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Review: Ultrabook as a Workstation

, 18 Jun 2012 CPOL
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Ultrabook: my second impression.

My first Ultrabook review was just a first impression. It now looks like soon enough Ultrabooks will replace laptops just as laptops today often replace desktops. Y2K I used to have a desktop in my office and there were a few laptops we used for presentations and demonstrations. Today I have a laptop in my office and we will probably have a few Ultrabooks for presentations and demonstrations. Laptops and Ultrabooks are probably going to use the same basic technology. The difference is that Ultrabooks will always be lighter, look better, and would have community features. In other words user oriented. Laptops however would probably have better technical specifications at the expense of look and feel. In other words laptops are work machines and Ultrabooks are user friendly.

I  know many people who have been using laptops instead of desktops for some while now. My goal now is to test and see whether I can use an Ultrabook as my workstation. One thing I can tell you right away: in a large meeting people used to put their iPhones on the table, just to see that no one is calling, and to show their cool gadgets. Today Ultrabook wins because everybody has a touch-phone. Keep in mind that if you do bring an Ultrabook to a meeting you better have a nice story because people are going to ask questions.

Some of my work includes documents, Internet browsing, and some video editing, graphic design, programming, and other heavier tasks. We are all going to edit documents, write software, and play games on Ultrabooks in the not-too-far future. This is a basic assumption for me when I am testing the Ultrabook as a workstation. This is a blog hosted by Intel and I am reviewing a product related to Intel, so according to U.S. law I cannot give you accurate time measurements without providing full duplication details which is really out of scope. I just want to give you an estimate so that you can decide what's good for you.

Obviously Microsoft Office applications and tools run on the Ultrabook with no problem. It is still a new PC and is more powerful than a five years old desktop. Office, surfing the web, flash games - no problems right away. A workstation is tested in its ability to perform when you really need it to. It's time to put the device under stress.

Starting with Microsoft Live Movie Maker: Seems to encode a video fast and utilize the CPU well. As a Microsoft MVP for over eight years in the area of Digital Media I can tell you that CPU utilization of 80% indicates very good balance between memory usage and CPU stress for video encoding. I found the cooling fan at the back, now that it started speeding up but the encoding process was pretty smooth. Encoding video from my pocket camera to 'playback on my computer' was approximately two minutes of encoding for one minute of video. This means that I can use this device as a broadcasting system. I am very happy with this performance because it means that we can have two channels encoded and broadcasted at good broadcast quality. Eight years ago when I broadcasted a live TV channel I had to use an expensive machine to get multiple bitrates with very low quality. Using a different software I will now try the higher quality which I used back then: resolution of 400x300, 18 fps, 320kbps. The fan starts making noise again and now we don't have as much CPU load. My video input was processed fast enough to allow several videos processed at the same time. This would allow me to broadcast two channels each with 4 different bitrates. This is by far better than the desktop with which I used to broadcast my wedding exactly three years ago.

Moving forward, using professional quality with Microsoft Expression Encoder 4 with an 1280x720 HD file, 'Best Quality'. This time I will compare the performance of my 2 year old Dell Core i7 with 8GB RAM and an SSD to my Core i5 Ultrabook. As I said before, I can't tell you the actual figures but I can tell you that if I was boiling water during the encoding, the Ultrabook would have barely given me the extra time required to make coffee.

The Ultrabook doesn't have a DVD ROM drive so running games would require me to find the external DVD drive from under the pile I started a year ago. Instead I will tell you that Visual Studio 2010 takes just a few seconds from click on the start menu until it is ready for work, which is very nice. Performance wise the Ultrabook is better than my laptop with Windows' performance ratings of 6.1 when my laptop is 5.7. All other ratings are relatively the same except for memory in which the laptop has 6.9 and the Ultrabook 5.9 (finally something to justify the cost of the laptop which was more than twice the cost of the Ultrabook).

Overall it looks like the Ultrabook has very good performance even considering above average test conditions. It is very low weight compared to a laptop with equivalent performance. The metal cover feels more rugged which makes me more comfortable around it and carrying it in any bag. I don't expect my next computer to be a desktop or a laptop. I'm pretty sure it's going to be an Ultrabook.

That's it for me with this Ultrabook. Now it belongs to my wife (called 'shotgun' as soon as it was out of the ultra - box). If you are coming to see my lecture at the end of this month, I'll do the presentation from this Ultrabook. Finally Microsoft PowerPoint runs on a lightweight device. If you missed the presentation I will probably have the slides and demos on this web site: http://www.asyncop.com/, possibly also recorded video so you can also see the device. More details also here: http://www.shellytech.com/.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Asaf Shelly

United States United States
Microsoft MVP: Technical Computing R&D (8 years Digital Media until 2010)
Intel Black-Belt: Parallel Programming
Owner of Multicore and Parallel Computing gourp on Linkedin
Driver Developer, Firmware, UX Expert, Algorithms.
ASM, C, C++, C#, JS, Asp.Net, BC++

Comments and Discussions

 
Questionwhich Ultrabook PinmemberMember 942485912-Sep-12 4:58 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmember@amitgajjar11-Sep-12 20:35 
QuestionSSD? PinmemberSnoopDougEDoug25-Jun-12 9:50 
AnswerRe: SSD? PinmemberAsaf Shelly25-Jun-12 10:18 

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