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The Turion 64 Inside Story Part II

Introduction

In the first part of this article we discussed AMD's mobile Turion 64 bit processor technology. Based on research in our labs, we reported that the current crop of 11 Turion processors ranges in speed from 1.60 GHz to 2.20 GHz and 22 to 35 Watts in power consumption. These specs, coupled with the battery saving power management features of the Turion line and the availability of low power supporting chipsets, led us to expect very good performance and battery life from these chips. We also briefly examined the capabilities of AMD's lower cost mobile Sempron 2800+ 64-bit CPU and decided to include it because of its potential as an Intel Celeron M killer. In this part we determine how well the mobile Turion and Sempron chips perform in a complete notebook system by subjecting the system to our benchmarking tests.

We used MSI's M635 notebook to test AMD's Turion 64 and Mobile Sempron.

Turion64 and Mobile Sempron Test platform: MSI Megabook M635

Our Test And Comparison Systems

As was the case with the Intel platform (that's where the recently reviewed Gigabyte W511A comes into play), this notebook is equipped with an ATI X700 graphics card. To enable the most precise possible performance comparison between the Turion 64 and Intel Centrino mobile technology platforms, we raised the clock rate of the graphics card in the MSI notebook to match that of its Gigabyte counterpart. To be more specific, independent of the results in the basic configuration table the graphics processor's clock rate was raised from 351 MHz to 357.75 MHz, and the graphics memory clock rate was raised from 297 MHz to 344.25 MHz.

Only for testing: Moderate overclocking of the Mobile X700 and the Hynix video RAM in the Megabook M635.

According to the vendor, the cooling system in the MSI M635 notebook provides enough headroom to permit this small but important tweak of ours. Both notebooks include 128 MB of video RAM.

To improve parity between the systems being compared to provide a better basis for comparison, we chose a Gigabyte W511A model with DDR 333 RAM modules. Based on our own test results following the release of the Centrino Sonoma platform, the performance differences between DDR333 and faster DDR2 memory are minimal in any case. That said, it's also important to consider that a Centrino platform with DDR2 RAM modules installed would have performed better in our battery life tests. That's because DDR2 RAM's smaller input voltage translates into smaller power draws as well. This naturally extends battery life as a consequence.