By now, chances are you’ve perused our review of Intel’s Sandy Bridge desktop processors and drawn your own conclusions about this new processor family. Conclusions like “wow, these are fast” and quite possibly “I want one.” Or perhaps “I don’t see what the big deal is,” assuming you’ve just upgraded to a previous-generation CPU and are trying to suppress your buyer’s remorse. Point is, this fresh batch of CPUs has set the high-water mark for what quad-core microprocessors can accomplish. Intel has hit another home run.
There is another side to Sandy Bridge we didn’t address in our original review, though. As Intel was rolling out the desktop processors we reviewed, it also introduced a whole family of quad- and dual-core mobile Sandy Bridge variants. We covered these mobile parts in the news earlier this month. The gist is that a handful of mobile quad-core Sandy Bridge CPUs are available now, and dual-core derivatives, both standard- and low-voltage, will follow next month.
As it happens, Intel has sent us a big honking behemoth of a notebook packing the Core i7-2820QM, its second-fastest mobile quad-core Sandy Bridge processor. This mobile chip features four cores, eight threads, a 2.3GHz base clock speed, a 3.4GHz maximum Turbo Boost speed, Intel HD Graphics 3000, and a 45W thermal envelope. It ain’t cheap (Intel quotes a $568 bulk asking price), but for folks seeking the latest and greatest in desktop-replacement notebooks, this is almost as good as it gets—at least in theory.
Over the next few pages, we’ll put this 17″ monster through our laptop testing suite in order to figure out just how quick this mobile incarnation of Sandy Bridge really is. We’ll also seek answers to more philosophical questions, like whether this year’s desktop replacement notebooks will still force users to deal with high heat output and low battery life. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the answers may surprise you—in a good way.
By the way, If you haven’t followed our prior Sandy Bridge coverage, I strongly recommend brushing up before getting to this piece. We won’t reiterate architectural details or discuss the mobile Sandy Bridge lineup, since we already did so in our desktop review and news coverage, respectively.
Intel’s Core i7-2820QM 17″ review notebook
At this point, some bona-fide desktop-replacement-class laptops based on Sandy Bridge have made it into the market. However, Intel sent us a test system that, as far as we can tell, doesn’t actually correspond to any shipping product. It was built by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Compal, contains a Core i7-2820QM running atop an Intel NAR00 LA-6211P notebook motherboard, and looks an awful lot like some of Gateway’s current offerings, albeit with a few little differences.
Where you might expect a Gateway logo at the back, there’s only a white sticker with “Intel” printed on it in black sans-serif type. Also, the left side of the chassis doesn’t play host to a fan exhaust. Funnily enough, however, a shiny Gateway logo is prominently displayed on the touchpad button. That button was covered by a white sticker, too, but I assumed the sticker was meant to come off there. Oops!
Maybe we’ll see Gateway introduce a similar laptop eventually, or maybe not. Right now, though, think of this machine as an Intel review system designed to give us a feel for how Sandy Bridge-powered desktop replacements will look, feel, and perform. There really isn’t a whole lot more to it.
Now that we’ve broken the ice, here’s a closer look at what this 17″ behemoth is packing. Intel actually shipped it to us with one of its 160GB X25-M solid-state drives, which we had to install in a mounting bracket and slip into the chassis ourselves. Considering the presence of a high-end CPU and a Blu-ray drive on top of that, this would be a relatively high-end offering if it were selling in stores:
|Processor||Intel Core-i7 2820QM 2.3GHz|
|Memory||4GB DDR3-1600 (2 DIMMs)|
|Chipset||Intel HM67 Express|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 3000|
|Display||17″ TFT with 1600×900 resolution|
|Storage||Intel X25-M G2 160GB solid-state drive
Hitachi-LG CT21N Blu-ray combo drive
|Audio||Stereo HD audio via Conexant CX2059x codec|
|Ports||1 USB 3.0
3 USB 2.0
1 eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port
1 RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet via Atheros AR8151 controller
1 analog headphone output
1 analog microphone input
|Communications||802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi via Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1030|
|Input devices||Keyboard with numpad
|Dimensions||16.2″ x 11.1″ x 1.3-1.7″ (412 x 281 x 33-42 mm)|
|Weight||7.1 lbs (3.22 kg) with battery|
|Battery||Li-ion 4800 mAh, 71 Wh|
A couple of interesting things to note: there are no discrete graphics, so this is more of a mobile workstation than a gaming notebook, and the battery is relatively beefy at 71 Wh. The battery in the last mobile test platform Intel sent us was a paltry 42Wh, and it only kept the system running for less than an hour of web browsing. With a 71-Wh battery, one would hope this machine will stay up for at least a couple hours, if not more. We’ll test that in a bit.
