Last week we posted an article comparing battery life using two different Gateway laptops - laptops that were essentially identical, with the exception of the motherboard, chipset, integrated graphics, and processor. This was a subject that we wanted to investigate closely for a long time, but acquiring laptops that are anywhere near "identical" when you are looking at two completely different platforms can be extremely difficult. Moreover, even companies that had very similar laptops didn't seem to have any desire to have us review their AMD models. Conspiracy theory, were they trying to avoid cannibalizing sales of more expensive laptops, or some other explanation… regardless of the cause, it took us many requests to finally have a mobile showdown between AMD and Intel.


After the initial article went up dissecting battery life under a variety of situations, we have received numerous emails questioning our test methodology, complaining of bias for or against AMD/Intel, and offering other suggestions for how to improve the tests. The battery life article was always intended to be a short preview, and we are well aware of many of the differences between AMD and Intel platforms. This, then, is the rest of the story where we look at general application performance, graphics performance, and provide a full review of both laptops. First, let's start with a recap of the test systems - this time with full specifications.

Gateway NV5214u Specifications
Processor AMD Athlon 64 X2 QL-64
(Dual-core, 2.1GHz, 2x512KB L2, 65nm, 35W, 667MHz FSB)
Chipset AMD RS780MN + SB700
Memory 2x2048MB DDR2-667
Graphics Integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200
Display 15.6" Glossy LED-Backlit 16:9 WXGA (1366x768)
Hard Drive 320GB 5400RPM
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
802.11n WiFi
56K Modem
Audio 2-Channel HD Audio (2.0 Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks)
Battery 6-Cell 10.8V, 4400mAhr, 47.5Whr
Front Side None
Left Side SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro/xD reader
Microphone/Headphone Jacks (2.0 audio with S/PDIF support)
2 x USB 2.0
HDMI
VGA
Gigabit Ethernet
AC Power Connection
Kensington Lock
Right Side DVDRW Optical Drive
2 x USB 2.0
56K Modem
Power Button
Back Side Heat Exhaust Port
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 14.6" x 9.8" x 1.0"-1.5" (WxDxH)
Weight 5.8 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
Alternate colors/models available
Blue: NV5213u
Black: NV5215u
Red: NV5216u
Warranty 1-year standard Gateway warranty
Extended warranties available
Price NV5214u available at Best Buy for $500

Gateway NV5807u Specifications
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6500
(Dual-core, 2.1GHz, 2MB shared L2, 45nm, 35W, 800MHz FSB)
Chipset Intel GM45 + ICH9M
Memory 2x2048MB DDR2-667
Graphics Integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD
Display 15.6" Glossy LED-Backlit 16:9 WXGA (1366x768)
Hard Drive 320GB 5400RPM
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
802.11n WiFi
56K Modem
Audio 2-Channel HD Audio (2.0 Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks)
Battery 6-Cell 10.8V, 4400mAhr, 47.5Whr
Front Side None
Left Side SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro/xD reader
Microphone/Headphone Jacks (2.0 audio with S/PDIF support)
2 x USB 2.0
HDMI
VGA
Gigabit Ethernet
AC Power Connection
Kensington Lock
Right Side DVDRW Optical Drive
2 x USB 2.0
56K Modem
Power Button
Back Side Heat Exhaust Port
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 14.6" x 9.8" x 1.0"-1.5" (WxDxH)
Weight 5.8 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
Alternate colors/models available
Black: NV5814u
Red: NV5815u
Warranty 1-year standard Gateway warranty
Extended warranties available
Price NV5814u available online starting at $580

In terms of core paper specifications, the systems really are as close to identical as we can get. There are no AMD chipsets for current Intel processors, and likewise Intel doesn't make chipsets for AMD processors. We could try to go the discrete graphics route, but virtually all current AMD-based laptops include integrated graphics and that's part of the features equation. We're looking not just at the difference in processors but what the mobile platform as a whole offers from each company. Those familiar with current trends should have an idea of what to expect: Intel has the better processor (faster and lower power), overall chipset features are similar, and AMD (courtesy of ATI) has the better integrated graphics. The question isn't so much who will be faster in various tests, but rather how much faster. That's what we're here to find out.

