System Performance

We'll begin with a look at general system performance using applications that can take advantage of the multi-core processors.

Video Encoding - DivX

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

Application performance is about what you would expect given the CPU specifications. The new Clarksfield i7-920XM isn't substantially faster than the old Core 2 QX9300 when it comes to running highly threaded code. The problem is that when running highly threaded code, Clarksfield's Turbo modes aren't able to fully activate. We end up with a Core i7 running at 2.26 GHz compared to a Core 2 running at 2.53 GHz, and overall performance is relatively close. Clarksfield is 6% faster in SMP CINEBENCH, 14% faster in the second x264 pass, and 12% faster at DivX encoding. The first x264 pass is basically a tie. Move to single threaded performance and the Clarksfield Turbo modes are much more helpful, outperforming the QX9300 in single threaded CINEBENCH by 30%.

The QX9300 ends up being 12 to 15% faster than the overclocked Q9000 in the ASUS W90Vp - right in line with the difference in clock speed. Meanwhile the i7-920XM delivers a beating to the old Core 2 Duo E6850 (Clevo D901C) system. It's 17% faster in single threaded performance, but over twice as fast in the x264 second pass.

Naturally, the desktop i7-975 is substantially faster. It's only 20% faster in the single threaded CINEBENCH score, but it's 50 to 65% faster elsewhere. We should also mention that just because the rated clock speed of the i7-975 is 3.3 GHz doesn't mean the system always runs at that speed. The x264 encoding test runs each section four times, and normally all our results are very close. It appears that the i7-975 is throttling at times, as we noticed fluctuations in our x264 results. You'll want a nicely ventilated area if you want to get the advertised 3.33GHz, as otherwise it looks like the CPU may throttle down by as much as 30%.

Test Setup Synthetic Graphics Performance


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  • Hrel - Thursday, October 22, 2009 - link

    I consider any dedicated card with at least 16SP's and at least 512MB of dedicated memory to be a gaming laptop; 16 SP's IS the ABSOLUTE minumum, but that should be enough to run everything ecxept maybe crysis (Which I really hate anyway) at 720p or higher with playable frame rates. Who cares about eye candy? As long as the game runs smoothly. Desktops are for eye candy, laptops and consoles are just for gaming. Reply
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  • MonicaS - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Man, as someone who hasn't used a desktop as personal computer for the last 4 years, the move to laptop was a very difficult one. You have the convenience but lack the performance. Now couple this processor with two raid ssd's and 8 gigs of ram in a 64bit Windows 7 laptop and you finally have a beast of a machine in your probably burning lap.

    I'd love to get that setup and finally not feel as though I'm loosing out to a desktop in anyway. The only true limitation is Crysis, but seriously that game sucked anyway!

    Can't wait!

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  • AnnonymousCoward - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    Heh, "Gamers Are Going Mobile". My video card is the size of some laptops. And I'm not playin on no 15" screen. Reply
  • FXi - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    I have to say the mobility right now is more of a draw than a higher level of eye candy. Now mind you, I have both laptop and desktop so if I really crave eye candy, I can go to the desktop room and game.

    But with two little ones, I find that my 'gaming time' is often measured in 20 min spans here and there, and that being able to surf or get some work done wherever the kids happen to be is a benefit that I very much enjoy. So I can run Witcher on my old 7950M, windowed @ 1620 and have the settings lower and be "ok" with that.

    Mind you I do crave a bit more oomph, a more modern machine, but I can bide my time. The mobility is very nice, and I don't LAN (no time!). Having SLI or a higher end mobile chip simply means the laptop is "acceptable" for a longer period of it's life.

    I won't argue the bang for the buck. Mobile gaming is pricey and not cost effective. But the mobility is nice, the space taken up by a machine I can throw in the closet is also nice. And within some limits, lower res or lower eye candy is acceptable as payment for that mobility.

    Now I just need USB 3 (USB changes only happen every 10 years or so) and then I might consider upgrading.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    When checking my laptop for Ubuntu vs Xp battery life, I accidentally ran my first XP test with my standard undervolt on, didn't seem to impact battery life any. Reply
  • ambientmf - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    Am i the only one who thinks these chips are ridiculously overpriced? I would never drop more than $350 on a CPU even in a desktop, it just doesn't seem economical for a $1K laptop processor. especially if it's only running at a 2.0GHz base.
    The cheaper options seem really underwhelming and like others have said, the thermal output of these chips just doesn't make sense for a laptop.
  • cjb110 - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    The big problem with gaming laptop's is that they aren't balanced. The display is always at higher res than the cpu/gpu can drive.

    I'd get a gaming laptop if it can drive all current gen games at max settings at the native res of the panel it comes with. Even if that res is <1080p.

    If it can't do that, then I've spent a lot of money on something that's already behind the desktop I can get for cheaper.
  • Mugur - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    ... if there is one? I mean that that 1.6 Ghz part looks very nice: quad-core with HT and turbo.

    I think someone could make a decent notebook, not a desktop replacement out of a 720QM.
  • FXi - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    Shouldn't the Quad core mobiles be 32nm and the Dual cores 45nm? I know that's not the case but what was Intel thinking? It doesn't even look like there's a refresh of the Quad's to 32nm in the Spring.

    Crazy, cuz they look like good chips with a shrink.

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