Intel just announced the second half of its new Ivy Bridge CPU lineup, processors that are smaller, more powerful, and more power efficient than ever before. This new set of CPUs is designed expressly for ultrabooks and other thin-and-light systems. We recently put a quad-core Ivy Bridge processor to the test (The ASUS N56V), and now, we had a chance to test their mobile and low-voltage processors with a white book from Intel, the ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X230. How does Intel's new processor stack up, and how does it compare to ultraportables in general?
Our Intel whitebook features a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3427U processor, 4GB of RAM, an Intel 240GB SSD, and an Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU, and put it up against the following systems:
- ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A (Intel Core i7-3517U, 4GB of RAM, SanDisk 256GB SSD, Intel Graphics 4000 GPU)
- Lenovo ThinkPad X230 (2.6-GHz Intel Core i5-3320M, 4GB of RAM, 320GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive, Intel Graphics 4000 GPU)
- Dell XPS 13 (1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-2467M, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, Intel HD Graphics 3000)
One of the requirements for ultrabooks is that they boot quickly, and thankfully, all the ones on our list did so in less than 30 seconds. The only non-ultrabook in this chart, the X230, did fairly well itself, taking just 37 seconds.
On the synthetic PCMark07 benchmark, the Intel ultrabook crushed the competition, about 700 points higher than the UX31A. Given that the ASUS system has a more powerful processor, we're inclined to think that the difference in scores is due to the superior SSD in the Intel whitebook. Lending more credence to this hypothesis is the fact that the Dell XPS 13, which uses an older Sandy Bridge processor, but an SSD, beat out the ThinkPad X230, which has a mechanical hard drive.
Our suspicions were confirmed in our Spreadsheet test, which matches 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses in OpenOffice. Here, the UX31A finished half a minute faster than the Intel ultrabook. The Lenovo X230, which has a full-power processor, did even better, nearly a full minute faster. Regardless, all finished well ahead of the ultraportable average, as well as the Dell XPS 13.
On the synthetic 3DMark06 benchmark, the Intel whitebook's integrated Intel Graphics 4000 GPU came out on top, followed by the two other Ivy Bridge systems, which have the same graphics chip. All were at least 1,100 points higher than the average.
Our "World of Warcraft" tests followed suit. With the screen resolution at 1366 x 768, we ran our benchmark once with the effects set to Good, and once with the effects set to Max. On the first run, the ASUS UX31A came out on top, followed by the Intel ultrabook, then the X230. With effects maxed out, the 4000-series graphics outperformed their 3000-level counterparts, but not by much. As we found, it takes a quad-core Ivy Bridge system to play games such as "Batman: Arkham City" using integrated graphics.
A notebook's endurance is dependent on a number of factors, battery capacity being one of the biggest, so it was no great surprise that the results of the LAPTOP Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi) were mixed. Only the Lenovo X230 beat the ultraportable average, and then only by 9 minutes. We were still heartened to see that the ultrabooks lasted more than 6 hours. We give a slight pass to the Dell XPS 13, only because its smaller chassis can't hold as large a battery.
More power, thinner design. What's not to like? Expect to see these processors coming in a number of new ultrabook designs this year.