Pentium II notebooks are powerful but power-hungry

Although the mobile version of the 266-MHz Pentium II doesn't quite match the desktop
version, it comes very close. It blows away the same-speed Pentium MMX, previously
top-of-the-line in portable processors.


The GCN Lab tested a Pentium II-powered Latitude CPi D266XT notebook from Dell Computer
Corp. It displayed 22 percent better performance on the GCNdex32™ math benchmark than
a 266-MHz Pentium MMX notebook. The score was about 6 percent lower than for a similar
Dell Dimension desktop system.


Not a lot has changed in the Latitude CP line since the lab last examined it [GCN,
Nov. 10, 1997, Page 1]. But the new CPi takes full advantage of a hybrid cooling system
launched late last year.


Pentium MMX notebooks run barely warm to the touch, while mobile Pentium II chips run
hot. The Latitude CPi's heat pipes and plates distribute heat across the base to prevent
uncomfortable hot spots. The bottom overall is quite warm, however.


The new chip has caused a drop in battery life. The 233-MHz Pentium MMX unit reviewed
last year lasted 2 1/4 hours on the lab's maximum drain test. The 266-MHz Pentium II
Latitude CPi lasted 1 1/2 hours. That's a loss of 45 minutes in use.


Intel Corp. has said the new mobile Pentium II should compare in battery life to the
166-MHz Pentium MMX. A Dell Latitude with that chip could run for 2 hours [GCN,
April 14, 1997, Page 1].


You buy a Pentium II notebook not for battery life but for its processing power. If
you're in the market for a long-lasting notebook, look to the 233-MHz Pentium MMX, which
will still be available for a while.


The Latitude CPi still has a quick-charge lithium ion battery. Its cells filled in less
than an hour with the notebook off or in about 2 hours by trickle charging.


As always, Dell's 13.3-inch, XGA active-matrix display was crisp. Video performance
jumped up to 8.88, a 23 percent rise over the last Latitude the lab reviewed. But notebook
video performance was still only half that of a Dell desktop with a PCI video card.


The Latitude CPi's hard drive performed about 29 percent faster than the older
Latitude. I detected only a 2G drive, although its size actually was 3.2G; Dell had not
formatted it properly. The 4G and 6.4G drive options from Dell would give slightly faster
access.


A new option in the Latitude CPi is a cable to attach the 31Ž2-inch floppy drive
while the CD-ROM is installed. It can be plugged in at any time for quick access to the
floppy--no need to reboot.


Overall, at about 6 pounds, the Latitude CPi is a feature-rich and powerful notebook.
With a docking station, the Latitude CPi would make an excellent desktop replacement.


inside gcn

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