By the way, forgive the relative terseness of the table above. Since we had neither an official product sheet nor much pre-installed software and drivers beyond what’s necessary for the Intel gear to run, trying to find out details about, say, the system’s touchpad was an exercise in futility. Again, though, you’re highly unlikely to find this particular machine in stores, so such specifics don’t matter very much.
What really matters is how the components above perform and how the whole system feels. We’re going to explore the hardware a little more over the next couple of pages, then we’ll get into the hard numbers. Sound good? Okay, keep your seatbelts on.
The display and the controls
Intel’s Sandy Bridge review notebook comes with an eminently decent display, which has a 1600×900 resolution and exhibits a proper amount of luminosity. If I were ponying up a grand or two for a chunky desktop replacement myself, I’d probably spring for a 1080p panel. 1.4 megapixels is already plenty, though. Besides, since there’s no discrete graphics chip in this particular machine, the Sandy Bridge IGP should have an easier time cranking out playable frame rates at a lower native resolution.
Looking down, the keyboard delivers pretty much what you’d expect from a large desktop replacement notebook. There’s a numeric keypad, and as you can see in the table below, the keys are large enough to match those of our reference full-sized keyboard almost exactly. The whole thing feels pretty comfortable to use, with nice tactile feedback and minimal flex.
|Total keyboard area||Alpha keys|
|Size||280 mm||110 mm||30,800 mm²||170 mm||57 mm||9,690 mm²|
|Versus full size||98%||100%||98%||99%||100%||99%|
The touchpad didn’t have any surprises in store, either. Well, except for the fact that, without any drivers on the image Intel provided us, multi-touch gestures weren’t recognized. Too bad. You wouldn’t run into that problem with a retail system, of course.
Connectivity and expansion
As you’d expect from a desktop replacement laptop, this system is relatively well-endowed in terms of connectivity. The left side plays host to Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, USB/eSATA, audio, and USB ports, not to mention a card reader.
The right side houses an additional two USB ports and a slim Blu-ray drive. Note the power button sitting near the hinge, too:
Flip the system over, and you might be surprised to find few fan exhausts. Indeed, the only lateral exhaust is at the rear, and there aren’t a whole lot of intakes on the underside:
Pop off the various panels, and you get something that looks a little like the picture above. Here, we can see the 2.5″ drive tray, the RAM, the heat pipe connected to the CPU and chipset, and the 71 Wh battery, which is completely dwarfed by the rest of the system.
Believe it or not, I could only see a single fan cooling this machine. From what I could tell during my unsuccessful attempt to disassemble the system further, the heatsink involved isn’t very beefy, either. Clearly, in 2011, having a state-of-the-art mobile CPU doesn’t mean needing to lug around several pounds of copper and aluminum to cool the darn thing. We’ll get to the thermal implications of all this soon enough, but first, let’s get our benchmarking on!
Our testing methods
We took this Sandy Bridge review notebook through not just our mobile test suite, but also a handful of additional benchmarks in order to compare it to the chips from our desktop Sandy Bridge review. We’ll do the desktop comparison first, then we’ll get into the traditional mobile suite. The Intel notebook was tested using the Balanced power profile throughout. We made extra-sure the profile wasn’t configured to limit the CPU clock speed.
What about our other guinea pigs? You can check out test notes and testing methods about the desktop comparison here. As for the mobile contenders, the N82Jv, U33Jc, Eee PC 1015PN, and T235D were all tested using special “battery-saving” profiles, and the N82Jv, U33Jc, and 1015PN were run in “high-performance” mode, too. With the N82Jv, we recorded our battery-saving results with Asus’ Super Hybrid Engine on, which dropped the CPU clock speed from 2.4GHz to 0.9-1GHz depending on the load. The U33Jc also has a Super Hybrid Engine mode, but we didn’t enable it for testing. On the U33Jc, the high-performance profile included by Asus raises the maximum CPU clock speed from 2.4 to 2.57GHz. On the N82Jv, the same profile leaves the CPU running at default speeds, i.e. up to 2.66GHz when Turbo Boost kicks in. Finally, with the Eee PC, the low-power profile limited the CPU to about 1GHz and disabled the Nvidia GPU, while the high-performance profile raised the CPU speed by a whole 25MHz.
