Test Setup

We'll be comparing the CULV laptops against other inexpensive mobile solutions, like Atom N280 and N450 netbooks, the ASUS 1201N, and a few entry-level laptops from Dell and Gateway that don't focus as much on battery life or size. We've highlighted a few of the laptops to help clarify the charts (per reader request).

The ASUS 1201N represents the fastest Atom-based netbook/laptop, as it's armed with a dual-core Atom 330, and its results are shown in orange. The gold bars are for the ASUS UL80Vt with G210M active and a 33% overclock; combined with the discrete graphics this represents the high water mark for CULV performance - and the super sized battery doesn't hurt either. (Note that the Alienware M11x takes a similar approach but bumps the GPU up to a GT335M for even better graphics performance.) ASUS' Eee PC 1005HA is representative of the best Atom N280 netbooks, with results in black. Likewise, the ASUS 1005PE is the best (well, only) Pine Trail Atom N450 we've tested, with results in dark green. Finally, the MSI X610 is a single core Athlon MV-40 with HD 4330 graphics - an odd combination, as we pointed out in our review - with results in red.

Below you can find the specs of the laptops we're testing today; other laptops can be found in our previous mobile reviews if you're interested.

Acer Aspire Timeline AS1810T Test System
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300
(2x1.3GHz, 45nm, 3MB L2, 800FSB, 10W)
Memory 2x2GB DDR2-667
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD IGP
Display 11.6" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 320GB 5400RPM HDD
Optical Drive N/A
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 5600mAh, 63Wh
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Pricing Available Online starting at $680
(Black version available for $600)

Dell Inspiron 11z Test System
Processor Intel Pentium SU4100
(2x1.3GHz, 45nm, 2MB L2, 800FSB, 10W)
Memory 1x2GB DDR2-667
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD IGP
Display 11.6" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 250GB 5400RPM HDD
Optical Drive N/A
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 4840mAh, 56Wh
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Pricing Available Online starting at $400
Test System: $564 (with current $173 savings)

Gateway EC5409u Test System
Processor Intel Pentium SU4100
(2x1.3GHz, 45nm, 2MB L2, 800FSB, 10W)
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1066
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD IGP
Display 15.6" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 320GB 5400RPM HDD
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 5600mAh, 63Wh
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Pricing Available Online starting at $600

We'll include the usual assortment of application benchmarks, battery tests, and LCD tests. If you're interested in gaming performance, we suggest you look at our ASUS 1201N review, where we show gaming performance of the EC5409u at minimum detail settings. In a word, it's painful, but we'll include the 3DMark results later just to make things clear. If you want games and CULV, we highly recommend something like the ASUS UL series; check back next week for some new information in that area.

Okay, it's time for the test results. We'll spoil the charts a bit by once again stating that nearly all of the tests show complete parity among the tested laptops. If we had something with an SU9600, sure, it would be measurably faster. Similarly, an SSD can improve tests that are limited by hard drive performance. Both of those items would add at least $100 each to the cost of a laptop, so you quickly approach the $800+ laptop range, which is currently the domain of the ASUS UL30/50/80Vt laptops. If you're after a $600 CULV, the components you can get into such a design are pretty much set, leading to virtually identical performance. Outside of comparisons to other laptop categories (e.g. netbooks and non-CULV laptops), the previous pages on the design and features are going to be more meaningful than looking at how much faster the 1810T is relative to the 11z. The only areas where we see any real separation are the battery life results and the LCD testing.

Gateway EC5409u General Performance: Atom Gets Dusted
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  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    Still waiting for a review unit. I am also curious to see if Alienware allows overclocking, similar to the ASUS UL series. If they do, and with the GT335M, the m11x is going to be a very speedy machine in many respects. Of course, it's going to cost close to $1000 I imagine, but the features will probably make it worthwhile. Reply
  • synaesthetic - Friday, February 05, 2010 - link

    There is a BIOS option to overclock the FSB on the M11x. According to the review, the SU7300 was overclocked to 1.6GHz with a respectable boost in performance and a negligible increase in heat (only a degree or two hotter). Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    I could not get past the brand name personally. Many people out there do their best to avoid the "greatness" that is Acer. I am just one of those people.

    Reply
  • clarkn0va - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    Maybe my information is just out of date, but my knowledge of the Acer Timelines differs somewhat from the information presented in this article.

    For starters, Jarred is stating that they have plastic covers. I own a 3810T and the cover is brushed aluminum (or a really good fake), thank goodness.

