What about Graphics Performance?

If there's a downside to Nile, it's graphics performance. Yes, the HD4225 is better than Intel's old GMA 4500MHD, but that's not the target anymore. The new Intel HD Graphics in Arrandale fixed a lot of flaws, including more attention to drivers and compatibility. AMD still has the edge overall in the driver department, but Intel is now able to run the vast majority of our games without barfing.

In fact, the only compatibility issue we encountered with Intel's HD Graphics is a failure to work with FRAPS in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 in DX10 mode; DX9 mode works, though frankly BFBC2 doesn't belong on any IGP right now. There's also a long delay between loading a mission in DX10 mode that's not present in DX9 on Intel's IGP—about 70 seconds on the M11x R2. Anyway, let's look at the results, starting with the games and wrapping up with 3DMark results for the interested.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

DiRT 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Mass Effect 2

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Sadly, gaming performance is poor at best. Compared to last year's NVIDIA 9400M, the 4225 offers anywhere from about half to two-thirds the performance. The HD 4200 is the same chip with a higher clock (500MHz vs. 380MHz), and it typically outperforms the 4225 by 20 to 30 percent as well. The best-case test for the T235D right now as a gaming option is actually StarCraft II, where the Studio 14z (9400M) and the T235D are basically tied. Our test sequence is a typical Zerg rush against a fortified Terran base, though we have seen much lower frame rates in heavy combat scenarios (i.e. the single-player mission "In Utter Darkness" will often drop into the low teens on many laptops).

Looking at the Intel side of the map doesn't radically alter our perceptions of the HD 4225. In DX9 mode, Intel manages slightly higher performance with Battlefield: Bad Company 2, but none of the IGPs reach anything close to acceptable performance. The remaining games all favor the ATI solution by anywhere from ~25% up to as much as 140%, and at 1366x768 the i7-640UM IGP is incapable of acceptable performance on any of the games we tested. So score one for ATI over Intel with the current graphics solutions, but here's hoping Bobcat, Fusion, and Sandy Bridge can give us integrated graphics that look more like NVIDIA's G 320M instead—or to put it in concrete terms, at least double the number of stream processors/graphics pipelines from the current IGPs.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

Futuremark 3DMark05

Futuremark 3DMark03

3DMark doesn't really add anything to the above gaming summary, though Intel's HD Graphics/platform obviously score a lot higher in Vantage than seems reasonable. The old 9400M is up to twice as fast as HD 4225, and that's a 16 core part compared to the new G 320M with 48 cores. Also something to note is that the new HD 4225 does consistently outperform the old HD 3200 in Congo by a sizeable margin, but then 25 to 65 percent faster than "really slow" is still too slow.

AMD Nile: Improving Battery Life Display, Temperatures, and Noise
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  • The Crying Man - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    Good to know! Shame HP isn't sending laptops your guys' way. I'm pretty wary of buying Toshiba with their policy regarding Catalyst drivers. I don't know if it's the same for nVidia, but I'm an AMD fanboy anyway.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    Funny thing is that HP *is* sending us some laptops now... but they're all from the business lines. We're having more difficulty getting the consumer laptops from them, but we hope to have an ENVY 14 sometime soon.
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    I'm excited by AMD's new mobile processor/IGP solutions.

    I'm not excited by Toshiba and their implementation. Swirly and cheesy-looking palmrest that I'd never carry into a meeting if I wanted respect. Tons of annoying advertising palmrest stickers I'd need to scrape off and clean before they come off on their own and leave a sticky mess. Toshiba not participating in the AMD/ATI Catalyst program, and finally, Toshiba's penchant for massive bloatware in the form of Toshiba-branded notebook utilities that rob performance and make it difficult for an average user to know what is and isn't necessary.

    I'll wait for a version of this platform as implemented by someone else.
  • Gigantopithecus - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the review, Jarred. It's nice to have an AMD-based notebook that I can recommend to friends; undoubtedly there will be more aesthetically modest models in the future. This specific model seems particularly well-suited for the college crowd (especially since they'll want a laptop asap and not want to wait for Bobcat). In the future, it would be useful to have temperature data - just a few readings from various parts of the system (i.e. palm rest, underside of chassis) are sufficient.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    I tend to only report temperature and noise information if it's out of the norm. This laptop runs pretty close to room temperature most of the time, and even under full load it's never very loud. Give me an hour or so of "warm up" time and I'll report back with specific figures here. :-)
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    Page six is now updated with temperature and noise data. Note that I'm the only one of our laptop team with an SPL meter and digital thermometer, so we likely won't be able to provide such results on all of our reviews (unless there's enough demand for it that we decide to buy more test equipment).
  • LesMoss - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    A suggestion: For relative battery life, use minutes per pound as the metric. That way you don't care how good the manufactuers Wh rating is.
  • Souka - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    It's a cute laptop....good for my Mom, except the LCD...bummer :(
  • Souka - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    LCD Quality I mean. Size & resolution is fine.
  • josephandrews222 - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    ...I wonder if you would take a moment and compare this Toshiba (T235D) with the Toshiba Protege 700/705.

    The 705 is about $300.00 more than the T235D, right?

    But I sure like the looks of it...and altho it is subjective I think the 705 may be worth the extra dough.

    Your view?

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