Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Laptop Buying Decision: X4500 versus X3100

Buying a laptop is not easy and never have been at least when it comes to choose the right specs.  Like others, we look for longevity in our mobile platforms and want to be able to get as much mileage out of it as we can.  Of course, that has to be weighed against the premium we must pay for it.

It's like buy a car.  A friend of mine was contemplating buy a new model Prius versus an older model and weighed the MPG increase against the wait (there's a waiting list), now much gas money she'll actually save, and the premium for getting a newer model.  I know nothing about cars but I find it ironic that it's the same thing I go through when I pick out a new laptop.

Here is a benchmark with Intel's Centrino 2 and X4500 IGP versus the previous generation chips and the older X3100 (SOURCE:  Macrumors).  Here is another benchmark from Phoronix (this is a desktop version - information may be used to extrapolate how a mobile version might fare).  While the first set of benchmarks were sourced from Macrumors, this is not indicative of anything specific for the Macbook.  As a matter of fact, Onxo's Sunday laptop deal run-through indicated HP's laptops were the first we've see with Centrino 2 from the consumer electronics stores. 

I just thought we'd share these benchmarks with you and that might help you with your decision.  We did not see a significant improvement with the chips themselves and these are only two benchmarks.  But what are they telling us?

The X4500 is about as good an improvement over the X3100 as you're going to get from Intel right now.  We see a 35% increase and up over the X3100.  Some X4500 number doubling that of the X3100.  This may improve as drivers are updated and optimized.  This is wonderful news for users when it comes to graphic intensive OS's liks Vista for Windows laptops and OS X on the Macbooks.

Still, it trails Nvidia's own offers.  And that also mean you can forget about playing any kind of games on there unless settings are set way low. 

But for daily working? Depends on your needs.  If having a new laptop "now", then the offerings on the market are quite adequate.  And the deals about abundant.  Check out our laptop run-through from Sunday.  They are only local circulations but it'll give you a starting point to work with.  And definitely a lot of deals on the web. 

Note:  What am I doing?  Personally, I can wait and I'll see what the laptop makers has to offer when more Centrino 2 laptops are available.  While the Macbook Air has been calling out to me, the non-user replacable battery bothers me.  And I have not gotten the Macbooks yet (not because of the older chipset in side) because I want an LED screen instead of the older LCD.  But my Powerbook is old and I need to upgrade soon. 

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