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AMD and Intel Mobile Rematch: Gateway NV5933u vs. Acer 5542

It's been ten months since our last comparison between the latest AMD and Intel mobile platforms. Since then AMD has updated their mobile chips to 45nm process technology with a K10-derived architecture. Intel hasn't been sitting idle either, with plenty of 32nm Arrandale laptops readily available. The last time we looked at the two platforms, Intel came out with a clear lead in battery life and CPU performance, but AMD provided a more affordable platform with a substantially better IGP. Now we're ready to compare the latest Intel and AMD offerings, but there are a few caveats.

The biggest point right now is that AMD has released details of their new Vision mobile platform, using Champlain CPUs on the Danube platform with DDR3 support. The new processors remain 45nm parts based on the K10 (K10.5) architecture, but they use a new socket. The changes are supposed to improve mobility, which is certainly an area where current and previous AMD laptops have been lacking. We're working on getting Danube (and Nile, the low power version) laptops, but given the number of older AMD laptops currently available we feel this comparison is still valid. If you're looking for improved processor and graphics performance from AMD, and perhaps better battery life, Danube laptops with the Turion II P520 are starting to ship and should improve on the Acer 5542 we're looking at today.

Here are the detailed specs for our two laptops. Both have been out for a few months, and similar laptops are available from most manufacturers. Outside of aesthetics and a few other features, performance should be nearly identical to what we're reviewing. Battery sizes may also be larger/smaller, but relative battery life should be similar. The two laptops we're looking at use similar components in all the important areas: 15.6" LCDs, 500GB 5400RPM hard drives, 4GB RAM, and 48Wh batteries. The 5542 uses DDR2 memory, since it uses the older Caspian/Tigris core/platform, while the NV59 uses DDR3 memory. CPU, chipset, and graphics are naturally different, but otherwise we have done our best to make this an apples-to-apples match up.

Acer Aspire 5542 Test System
Processor AMD Athlon II M300
(2x2.0GHz, 45nm, 2x512KB L2, 35W)
Chipset AMD RS880M + SB710
Memory 2x2GB DDR2-800 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics ATI Radeon HD 4200
(40 Stream Processors, 500MHz Core/shared memory)
Display 15.6" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 500GB 5400RPM (Western Digital Blue WD5000BEVT-22ZAT0)
Optical Drive 8x DVD±RW (Optiarc AD-7580S)
Battery 6-Cell, 10.8V, 4400mAh, 47.5Wh battery
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 15.1" x 9.8" x 1.0-1.5" (WxDxH)
Weight 6.2 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Warranty 1-year basic warranty
Pricing $499 from Amazon
Note: 320GB HDD on that model

 

Gateway NV5933u Test System
Processor Intel Core i3-330M
(2x2.13GHz + HTT, 32nm, 3MB L3, 35W)
Chipset Intel HM55
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1066 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics
(12 Shaders, 500MHz base, 667MHz max Core/shared memory)
Display 15.6" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 500GB 5400 RPM (Hitachi HTS545032B9A300)
Optical Drive 4x Blu-ray Combo (Optiarc BC-5500H)
Battery 6-Cell, 10.8V, 4400mAh, 48Wh battery
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 14.66" x 10.19" x 1.02-1.46" (WxDxH)
Weight 5.84 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Warranty 1-year basic warranty
Pricing $549 from Best Buy
Note: 320GB HDD on that model

The specs are nothing to write home about, but pricing is obviously the driving factor. The Gateway NV5933u manages to pack in an impressive set of features for a list price of $550, including a Blu-ray combo drive (a $75 value). The Acer 5542 isn't the best example of an inexpensive AMD Athlon II M300 laptop, with a current price of $500 online. That makes the Gateway a clear value winner if you want Blu-ray support, but it's worth noting that you can often find similar M300 + 4GB laptops on sale for as little as $400. However, right now going off the retail pricing, we've essentially got a tie for pricing. That said, you won't find a non-Blu-ray i3-330M laptop for less than $550, and we wouldn't be surprised to see the NV5933u supply dry up shortly; the replacement NV59c looks to bump up the price to $749. Let's take a closer look at the two combatants before we get to the benchmarks.

Acer Aspire 5542 Overview
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  • mojtabaalemi - Saturday, June 19, 2010 - link

    I meaned 1005p with 11hrs (6cells, 48W/h) battery nor 3cell .
    could you please say what player you use with coreavc ? WMP ?
    I read that wmp12 in win 7 can play 720p x264 on atom 1.66GHz beacuse of its multithread codeks . is it right?
    mojtaba alemi from iran
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, June 19, 2010 - link

    I used Media Player Classic Home Cinema in my more recent testing. I think I tried WMP11 in the past and it worked as well (maybe?), but I don't think I've ever tested with WMP12 and x264. I don't have any Atom laptops right now either, so I can't retest. :-| Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Vantage delivers a theoretical 86% lead. We find that last a questionable result, and it indicates that Intel may have spent more time working on 3DMark optimizations than on actual gaming compatibility and performance.


