Asus UL80Vt: A CULV Laptop with Hybrid Graphics

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Battery Life

To test battery life, we ran a series of tests to simulate real life web surfing and movie watching. The critical and low battery actions were disabled, so the system would simply shut down once the battery was exhausted as far as Windows 7 would allow (1%).

For the web browsing test we loaded three websites into Firefox on separate tabs: Google News, Yahoo News, and CNN International. Using the ReloadEvery add-on, we set each tab to do a staggered reload every minute. This is essentially one page reload every 20 seconds.

For video playback we used an XVID encoded AVI (1324kbps video, 448kbps AC3 audio) played with VLC Player and a x264 encoded MKV (720p, 7mbps video, 640kbps AC3 audio) played with Media Player Classic Home Cinema (DXVA/CUDA enabled) in a loop. WiFi was disabled during video playback.

Test Results: Battery Life
Activity
Gateway EC1803h
Asus Eee 1005HA
Asus UL80Vt
GMA 4500MHD
GeForce G210M
Web Browsing
6:09
8:18
9:11
6:42
Xvid Playback
4:24
6:34
7:19
5:39
x264 Playback
3:31
N/A
5:24
3:37

Using Intel graphics, the UL80Vt was a total workhouse, lasting more than 10% longer than the Atom based 1005HA in both our web browsing and Xvid playback tests. While Asus' 12 hour claim didn't come close to fruition, it may have done better if we had managed to prevent the processor from overclocking. If you prefer to use the GeForce G210M when running on battery power, you can expect to loose quite a bit of run time. We recorded a loss of 2:29 when websurfing, 1:40 playing Xvid, and 1:47 playing x264 — that's long enough for an entire movie depending on the title. The G210M numbers were actually impressive if you take them on their own — most Core 2 Duo laptops don't last more than 6 hours, especially with discrete graphics.

Performance

Test Results: Benchmarks
Model
EC1803h (Vista)
Vostro 1400 (XP)
UL80Vt
(Win7 x64)
CPU
C2S 1.4GHz
C2D 1.4GHz
C2D 1.73GHz
RAM
3GB DDR2
2GB DDR2
4GB DDR3
GPU
GMA 4500MHD
GMA X3100
GMA 4500MHD
GeForce G210M
NOD32
11:14
9:50
8:46
WinRAR
5:38
5:14
3:35
iTunes
8:46
7:36
6:13
TMPGEnc
20:01
11:46
8:10
PCMark05
2214
2941
3656
4397
3DMark05
979
656
1393
6847
3DMark06
603
487
823
3460

The UL80Vt's performance was as expected, beating out an old Dell Vostro laptop powered by a 1.4GHz T5270 Core 2 Duo by a moderate amount in all our tests due mostly in part to the SU7300's overclocked speed of 1.73GHz. Using discrete graphics of course resulted in much higher 3DMark scores.

Subjective Experience

When we first turned on the UL80Vt, it was disappointingly slow booting into Windows 7. Once the operating system was fully loaded, we were not surprised to see plenty of pre-installed software, with many of the usual suspects including Trend Micro Internet Security (trial), Adobe AIR, Office 2007 (trial), and Cyberlink Power2Go. Surprisingly, the origin of most of the applications was Asus, with 14 separate utilities pre-loaded, more than all the third party vendors combined. We found only three of them to be even remotely useful: "Express Gate" which has been discussed before, "SmartLogon" which uses the webcam to recognize your face allowing you to login without prompting for a password, and "FastBoot" — an unusual utility that speeds up Windows 7 x64 boot time. With all nonessential software removed, it took 82 seconds after pressing the power button before we got a usable Windows 7 desktop screen. With FastBoot uninstalled, it required an additional 9 seconds.

Once booted up, the machine did not feel any slower a 2GHz+ Core 2 Duo laptop. In addition the GeForce G210M delivered some pretty decent 3D performance. We briefly played Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and on integrated graphics it was only playable when we decreased the resolution down to 1024x768, and even then we had to turn most of the extra details down. The experience wasn't particularly smooth either, lagging frequently, and bogging down severely during the most demanding action sequences. Turning on the discrete graphics was like flipping a light switch — the same settings ran smooth as silk. It was also fairly smooth at 1366x768 with most of the details turned on and 2x anti-aliasing on top. The G210M is a budget discrete GPU, but it is still a vast improvement over GMA 4500MHD and plenty for gaming at the relatively low 1366x768 native resolution.

It should also be noted that switching to the Nvidia GPU made the system pause and the screen to go black for 8~9 seconds, while changing back to integrated only required a 4 second delay.



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