Application Performance: the i7-640M vs. the i7-720QM

The Clevo B5130M has brought with it an interesting point of contention that AVADirect was graceful enough to let us test: can Intel's fastest mobile dual-core, the i7-640M, outperform their slowest current-generation mobile quad, the i7-720QM? It's something worth exploring, because the 640M can actually be found for a reasonable price online for users daring enough to upgrade their mobile processors. The two are essentially at near price parity, but while the 720QM can turbo up from its nominal 1.6GHz clock to 2.4GHz on two cores and 2.8GHz on one core, the 640M starts at 2.8GHz and hits 3.2GHz on two cores and a blistering 3.46GHz on a single core. Both of these chips are Hyper-Threaded, too.

Ouch. That's actually pretty damning for the i7-720QM. It's only in the most heavily threaded tasks that the quad-core can produce a lead over the i7-640M, and even then the lead isn't exactly commanding. Unless you're certain you can take advantage of the 720QM's four physical and eight logical cores, the 640M may wind up being a better choice more often than not.

As a special bonus round, we took a quick look at hard drive performance to see how the Western Digital Scorpio Black fares against the industry standard Seagate Momentus 7200.4. The Momentus is extremely common and is usually the drive found in notebooks shipping with a 7200RPM hard disk. In testing with HDTune Pro 4.60, we found the performance of the two to be fairly close, with the Scorpio Black producing negligibly faster scores across the board. The exception is burst speed: the Scorpio had a measured 138.7 MB/sec burst speed, nearly 40MB/sec faster than the Seagate. Measured latency was also 1.5ms lower on the Scorpio Black, but at the end of the day we're not sure the drive is ultimately worth the upgrade. Mercifully, it's only four bucks more than the Seagate when configuring from AVADirect, so if you're not keen on going the SSD route and even the Momentus XT is too rich for your blood, the Scorpio Black is a solid alternative.

You Know It's a Clevo Gaming and Graphics Performance: Futuremark and Low Preset
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  • Hrel - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    You said if you want to up performance AND have storage capacity you'd have to spend 500+ on an SSD. But Clevo offers the Seagate Momentus XT all the way up to 500GB. Based on your review I gather that hard drive is plenty fast AND much better bang/buck. SSD's are still WAY too expensive for most people. Personally I simply refuse to spend more than 100 bucks on any single hard drive, no matter what the speed is.

    I've said it before, when something good like the sandforce controller is paired with 128GB ish of storage capacity for less than 100 bucks, that's when I'll take the SSD plunge.

    P.S. Personally, I like the look of the glossy around the screen. I'm not sure why you hate it so much, I guess I just don't open laptops in a way that my fingerprints end up there. I'm just glad the palm rest isn't glossy.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Done: Well I'm sold. Dell forces you to upgrade the CPU, even if you don't want to, if you upgrade the GPU. That pisses me off AND it's stupid in no small part because they claim it's a "compatibility issue". I'm impressed with the performance numbers here, and the screen. I like the thermal headroom and would probably overclock the GPU a little. I do wish the speakers were better, like in the Dell. In the end I think this offers a better Bang for Buck ratio.

    I asked several times for you guys to review the Clevo unit Cyberpower.com sells, I asked them to let you review it too. My friend ended up buying it, the screen looks a lot better than my 1.5 year old Dell Stuido screen, 1080p. Has the HD5650 in it, a Core i5 560M. The thing lasts 4 hours while he's playing Civ 5 on it. It's CRAZY hot though. All in all I think this Clevo unit is the new best bang for buck laptop out there. I like that the GPU is Nvidia instead of AMD cause my video rendering is sped up my Nvidia, but Cyberlink doesn't support AMD. And Optimus is always good. I do really wish you guys could get one of those in house though from Cyberpower. The design of that one is glossy and worse than this one; not a deal breaker though. I kinda like the minimalist design of this laptop.
    Finally, I like that avadirect offers the Momentus XT out the gate. Cyberpower doesn't so we had to buy one and swap hard drives then re-install everything. Anyway, I've carried on too long now, Great review!
    Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I meant compal from cyberpower, not Clevo. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I've sent in another request... with SB coming so soon, we may or may not get a chance to look at the Compal, but we shall see. Reply
  • coldfoot - Wednesday, December 01, 2010 - link

    Jarred, why not the Asus N53Jf-XE1? It's just over $1k at Amazon, and has the same screen and GPU as this laptop. Reply
  • Hrel - Saturday, December 04, 2010 - link

    I agree, that laptop is 999 on newegg and it looks pretty amazing. Includes blu ray for under 1K? Wow. Jarred, you know if you guys ever need any help reviewing stuff I'm available, haha, but seriously. Reply
  • Diosjenin - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Since I'm writing this from my B5130M (Sager-branded as an NP5135), I suppose I'll throw in a few thoughts re: comparison to the XPS 15.

    * Yes, the numpad sucks. But this is in comparison to the XPS 15, which doesn't HAVE a numpad. If having one is a must for anyone, regardless of the specifics of its implementation, then the Clevo wins, period.

    * Port placement along the Clevo is unquestionably better. The ports on the XPS 15 are spread out all over the place, whereas all but the DC port (rear) and a single USB 2.0 port (right) are along the left side - a godsend to any right-handed users who connect any external drives/monitors/etc. and don't want wires getting in their way while they're using the mouse next to the right side of the laptop.

    * If memory serves, the Clevo is about half a pound lighter, as well as a quarter to half an inch smaller in both width and depth.

    * The screen is beautiful, but could definitely stand a matte plastic border (as you well noted).

    * I'm not sure where you got your price figures from, but I have to say that I got mine far cheaper. I only have an i5-460M, but with a 1080p screen and 500GB hard drive, mine only cost ~$844 (before shipping, which was an extra $28). Considering that was an extra ~$75 less than an equivalently specced XPS 15 (which was itself discounted about 9%), the choice for me was quite simple. I'm rather curious to know if your $930 base price figure comes from Clevo or somewhere else...?
    Reply
  • Diosjenin - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    "Edit": Re-read the article a bit more closely; I assume the price comes from AVADirect (though do correct me if I'm wrong). So I went back to my vendor (XoticPC): base price of $769.00, price as yours is configured of $1044.00.

    http://www.xoticpc.com/sager-np5125-built-clevo-b1...
    Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Their price also probably included an OS, which I always take out so I can do it myself. Reply
  • Diosjenin - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Yeah, first thing I do to a new PC is wipe it, too. :P

    Even if I *do* include 64-bit Home Premium with the XoticPC configuration, though, it *still* holds a ~$75 lead over the equivalent AVADirect...
    Reply

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