Intel Core i7 Mobile CPU (Clarksfield) Review

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Test System and SiSoft SANDRA



In order to test the performance of the new Intel Core i7 Mobile platform, we got our hands on a Core i7-920XM-based whitebook from Intel. Strictly speaking, the unit we tested is not an actual shipping configuration. But since the whitebook came in a Style-Note chassis (model W870CU) from Taiwan-based notebook manufacturer Clevo, it is likely that we will see shipping Core i7-920XM-based notebooks that closely resemble the configuration and design of the whitebook. Clevo manufacturers notebooks for a number of OEMs, such as AVADirect and Eurocom. In fact, Eurocom has already announced that it will be offering a Core i7 Mobile-based system using the same Clevo W870CU notebook design come October.



   
   

Clevo Style-Note (W870CU) Whitebook Notebook
Hardware Specifications - As Tested

  • Intel Core i7-920XM 2.0GHz (2.26/3.06/3.2 Max Turbo Frequencies (4C/2C/1C))
  • 4GB DDR3-1333 (2x2GB) SDRAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280M graphics with 1GB VRAM
  • 17-inch 1600x900 display
  • Intel 80GB X25-M SATA SSD
  • DVD-Multi Recorder
  • Intel Ultimate N WiFi Link 5300 WLAN
  • GbE Ethernet
  • 42 WHr Battery
  • Windows 7 Ultimate
  • ExpressCard/54 slot
  • eSATA port
  • DVI out
  • HDMI out
  • 4 USB ports
  • 1394 port
 

   
   

The Clevo W870CU whitebook unit measures 2.25x16.25x11.0-inches (HWD) and weighs about 8 pounds. While we keep calling it a whitebook--as the images show--it is not acutally white ("whitebook" is just an expression to indicate that it is a custom design that is not available for sale.). The W870CU's chassis is an almost all-black affair with red trim. The left side of the unit includes the DVD-RW drive, USB port, FireWire port, MMC/SD/MS card slot, TV antenna input, and RJ-11 modem jack. The right side of the unit includes four audio ports, USB port, ExpressCard/54 slot, eSATA slot, DVI out, and lock slot. The back of the unit has an HDMI out port, power connector, two USB ports, and an RJ-45 Ethernet port. The bottom of the unit features no less than three separate exhaust ports for the two internal fans (one for the CPU and one for the GPU).

The estimated street price of the Core i7-290XM-based Clevo W870CU is around $3,299--depending on how the OEM configures it. Before the Intel techs sent us the unit for testing, they swapped out the notebook's 250GB SATA hard drive for an 80GB Intel X-25-M SATA SSD. Such an upgrade raises the price by about another $275 or so.

 Preliminary Testing with SiSoft SANDRA 2009 SP4
 Synthetic Benchmarks

We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA 2009 SP4, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA 2009 SP4 suite: CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Memory Bandwidth, and Cache and Memory.

 
 

On all of the SiSoftware's SANDRA tests, the Core i7-920XM puts in a very strong showing. While our whitebook wasn't the top performer in the Processor Arithmetic test, a closer look shows that the CPU that SANDRA automatically picked to compare the whitebook's performance too was actually another Core i7-920XM--but one running with Turbo Boost bumping up the processor speed to 3.2GHz. The whitebook is also not the winner on the Processor Multi-Media test; but the automatically-generated comparison CPU in this case is a 3.33GHz Intel Core i7 975 Extreme Edition desktop processor--which is not exactly a fair comparison.


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