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Ivy Bridge for Ultrabooks

Inside Intel's premium portables

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Game on

Given the HD4000 integrated GPU is DX11 capable I gave 3DMark11 a spin. Apart from the fact that the graphics hardware can actually run the benchmark, the scores are nothing much to shout about – Entry pre-set (1024 x 600) 1208; Performance pre-set (720p) 642; Xtreme pre-set (1080p) 205. For good measure I also ran a DX11 game, using the built in benchmark of the Aliens v Predators at the screen's native resolution, it returned an average frame rate score of 9.2fps.

Intel Ivy Bridge Core i mobile Ultra Thunderbolt and Smart Connect Technology

When pushed during benchmarking, especially the graphics tests, the unit's fan got really upset and became much more noticeable. However, this isn’t a concern in a demonstration unit like this, as chances are, manufacturers will be able to profile the cooling more efficiently in retail units.

The six-cell 47Wh battery lasted well running Futuremark’s Powermark suite, notching up 165mins (Balance), 266mins (Productivity) and 172mins (Entertainment). The scores reflect what you get without going too deeply into any power saving measures, apart from using Balanced power mode in Windows 7. Needless to say, with more severe power saving tweaks, it should run for a good while longer.

Getting the system back from hibernation took around 10secs – sure that's over the mark a little, but this isn't a production sample – while waking from sleep is under 2secs. You can also take advantage of Intel’s Smart Connect Technology which periodically wakes the system up from sleep or standby mode to download e-mails and update your social network. The technology is even clever enough to alter the timings if the battery is getting low or if the unit is getting too warm.

The UM-77 chipset provides two USB 3.0 ports, one on each side of the chassis, although you might see some manufacturers offer a single USB 3.0 port and team it up with a Thunderbolt port. Indeed, it will be interesting to see how adoption of this new interface technology, beyond Apple, kit affects the price of Thunderbolt peripherals. Alas, this Ivy Bridge review sample was USB-only.

Verdict

By utilising the 7-series chipsets, this next generation of Ultrabooks offers more functionality than previously experienced and greater versatility too. As tests on Intel's demo unit highlight, having Ivy Bridge technology in the Ultrabook form factor gives it a substantial leap forward in terms performance over the first generation examples. That said, not all Ivy Bridge models will be so well-equipped and it remains to be seen how well the Ultrabook price premium plays out on lower spec machines. ®

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