Anatomy of Utrabooks (Part 1) - Users’ Guildance: How we test

4/4/2012 5:34:39 PM

Anatomy of Utrabooks (Part 1)


Description: Anatomy of Utrabooks

It is easy to accept the development of the technology, but the existence of UX31 of Asus proves that, it always requires a significant effort in cramming all necessary parts into a thin and elegant cover.

1. Battery

The process of cramming a battery into the millimeter-thick cover is not a piece of cake at all, unless lithium ion polymer is used. Lighter and more dynamic than hard lithium ion battery, these thin batteries fit perfectly in the most cramped space.

2. Wireless chipset

With the fact that many Ultrabook leave the Ethernet port out, wireless chipset becomes one of the most important. Several models cut down the cost with one frequent chipset, but it later became a big mistake – 802.11n two frequencies are necessary requirement for high-speed wireless network.

3. PCH (platform controller hub)

Intel has eliminated the bottleneck jams of Northbridge and old Southbridge. Being designed for faster connection process between CPU and the motherboard, PCH supplies a high speed connection for either graphics or general data transfer. 

4. RAM

If you hold out little hope of RAM upgrading, please think it over again. With such small space left for a normal motherboard, or even big-sized hard drive, the manufacturers came up with a compromise to embed the RAM directly on the motherboard. Please never ever think of buying any product if it is less than 4GB.

5. CPU

With the fact that Ultrabooks equipped with Intel low voltage CPU Core i5 or i7, it is no longer lack of efficiency. Integrated graphics allow the modest game playing and the battery using time is nearly 9 hours and Ivy Bridge is about to break that record.

6. SSD

The hard drive existence means no space for other things; therefore, the manufacturers agreed in using SSD modules (as picture below) or small SSD mSATA (such as Dell XPS 13). They packed hundreds of high speed storage of gigabyte into small area, perfectly fitted for Ultrabook. 

7. Cooling fan

Meanwhile Intel low voltage CPU run coolly, inside Ultrabook there is not much space for it to breathe. Some of the heat emits within the frame, but pipes are necessary in giving off the heat out of the CPU and PCH, which is supported by a small cooling fan.

8. Speaker

Laptops are not famous for its sound quality – after all, this means the great speaker along with powerful amplifier – but Ultrabooks make miracles by combining the small drivers with the digital sound processing algorithm to create the various abundance of sound far beyond your expectation.

Users’ Guildance: How we test

Ultrabook is the Intel future vision for the mobile computing. Ultra light, thin, sturdy but powerful and many features, this new laptop line is partly ultraportable, partly the desktop replacement products and the desire for it is definitely 100%.  

Getting a position in these premium categories is not as common as dirt. The manufactures were requested to cram the powerful processor (Intel), SSD and long battery life into the 21-millimeter thick laptops. And that’s not enough, they had to accomplish this with the cheap prices for the intention of attracting the attention of the majority customers meant the first Ultrabooks in Austria with the price from $1,055 to $2,799.

But till now, they have one thing in common: they are gorgeous. The optical drive omission and frame shaping into the tiny strip do well with the laptop appearance, and even the laptop in the poorest condition will look slender. However, they are not the same; therefore, please look it over and over before making decisions to buy it.   

With the Intel low voltage Core processor in this new laptop line, you may expect the poor performance. However, it is absolutely wrong. The standard technical specifications for Ultrabook are low voltage Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor, 4GB memory and 128GB SSD drive – a perfect combination for powerful performance. Some manufacturers like Acer made some low-price models with Core i3 processor and smaller SSD physical drive, and they are worth to be considered if your budget is exiguous. 

But not all SSDs are made completely the same: some are faster than others. With a faster SSD drive, it doesn’t allow your applications to run faster, of course it helps them to load much faster. If you are about to work with video clips or huge music projects, the fastest SSD can make you feel their valuable presence. 

All of them, except one model here, are based on the 13.3” frame, due to the reason that there are plenty space for ergonomic keyboard and touchpad: it is unacceptable for any smaller ones. More upcoming Ultrabook imitates the mirror touchpad of MacBook Air and absolutely clears out all physical buttons. 

Actually, the one and only criticism of this current product line is trying to stuff one device into a high resolution display screen. While we can understand the manufacture combination between an 11.6” screen with the resolution of 1,366x768 pixels (any higher one all results in annoyingly small text display), and there is no excuse for the bigger models. Zenbook UX31 of Asus is against the trend by choosing the 1,600x900 display screen and it is a good choice for it. We hope that other manufactures will soon follow that. 

The last obstacle is the connecting ability. Most of Ultrabooks are equipped with at lest USB3 – the most essential one for high speed connection – but rarely have the video output port and Ethernet port, even some of the models saving the budget by choosing IEEE 802.11n.

How we benchmark

All 7 laptops run our benchmarking application package - Real World Benchmarks, which measured the overall computer performance of each laptop. We carried on 3 Crysis tests – one by one with a fiercer setting to have an exactly gaming performance evaluation for each one. 

Battery life

In order to come to a conclusion about the accurate number about the battery life, 2 tests are taken place. In the light-duty test, we optimized all system settings to have the most efficient energy using – energy profile of Windows was set up in Power Saver mode; besides, the screen brightness was adjusted as close to 75cd/m2 as possible with an X-Rite i1Display 2 color calibrator. Then, we unplugged the wire and run a batch file passing by plenty of websites until the system shutting down.  

As for the heavy-duty test, we switched the energy profile of Windows into High Performance and set the screen brightness into maximum. Then, again we unplugged the wire, run 3D rendering of Cinebench continuously repeatedly into running out of battery. With Cinebench 11.5 – the benchmarking software booting CPU performance into 100%, this test provided the data in the worst circumstance that you could ever expect in the fiercest condition.

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