Final Words

From the balanced notebook perspective, Arrandale is awesome. Battery life doesn't improve, but performance goes up tremendously. The end result is better performance for hopefully the same power consumption. If you're stuck with an aging laptop it's worth the wait. If you can wait even longer we expect to see a second rev of Arrandale silicon towards the middle of the year with better power characteristics. Let's look at some other mobile markets, though.

If what you're after is raw, unadulterated performance, there are still faster options. We compared Arrandale with a Core 2 Duo P8700, and performance went up. If you already have something with a Core i7-720QM (or other i7 part) or a Core 2 Quad, the performance figures aren't nearly so rosy. The catch is that battery life on quad-core CPUs, frankly, stinks. Most of the time, you're lucky to get over 90 minutes of battery life in light loads. For those looking at mobile performance, Clarksfield is still the winner (or grab a desktop Core i7 notebook).

We are also missing something to replace the ultra-long battery life offered by the Core 2 Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) parts. True, Intel has some low voltage 18W TDP parts running at 1.06GHz to 1.20GHz stock (Turbo up to 1.86GHz to 2.26GHz depending on the model), but the current results suggest that CULV + GS45 is still going to be far more compelling for those interested in battery life while maintaining some level of performance, or you can go with Pine Trail/Pineview (Atom N450) for extreme battery life at the cost of performance. It looks like Arrandale needs some further tweaking before we see an heir to the CULV throne.

Ultimately, we like Arrandale a lot as a balanced mobile offering. It's not going to be as fast as Clarksfield but that was never the point. Performance is 20% better in typical applications compared to mobile dual-core Penryn parts like the P8000 and P9000 series, and battery life at least didn't go down (in most cases). It's also nice to see integrated Intel graphics that don't suck… or at least, they only suck as bad as the current AMD and NVIDIA IGPs. We'll look at doing more testing with Arrandale's IGP in a future article when we have final shipping hardware, as the ability to limit the CPU performance in order to boost GPU speeds is intriguing.

If you're after a "typical" laptop, Arrandale solutions should be high on your list. We expect to see a ton of announced models at CES this week, and we'll do our best to cover them (along with Pine Trial netbooks). We still can't recommend any particular laptop as a solution for every problem, as different users have different needs, but Arrandale brings more choice to the table and choice is a good thing.

Battery Life - Technically, No Better
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  • silverblue - Friday, January 08, 2010 - link

    Hmm. Reply
  • silverblue - Friday, January 08, 2010 - link

    Nope, it's just me (damned similar names)... however, the Clarkdale article has vanished from the front page. :| Reply
  • dnenciu - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    I don't know why are reviewers so happy about Arrandale.

    You basically get 20% improvement compared to the same "clockspeed" c2d.

    What about the fact that Arrandale only goes 2.53Ghz and 2.66 for the extreme edition.

    C2D already goes to 3.33Ghz

    Yes turbo boost increases the 2.53Ghz to 3.06 but that is only if one core is used and the laptop has proper cooling.

    The c2d at 3.06 Ghz can run two cores at that speed.

    So what we are seeing is last years performance and same battery life.

    And also last years integrated GPU. That now you don't even have a choice to replace with a 9400m.

    I really feel underwhelmed by this chip release.

    Lets hope that they can improve it in the next release because for me this one is a big flop. :(
    Reply
  • iwodo - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    I record CoreiX series was proved to be much more efficient then C2D in some previous Anand article. Now we are actually getting different results. So Westmere gets more performance by using more energy and transistors.

    And this isn't an fair comparison either, C2D platform uses an 65nm of IGP and 45nm of CPU. While Westmere gets one process node improvement in both.

    So in terms of pure Power / Peformance, it looks like C2D still has an edge. I would love Intel make an 32nm of C2D. ( Which would play well with ION2 and Apple would love it. )

    I hope SandyBridge would come soon as an True successor to C2D. Nahamlem to me is just an CPU made for Server.

    Side Notes - Intel GPU, although performance is fast enough in lowest settings, still gives worst Image Quality compare to other IGP. Which gains an unfair advantage. I hope some Internet review will point this out.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    On the desktop, Core i7 (and particularly Lynnfield) provided great idle power results. My testing of Core i7 notebooks on the other hand shows that the quad-core variant is a power guzzler. Reply
  • zicoz - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    How does this compare to the Clarkdale on the HTPC front? Does it support LPCM and bitstreaming? I have this dream of building a HTPC from laptop parts, and if this supports the same stuff as the Clarkdale then this could be it. Reply
  • jasperjones - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Anand writes:

    "The first mainstream Arrandale CPUs are 35W TDP, compared to the 25W TDP of most thin and light notebooks based on mobile Core 2. Granted the 35W includes the graphics, but it's not always going to be lower total power consumption."

    --

    From the benches shown here I infer: the 540M is substantially faster than the fastest available C2D. Which is to say, the T9900 (unless I forget some Core 2 Extreme model) whose TDP is 35W. There is no P-series C2D that provides the performance of the 540M. Thus, an apples-to-apples comparison is really vs. a T9900 (or Core 2 Extreme) which has 35W TDP and *no* integrated graphics.

    And even if you aren't d'accord with my statement above: logically, you can't just compare the P8xxx/P9xxx models' TDP of 25W with Clarksfield's TDP of 35W. After all, Clarksfield includes essentially all Northbridge functionality. The Northbridge for Penryn is rated 12W TDP. So, really, 35W < 25W + 12W = 37W (or, 35W < 35W + 12W = 47W).
    Reply
  • jasperjones - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    ^^^ of course, I mean Arrandale, not Clarksfield. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Even then, TDP ratings aren't actual power requirements. They're more like a limit on the thermal output, so you need 35W of cooling on a 35W CPU, even though at idle it probably uses only 5W.

    As far as performance, Arrandale in most cases is about 20% faster. The T9900 is 3.06GHz compared to 2.53GHz on the P8700, which is a 20% performance boost. That would make the T9900 about equal to a 540M. At that level of performance, I would expect the battery life advantage to be more like 5-10% for Arrandale. (Despite the 35W vs. 25W TDP, my experience is that for typical battery life testing scenarios, the 35W TDP CPUs are not substantially worse than 25W CPUs.)
    Reply
  • Wolfpup - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    I'm still surprised that we don't get 32nm quads yet, though I suppose from Intel's perspective it makes sense-probably make the most from their mid range "high end dual cores".

    I'm glad to see there are some new chipsets with this too. PM55 has USB problems, that OEMs don't seem to be addressing super well. There's some talk that the newest drivers from Intel combined with a hotfix from Microsoft that isn't even for this chipset fixes it, but not 100% sure if it really does.
    Reply

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