Ivy Bridge Ultrabook General Performance

We’ve taken most of the performance results from our AMD Trinity review and simply added the Ivy Bridge Ultrabook results to those graphs. (If you’re wondering, we’ve dropped most of the thicker laptops from the comparison, though we’ve kept quad-core IVB as a reference point.) This will give you a high level picture of what you can expect from Ivy Bridge ULV relative to quad-core Ivy Bridge, Trinity, Llano, and several other laptop configurations. We’ve also added results from Anand’s preview of the ASUS UX21A, which sports a 1080p IPS panel stuffed into an 11.6” form factor along with an i7 ULV processor, and we have the Dell XPS 13 and HP Folio 13 as representatives of Core i7 and Core i5 Sandy Bridge Ultrabooks, respectively.

As always, should you want to make additional comparisons, head over to Mobile Bench and have at it. Here are a few direct comparisons you might be interested in making: i5 IVB ULV vs. i5 SNB ULV, i5 IVB ULV vs. i7 SNB ULV, and i5 IVB ULV vs. A10-4600M. Our graphs will use abbreviated names for the laptops, just to keep things clean, but here is a quick specifications overview of the laptops we’re including in our charts. Please note that not all products are priced the same, though we’ve done our best to minimize differences in the test configurations on several laptops by installing the same Intel 520 240GB SSD used in the prototype IVB Ultrabook.

Laptop Configuration Overview
Laptop CPU Graphics Storage Battery
Acer TimelineU M3 Intel i7-2637M GT640M/HD3000 256GB SSD 55Wh
AMD Llano Prototype AMD A8-3500M HD6620G 240GB SSD 58Wh
AMD Trinity Prototype AMD A10-4600M HD7660G 128GB SSD 56Wh
ASUS N56VM Intel i7-3720QM HD4000 240GB SSD 56Wh
ASUS Zenbook Prime UX21A Intel i7-3517U HD4000 128GB SSD 35Wh
Dell Vostro V131 Intel i5-2410M HD3000 240GB SSD 65Wh
Dell XPS 13 Intel i7-2637M HD3000 256GB SSD 47Wh
HP Folio 13 Intel i5-2467M HD3000 128GB SSD 60Wh
Ivy Bridge Ultrabook Prototype Intel i5-3427U HD4000 240GB SSD 47Wh

We’re only going to highlight two laptops for this roundup: the Ivy Bridge Ultrabook and the ASUS Zenbook Prime UX21A. The latter is going to be similar in most respects, but it’s also a retail product. It has a smaller form factor, a slower SSD, a higher resolution LCD, and a faster Core i7 IVB ULV processor. The quad-core IVB ASUS N56VM is in a different category, obviously, as it uses more power and is significantly larger. AMD’s Trinity is also a bit of an odd comparison, as it’s a full voltage 35W part; hopefully we can get some 17W Trinity laptops in for testing to see how AMD’s Ultrabook alternative fares. In the meantime, keep these considerations in mind. We’ll start as always with PCMark performance.

PCMark 7 - PCMarks

PCMark 7 - Lightweight

PCMark 7 - Productivity

PCMark 7 - Entertainment

PCMark 7 - Creativity

PCMark 7 - Computation

PCMark 7 - Storage

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

We’ve mentioned before how much PCMark scores tend to skew towards laptops with SSDs. The good news is that all of the laptops in our charts for this article have SSDs; the bad news is that there’s another element at play that can dramatically influence a couple of scores. That element is Intel’s Quick Sync technology, which is supported by PCMark 7 and has a major impact on the Creativity and Computation test suites, and a lesser impact on the Entertainment suite. We don’t know exactly how much the higher Computation/Creativity scores affect the overall score, but it’s definitely a factor. To that end, PCMark Vantage is a nice look at overall performance without any Quick Sync optimizations present.

Given what we just said about Quick Sync, it’s not too surprising that Ivy Bridge—even in ULV attire—dominates many of the PCMark 7 charts. The ASUS UX21A standings are severely hampered by the SanDisk U100 SSD, making direct comparisons with the PUB-RD Ultrabook impossible in PCMark. Look at our prototype scores however and we find that it offers performance that’s generally better than a last-generation standard voltage Sandy Bridge laptop (e.g. the Dell Vostro V131).

