Intel's mobile processors rival desktop speeds

Intel's mobile processors rival desktop speeds

By Michael Cheek

GCN Staff

Mobile processors from Intel Corp. are stepping on the accelerator, and users can expect to see even more bursts of horsepower for some time to come.

The GCN Lab took a first look at notebook PCs with the new 366-MHz and 333-MHz Pentium II processors as well as the 333-MHz Celeron, among the first bargain processors designed to slice notebook prices.

For the first time the lab tested with benchmark tools from Ziff-Davis Benchmark Operation of Morrisville, N.C. In the Product Reviews section of the July 26 issue, the lab will explain how the benchmarks measure desktop and notebook computer and server performance.

Running the CPUmark 99 portion of ZD's WinBench 99 Version 1.1, I found that the mobile 366-MHz Pentium II has about one-third more processing power than a desktop 300-MHz Pentium II unit.

The three mobile processors came in three quite different packages. Dell Computer Corp. tucked a 333-MHz Celeron inside its bargain Latitude CPt. Gateway Inc. sent a road-warrior Solo 3150 with a 366-MHz Pentium II. And Micron Electronics Inc. provided a 333-MHz Pentium II housed in a hefty desktop-replacement TransPort NX case.

The Solo 3150, also known by the code name Fireant, really rocked compared with earlier Gateway portables.

At 5 pounds, 2 ounces, the Solo notebook could hardly have jammed in any more features.

Two things stood out: a DVD drive and a built-in 10/100-Mbps network interface card from 3Com Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif. With the integrated V.90 modem, the Solo could connect as easily in the office as on the road.

The 12.1-inch display, at 800 by 600 pixels, might not be the largest around, but as any notebook user can attest, a smaller display means less weight to tote. Plus the display was bright and tight.

The Solo 3150 arrived with a fairly standard 96M of RAM, a 6.4G hard drive, 2.5M of video memory and integrated sound, all running under Microsoft Windows 98.

Main drain

On the lab's maximum battery drain test, which keeps all components working constantly at full tilt, the Solo 3150 survived one hour, 45 minutes'a little disappointing. The lab expects notebooks to last at least two hours.

At $2,999, the Solo costs a bit more than the other two notebooks, but its lack of compromise on extras makes it worth the price.

Micron's heavyweight TransPort NX, at 8 pounds, 11 ounces, would be a fine desktop replacement; even some desktop PCs weigh less. Although the TransPort had a DVD drive, it lacked an integrated modem or NIC. What it did have was a big display: 15 inches diagonal with 1,024- by 768-pixel resolution.

Both the DVD and the 3.5-inch floppy drive were on board at the same time and did not have to be traded out. In contrast, the Gateway and Dell notebooks required connecting a cable to an external floppy drive.

Oddly, the TransPort indicated it had two floppy drives, a: and b:. I thought this might be for an optional LS-120 SuperDisk from Imation Corp. of Oakdale, Minn., but the notebook lacked any documentation about the extra drive. The DVD drive could read any DVD-formatted disk, although the player software could not show the compressed video on the disks.

The TransPort lasted two hours on the lab's maximum-drain test but should have lasted longer, as it had the heaviest battery in the bunch at just short of a pound.

Although the price is a reasonable $2,782, only the most muscular military users are likely to carry the TransPort around much.

The Dell Latitude CPt likewise had a little more heft than Dell's CPi line, which the lab has reviewed several times. The top-of-the-line CPi comes in at just over 6 pounds, whereas the Celeron-based CPt weighs a little more than 6.5 pounds.

More will cost less

The extra ounces come from the larger display: 14.1 inches diagonal at 1,024-by-768 resolution. The Latitude CPt costs just $2,160, and as more such Celerons make their way into the market, notebook prices will dip much lower.

Dell's battery-saving efforts let the Latitude CPt endure almost 21/2 hours on the lab's maximum-drain test.

When it came to performance, the Latitude also performed admirably. On ZD's Business Winstone 99 Version 1.0, which runs a script of real-world office applications, the Latitude performed better than the Micron TransPort, primarily because of a more efficient graphics accelerator.

The Celeron processor has half as much Level 2 cache as a Pentium II: 128K vs. 256K. That explains why the Dell's CPUmark 99 performance was lower.

The ZD benchmark tests the entire CPU assembly including processor, cache and memory.









Box Score B

Latitude CPt

333-MHz Celeron notebook

Dell Computer Corp., Austin, Texas;

tel. 800-727-1100

www.dell.com

Price: $2,160 GSA

+Excellent video performance and battery life

' Heavier than predecessors



UsabilityB

Features and configurationB

Benchmark performanceB

ZD's Business Winstone 9915.5

About 55% better than a 233-MHz Pentium MMX


The overall grade comprises scores for three things: usability (60 percent), features and configuration (20 percent), and performance (20 percent). The lab used ZD's Winstone 99 Version 1.0. The baseline for 10.0 Winstone units is a 233-MHz Pentium MMX. For benchmark information, go to www.gcn.com/gcnlab/benchmark.
Box Score A-

Solo 3150 Fireant

366-MHz Pentium II notebook

Gateway Inc., North Sioux City, S.D.;

tel. 605-232-2000

www.gateway.com

Price: $2,999 GSA

+ Integrated modem and NIC

' Battery life a little short

UsabilityB+

Features and configurationA'

Benchmark performanceA

ZD's Business Winstone 9916.9

About 69% better than a 233-MHz Pentium MMX

The overall grade comprises scores for three things: usability (60 percent), features and configuration (20 percent), and performance (20 percent). The lab used ZD's Winstone 99 Version 1.0. The baseline for 10.0 Winstone units is a 233-MHz Pentium MMX. For benchmark information, go to www.gcn.com/gcnlab/benchmark.
Box Score C-

TransPort NX333

333-MHz Pentium II notebook

Micron PC Inc., Nampa, Idaho;

tel. 888-742-4342

government.micronpc.com

Price: $2,782 GSA

'Way too heavy

'Drive couldn't read DVD video

UsabilityD+

Features and configurationC

Benchmark performanceC

ZD's Business Winstone 9915.1

About 51% better than a 233-MHz Pentium MMX



The overall grade comprises scores for three things: usability (60 percent), features and configuration (20 percent), and performance (20 percent). The lab used ZD's Winstone 99 Version 1.0. The baseline for 10.0 Winstone units is a 233-MHz Pentium MMX. For benchmark information, go to www.gcn.com/gcnlab/benchmark.

inside gcn

  • benchmarks (Bakhtiar Zein/Shutterstock.com)

    Best practices for performance metrics

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group