We’ve also included some numbers from an AMD Zacate test system, which should correspond to new offerings with AMD’s E-350 APU. This is hardly a competitor to Sandy Bridge, since AMD targets it at very cheap and low-power laptops and netbooks, but it does complete the picture we’ve painted of the current ultraportable landscape.
With the exception of battery life, all tests were run at least three times, and we reported the median of those runs.
|System||AMD Zacate test system||Acer Aspire 1810TZ||Acer Aspire 1830TZ||Asus Eee PC 1015PN||Asus N82Jv||Asus U33Jc||Intel Core i7-2820QM 17″ review notebook||Toshiba Satellite T235D-S1435||Zotac Zbox HD-ND22|
|Processor||AMD Zacate engineering sample 1.6GHz||Intel Pentium SU4100 1.3GHz||Intel Pentium U5400 1.2GHz||Intel Atom N550 1.5GHz||Intel Core i5-450M 2.4GHz||Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz||Intel Core i7-2820QM 2.3GHz||AMD Turion II Neo K625 1.5GHz||Intel Celeron SU2300 1.2GHz|
|North bridge||AMD Hudson FCH||Intel GS45 Express||Intel HM55 Express||Intel NM10||Intel HM55 Express||Intel HM55 Express||Intel HM67 Express||AMD M880G||Nvidia Ion|
|South bridge||Intel ICH9||AMD SB820|
|Memory size||4GB (2 DIMMs)||3GB (2 DIMMs)||3GB (2 DIMMs)||1GB (1 DIMM)||4GB (2 DIMMs)||4GB (2 DIMMs)||4GB (2 DIMMs)||4GB (2 DIMMs)||4GB (2 DIMMs)|
|Memory type||DDR3 SDRAM||DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz||DDR3 SDRAM at 800MHz||DDR3 SDRAM at 667MHz||DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz||DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz||DDR3 SDRAM at 1600MHz||DDR3 SDRAM at 800MHz||DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz|
|Audio||IDT codec||Realtek codec with 220.127.116.119 drivers||Realtek codec with 18.104.22.16843 drivers||Realtek codec with 22.214.171.12486 drivers||Realtek codec with 126.96.36.19924 drivers||Realtek codec with 188.8.131.5229 drivers||Conexant codec with 184.108.40.206 drivers||Realtek codec with 220.127.116.1172 drivers||Realtek codec with 18.104.22.16845 drivers|
|Graphics||AMD Radeon HD 6310||Intel GMA 4500MHD with 22.214.171.1242 drivers||Intel HD Graphics with 126.96.36.1997 drivers||Intel GMA 3150 with 188.8.131.527 drivers
Nvidia Ion with 184.108.40.20612 drivers
|Intel HD Graphics with 220.127.116.119 drivers
Nvidia GeForce 335M with 18.104.22.16896 drivers
|Intel HD Graphics with 22.214.171.1249 drivers
Nvidia GeForce 310M with 126.96.36.19921 drivers
|Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 188.8.131.526 drivers||AMD Mobility Radeon HD 4225 with 8.723.2.1000 drivers||Nvidia Ion with 184.108.40.20699 drivers|
|Hard drive||Crucial RealSSD C300 128GB||Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB 5,400-RPM||Toshiba MK3265GSX 320GB 5,400 RPM||Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB 5,400-RPM||Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB 7,200-RPM||Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500GB 5,400-RPM||Intel X25-M G2 160GB solid-state drive||Toshiba MK3265GSX 320GB 5,400 RPM||Western Digital Scorpio Black 500GB 5,400 RPM|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Professional x64||Windows 7 Home Premium x64||Windows 7 Home Premium x64||Windows 7 Starter x86||Windows 7 Home Premium x64||Windows 7 Home Premium x64||Windows 7 Ultimate x64||Windows 7 Home Premium x64||Windows 7 Home Premium x64|
We used the following versions of our test applications:
- Firefox 3.6.9
- Adobe Flash 10.1.82.76
- x264 HD Benchmark 3.19
- 7-Zip 4.65 x64
- TrueCrypt 7.0a
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 1.7
- Far Cry 2 1.03
- CPU-Z 1.56
All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.
