Real World Centrino Duo Performance

We’ve already run the full gamut of performance benchmarks on Intel’s Core Duo processor, however those performance tests compared Intel’s latest mobile processor against some of the strongest desktop competitors.  What our performance tests here will show is how well the Core Duo competes in the mobile space, or more specifically, how it stacks up to the Pentium M in a notebook. 

To assist with our little performance experiment we turned to ASUS, who just happens to know a thing or two about notebooks.  You see, ASUS not only has an extensive line of their own notebooks that they manufacture under the ASUS brand, but they also happen to make notebooks for companies like Apple and Dell.  So when we asked for two identical notebooks one based on the latest Napa platform and the other based on the previous generation Sonoma platform, ASUS was well equipped to respond.

What they provided us with was two notebooks from their W5 line, which is a line of extremely portable sub-3 pound 12.1” widescreen notebooks.  The two models that ASUS provided were the W5F and the W5A.

The ASUS W5F and W5A - can you tell the difference?

The beauty of the W5F and W5A is that they are virtually identical, with the only real difference being that the former is based on the Napa platform while the latter is a Sonoma notebook.  ASUS even went one step further and shipped us notebooks with processors clocked identically - the W5F featured a Core Duo T2400 (1.83GHz) while the W5A featured a Pentium M 750 (1.83GHz).

What we wanted was an apples to apples comparison of Napa vs. Sonoma, and ASUS gave us the exact tools to do just that. 

So without further ado, we bring you a continuation of our performance investigation of Intel’s Core Duo microprocessor - this time, in a notebook.

The Test

Both the ASUS W5F and W5A were configured identically, with 512MB of DDR2-533 memory, 80GB hard drives and both relied on their Intel integrated graphics. The only difference was that the W5F was based on Intel's Napa platform while the W5A was Sonoma based. Both CPUs operated at 1.86GHz, with the Napa platform using a Core Duo processor and the Sonoma platform using a Pentium M processor.

For all tests, each machine was tested with a clean install of Windows and all drivers installed (the latest available as of the publication date), but none of the bundled applications were installed (with the exception of any battery/power management utilities).

All performance tests were conducted with the Power Management settings set to Always On.

All benchmarks were conducted with the display set to the native resolution of the notebook's LCD panel.

Mobile Mark 2005 battery life tests were conducted with the Power Management settings set to Portable/Laptop, but with the screen set to never turn off and with the hard disk set to power down after 5 minutes. All battery life tests were conducted with the displays set to 60 - 70 nits.

Performance testing was done using Business and Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004, as well as SYSMark 2004.

Battery life testing was done using Mobile Mark 2005.

Intel Core Duo - Model Numbers and Clock Speeds Business Performance
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  • stmok - Saturday, January 7, 2006 - link

    I admit it, I have no use for the Weener (Windows) keys. Its a pointless feature to have if you use other OSs or migrating AWAY from Windows. Its like Nvidia's chipset firewall solution...Another pointless feature for "Windows Only" users. (Which causes more trouble than its really worth).

    With Lenovo adopting all these "everyone else has it" features, its not the same ThinkPad anymore. They don't stand out technologically, like they used to.

    Granted, the fingerprint scanner and keyboard light is interesting, but that's all there is. My old R40 ThinkPad has a keyboard light as well. So I guess the only thing is the fingerprint scanner.

    As for ThinkVantage, that is useful...To some extent.

    I tried to "clean restore" WinXP from the hidden partition (as Windows requires a clean installation after 2 or more years of use), and I get a crapload of errors. The Trackpoint or Touchpad seem to be no longer detected, and so on. And other error messages. I couldn't get past finishing the install. So I unhid that WinXP Partition, and formatted the sucker clean, gained 8GB back of HDD space. Which is enough for a quadriple boot...Win2k, Slackware, FreeBSD and Solaris. (And they all work fine with the Trackpoint/Touchpad).
  • Scarceas - Saturday, January 7, 2006 - link

    I think Apple will focus their Intel support on the Yonah designs. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Mac Mini or something that was essentially a Yonah desktop.

    And I am quite glad that IBM/Lenovo are finally putting a Windows key on their Thinkpads!

    Hope that carries over to their rack-mount KVM's, as well. Drives me nuts....
  • littlebitstrouds - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    I wanna see a desktop board with this chip in it... then overclock the heck out of it. I bet that thing would scream.
  • raskren - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link


    Looks like an extremely competitive if not flat-out better Intel solution.

    So where is Beenthere's a.k.a. CRAMITPAL's canned comment?
  • stateofbeasley - Sunday, January 8, 2006 - link

    The fanboi is probably too demoralized to come out and troll. The numbers don't lie -- Core Duo is fast and efficient, and the Centrino Duo stuff is going to make Intel a pile of money.

    Beenthere tried to claim the opposite in his comments re the AnandTech preview, and he got run over like a Prescott in the way of an Athlon 64. Come to think of it, Beenthere's claims about Core Duo were about as stupid as claiming Prescott >>> Athlon 64.
  • uly - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    "Intel 3945ABG Wireless solution"
    "starting to look at platforms and solutions"
    "the 3945ABG wireless solution is what is known as"
    "915 chipset and 2915ABG wireless solution"
    "wireless solutions have both been undergoing reductions"
    "Pricing (with 945GM chipset and wireless solution)"
    "it did give us a nice solution"

    Another definition of 'solution' is something that is diluted or watered down. Wonder if Intel appreciates having their products looked upon from that perspective. (cred: buzzkiller dot net)

    Anand, whenever you find yourself about to type 'solution' in the future, please think, do I really want to sound like I'm copying from the presskit?

    Other than that, nice review.
  • raskren - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    You read this hunting for the word "solution." Please, this is part of everyday speech, not a buzzword.
  • uly - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    It's part of everyday speech - for PR guys. It's also pretentious - the customer should decide the solution for himself.

    > You read this hunting for the word "solution."

    No, I read it and buzzwords like solution kept popping out at me, so I used grep to do a quick wordcount. Seven times repeating mindless marketing drivel! C'mon Anand, I know you can write better than this.
  • sprockkets - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    The inside meant that this computer had an Intel chip inside meaning better performance than those other people, way back in 1993, not that Intel focused on the insides of the computer.

    Watch it and this will actually be bad for them. All those people won't even recognize the intel they knew with the new logo. "Leap Ahead"? How original.
  • henroldus - Friday, January 6, 2006 - link

    the only mistake in this excellent article is that they use the wrong memory with ddr2-533.
    the new core Duo supports DDR2-667.
    I am wrong when I mean that this could be a bottleneck?
    maybe the performance will raise with this memory but also the powerconsumption because of the higher frequency.

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