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Ultrabook Comparative Analysis Report

, 21 Dec 2012 CPOL 5.2K 1
New Ultrabooks inspired by Intel® fit deliver excellent performance and new Intel technologies in a smaller package so that you can complete all your tasks in a lighter, more comfortably portable system.

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When you first purchased your laptop, it responded quickly, easily ran the latest games, and had a long battery life. Now, a few years later, it’s time to replace that laptop with one that can handle your current demands. With so many options on the market, how do you choose?

New Ultrabooks inspired by Intel® fit deliver excellent performance and new Intel technologies in a smaller package so that you can complete all your tasks in a lighter, more comfortably portable system.

In the Principled Technologies labs, we compared the performance of a pre-production, 3rd generation Intel Core™ Ultrabook prototype to a 2010 laptop system in a number of areas, including system responsiveness, battery life, encryption time, and graphics and gaming performance.

The Ultrabook prototype provided a better experience than the 2010 laptop in every area: it opened common applications up to twice as quickly, improved battery life by 52.6 percent, sped up hard drive encryption by 60.2 percent, and improved graphics performance by up to 174.0 percent.

Get more out of less

The prototype we tested, like all Ultrabooks, is designed for maximum portability with a sleek design—it’s less than an inch thick and weighs just over 3 pounds. Using a thinner Intel Core processor with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 and solid-state storage, the Ultrabook has the power to handle your everyday tasks, from Web browsing to media creation and manipulation to gaming. Some Ultrabooks also have touch-screen technology to further enhance the user experience.

We tested an Ultrabook prototype in a variety of test areas: system performance, system responsiveness, graphics and gaming performance, general benchmark performance, battery life, Web browsing performance, and encryption performance.

If your laptop is more than a couple of years old, updating your system will give you a significantly better experience today. We compared the performance of an Ultrabook prototype with an Intel Core i7-3667U processor and Intel HD Graphics 4000 running Microsoft Windows® 8, to that of a commercially available 2010 laptop with an Intel Core i7-620M processor, NVIDIA® NVS 3100 graphics, 4 GB of memory, and a 7,200-RPM SATA hard drive running Windows 7. 

In every test, the Ultrabook prototype outperformed the 2010 laptop system. Figure 1 summarizes the most dramatic performance increases the Ultrabook achieved. Continue reading for an in-depth look at our complete set of test results.

  Ultrabook
prototype
2010
laptop
Percentage
difference
Boot time (secs) 11.90 47.09 74.7%
Hibernate time (sec) 3.60 18.05 80.1%
Launching Microsoft PowerPoint® (secs) 1.28 3.02 57.6%
Graphics - 3DMark® Score 3,280 1,197 174.0%
Performance – PCMark® Score 4,295 1,994 115.4%
Battery Life score (hh:mm) 4:50 3:10 52.6%
Dromaeo JavaScript (runs/sec) 485.13 292.16 66.0%
Time to encrypt the HDD (mm:ss) 20:18 51:03 60.2%
Figure 1: Selected test results for the Ultrabook prototype and 2010 laptop.

system performance

No one likes waiting for a laptop to boot, resume from sleep, or shut down. Older systems use older technologies, and may not provide the system performance that a new laptop can provide.

We hand-timed both the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop booting, shutting down, sleeping, hibernating, and resuming from hibernate or sleep. In every instance, the Ultrabook prototype was dramatically faster. It took only 11.9 seconds to boot while the older laptop took 47 seconds. Figure 2 compares the times, in seconds, the systems needed to complete these basic, everyday tasks.

 

Figure 2: System performance time comparison for the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop we tested.

Figure 3 details the median results of our system performance tests. The Ultrabook prototype was quicker than the 2010 laptop in every area we tested, including hibernating 80.1 percent faster.

  Ultrabook prototype(seconds) 2010 laptop(seconds) Percentage
difference
Boot time 11.90 47.09 74.7%
Shutdown time 3.92 9.89 60.4%
Hibernate time 3.60 18.05 80.1%
Resume from hibernate time 9.82 26.98 63.6%
Sleep time 3.34 4.47 25.3%
Resume from sleep time 1.46  3.32 56.0%
Figure 3: Median times, in seconds, for the system performance tests. Lower times are better.

System responsiveness

It isn’t only booting and shutting down your laptop that can keep you waiting. When you open applications multiple times a day, lagging performance can leave you frustrated.

We tested the responsiveness of both systems launching common applications including Microsoft Office applications (Word®, Excel®, and PowerPoint®). As in our system performance tests, the Ultrabook prototype left the 2010 laptop in the dust, reducing the time to launch applications by as much as 57.6 percent. Figure 4 compares the application launch times for the two systems.

 

Figure 4: Application launch times for the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop we tested.