Desktop versus mobile
To keep things simple, we’ve tossed the numbers for the Intel review notebook into our charts from the desktop review. That way, you can see how the Core i7-2820QM compares to not just its desktop brethren, but also to distant cousins and not-quite-rivals from the AMD camp. Our new contender is highlighted in orange just like the desktop Sandy Bridge parts.
No big surprises here. The DDR3-1600 RAM in this laptop is clearly doing its job, as is the finely tuned memory controller common to the desktop and mobile incarnations of Intel’s new architecture.
Latency also appears to be roughly where it should be, although I must point out that we calculated the figure for this notebook CPU differently. With the desktop parts, we grabbed the latency number in cycles from CPU-Z and divided it by the peak Turbo clock speed to obtain nanoseconds. Using that formula with the Core i7-2820QM yielded a clearly skewed number, and after further investigation, we found that the latency test didn’t push the Core i7-2820QM beyond its base clock speed of 2.3GHz. So, we used that number as part of our equation instead of the peak Turbo speed of 3.4GHz.
What about application performance? Let’s start with 7-Zip’s built-in compression and decompression benchmarks:
Not bad. The Core i7-2820QM manages to outrun the Core i5-2500K, which has a much quicker base speed of 3.3GHz and a top Turbo Boost speed of 3.7GHz, albeit with no Hyper-Threading capabilities.
The mobile Core i7 falls behind the desktop i5-2500K in our x264 video encoding test, but not by much.
Ditto for The Panorama Factory, where the i7-2820QM shadows the 3.1GHz Core i5-2400.
I didn’t whip up a bar chart for this last test, but out of sheer curiosity, I ran Prime95 for five minutes on the Intel review notebook, hoping to see the extent to which the Core i7-2820QM was fulfilling its Turbo potential. I used Intel’s Turbo monitoring gadget for Windows 7 and kept an eye on the reported clock speed. Surprisingly, even with eight threads active across its four cores, the CPU settled in and ran at a sustained 2.6GHz, 300MHz above the CPU’s base speed. Higher frequencies are possible, of course, with fewer active threads, but even with a rather heavy multithreaded workload, this system keeps the CPU running well above its rated speed. The desktop Sandy Bridge CPUs and motherboards we’ve tested, by comparison, tend to limit the CPU clock to 100MHz beyond the base frequency when running the same test.
Obviously, the Core i7-2820QM performs admirably when running side-by-side with its desktop siblings. There’s no shadow of a doubt that this big, chunky notebook really is a proper desktop replacement. Now, how does it compare to the laptops we’ve reviewed in recent months? Let’s find out.
After what we saw on the previous page, this result may induce some head scratching. My guess is that the “high performance” profiles on the Asus N82Jv and U33Jc push the CPU clock speed rather aggressively, and the Sandy Bridge laptop wasn’t as zealous when running with Windows 7’s Balanced power profile—at least in this test.
We then ran 7-Zip’s built-in benchmark and jotted down the results for both compression and decompression.
Well good morning, sleepy head! After a slow start in SunSpider, the Sandy Bridge review notebook wakes up, trouncing the competition by quite a considerable margin in 7-Zip.
Next up: file encryption. Because who wants any two-bit thief to have access to his sensitive data? We ran TrueCrypt’s built-in benchmark and averaged the results for all of the different encryption schemes.
x264 video encoding
Last, but not least, we took our notebooks through the x264 high-definition video encoding benchmark.
