Test Setup

We'll be comparing the CULV laptops against other inexpensive mobile solutions, like Atom N280 and N450 netbooks, the ASUS 1201N, and a few entry-level laptops from Dell and Gateway that don't focus as much on battery life or size. We've highlighted a few of the laptops to help clarify the charts (per reader request).

The ASUS 1201N represents the fastest Atom-based netbook/laptop, as it's armed with a dual-core Atom 330, and its results are shown in orange. The gold bars are for the ASUS UL80Vt with G210M active and a 33% overclock; combined with the discrete graphics this represents the high water mark for CULV performance - and the super sized battery doesn't hurt either. (Note that the Alienware M11x takes a similar approach but bumps the GPU up to a GT335M for even better graphics performance.) ASUS' Eee PC 1005HA is representative of the best Atom N280 netbooks, with results in black. Likewise, the ASUS 1005PE is the best (well, only) Pine Trail Atom N450 we've tested, with results in dark green. Finally, the MSI X610 is a single core Athlon MV-40 with HD 4330 graphics - an odd combination, as we pointed out in our review - with results in red.

Below you can find the specs of the laptops we're testing today; other laptops can be found in our previous mobile reviews if you're interested.

Acer Aspire Timeline AS1810T Test System
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300
(2x1.3GHz, 45nm, 3MB L2, 800FSB, 10W)
Memory 2x2GB DDR2-667
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD IGP
Display 11.6" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 320GB 5400RPM HDD
Optical Drive N/A
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 5600mAh, 63Wh
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Pricing Available Online starting at $680
(Black version available for $600)

Dell Inspiron 11z Test System
Processor Intel Pentium SU4100
(2x1.3GHz, 45nm, 2MB L2, 800FSB, 10W)
Memory 1x2GB DDR2-667
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD IGP
Display 11.6" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 250GB 5400RPM HDD
Optical Drive N/A
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 4840mAh, 56Wh
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Pricing Available Online starting at $400
Test System: $564 (with current $173 savings)

Gateway EC5409u Test System
Processor Intel Pentium SU4100
(2x1.3GHz, 45nm, 2MB L2, 800FSB, 10W)
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1066
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD IGP
Display 15.6" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 320GB 5400RPM HDD
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 5600mAh, 63Wh
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Pricing Available Online starting at $600

We'll include the usual assortment of application benchmarks, battery tests, and LCD tests. If you're interested in gaming performance, we suggest you look at our ASUS 1201N review, where we show gaming performance of the EC5409u at minimum detail settings. In a word, it's painful, but we'll include the 3DMark results later just to make things clear. If you want games and CULV, we highly recommend something like the ASUS UL series; check back next week for some new information in that area.

Okay, it's time for the test results. We'll spoil the charts a bit by once again stating that nearly all of the tests show complete parity among the tested laptops. If we had something with an SU9600, sure, it would be measurably faster. Similarly, an SSD can improve tests that are limited by hard drive performance. Both of those items would add at least $100 each to the cost of a laptop, so you quickly approach the $800+ laptop range, which is currently the domain of the ASUS UL30/50/80Vt laptops. If you're after a $600 CULV, the components you can get into such a design are pretty much set, leading to virtually identical performance. Outside of comparisons to other laptop categories (e.g. netbooks and non-CULV laptops), the previous pages on the design and features are going to be more meaningful than looking at how much faster the 1810T is relative to the 11z. The only areas where we see any real separation are the battery life results and the LCD testing.

Gateway EC5409u General Performance: Atom Gets Dusted


View All Comments

  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    The problem comes in getting anyone - and I do mean anyone - to send us AMD laptops for review. The manufacturers seem to view them as bastard step children that should be kept out of view as much as possible. The Gateway NV52 shows what sort of performance you can expect, give or take, as it has a 2.1GHz QL-64 CPU, but battery life on the newer 45nm parts should be better and performance can be a bit higher as well.

    Even going to AMD doesn't really help, since they don't want to step on any toes by sending out review units. They would love to do that, but if they did they could easily end up with HP (as an example) saying, "We don't like you sending out our product... so we're going to discontinue that SKU."

