Speed Tests Reveal Intel Core i5's Multitasking Prowess

With features like Turbo Boost, advanced hyper-threading, and souped up Intel HD graphics, Intel's new Core i5 processor  promises a big boost in performance. But just how fast is this CPU compared to older Core 2 Duo notebooks? We put the ASUS K42F, which has a 2.53-GHz Core i5-54o processor, against a Lenovo ThinkPad T400s, which has a 2.53-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P9600 CPU, and the more modest Sony Vaio NW, which has a 2.1-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 chip.

Look below to see our test results, as well as see hands-on video of the Core i5 CPU overclocking  in action.

In our standard PCMark Vantage benchmark, which measured overall system performance, the K42F doubled the Vaio NW, and was nearly 1000 points higher than the T400s.

Another one of the tests we run is transcoding a 5-minute and 5-second, 114MB MPG4 file into AVI using Oxelon Media Encoder, a multithreaded application designed to take advantage of a notebook's multiple cores. Here, we see that, running by itself, the Core i5 chip provides a modest improvement over older CPUs. However, when we ran the same transcoding test again, this time while playing a Hulu video at full screen, we can begin to see the Core i5's superior multitasking ability.

Finally, what about that new Intel graphics chip that's the least-heralded aspect of the new Intel processors? Well, there's probably a reason: its performance is pretty much identical to that of the previous integrated graphics cards. When performing our World of Warcraft tests, all three systems hovered in the 30 fps range with the resolution and effects set to default. All plummeted to single digits when everything was maxed out. Still, the Core i5-powered K42F was marginally faster.

So what does a Core i5 system look like when it's doing its thing? Check out the video below.


*Editor's Note: We realize this isn't a truly apples-to-apples comparison of processors: The Lenovo T400s gets a major boost in performance from its 128GB solid state drive. Still, there's enough of a difference to notice the improvement Core i5 offers over Core 2 Duo systems.

LAPTOP Reviews Editor