So, yeah. While completely repeatable, those SunSpider results were pretty much a fluke. It looks like in any truly demanding workload, the Core i7-2820QM zooms past previous-generation offerings. Keep in mind the N82Jv and U33Jc were both packing dual-core CPUs, however, so this isn’t entirely a fair fight. These charts nevertheless show just how much extra oomph you’re likely to get from a quad-core Sandy Bridge notebook. That data is going to come in handy when we look at battery life numbers shortly—but before that, let’s run some games on this bad boy.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Infinity Ward’s first Modern Warfare title is growing somewhat long in the tooth, but it still has a strong following in multiplayer circles. More importantly, it’s a good representative of the type of game you might want to play on a notebook that lacks first-rate GPU horsepower: not too old, but not too new, either. We tested Call of Duty 4 by running a custom timedemo, first at 800×600 with the lowest detail options, then again at 1366×768 with everything cranked up except for v-sync, antialiasing, and anisotropic filtering, which were all left disabled. (With the Eee PC, we opted for the 1024×600 native resolution instead of 1366×768.)
Whoa. In Call of Duty 4, the Core i7-2820QM’s integrated graphics component manages to keep up with the discrete GeForce 310M GPU from our Asus U33Jc. Impressive stuff.
Far Cry 2
Ubisoft’s safari-themed shooter has much more demanding graphics than CoD4, so it should really make our notebooks sweat. We selected the “Action” scene from the game’s built-in benchmark and ran it in two configurations; first at 1366×768 in DirectX 10 mode with detail cranked up, then at that same resolution in DX9 mode with the lowest detail preset. Vsync and antialiasing were left disabled in both cases. (Again, the Eee PC was run at 1024×600, since that’s the highest resolution its display supports.)
Our observation for Call of Duty 4 also applies to Far Cry 2, more or less. Sandy Bridge’s IGP looks to be even quicker than the GeForce 310M at Far Cry 2‘s highest detail setting, but neither config really produces playable frame rates. I should point out that the Intel HD Graphics 3000 IGP didn’t produce any visual glitches or anomalies in either Far Cry 2 and Call of Duty 4, though. While not always known for their broad compatibility with real games, Intel’s graphics drivers did their job there.
Off the beaten path
Now that the scientific game testing is out of the way, let’s try to run a few other titles and get a feel for the kinds of settings this notebook lets us use. As with the scientific tests, we’ll be keeping an eye out for incompatibilities and graphical anomalies.
Borderlands started off our round of subjective testing. I was able to run this game at 1366×768 with frame rates in the 20-50 FPS range after disabling anisotropic filtering, dynamic shadows, ambient occlusion, bloom, depth of field, and flare outs. Foliage, textures, and game detail were all set to “high.” Even during combat, frame rates only rarely dipped below the neighborhood of 30 FPS—very playable and not at all an impediment to post-apocalyptic fragging. Chalk up another win for Intel’s HD Graphics 3000.
Next up was Just Cause 2, which didn’t fare quite as well. Compatibility and image quality were fine, but even with detail settings turned all the way down, frame rates dipped into the teens during combat and vehicle chases at 1366×768. The game was playable but not smooth or particularly enjoyable. This is a particularly demanding title, however, so we weren’t surprised by the lackluster performance.
Valve’s Left 4 Dead 2 was next, offering silky-smooth zombie killing and, unfortunately, our first brush with Intel IGP-related incompatibilities. This title seemed to crash with film grain enabled, and using “high” or “very high” shader detail messed up the rendering of some reflective textures (like the ones on the pistols). Still, with medium shader detail, high effects detail, high model and texture detail, and other settings turned down or disabled, I got around 40-75 FPS at 1600×900 in the first level of the Dead Center campaign.
I rounded off my subjective testing with the Mafia II demo. As you’ve probably guessed from the lack of a screenshot, this game refused to run altogether. Perhaps the full version would have worked better—I don’t know, and I didn’t have time to purchase and download it. I’ve seen that demo run just fine on various GPUs from AMD and Nvidia, though, so the Intel IGP must be at fault here.
In the end, out of six games, we’ve got one no-show, one instance of relatively minor graphical incompatibilities, and one game that just didn’t run very smoothly. That’s definitely not bad at all for Intel integrated graphics, but clearly, the blue team still needs to work on its drivers. If it does, we could soon end up with a new generation of latops, from low-end dual-core models to high-end quad-core designs like this one, that offer acceptable gaming performance out of the box without the need for discrete graphics. I really hope Intel follows through and doesn’t squander the potential of what’s clearly some capable integrated graphics hardware.