    Of course, the new Intel HD Graphics actually beat the HD 3200/4200 in quite a few tests as far as I understand things. (I'm still trying to get i3/i5 laptops for review as well.) Even then, HD 3200 at least really struggles in quite a few games to get playable performance - the GeForce 9400M for example looks to be about 60% faster.
  • MonkeyPaw - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    Actually, I made a mock-CULV out of my $400 Toshiba notebook, equipped with AMD 3100 graphics and an Athlon X2 QL-65. I use a program called K10stat, which allows you to alter the P-states of K8+ AMD CPUs. By default, the QL-65 is a 35W CPU with a max-clock of 2.1ghz, but after I changed the 2 power states to .9v @ 900mhz and 1.0v @ 1.3ghz, I end up with a CPU that consumes 9-17W, depending on the P-state (it stays mostly in the 9W area). That tweak added about 30 minutes to my battery life (6-cell), matching my company-issued 3-cell HP netbook. Even with the reduced clocks, performance is still massively better on the Toshiba. My wife hasn't noticed or complained about performance yet, though we don't demand much beyond internet, iTunes (sigh), and office/budget stuff. Reply
  • OMG Snarf - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    That's a darned shame - the manufacturers don't even respond to requests for hardware? I wonder if that's the manufacturers or some super secret Intel clause (conspiracies ahoy!). I guess I'd have to look through the NV52 reviews again, but its nice to know that a 1.5GHz part should equate roughly to a 2.1GHz part.

    My issue with the new Intel HD is that right now the Core iX UM systems aren't out that I've seen, and as was detailed in another article, there's still the issue of the L2 cache not being power gated and the later inclusion of SRAM to fix this to provide more power savings, so who's to say where those fit in the ultraportable world at this time? I think that will take time to flesh out, and by that point, there will be another 'Tock' and maybe another minor 'Tick' to fill it out. That's already the end of the year, given Intel's performance for last year. And by that point, there might be another AMD mobile chipset, so it all could be moot.

    Finally in reference to the 9400M, the issue is cost. The 3200 can push a few more polys than the 4500 can, so if you want the option is there. The 9400 can, too, if you want to spend double the cost, but the point I got out of this review was low-voltage that was around the Atom/Netbook price point that offered overwhelming performance advantage while still retaining the other features (battery life/portability).

    But I digress. Thanks for the response, and while I'm sad to hear that AMD gets treated that way by the manufacturers, its good to know that its not because of any bias on the editorial staff that others like to claim.

    So long as the illegal overclocking stops for the i3/i5/i7 and X3150 benchmarks ;) I kid, I kid. Heh. Those were the days.
  • Drag0nFire - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    Well, I'd love to see a review of the AMD-based Lenovo x100e if you can get your hands on it. It may provide competitive performance at the $400-500 price point. Reply
  • Cuhulainn - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    When I saw the article I figured one of those reviewed must have been from the Asus UL line. They get mentioned several times, and seem to be the only options with decent gaming ability + battery life. If nothing else one of them should have made the review list for battery life alone. Isn't that a big part of the reason for using a CULV processor? Reply
  • cblais19 - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    If you look at other reviews on this site, they've done an overview of the UL80vt mentioned in this article, as well as an in depth review. Reply
  • mschira - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    I especially like the Asus approach overclocking the sauce!
    I want a 10" overclocked CULV!
    Forget iPAD and Atom.
  • feelingshorter - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    Do you mean the 1810TZ in the conclusion? Which is the SU7300 11 inch laptop. The 4810TZ is a 14 inch laptop. Also did you mean 1410 instead of the 3810? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    No... I've looked at the 3810TZ, 4810TZ, and 5810TZ at stores, played around with them a bit, etc. They're all better, in my opinion, than the 1410/1810. It's not just a case of being larger, either; the keyboards just don't feel quite so mushy as the 1810 chassis.

    The 1410/1810 are good, but more of a "B+" as opposed to "A-". I have no hesitation recommending any of the Acer TZ models that have SU4100, though, which is why I awarded the group (along with the Gateway EC54) a bronze.

    Honestly, though, there's plenty of personal preference in what makes a good keyboard. Some people like the soft touch ("mushy" in my view) keyboards, and others like more of a "clicky" keyboard. If you can try any of the Timeline series out - or really any CULV, including the Lenovo U series and a few others I haven't mentioned - and you're happy, the performance is going to be very similar to what I've shown here.

    Hope that clears things up. :-)
  • Roland00 - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    Did the 1410 have the battery in them? Due to the design of the chassis (to hide the battery and not have it stick out), the battery provides a lot of support. With the battery inside there is a lot less give on the 1410.

    I know for I bought one for 350 with the su2300, 2gb memory, and 160gb hard drive.

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