Review: First Look: ASUS M51 Va, Centrino 2 benchmarks are in

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Review: First Look: ASUS M51 Va, Centrino 2 benchmarks are in

Intel has been banging on about Centrino 2 lately, so it was good to finally get a chance to test the claims courtesy of a spanking new mid-range Centrino 2 M51 Va courtesy of ASUS.

The results are some of the best we've seen for a mid-range 15.4 inch laptop, beating our current A-List winner the Dell XPS M1530 in a few key areas. So what's the big deal? The upshot is a combination of performance/battery life gains.

Before the results, let's go over the spec list. The ASUS is a rather highly specced 15.4 inch machine, boasting Intel Core 2 Duo T9400, 4GB RAM, ATi Radeon Mobility HD3650 512MB, HDMI, e-SATA, and 320GB.
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The Centrino 2 ASUS M51 Va, in dashing silver and black

How We Test - 2D
We test desktop PCs and notebooks with our own, custom-built, real-world benchmarks. We split the results into four categories: Office, 2D Graphics, Encoding and Multitasking, with the Overall score being a straight average of the four.

For instance, the Office test uses several Office 2003 applications interacting with one another: we generate a 10,000-record Access database, extract the resulting data into Excel, merge this formatted data into Word and lastly create a PowerPoint presentation from a selection of the data.

Our reference is a dual-core Pentium D 840 PC with 1GB of PC3200 RAM, GeForce 6600 GT graphics and a 10,000rpm 36GB WD Raptor hard disk. A score of 1.25 indicates a PC is 25% faster than our reference system.

On the testbench
On the PC Authority testbench, the M51 Va performed well, beating most of the mid-range laptop scores in PC Authority's real-world performance benchtest.

ASUS M51 Va - 2D speed
Overall: 1.4
Office: 1.49
2D Graphics: 1.37
Encoding: 1.38
Multitasking: 1.4

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Not particularly skinny, but then the M51 Va is no porker either

Battery life
We subject notebooks to two battery tests. The first sees how long the notebook could stay on if idle; the screen is set to midway between maximum and minimum, and all processor power saving is turned on. Then, to test its performance under intense conditions, we run a complex multitasking job until the battery runs out.

Battery life was the more interesting of the tests. The M51 Va didn't blow us away, but that was expected given the ATi Radeon Mobility HD3650 on board. With this in mind, consider that the M51 Va beat most of the previous generation of mid-range laptops in our battery tests, lasting for 1 hour and 24 minutes in our intensive-use test, which is no mean feat considering the dedicated card.

Battery Life
Light Use: 2 hour, 24 minutes
Intensive Use: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Centrino 2 vs Centrino 1
We didn’t have a Centrino M51 equivalent to test, so our best point of comparison is the previous crop of Santa Rosa machines. Some of these are older than others, but it makes for an interesting comparison.

mSI PR620 - no dedicated graphics - Intel GMA x3100
Light: 3 hours, 58 minutes
Intensive: 57 minutes

Zepto Znote 6625WD: Core 2 Duo T9300, Geforce 8600M GT
Light - 2 hours, 17 minutes
Intensive: 1 hour, 57 minutes

ASUS M50SV-AS016G - Intel Penryn 45nm, Core 2 Duo T9300, Geforce 9500M GS
Light: 2 hour, 15 minutes
Intensive: 1 hour, 08 minutes

Sony Vaio VGN-FZ28G, Core 2 Duo T7700, Geforce 8600M GS
Light use: 2 hours, 51 minutes
Intensive: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Dell XPS M1530, current A-List Laptop, Core 2 Duo T7250, GeForce 8600M GT
Light: 3 hours, 31 minutes
Intensive: 1 hours, 04 minutes

Some of the best performance and battery results we've seen for a 15.4 inch laptop with dedicated graphics

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