Gateway NV5214u - AMD
POST A COMMENT

67 Comments

View All Comments

  • nofumble62 - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    so he can play more games. LOL

    That student probably won't stay in school very long.
    Reply
  • Smell This - Monday, August 17, 2009 - link

    The author makes the point of the importance of battery life and claims "Intel has the better mobile solution at pretty much all price points - i.e. better battery life ..."

    With the difference in price between the two "units" in your "comparison" you could purchase a second battery for the AMD laptop.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 17, 2009 - link

    Which doesn't change the fact that Intel will still offer better battery life to the tune of 28% more unplugged time. From the conclusion: "Using a higher capacity battery on an AMD platform could give you equivalent battery life, but then you're lugging around a heavier laptop and many high capacity batteries cost far more than $80." Carrying two batteries is fundamentally the same thing, except that you have to hibernate and swap batteries at some point.

    The point of this review: look at AMD and Intel platforms, apples to apples. Intel wins on CPU and battery performance. 16% more cost yields 25% better performance and power. They also win on heat and noise, though it's not a huge margin there.

    On the other hand, AMD/ATI wins the graphics competition and they cost less. They're somewhere in the realm of twice as fast at GPU intensive tasks, they can handle 1080p H.264 playback (where Intel would need something like PowerDVD Ultra to get the proper acceleration), and they cost 16% less.

    If price is the determinant of what you buy, go for the AMD unit. If gaming is your number one concern, get a discrete GPU in a ~$700+ laptop. If you want a cheap lappy that can play *most* games at low detail, then AMD's current lineup also works okay. For all other options, right now it looks like Intel wins.

    I've heard from many readers that feel battery life is very important; they're sick of the sub-three-hour options out there, and they're more than willing to give up gaming. If we look at the entire laptop market, I'd say such people are in a comfortable majority. If you're a college student on a shoestring budget, you'll probably be a lot happier with a somewhat slower office computer that can play more games.

    BOTH opinions and options are right. There is no dictating that you MUST have better battery life, or that you MUST have better integrated graphics. Buy what you really need, after you look at the market and truly understand what the options are. That's my conclusion. For me, my needs and wants make the NV58 the winner, but I know plenty of users that would prefer the NV52 (like yourself), and I know still others that prefer even more graphics power.
    Reply
  • ALCX - Saturday, August 15, 2009 - link

    I don't post much, 'cause usually someone has said what I thought already. But after reading all the 'jibber-jabber' going back and forth, I thought I would just say thank you for the article, I'm looking at buying a laptop for my daughter for school and this hit the spot.

    Again....Thanks
    Reply
  • yehuda - Saturday, August 15, 2009 - link

    I agree, it's clear a lot of effort went into the making of this article. Reply
  • evilspoons - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    Nice article. It confirmed my suspicions about AMD laptops. They're fine for the money but the Intel does pretty much everything better - if you can get an Intel with nVidia or ATi graphics, you're set.

    It's really just a stupid nitpick, but I'd like to point out you forgot to mention a car model for your little Kia vs Hyundai analogy. The Kia Spectra is a piece of crap, but a Hyundai Genesis Coupe with the V6 and Track Package will give Nissan 370Zs a run for their money (at $20,000 less!) so the analogy doesn't really work well given this fact.

    I'd compare the Kia Spectra to a Chevy Aveo, myself. Ugh.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    In the US at least, the MSRP for the Genesis Coupe with Track Package is higher than the base 370Z, and even the Nismo Z is only ~$9k higher. So unless Hyundai is already kicking in rebates or Nissan dealers are charging significantly more than MSRP, you have to drop all the way back to the base 2.0T coupe to get close to a $20k difference to a 370Z coupe. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    I added the "Accent" part after Hyundai. My mom had an original Hyundai Excel hatchback... thing was horrible, but for some reason she loved it. I was so happy when it got totaled! :-) Reply
  • RandomUsername3245 - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    Not to pick nits, but you say "Hopefully we will see some improvement with Windows 7, but so far Windows is still an order of magnitude behind OS X."

    An order of magnitude is defined as a factor of 10x. According to the three bar charts, the Macbook really doesn't beat the Windows laptops by 10x. (Sure it does beat the Clivo D901C by an order of magnitude on the last test, but that's hardly a basis for this type of general statement.) Realistically, the Macbook is beating the competition by no more than 2-3x.

    I'd say your statement is inaccurate by nearly an order of magnitude :)
    Reply
  • blackshard - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    Take the "order of magnitude" as a "step further". MacOS X is a step further in power handling, expecially when the system is idling. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now