Introducing the Clevo B5130M

We've had longstanding beef with laptop manufacturers over mediocre notebook graphics and downright shoddy screen quality. It's not bad enough that we typically have to deal with miserable TN panel screens with awful viewing angles; these screens are usually low resolution affairs (does anyone really think 1366x768 is useful for any kind of serious work?) with terrible contrast ratios and low color gamuts. The state of things is deplorable.

But wait, there's more! Over the past year the number of discrete graphics options available in notebooks has increased substantially, but there's been no clear favorite between AMD and NVIDIA. AMD's parts generally offered more performance compared to the competition, but NVIDIA leveraged Optimus for better battery life. The net result was often a compromise we still don't think the end user should really have to make. Now, however, NVIDIA looks to finally be entering with kit that can compete on both performance and power fronts with the GeForce 400M series.

AVADirect couldn't have sent us the Clevo B5130M at a better time, and they were kind enough to let us configure our review unit exactly how we wanted. That means we had the opportunity to not just test the B5130 as a notebook on its own and add the GeForce GT 425M to our charts, but we were also able to get it configured with Intel's fastest mobile dual-core chip to see how it compares to their entry level quad. We also went for a 500GB Western Digital Scorpio Black; I personally wanted to see how Western Digital's most recent mobile mechanical drive would fare in a world slowly being overrun with SSDs.

Clevo B5130M Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-640M
(2x2.8GHz + HTT, 32nm, 4MB L3, Turbo to 3.46GHz, 35W)
Chipset Intel HM55
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1066 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GT 425M 1GB DDR3 Optimus Technology
(96 Shaders, 560 MHz core clock, 1120 MHz shader clock, 1400 MHz effective memory clock)
Intel HD Graphics IGP
Display 15.6" LED Glossy 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
Hannstar HSD06A5 Panel
Hard Drive(s) 500GB 7200 RPM Western Digital Scorpio Black Hard Disk
Optical Drive DVD+/-RW Drive
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
Realtek RTL8191SE Wireless 802.11n (150Mb capable)
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
Audio Via HD Audio
Stereo speakers, headphone, microphone, and line-in jacks
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 5600mAh, 62Wh battery
Front Side 4-in-1 Flash reader
Left Side VGA
Ethernet jack
HDMI
2x USB 2.0
Exhaust vent
eSATA
USB 3.0
Card reader
Right Side Headphone, microphone, and line-in jacks
USB 2.0
Optical drive
Back Side AC adapter
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 14.72" x 9.8" x 0.98"-1.46" (WxDxH)
Weight 5.73 lbs
Extras 2MP Webcam
Keyboard with dedicated 10-key
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo, xD)
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
Pricing Starting at $930
Priced as configured: $1210.91

Starting at the top, our Clevo B5130M shipped with Intel's fastest mobile dual-core processor, the Core i7-640M. That chip is built on a 32nm process, has the full 4MB of L3 cache (i3 and i5 only have 3MB), and runs at a nominal 2.8GHz clock speed. It can Turbo up to a staggering 3.2GHz on both cores, or even hit 3.46GHz on a single core—no mean feat for a mobile processor with a 35-watt TDP and certainly worth comparing against the i7-720QM and i7-740QM quads. Hanging off the processor's integrated memory controller is 4GB of DDR3-1066.

The other part to watch is the NVIDIA GeForce GT 425M. Jarred already got his paws on the GeForce GT 420M when he reviewed Dell's XPS 15, and found it to perform about between the old GeForce GT 330M and 335M parts. That's not too bad considering these are basically NVIDIA's new entry level mobile GPU. The 420M and 425M aren't terribly different though; both feature 96 shader processors—excuse me, "CUDA cores"—and a 128-bit memory bus connected to 1GB of DDR3. The 425M runs its core 60MHz higher at 560MHz, resulting in a shader clock of 1120MHz. On the flipside, the 420M in the XPS 15 had the full 1.6GHz on its memory; the 425M in the Clevo makes do with a lower 1.4GHz effective clock. And, of course, both parts leverage NVIDIA's Optimus technology to save power.

Going through the rest of the list is less exciting, as pretty much everything here is bog standard for a modern Arrandale-based notebook. The B5130M leverages the HM55 chipset and brings most modern connectivity with it, including a USB 3.0 port. As I mentioned earlier, though, we specifically custom ordered our review unit with the 500GB Western Digital Scorpio Black; most every review unit with a 7200RPM hard disk we've had came with Seagate's Momentus 7200.4, and we're curious to see how Western Digital's part stacks up.