    No, that's because 3DMark Vantage uses the retarded scheme where it includes the CPU scores as part of the final score. 3DMark06 was barely acceptable as a gaming benchmark because it started that, Vantage makes it worse.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Yes, it includes CPU performance as well, but you'll notice that nowhere in our CPU specific tests do we get 86%. In heavily threaded testing, we can achieve a 76% performance increase, but that's purely CPU based. Vantage includes CPU performance, but it's not as big of a factor as the GPU. 3DMark06 also includes CPU but shows only a 5% lead, which is more realistic. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    You should test this out if you have the chance/time.

    The 3 reasons that it has such a vast lead from greatest to smallest

    1. 3DMark Vantage scores=GPU score(which is affected by the CPU like in real games) + CPU score
    2. Some some CPU offloading(Never seen the game do that on the HD Graphics though)*
    3. DX10 behavior on Intel is kinda like Nvidia. There's less loss from DX9 to DX10 code than on AMD.

    *You can test this out by using the graphics control panel and going from Application(hardware mode) and Software Processing(software mode)
    Reply
  • OldPueblo - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    I just picked up a similar tigris laptop, except it had better specs and was only $380. At that price, I don't care if the Intel one wins because I doubt it'll ever compete at that price point. :) I didn't even bother with a warranty, it's disposable basic gaming on the go.

    M320 (2x2.1Ghz)
    3GB RAM
    250GB 7200RPM
    Radeon 4200
    802.11 B/G/N
    8x DVD burner w/ lightscribe
    5-in-1 card reader
    etc.
    Reply
  • OldPueblo - Monday, June 21, 2010 - link

    Damnit! >:(

    http://www.frys-electronics-ads.com/ads/2010/06/18...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 21, 2010 - link

    What size battery is in that? Probably a 48Wh, but I'm curious. Looking directly at Frys, I can't find the laptop listed above. What's the exact Lenovo model? I'm guessing it's the G555, but with some downgrades relative to the Lenovo store model. But yeah, $330 it can break in a year and you still won't care much. Reply
  • Roland00 - Monday, June 21, 2010 - link

    It is a G555, I can't tell you which exact submodel it is, but the chasis/generation model is G555 Reply
  • Roland00 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    I know you are at the mercy of what OEM sent you (since you don't want to spend $1000 to $2000 buying hardware for a simple article), but please try to get some of these AMD processors for these are going to be the more competitive AMDs (and more relevant).

    Note all these processors have hardware virtualization unlike the atoms and some of the intel culvs/core 2 offerings. Also note that none of the current AMD mobile processors offer l3 cache

    Nile platform (2010) 9W, 12W, 15W with DDR3 support. All these processors are Champlain processors
    9W, AMD V105, Single Core*1.2 Ghz, 512 kb L2 cache total
    12W, AMD K125, Single Core*1.7 Ghz, 1 mb L2 cache total
    12W, AMD K325, Dual Core*1.3 Ghz, 1 mb L2 cache per core, 2mb total
    15W, AMD K625, Dual Core*1.5 Ghz, 1 mb L2 cache per core, 2mb total
    15W, AMD K665, Dual Core*1.7 Ghz, 1 mb L2 cache per core, 2mb total

    Danube platform (2010) 25W, 35W, 45W with DDR3 support. All these processors are Champlain processors
    25W, AMD P820, Tri Core*1.8 Ghz, 512kb L2 cache per core, 1.5 mb total
    25W, AMD P920, Quad Core*1.6 Ghz, 512kb L2 cache per core, 2 mb total
    35W, AMD N620, Dual Core*2.8 Ghz, 1mb L2 cache per core, 2 mb total
    35W, AMD N830, Tri Core*2.1 Ghz, 512 kb L2 cache per core, 1.5mb total
    35W, AMD N930, Quad Core*2.0 Ghz, 512 kb L2 cache per core, 2mb total
    45W, AMD X620BE, Dual Core*3.1 Ghz, 1mb L2 cache per core, 2mb total
    45W, AMD X920BE, Quad Core*2.3 Ghz, 512 kb L2 cache per core, 2mb total

    While the instructions per clock per core is not going to change much with the
    Champlain processors (Mid 2010 with DDR3 uses K,P, or N monikers) vs
    Caspain processors (Late 2009 with DDR2 uses M moniker, the dual cores come only in 35w tdps).
    The Champlain processors achieve lower tdps, have ddr3 support or have more cores for the same tdp with ddr3 support when compared to the Caspain processors. I did not list the other new Champlain processors (the "value" models) for performance wise they should be similar to the one you demoed today (P520, N530, P320, N330). We won't get processors with more instructions per clock per core until the upcoming Llano (fusion, phenom II based with 1mb l2 cache per core, 10watts and above) and Ontario (fusion, bobcat based, 1-10watts aimed for netbooks, tablets, and other low power devices) . AMD finally has a competitive line of notebook processors on paper, for low tdps they may have something as good or almost as good as intel culv, at higher tdps they may not have as many instructions per clock as intel but then they are fighting that with more cores, or against the i7 720qm an extremly lower tdp.

    (finally I just want to say that I am not an AMD fanboy, the last 4 processors I have bought have been intel. I7 920, Q6600, SU2300 Notebook, T7700 Notebook)
    Reply

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