reports this correctly even for mobile cpus).
    I just doubt a ULV chip is really any better if you overclock it to the level of a LV chip. Unless you're courageous and don't overvolt it to the same level, though you could just undervolt a LV chip instead...
    In any case, I'd be very interested in the voltage adjustments (if any) under idle/load for OC/-nonOC setting - of course those chips have a VID range and hence could vary by chip but in practice they don't vary that much and the asus overclocking would presumably add a fixed voltage increase (if any).
    Reply
  • mschira - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    Amazing, the most interesting new laptops at the moment are all cheap ones.
    Like the acer Timelines, the Asus"WTF have they been thinking with that name", the Dell Studio 14z etc.

    They are all very nice, but they have compromises to keep em cheap. Not too bad compromises, but still.

    Why doesn't Asus make a Lambougini version of this little nice buddy? Ditch the CD drive - who needs those - give us a nice screen, give us an expensive light, great case.
    I'll happily pay the premium - it's not going to be that much anyway.
    M.

    Reply
  • KikassAssassin - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    Wow, with the exception of the screen, this thing is almost exactly what I've been looking for in a laptop. I've been really disappointed in the seeming non-existence of an affordable, highly-portable laptop with a dual-core ULV processor, non-Intel graphics, and a high-Wh battery. Put a high-quality display with a matte overlay (WhyTF is almost every laptop using freaking glossy nowadays?), and a toggle-able back-lit keyboard on this thing, and it would be my perfect laptop to a T.

    I also really like the idea of the ability to toggle between low-power integrated graphics and higher-performing discreet graphics, and I wish more laptops would include this feature. I have a feeling nVidia's going to be pushing hard for this once Arrandale comes out.
    Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Sunday, October 25, 2009 - link

    One request for the game testing section: add an older title s/a Half-life 2 in addition to the usual new new games. I'm more interested in what it can run than the obvious "well, there you have it- it won't run the latest titles, get a desktop for that".
    Looking forward to the review!!
    Reply

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