If you don't like the configuration we selected, that's fine, because AVADirect as usual provides a ton of customization options. The CPU adds nearly $200 to the final price, for 266MHz more on the base clock relative to the i5-460M; the Turbo is quite a bit higher, but we're not convinced it will matter in all workloads. Ultimately, we're looking at a theoretical increase of 10.5% to the base clock and up to 24% higher single-threaded performance. If you're after a halfway house, the i5-560M bumps the price up $65 and gets you about 95% of the performance of the i7-640M. Then you could take the remaining $120 saved and really help overall performance by adding a decent SSD; unfortunately the B5130M only supports a single HDD/SSD, so if you want performance and capacity you're looking at ~$500 to get a C300 or SandForce 256GB/240GB SSD.

You Know It's a Clevo
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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Yeah, the base AVADirect model has OS, 500GB HDD, but only 2GB RAM. Setting up equivalent specs XoticPC comes out ahead on this one (though that may always change). In the past, I've compared the two companies and AVADirect always came out ahead, but that's not always the case. Also note that XoticPC appears to charge a bit more on some upgrades, but then AVADirect charges a bit more on others. Not sure on shipping costs or any other factors, but go with whoever gives the better price. :-) Reply
  • gomakeit - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Since the laptop as configured is $1200 which is mightily close to the Asus G53J that sports a GT460M, I'm wondering what're your thoughts when comparing the two. Is the G53's LCD better than G51 (which was pretty lousy)? I hope you'd do a review on the G53 at some point! Reply
  • gomakeit - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Of course I meant the non-3D version of the G53 (Newegg prices it at $1450). Reply
  • Rasterman - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I got my G53 from Amazon last week for 1299 shipped, I have no idea why you would get this Clevo when the G53 exists. Reply
  • Meegulthwarp - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I was looking for a new laptop to replace my ageing Clevo M860TU (w/ 9600M GT) and this looked like the perfect replacement but I've come away sad. I was really expecting better battery life from this, my biggest complaint with my M860TU is the 2 hour battery life. I was hoping they would improve battery life after 2 years worth of die shrinks and architectural changes. Also the performance numbers don't seem to be much higher than what I'm getting right now not to mention they are 5 - 10 degrees hotter than mine on both idle and load. Can't justify another £1000 purchase just yet it seems. Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I wouldn't think you'd be able to justify that purchase until Sandy Bridge. But on the battery life note you can always get an external battery. I got an external Energizer battery, works for all laptops and mp3 players and phones and just about everything. Sure it ads a little bulk but if you carry your laptop around in a bag anyway it's not a problem. And it ads about 6 hours of intensive web surfing to my Dell Studio 1535, on top of the 3 hours I already get.

    On an aside I agree, I was really expecting better battery life from this. But when you look at load battery life it's comparable to similar systems; I think 3+ hours gaming is pretty darn good. There is an interesting Compal unit over at Cyberpower.com that uses the HD5650 and offers several options. Without OS and with a good CPU you can get it for like 800 bucks, 1080p and all. My friend got one and he plays Civ 5 on it for over 4 hours without needing to plug in. Gaming battery life, I think that's incredible.
    Reply
  • TareX - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I'm impressed by the benchmarks... I'd like to see how it would compare to the Hp Envy 15, which supposedly has a much better GPU (sans Optimus though) Reply
  • SteelCity1981 - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    No doubt that the 640UM is more suited for today's programs then the 720QM as of now. fast speed Dual Core over slower speed Quad Cores are still a lot more favorable with many programs out there, because there are still a lot of programs out there that don't take advantage of Quad Cores yet. But when more and more programs become Quad threaded, the 720QM going to have the advantage every time over the 640UM Dual Core and has more and more programs support Hyperthreading the performance gap will just get wider between the 720QM and 640UM due to the fact that the 720QM has double the amount of Hyperthreading virtual cores then the 640UM does. Reply
  • PlasmaBomb - Wednesday, November 24, 2010 - link

    You mean i7 640M - The 640UM is an entirely different processor which runs at 1.2 GHz and Turbos up to 2.26 GHz Reply
  • SteelCity1981 - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    Yeah, i mean the 640m not 640UM. Reply

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