Without testing every single laptop with the same SSD (and arguably with and without Quick Sync enabled), PCMark scores only give us an abstract view of system performance. As we’ve noted in the past, every single laptop in our charts is going to be “fast enough” for typical home and business use. The real differentiator between laptops is going to be build quality, form factor, design elements, and what applications you plan on running (e.g. complex number crunching apps would benefit from more CPU performance, while games will benefit from faster graphics). To help flesh out our understanding of Ivy Bridge ULV performance and how it compares to other laptops, we’ve got CPU-centric and GPU-centric tests.

Cinebench R11.5 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

x264 HD Benchmark - First Pass

x264 HD Benchmark - Second Pass

Cinebench is a great look at pure CPU performance, and the workload is such that L3 cache sizes frequently don’t come into play. Obviously quad-core IVB is in a different category, but of the dual-core parts that we’ve included, IVB ULV tops the charts. The ASUS UX21A with its slightly faster Core i7 processor leads in the multi-threaded test, but apparently thermal constraints keep it from hitting maximum Turbo in the single-threaded test and the larger Core i5 Ultrabook comes out ahead. We see a similar situation with the x264 benchmarks, with the Ivy Bridge prototype Ultrabook beating the in-theory-faster UX21A CPU by around 10%.

I have to admit I’m not a big fan of 11.6” laptops to begin with, probably because I’m 6’3” (190cm) and have trouble typing on the smaller keyboards, but thermals are another factor. I’ve stated before that personally, 13.3” or 14” laptops are my favorite size, and I don’t mind 15.6” laptops if they come with added performance and features. Given the comparison between the PUB-RD prototype and the UX21A, I’d rather have a slightly larger Ultrabook. The ASUS UX31A/UX32A on the other hand…it looks like those are going to be the Ultrabooks to beat this round.

Meet the Second Generation Ultrabook Ivy Bridge Ultrabook Quick Sync and 3DMark Performance
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  • ananduser - Thursday, May 31, 2012 - link

    I'm going to chicken out, out of this one :) Reply
  • Hector2 - Thursday, May 31, 2012 - link

    Jarred is spot on. There's a mobility review on another tech website that shows how badly Llano's performance dives when fitting it into the lower TDP platform as compared to IVB. Reply
  • ssiu - Thursday, May 31, 2012 - link

    So what is the holdup in getting 17W mobility Trinity review? Didn't AMD announce the 17W part at the same time as the 35W part? (Unlike Intel who announced the quad Ivy first, and 17W part was under NDA until now.) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, May 31, 2012 - link

    Getting hardware. No one is shipping the LV/ULV Trinity stuff yet, and AMD didn't send out a prototype with one or both of those chips. They may not be under NDA, but they're not available for purchase anywhere that I know of. Reply
  • R3MF - Thursday, May 31, 2012 - link

    "Given the 17W and 25W TDP on the A6-4455M and A10-4655M, they could easily fit in similar sized laptops (e.g. HP’s “Sleekbooks”). "

    Unfortunately HP are being utter cretins and only offering Trinity in the 15.6" Sleekbook, and not the 14" version.

    WHY!
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Thursday, May 31, 2012 - link

    Because Intel, duh. :/ Reply
  • R3MF - Thursday, May 31, 2012 - link

    i'm not sure that logic applies.

    they allow the 15.6" Sleekbook to roll with an AMD APU.........................

    but why not the 14" Envy 4!
    Reply
  • kallogan - Thursday, May 31, 2012 - link

    So ULV gpu base clocks are half of regular core i7 HD 4000. Not surprising they are not performing very well.

    On the cpu side it's pretty awesome. I mean Max dual core turbo is 3,0 ghz for the highest ulv cpu. I guess it's possible to run on turbo forever if the cooling system allows it. Too bad it's only BGA.

    I don't know if there is 17 inches notebooks with ulv on board. Saw some 17 inch sitting at 10-15W while idling even with regular core i5. Would love a low power 17 inch.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, May 31, 2012 - link

    The HD 4000 ULV clocks are interesting. Base clocks are very low, but maximum clocks are quite high. WIth better cooling and configurable TDP (e.g. TDP Up or whatever it's called), it's possible there will be Ultrabooks that manage to get within 10% of the quad-core HD 4000 for graphics performance. However, Intel is only guaranteeing a rather low 350MHz iGPU clock, so in practice I bet average gaming clocks will be in the 700-900MHz range. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, May 31, 2012 - link

    If there's one thing Apple is clearly ahead is managing thermals. Macbook Air's graphics performance is pretty darn close to top performance. Reply

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