In laptops from Toshiba (and probably other OEMs,) ULV processors are increasingly being installed into non-ultrabook laptops. I'm guessing that this is primarily driven by marketing, so Toshiba can boast about lower energy consumption.
In any case, I'm buying a first laptop for my middle-schooler, and I'm having to choose between two very similar laptops except that one has the Core i3-3110M and the other has the Core i5-3317U.
All other things being equal, will one of these processors perform noticeably better than the other? My sense is that there will be no noticeable difference.
Is there any particular reason to prefer one of these processors over the other, besides battery life?
The i3-3110m is clocked higher so it is the faster of the two CPUs. Will there be a noticeable performance difference between the two? It depends what your middle-schooler (Junior High?) is doing. Basic things like homework, taking notes, reading, surfing the net, watching movies, etc. No perceivable difference. Playing games? Encoding video? The i3-3110m will provide better performance.
Generally speaking, laptops using ULV CPUs are lighter than typical laptops. Is this true for the two laptops you are comparing? I don't know. Does the laptop with the ULV CPU does in fact have longer battery life? I don't know. It depends on the other components and the battery capacities of the two laptops.
Unless the ULV laptops is lighter by at least 5oz. and has at least 45 minutes more battery life, I would likely go with the i3-3110m laptop.
Thanks so much for your advice. Middle school for us is grades 6 to 8.
This will be our son's first computer. So far he plays simple, online games that don't require powerful graphics, but in any case, we're not buying him a computer so he can play games.
The most demanding thing he's likely to do with this laptop is sound mixing - he loves Mixcraft. Not into encoding video. However, our son takes a keen interest in computer technology, so he'll be glad to know that in the i3-3110M he's getting the more powerful processor.
The ULV laptop we're considering is 7 ounces lighter, but his laptop will stay home most of the time. He won't be carrying it to school. Kids at his school don't do that until high school. As for battery life, that depends on lots of variables. The rated battery life for both laptops we're considering - for whatever that's worth - is the same. But his computer will be plugged in most of the time.
Looks like we'd do fine with either laptop, buy my boy will be happier knowing that he got the more powerful processor, even if that doesn't really matter so much.
Once again, thanks for your advice. This will probably help others who are having to choose between closely spec-ed regular and ULV processors.