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Review: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 15: Intel Core i5 vs. AMD Phenom II

by Parm Mann on 8 September 2010, 10:43

Tags: ThinkPad Edge 15, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), AMD (NYSE:AMD), Lenovo

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qazvj

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Benchmarks and thoughts

Both notebook configurations have 4GB of DDR3 memory, but the 2.26GHz hyper-threaded Core i5 processor starts by opening up a sizeable 37 per cent performance lead over the 1.8GHz Phenom II P820.

Putting all processor cores to the test, Cinebench supports the Geekbench results.

The three physical cores of the Phenom II are useful, but the quad-thread-capable Core i5 retains a 37 per cent margin.

There's no questioning which is the more potent CPU, but what about the accompanying GPU?

History intimates that AMD's RV620-based Radeon HD 4250 IGP is going to be the pick of the two. After all, Intel's integrated solutions have had a tendency to deliver lacklustre results, haven't they?

Surprised? Intel's revamped HD graphics have the edge in 3DMark06, but there's little to choose between the competing solutions; both feature a base frequency of 500MHz, both supply HDMI and VGA outputs, and both offer video hardware acceleration through Intel's CVT HD and AMD's UVD2.

Ideal for notebook use, with high-def multimedia content handled with ease.

Don't expect to do much gaming, though. Neither IGP is DirectX 11 capable, and in order to minimise power consumption, both graphics cores are clocked far lower than their desktop equivalents. Modern titles such as DiRT II simply don't run smoothly, even at the lowest available detail settings.

The TDP of the AMD Phenom II processor may be 10W lower than that of the Intel competition, but it's important to remember that the latter includes a graphics core built directly into the chip.

Looking at the platforms as a whole, the Intel Core i5 system is clearly more efficient when playing back a 720p video.

A sizeable gap in power efficiency suggests the inevitable; when configured with an Intel Core i5 processor, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge offers better all-round performance and yet manages to keep going some 10 per cent longer.

Neither system manages to deliver outstanding battery life, but at just over two-and-a-half hours, the AMD-based system in particular falls short of expectations.

Summary

We've put only two competing notebook CPUs head-to-head, but the simple comparison tells us an obvious truth; in the mobile space, AMD continues to play second fiddle to Intel.

The 2010 Danube platform has its merits - performance is more than decent across the board - but Intel's Arrandale is a step ahead on all accounts.

Using our quick case study as an example, if you've £700-odd to spend on a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 15, the Intel configuration offers all-round superior performance and better battery life.

The Danube and Nile platforms have put AMD back in the mobile game, but the company's unlikely to become truly competitive until it reaches Fusion with 2011's Sabine and Brazos.



HEXUS Forums :: 15 Comments

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Wow that's a pretty damning assessment of AMD's offering. Makes you wonder why Lenovo bothered given that these are almost the same price to buy!?

Llano is going to have to be good to beat/overtake Sandy Bridge.
Excellent work chaps. More of these “direct” comparisons where possible please. :)

As for the Edge, Lenovo still need to prove if their “cheaper” non-Thinkpads and lower-end Thinkpads like this have any longevity. I still have a 1GHz P3-based Thinkpad from nigh on 10 years ago that works perfectly well… and a P3-700 TP from even further back that still works! (Runs Lubuntu 10.04 excellently, too!)

And also, no expresscard slot: no chance of using my RME HDSP audio card… sucks!
kingpotnoodle
Wow that's a pretty damning assessment of AMD's offering. Makes you wonder why Lenovo bothered given that these are almost the same price to buy!?

Llano is going to have to be good to beat/overtake Sandy Bridge.

Hardly. The Phenom has 3 cores on 45nm, the 4250 is based on 55nm tech. Compare that to the dual core 32nm intel cpu and 45nm graphics and it's surprising the difference isn't a lot more. 15 mins isn't a lot and neither has great battery life anyway.

The Phenom just needs to be a little bit cheaper, maybe another £50 or so.
Actually the two Lenovo laptops are NOT EQUAL.

The AMD version was using Windows 7 Home Premium 64 and the Intel version was using Windows 7 Professional 64. Win7 Pro 64 has an XP mode was that on or off? Win7 Home 64 does not.

The Phenom is also running 30% slower than the Intel Core i5. Which is very far from damming.

The test is far from valid.

Are the Benchmarks multi-thread benchmarks or single core? I don't know this and the question is not rhetorical but if the benchmark software doesn't excercise more than a single core then why was this comparison made?

So what do we really have? Factoring then for the 30% lead in flops the Intel Core i5 2.2 gz is essentially in the same performance envelope that is exhibited but the AMD Phenom 1.8gz cpu. All things being equal.

Including power usage!!!

So the question really is this?
Is this difference in performance worth $200.00, or 30-35% of the entire value of Lenovo laptop?

Yes the Intel Core i5 is faster 2.2gz > 1.8gz. That's a no brainer.

So what are we trying to say here? That a slower cpu gets beaten by a faster cpu running a better operating system?
mateau, both notebooks were configured and tested with a 64-bit install of Windows 7 Professional.

In regards to the benchmarks, both Geekbench and Cinebench are multi-threaded.