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4 Hot Multimedia Notebooks Reviewed

Benchmark And Testing Results

PCMark05 Results

After applying the Vista patch to this software, we were able to complete our test runs without too much difficulty. PCMark05 provides metrics for overall PC performance, supplemented by individual results for the CPU, memory, graphics and hard disk performance. All in all, PCMark05 provides a decent set of data for the notebooks we test, and a reasonable basis for comparison among them. All numbers reported, of course, are relative rather than absolute. We also don’t understand enough yet about the differences between Windows XP and Vista results to understand what kind of relationship exists between them, if any. Thus, the results we report here practically apply exclusively to these and only these notebooks, simply because we haven’t reported PCMark05 numbers for other notebooks running Vista until now.

A quick once-over on the charts shows the HDX dominating this pack in three of the categories: Overall ranking, CPU, and most notably, graphics. Given its cost differential as compared to all the other notebooks this comes as no surprise, and in fact, should be a given.

What’s interesting about the memory results is that the Toshiba and the Sony both outperform the HDX on memory, despite the HP unit’s faster CPU (of course all four machines do have identical memory configurations with 2 GB of DDR2-667 RAM). The Sony numbers beat the HDX numbers by a surprising 17% (4318 versus 3621) while the Qosmio numbers beat the HDC by nearly 6.5% (3875 versus 3621).

On the hard disk side, we see the most remarkable results of all: the Qosmio, which is one of two units to include 4,200 RPM hard disks among its components, nevertheless manages to outperform all the other machines, two of which include 5,400 RPM hard disks instead. We’ve seen this phenomenon with other Qosmio models before and attribute this to very clever disk management and controller hardware in this machine (other Qosmio models also routinely include two mirrored drives as well, for an even bigger performance boost). Here, the Qosmio outdoes the MSI and Sony machines by 26.8% (5270 versus 3858 for MSI, and 3859 for Sony).

The Qosmio posts hard disk results that are 33% better than the HP machine (5270 versus 3529), even though both sport 4,200-RPM drives (the HDX has two of them, in fact). According to the HP engineer with whom we confirmed these results, users interested in better disk performance now have options to purchase either 250 GB 5,400-RPM drives for a slight performance boost or 120 GB 7,200-RPM drives for a major boost. Both of these options cost more than standard 4,200 RPM drives, of course. Given that both the HP and Sony units include dual drives, perhaps they might do better if they were to mirror them as well?

The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600XT in the HP HDX simply blows the graphics doors off all three other machines (as again, its price tag would lead you to expect). The Qosmio and MSI both use the same Intel graphics accelerator chipset, the GMA X3100, while the Sony uses a GeForce8400 GT graphics card instead. Though the Sony fares better than either of the GMA X3100 machines, it still comes out 63% behind the HP HDX on graphics (2756 versus 7519). The Qosmio comes next, at 76% behind (1790), while the MSI trails at just over 80% behind (1453). It’s possible that the MSI’s faster CPU doesn’t compensate for the Qosmio’s faster disks when it comes to pumping graphics out to the screen.

Overall, the HP HDX clearly leads the pack here, but we see the Sony as a respectable performer; we can’t help but be impressed by the Qosmio’s outstanding disk performance (relatively speaking, of course). We think the HP unit could blow all the others away in every category with a little overclocking (to boost memory performance) and faster hard drives (to bump up HDD numbers). But that’s often the case when spending more on an already expensive machine, right?