Five Multimedia Notebooks, Tested

PCMark05 Results

PCMark05 is much like SYSmark 2007 in that it puts its emphasis on brute performance and assumes all units are plugged into a wall socket. It includes its own comprehensive test suite for overall system performance, along with component tests of CPU, RAM, graphics and hard disks. All parts of the suite must complete successfully for an overall PCMark05 score to be calculated. Scores are supposed to fall in a range from 1,200 to 5,500 points, where both ends of that scale are anchored to reference systems. A quick look at the scores shows that most of these multimedia notebooks exceed the capabilities of the high-end reference system to which the upper end of the scale was anchored in 2005, at least on some tests (no scores dip much below 4,500 and no scores exceed 9300).

To some extent, there is a difference between the Eurocom D90X and all the other notebooks we reviewed here—it is the only one on which we installed 64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate and ran our benchmarks, primarily so as to take advantage of its 8 GB of RAM. It also shows its mettle more convincingly in these tests than it does in the SYSmark 2007 battery.

A quick return to our summary table reveals the following rankings:

The Eurocom dominates all these rankings, with the most dramatic differences between itself and the next-ranked notebook in the CPU and Graphics categories. Given the hardware involved — namely a quad-core Q9450 CPU and a dual-adapter GeForce 8800 GTS SLI configuration — these results are downright inevitable (and what you’d have to expect given the $2,000 – $4,000 price difference between this unit and the other notebooks in the roundup.

The lower rankings are not without interest, however. Both the Asus and Acer units make surprisingly strong showings, while the Sony surprises likewise by showing up at the end of the list in half the component tests (CPU and Graphics), which perforce leads to it showing up in the same position overall. Here again, the HP shows solid capabilities (two seconds, never less than third) and the Acer and Asus both show better than you might expect.

If there’s another tidbit of information to glean from these results, it’s that using 7200 RPM drives in notebooks clearly makes sense — the only unit to do so in our field (Eurocom) sits significantly ahead of all the other notebooks, all of which use 5400 RPM drives instead. Our take from these results: if available as an option, installing 7200 RPM drives is likely to offer a pretty good payoff, as is installing the most powerful graphics chipset or adapter available for your notebook.

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