As our tests show, moving from your older laptop to a new Ultrabook can also speed up even more specialized tasks such as photo and video editing. We tested the responsiveness of the systems when launching photo and video projects and converting those projects to a different file type in Adobe® Photoshop® Elements and Adobe Premiere® Elements, and found that the Ultrabook prototype outperformed the 2010 laptop, reducing the time for common tasks by as much as 55.5 percent. Figure 5 compares the time it took the systems to complete common photo and video editing tasks.

 

Figure 5: Photo and video editing application task times for the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop we tested.

Figure 6 details the median results of our system responsiveness tests. The Ultrabook prototype was quicker than the 2010 laptop in every area we tested, including being up to 57.6 percent faster when launching Microsoft PowerPoint.

  Ultrabook prototype(mm:ss) 2010 laptop(mm:ss) Percentage
difference
Application launch times
Microsoft Word 00:01.09 00:02.21 50.7%
Microsoft Excel 00:01.10 00:02.34 53.0%
Microsoft PowerPoint 00:01.28 00:03.02 57.6%
Adobe Photoshop Elements tasks
Project launch time 00:09.65 00:21.68 55.5%
Convert project to JPEG 01:34.42 01:48.51 13.0%
Adobe Premiere Elements tasks
Project launch time 00:09.20 00:13.03 29.4%
Convert project to MPEG-2 02:33.62 03:15.40 21.4%
Figure 6: Median times, in minutes:seconds, for the system responsiveness tests. Lower times are better.

Graphics performance

You might not play games with complex graphics yourself, but knowing that a system can handle the most demanding graphics with ease lets you know it will likely meet your overall performance needs as well. Despite its sleek profile, the new Ultrabook with its integrated graphics card can deliver outstanding graphics and gaming experiences. In our tests, it outperformed the 2010 system, which contained an NVIDIA NVS 3100 discrete graphics card solution.

First, we examined the graphics performance of the two systems using two benchmarks, UNIGINE Heaven DX 11 and the industry-standard 3DMark Vantage 1.1.0. On these benchmarks, the Ultrabook prototype outperformed the 2010 laptop by up to 174.0 percent, delivering 2.75 times the graphics performance. Figures 7 through 9 present the graphics performance scores that the systems achieved on the two benchmarks.

 

Figure 7: 3DMark graphics performance benchmark results for the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop we tested.

 

Figure 8: UNIGINE Heaven DX 11 graphics performance benchmark results for the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop we tested.
Graphics performance benchmarks
  Ultrabook
prototype
2010
laptop
Percentage
difference
3DMark Vantage 1.1.0
3DMark Score 3,280 1,197 174.0%
Graphics Score 2,681 933 187.4%
CPU Score 9,933 7,951 24.9%
UNIGINE Heaven DX 11
Score 309 165 87.3%
Average FPS 12.3 6.6 86.4%
Min FPS 8.2 3.9 110.3%
Max FPS 23.4 12.5 87.2%
Figure 9: Median graphics performance benchmark results for the two systems. Higher numbers are better.

To better compare the graphical experience the systems provided, we then ran a number of common games on the system and used counters (either internal to the game or external) to determine the average frames per second (FPS) the systems delivered during gameplay. The more frames per second that a system processes, the smoother the gaming experience. The Ultrabook improved average FPS over the 2010 laptop on all the games we tested - ranging from 33.0 percent improvement on Diablo III performance to a whopping 71.1 percent improvement on Total War Shogun 2. Figure 10 compares the average FPS for common video games on the two systems.

 

Figure 10: Graphics performance for common games, in average FPS, for the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop we tested.

Figure 11 details the average FPS results of the systems running the games we tested.

Graphics performance – Average FPS of common video games
  Ultrabook prototype 2010
laptop
Percentage
difference
Diablo III (Diablo III Old Tristram using FRAPS - 60 seconds) 43.9 33.0 33.0%
Total War Shogun 2 (Games Settings benchmark) 34.4 20.1 71.1%
Civilization V (Leader Benchmark) 23.35 17.09 36.6%
Figure 11: Average frames per second (FPS) while running each game. Higher numbers are better.

Benchmark performance

It’s important that your laptop be up to the task of handling today’s media, so that you can organize your music, produce videos, and create photos. To see how the Ultrabook fared against the 2010 laptop in general performance including media creation, we ran two industry-standard benchmarks: HDXPRT 2012, which evaluates the capabilities of PCs in common consumer digital media uses, and PCMark 7, which evaluates the full range of system performance.

Figure 12 compares the overall HDXPRT Create HD Score for the two systems. The Ultrabook prototype achieved a 92.6 percent higher score than the 2010 laptop, indicating it was better able to meet a number of media creation and manipulation demands.

