A New Breed of Laptops: The Intel Core 2 Duos

By Cisco Cheng  |  Print this article Print

Review: The new Intel Core 2 Duos, code-named Merom, promise to be the fastest laptops money can buy. Here, PCMag.com rounds up six.

If you're a student planning to take a new laptop back to school with you this fall, you've probably bought it already. But for those of you who've held out until now, a whole new breed of laptops is starting to ship. This year, there's a new kid in town—and by new kid, I mean a processor transplant that will affect just about every notebook. The new Intel Core 2 Duos (code-named Merom) are just starting their freshman year, but they're promising the fastest laptops money can buy.

The mobile Intel Core 2 Duo processors are simply more powerful than their predecessor, the Intel Core Duo (code-named Yonah). Complete with a new Core Microarchitecture, Merom represents a total redesign of the original.

The Core 2 Duos come with a larger Level 2 cache (up to 4MB), 64-bit support, shorter pipelines (which means more speed), and improved SSE instructions, pushing performance to the brink. Intel will begin to ship five processor offerings in all, ranging from a 1.6GHz mobile Intel Core 2 DuoT5500 to the fastest, a 2.33GHz mobile Intel Core 2 Duo T7600.

The processor is the only significant change with Intel's launch Aug. 28. As far as Intel-based laptops are concerned, they are still married to the Intel 945GM chip set, the 3945AG wireless chip set, and the long-in-the-tooth 667MHz front-side bus.

You won't see improved battery life, considering the higher-clocking processors actually consume more power (34W) compared with the mobile Intel Core Duos (31W). Still, battery life is still a factor of how big your battery is and how fast the components run.

In my lab tests, I saw the biggest improvements in media-related tasks, specifically when encoding audio and video. You'll notice significant gains with media-related applications like Adobe Photoshop (v.7.01), Premiere (v.6.5) and After Effects (v.5.5). Other applications like Adobe Dreamweaver and Flash were also factored into the results. I also witnessed significant improvements in games such as Doom 3 and Splinter Cell running at 1024-by-768 resolution.

Read the full story on PCMag.com: Big Laptop on Campus

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Cisco Cheng is PC Magazine's lead analyst for laptops and tablet PCs. He is responsible for benchmarking, reviewing, and evaluating all laptops and tablet PCs. Cisco started with PC Magazine in 1999 as a support technician, testing printers, PC components, networking equipment, and software. He became the lead analyst for the laptop team in 2003 and since has written numerous reviews, buyer guides, and feature stories for both PCMag.com and the print magazine.

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