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 - Friday, February 05, 2010 - link

    There's not a ton of flex - nowhere near as bad as some older MSI laptops, for example - but it does have a bit of spring and it's a "soft touch" keyboard, which just feels mushy to me. I prefer a bit more click, and the spacing and shape of the keys on the 1810 wasn't as nice as the 11z. But, that's a lot of personal preference so if you like the 1810 keyboard there's nothing else I'd complain about with the design. Reply
  • OCedHrt - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    Maybe it is just me, but the graphs would be a lot clear if the processors were listed out.

    I assume the power draw graphs at the end of the battery page is based on the run time and battery capacity?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    Power graphs are based on power draw from the outlet, at 100nits LCD brightness, with all power saving features enabled (balanced power profile).

    Adding the CPU to each line compresses the graphs in a way I don't like. Just to quickly list the various CPUs:

    Acer AO751h = Atom Z520
    Acer AS1810T = Core 2 Duo SU7300
    ASUS 1201N = Atom 330
    ASUS 1005HA = Atom N280
    ASUS UL80Vt = SU7300 (dark gold = OCed to 1.73GHz)
    Dell Inspiron 11z = Pentium SU4100
    Dell Studio 14z = P8600
    Gateway EC5409u = Pentium SU4100
    Gateway NV58 = Pentium T4300
    Gateway NV52 = Athlon X2 QL-64
    Gigabyte M1022 = Atom N280
    HP Mini 311 = ION with Atom N280
    MSI X610 = Athlon MV-40
    Reply
  • Ralos - Friday, February 05, 2010 - link

    The title of the article suggest this is a CULV vs Atom showdown. When I look at the graphics, I don't see this, I see a bunch of Acer vs Asus vs HP vs Dell and from what I gather, performance seems to be similar whatever brand the same CPU is sold with, so it really should show the name/speed of the CPUs in there. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 05, 2010 - link

    Per request, I've updated the chart colors to highlight other important systems. Atom 330 (ASUS 1201N) is orange, MSI X610 (Athlon MV-40 with HD 4330) is red, ASUS 1005PE (Atom N450 Pine Trail) is dark green, and ASUS 1005HA (Atom N280 Diamondville) is black. Hopefully that will help read the charts. Reply
  • OCedHrt - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    Well, thanks for trying anyways :)

    I guess my question is where a Z550 would stack up. Its safe to say it's 50% faster than the Z520, but I don't see that laptop in the performance line up.

    I'd wager that it's marginally faster than the ASUS 1005HA with less power draw (but how much less?).

    Basically, I'm trying to figure out what is the possibility of a CULV Sony X laptop in the near future ;) It may be unlikely simply due to die size..
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    I think Z550 gets paired up with the GMA 500 chipset, which is good for HD video decode but I'm not sure that it's actually worth using. I know Linux users don't like it because it's a new proprietary GPU with no driver support.

    My experience (which is limited to the Acer 751h) was that it frequently crashed; what I don't know is if that was the chipset, or just a poor sample laptop from Acer. I also know that I've heard from a few readers saying they have one that crashes all the time as well. Hopefully it's the 751h and not the chipset.

    As far as power draw, it should be about the same as the other Atom laptops - probably more than the 751h and 1005HA, given the 2.0GHz clock. Even then, look at the two N280 units (ASUS 1005HA and Gigabyte M1022) and you can see that not all netbooks are created equal. The Gigabyte seems to be a poor example of a netbook, though, with much worse battery life than the competition.

    At 2.0GHz Atom Z550 will still be much slower than any CULV, so I'd recommend sticking with CULV unless the pricing is very compelling.
    Reply
  • OCedHrt - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    The Z550 actually has a slightly lower (0.1) TDP than the N280. It's not the pricing that's compelling, but the form factor: 1.6 lb 11.1" 10.95"(W) x 0.55"(H) x 7.29"(D) Reply
  • KaarlisK - Friday, February 05, 2010 - link

    Power consumption should be lower - the TDP of the entire Poulsbo chipset is only 2.3W. However... the damn GMA 500 is HORRIBLY slow. Even for Aero. And Intel still hasn't (and probably won't) released WDDM1.1/DX10 drivers, even though the hardware supports it. Also, the driver doesn't support 8bpp color at all. Reply
  • OCedHrt - Friday, February 05, 2010 - link

    Best bet is probably to not run windows on this one ^^
    I really wish there was a CULV option, even a core solo would be much better.

    I saw in some forum that they got OS X running on it. *shudder*
    Reply

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