    Secondly, it was my understanding that (at least some of) the TZ models had switchable graphics, enabling the user to switch from Intel to AMD graphics on the fly. Perhaps this isn't offered any more.

    Lastly, and this is not Jarred's mistake, just an unfortunate reality, mine came with an 80GB Intel G1 SSD. This not only improves performance markedly, but should help to extend battery life. I think it's a shame that more desktops and laptops don't include this option.
    Reply
  • AmbroseAthan - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    I was going to comment on this too. There are A LOT of differences within each Timeline series. I know there are 1810T's with aluminum rather then the plastic, and the new Olympic editions are very nice.

    Personally I own the 1810T (black plastic with SU7300) and couldn't be happier with it. It does have some of the problems Jarred listed, but you quickly adjust to the size of the trackpad; I haven't had any issues dragging things around the screen.

    My brother owns the 3810T (Brushed aluminum w/ SU7300), and it is much more polished then the 1810T (blakc plastic). The little extra size really helped Acer make it a much nicer laptop. Even his keyboard is of a different material/style then mine. The touchpad is also different. He got his only a couple weeks after me, and I gladly would have taken the slight extra weight for the updates it had to everything else had I known.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    If I'm not mistaken (and I admit, I might be -- curse Acer and their plethora of SKUs that are all very similar!), the aluminum Timeline models are more expensive than the plastic models. At a price of around $750 to $800, I'd go with the ASUS UL80Vt and get switchable graphics. The Olympic Edition of the 1810 does look very nice, but can anyone confirm that it's truly aluminum? Look at http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">these pictures and it appears to be glossy plastic to me. Still, it's got the right parts and price ($550), if you're okay with the keyboard action. Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    I'm a convert! Since I got my Inspiron 13Z with its 7300 it's been great. Similar grunt to an old P4 2.8Ghz dual core with a Nvidia 105 GPU and 4GB of ram.

    For a small laptop its perfect. Plays games just fine and if I set it to balanced power it can run for 8 hours+ easily.
    Reply
  • tno - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    I hope not to start a flame war or cause any hard feelings or upset on Jarred's part, but I feel it's worth pointing out that this piece could have really used a polish. One of the great things about AT is that the coverage and the writing have always been equally high in quality. Certainly, the occasional typo or awkward sentence would sneak out, but on the whole it could be trusted that the articles read as if they had been reviewed by an editor.

    This article, however, did not feature the typical AT polish; a fact which was evident in the very first sentence:
    "A couple years back, ASUS released the first netbook on an unsuspecting world."

    While a conversational tone is certainly appreciated, the absent 'of' between the second and third word mar this sentence. The opening paragraph continues with several sentences which reach or border on being run-ons; and could easily stand the presence of a few semi-colons. Typos and word misuse ("differentiator" is a specialization mechanism in cell biology, and not a general term for the variable that separates members of a population) litter the first page, and would no doubt have been caught by a copy editor.

    Again, I am absolutely a fan of this site and the wonderful articles produced here. Letting mistakes like these slip past, however, diminish the articles to the level of blog posts and not quality technical journalism. As the number of writers and staffers grow, it becomes harder to enforce high writing standards. If it hasn't been done, perhaps it's time to consider hiring some proof readers?

    tno
    Reply
  • QuietOC - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    Haha, Jarred lifted some of that wording from a sample review I submitted to them: "A few months later ASUS released the original Eee PC on the unsuspecting world market." There's nothing particularly unique about the language. I wouldn't be surprised if I unconsciously borrowed it myself. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    The use or omission of the word "of" in the first sentence is entirely a stylistic preference. "A couple years ago..." or "A couple of years ago..." mean the same thing, with an extra syllable in the latter. As for differentiator:

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Differentiator">differentiator - a person who (or that which) differentiates.

    I am using it as the latter, and it is correct in that sense. Sorry if I view the English language as more fluid than others, but I have no qualms about playing with words as I see fit. I would hope most people are more interested in the technical content than whether or not I follow the MLA guidelines.

    If you really want to complain about my writing style, you'd be far better off saying that I have a bad case of word diarrhea, IMO. I write far more text than I often feel is necessary, but then if I omit certain aspects of a review I always get someone complaining that I "didn't talk about feature xxx". Another potentially valid complaint would be my use of parenthetical comments and phrases set off by dashes--and I'm sure I use dashes incorrectly at times! ;)
    Reply

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