Intel's Expensive Mobile P4-M Disappoints
Posted by Mario Rodrigues
Date: March 22, 2002
ZDNet has reviewed two of the latest top of the range
Intel 1.7GHz P4-M notebooks from
Dell and has found performance to be disappointing for both models when
running mainstream productivity applications.
Winstone 2001 was used to obtain these results. What was really surprising
in this test was that both machines were slower than an earlier Dell model that
was running an Intel 1.13GHz PIII-M processor. That's a 570MHz difference!
Shouldn't Intel be advertising a performance degradation warning? Performance
with content-creation applications was better than the PIII-M machine, but not
compelling. With the latest mobile graphics processors, both models gave
excellent graphics performance.
Other speed grades will be available at 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz and 1.6GHz. It should be obvious why Intel launched its P4-M at 1.7GHz. If Intel had launched with the 1.4GHz model, business productivity performance would have deteriorated from being merely disappointing to very poor which would have tarnished its launch. Those who buy notebooks for business productivity performance should give these products a wide birth.
This is a deja vu, we've been here before with Intel's original desktop P4. Do you remember? The performance then was pathetic and the asking price for systems was outrageous. With launch prices at $3000+ for these notebooks, history again repeats itself. These notebooks are far too expensive for what they offer and cannot be considered good value. Intel die-hards looking for "Intel value" should stick to buying mobile PIII/Celeron models. Those looking for best performance or value at lowest cost should take a look at AMD's mobile Duron and Athlon offerings. Remember, AMD's multimode PowerNow power management technology is far superior to Intel's double-mode SpeedStep. AMD's PowerNow will control a notebook's power level automatically, dynamically changing the processor's frequency and voltage many times a second in response to application load. This can increase battery life by up to 30%. Intel's Enhanced SpeedStep can only change the frequency and voltage between two states.
Beware, this is what Intel is saying about its latest mobile product: "delivers the highest notebook performance available." True when comparing frequency, untrue when comparing the performance of mainstream productivity applications: "Offering a unique combination of high-performance and lower power consumption." True when compared to the desktop P4, but when compared to the mobile PIII, it has inferior performance and power characteristics. On this page, Intel claims that Microsoft's Office 2000 is optimized for the P4-M. If this is so, then why does a 570MHz slower PIII-M run this application quicker? Watch out for Intel blurb, you've been warned!
Intel needs to introduce its own PR nomenclature to accurately describe the real performance of its P4 products. Adding an 'A' to the nomenclature does distinguish a Willamette core from a Northwood, but true processor performance is still not accurately described. Yes, this PR nomenclature would reflect a lower number than the frequency speed of the processor. This would bring Intel into line with AMD which would greatly help and benefit the consumer. As things stand, unknowledgeable consumers who buy P4 systems would be very surprised to find that performance in mainstream productivity applications, even with all the extra megahertz, is inferior to an earlier generation PIII. A sobering thought for consumers.
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