We tested video decoding performance by playing the Iron Man 2 trailer in a variety of formats. Windows Media Player was used in full-screen mode for the H.264 QuickTime clips, while Firefox was used for the windowed YouTube test. In each case, we used Windows 7’s Performance Monitor to record minimum and maximum CPU utilization for the duration of the trailer.
|Iron Man 2 H.264 480p||0-5.6%||Perfect|
|Iron Man 2 H.264 720p||0-5.2%||Perfect|
|Iron Man 2 H.264 1080p||0-4.3%||Perfect|
|Iron Man 2 YouTube 720p windowed||8.2-15.8%||Perfect|
You weren’t expecting a quad-core, eight-thread Sandy Bridge chip to somehow trip over itself and fail to play back high-definition video smoothly with low CPU utilization, were you? Heck, the CPU didn’t even have to work all that hard thanks to the video acceleration in the IGP.
We took our laptops through two battery life tests—but not before taking care to condition the battery by cycling it two times. For the web browsing test, we used TR Browserbench 1.0, which consists of a static version of the TR home page that cycles through different text content, Flash ads, and images, all the while refreshing every 45 seconds. Then, we tested video playback in Windows Media Player by looping an episode of CSI: New York encoded with H.264 at 480p resolution (straight from an HTPC).
We attempted to keep the display brightness consistent across all four systems, choosing levels correspond to a readable brightness in indoor lighting. A 40% brightness setting was used on the Intel review notebook as well as the Acer 1810TZ, Toshiba Satellite T235D, Asus N82Jv, and Eee PC 1015PN in its “Super Performance” mode. We used a 50% setting on the Eee PC 1015PN in “Battery Saving” mode, since disabling the Nvidia GPU seemed to reduce brightness, as well as on the U33Jc.
And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the money shot. While the 71-Wh battery is no doubt a big help, six hours of unplugged web browsing for a quad-core, eight-thread desktop replacement notebook is nothing short of phenomenal. Some folks might be inclined to credit the solid-state drive for the long run time, but keep in mind we measured the impact of SSDs on battery life a little while ago, and the difference only amounted to a few percent. Intel’s Sandy Bridge platform really does deserve most, if not all, of the credit here.
How hot to the touch does this big honkin’ notebook get during an average surfing session? We let the run TR browserbench 1.0 for about an hour before measuring surface temperatures using our IR thermometer from 1″ away.
On the heels of those mind-boggling battery life numbers, the temperatures above should come as no surprise. The Sandy Bridge review notebook runs awfully cool during a web browsing session, so much so that the fan doesn’t really spin up in a noticeable fashion. You could almost use this thing on your lap without discomfort—you know, if it weren’t so big.
Although we have yet to test retail products based on Sandy Bridge’s mobile incarnations, I think the verdict is pretty clear, at least as far as the quad-core Core i7-2820QM goes. That chip enabled Intel’s review notebook to plow through our synthetic and application tests with almost the same ferocity as a desktop offering of the same class, yet power consumption was low enough to enable an impressive six hours of web browsing with our 71-Wh battery. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the i7-2820QM truly delivers the best of both worlds: desktop-class performance with true notebook mobility.
The Core i7-2820QM deserves some accolades for its gaming performance, as well, however stifled that might have been by Intel’s still-immature drivers. Provided Intel continues to release new drivers with compatibility improvements, I think we may find ourselves in a world where notebooks really don’t need discrete GPUs unless they’re to be used for serious gaming. The fact that Intel is offering HD Graphics 3000 across its entire mobile lineup may mean even relatively low-end, dual-core Sandy Bridge notebooks will pack the same punch as last year’s laptops with decent discrete GPUs. That’d be huge, and I think it’d be a boon to PC gaming as a whole.
Now, considering the excellent run times exhibited by this notebook with a 45W mobile Sandy Bridge CPU, I think we can get a little adventurous and extrapolate that dual-core Sandy Bridge mobile chips with 35W, 25W, and 17W TDPs will enable even better run times—perhaps better than what previous-generation machines with similar-wattage processors could achieve. That could leave us with a whole generation of not just highly capable notebooks that can do a reasonable job with games, but also notebooks that transcend previous mobility expectations. I have my fingers crossed, and I’m rather excited to get my hands on some dual-core Sandy Bridge laptops.