 

Figure 12: HDXPRT 2012 Create HD Scores for the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop we tested.

Figure 13 details the performance results for the two systems on the HDXPRT 2012 benchmark.

HDXPRT 2012 performance
  Ultrabook prototype 2010
laptop
Percentage difference
Create HD Score (higher is better) 208 108 92.6%
Media Organizer - minutes (lower is better) 4.19 6.73 37.7%
Media Creator - minutes (lower is better) 11.60 17.76 34.7%
Photo Blogger - minutes (lower is better) 7.17 10.15 29.4%
Video Producer – minutes (lower is better) 2.10 12.58 83.3%
Music Maker - minutes (lower is better) 2.58 3.24 20.4%
Figure 13: HDXPRT 2012 performance scores for the two systems. A higher overall Create HD Score is better, but lower category scores are better.

Figure 14 compares the PCMark 7 performance scores of the two systems. The Ultrabook prototype achieved higher PCMark7 scores than the 2010 laptop in every category, for a combined 115.4 percent PCMark 7 score improvement - over twice the performance.

 

Figure 14: PCMark 7 scores for the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop we tested.

Figure 15 details the performance results for the two systems on the PCMark 7 benchmark.

PCMark 7 performance
  Ultrabook
prototype
2010
laptop
Percentage
difference
PCMark Score 4,295 1,994 115.4%
Lightweight Score 3,548 1,911 85.7%
Productivity Score 2,589 1,504 72.1%
Creativity Score 6,935 2,381 191.3%
Entertainment Score 2,951 1,722 71.4%
Computation Score 6,415 2,618 145.0%
System Storage Score 5,294 1,640 222.8%
Figure 15: PCMark 7 benchmark scores for the two systems. Higher numbers are better.

Battery life

Two of the major attractions of a laptop are maximum portability and flexibility, so why hold on to a system that tethers you to an electrical outlet? The Ultrabook can provide long battery life to keep you moving while handling your demanding workloads.

We used the BAPCo® MobileMark® 2012 benchmark to evaluate battery life during normal use and a 1080p custom video playback test, where the systems ran a video on loop until the battery expired, to test battery life when watching HD movies. Figure 16 compares the battery life scores of the systems. The Ultrabook prototype lasted up to 1 hour 40 minutes longer than the 2010 laptop during the MobileMark 2012 test.

 

Figure 16: Battery life times for the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop we tested.

Figure 17 presents the battery life performance results for the systems in detail.

Battery life performance
  Ultrabook
prototype
2010
laptop
Percentage
difference
MobileMark 2012
Performance Qualification score 136 118 15.3%
Battery Life score (mm) 290 190 52.6%
Battery Life score (hh:mm) 4:50 3:10 52.6%
1080p Video Playback test
Battery Life score (mm) 243 186 30.6%
Battery Life score (hh:mm) 4:03 3:06 30.6%
Screen brightness (nits) 156 152 NA
Figure 17: Detailed battery life results for the two systems.

Web browsing performance

Today’s Web is an astoundingly interactive environment. Thus, systems with more power to handle JavaScript and HTML5 make for a better Web browsing experience.

Figure 18 details the Web browsing performance results for the two systems. The Ultrabook prototype delivered 66.0 percent more runs per second than the 2010 laptop on the Dromaeo JavaScript benchmark and reduced latency by up to 45.4 percent on SunSpider JavaScript tests.

Web browsing performance
  Ultrabook
prototype
2010
laptop
Percentage
difference
Dromaeo JavaScript (higher is better) 485.13 runs/s 292.16 runs/s 66.0%
SunSpider JavaScript (lower is better) 111.0 ms 203.4 ms 45.4%
GUIMark 2 HTML5 (higher is better)
Vector Charting Test - FPS 26 21 23.8%
Bitmap Gaming Test - FPS 60 59 1.7%
Figure 18: Web browsing performance results for the two systems.

Encryption time

While the portability of laptops is an enormous plus, it also opens up the possibility of loss or theft. Encrypting your hard drive is an effective way to keep your personal data safe. New technologies have made encryption on the Ultrabook faster than ever.

We encrypted the hard drives of both systems using BitLocker®, and found that encrypting the disk on the Ultrabook prototype was 2.5 times faster, or took 60.2 percent less time than encrypting the 2010 laptop. Figure 19 compares the full disk encryption times on the systems. Note: For this test, we resized the 2010 laptop’s hard drive to 180GB in order to match the Ultrabook prototype’s 180GB HDD size.

 

Figure 19: Full disk encryption times for the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop we tested.

Once a hard disk is encrypted, new files that are stored on the hard drive must also be encrypted to continue protecting all data. We ran another set of responsiveness tests, this time with encrypted disks, to compare the encryption performance of the systems as the user experiences it day to day. Again, the Ultrabook prototype outperformed the 2010 laptop, this time by 54.1 percent when launching a project in Adobe Photoshop Elements with an encrypted disk. Figure 20 compares the times it took the systems to complete system responsiveness tasks with encrypted disks.

 

Figure 20: System responsiveness times for tasks with an encrypted disk for the Ultrabook prototype and the 2010 laptop we tested.

Figure 21 presents the results of our full disk encryption and system responsiveness with encrypted disks tests.

Encryption times
  Ultrabook
prototype
2010
laptop
Percentage
difference
Time to encrypt the HDD (mm:ss) 20:18.00 51:03.00 60.2%
Adobe Photoshop Elements tasks
Project launch time (mm:ss) 00:10.60 00:23.09 54.1%
Convert project to JPEG (mm:ss) 01:34.65 01:47.30 11.8%
Adobe Premiere Elements tasks
Project launch time (mm:ss) 00:10.09 00:12.67 20.4%
Convert project to MPEG-2 (mm:ss) 02:33.77 03:18.03 22.4%
Figure 21: Detailed encryption test results for the two systems.

the benchmarks we used 

In this section, we present a brief overview of the benchmarks we used in our testing. 

BAPCo MobileMark 2012

MobileMark 2012 is an industry-standard benchmark that provides a battery life rating and a performance rating based on common office scenarios. In our tests, we focus solely on the battery life rating. MobileMark 2012 uses applications and workloads specific to mobile systems. These include office activities like file and document management, data processing, and rich content creation. This module provides a score for battery life of the tested applications.

MobileMark 2012 includes the following applications with their corresponding tasks:

  • ABBYY® FineReader Pro 11
  • Adobe Acrobat® Pro X
  • Adobe Flash® Player 11
  • Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended 12.04
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 10
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5
  • CyberLink PowerDVD Ultra 11
  • Microsoft Excel 2010 SP1
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer® 9
  • Microsoft Outlook® 2010 SP1
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 SP1
  • Microsoft Windows Media Player
  • Microsoft Word 2010 SP1
  • Mozilla® Firefox® 10.0.2
  • WinZip® Pro 16

MobileMark 2012 measures system battery life in minutes. It records system battery life at the start of the benchmark and repeats the workload until the system battery life is depleted, or until the system powers down due to low battery life.

MobileMark 2012 records a timestamp once per minute. At the end of the benchmark, it compares the beginning timestamp to the final (last recorded) timestamp. MobileMark 2012 derives its system battery life rating as the number of minutes between the start and end timestamps.

For more information on this benchmark, see http://www.bapco.com/products/mobilemark2012/index.php.

Futuremark® 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage is a benchmark designed to rate the performance of DirectX® 10 gaming PCs. It includes two graphics tests, two CPU tests, and six feature tests. The benchmark reports both graphics and CPU scores, as well as an overall 3DMark score to rate overall gaming performance.

For more information on 3DMark Vantage, see http://www.3dmark.com/3dmarkvantage/.

Futuremark PCMark 7

Futuremark PCMark 7 is an industry-standard benchmark designed to test the performance of Windows 7 PCs. It uses over 25 workloads to test storage, computation, image and video manipulation, Web browsing, and gaming. PCMark 7 reports the following scores: Lightweight, Productivity, Creativity, Entertainment, Computation, and System Storage, and uses these scores to create an overall PCMark Score.

For more information on PCMark 7, see http://www.pcmark.com/benchmarks/index.html.

HDXPRT 2012

The High Definition eXperience & Performance Ratings Test (HDXPRT) 2012, is a benchmark that evaluates the capabilities of PCs in consumer digital media uses, including

  • Media Organizer
  • Media Creator
  • Photo Blogger
  • Video Producer
  • Music Maker

For more information on HDXPRT 2012, see www.hdxprt.com.

UNIGINE Heaven DX 11

Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced UNIGINE™ engine. According to the UNIGINE Web site, it “reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.”

For more information on UNIGINE Heaven DX 11, see http://unigine.com/products/heaven/.

In conclusion

In our tests, an Ultrabook prototype improved performance dramatically over a 2010 laptop system in every area we tested. The Ultrabook prototype reduced boot time by 74.7 percent, launched common applications up to 57.6 percent faster, provided up to 2.75 times the graphics performance, increased battery life by up to 52.6 percent, and encrypted a hard disk 2.5 times faster than the 2010 laptop we tested. It also provided a responsive touch-screen interface.

The benefits of replacing your older laptop with a new Ultrabook are clear: you can get more performance and a better experience out of a sleeker, more easily portable Ultrabook system.

License

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

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