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What's the Deal with Centrino?

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April 1, 2004 3:46:32 PM

Hi,

I am doing research for buying some new laptops. I thought this would be simple as I am fairly well versed with desktop technology, compopnents, etc.

So the main stumper I have run across is about the Centrino chips. Centrino is being hyped like crazy but near as I can tell it's clock speeds are really really low. I think the highest I've seen is like 1.7GHZ. Being an AMD fan on the desktop side I understand that MHZ is not everything but the Centrino chips don't have any additional ratings so I am forced to assume that they perform at the listed mhz speed which is kinda crappy.

Can someone maybe give me a review or some insight on how well they perform? Why in the world would I want a Centrino powered laptop? Also, how does the Centrino chip tie into wireless?
And how much power does it really save?
Because I am currently leaning towards getting a non-centrino P4 at 2.8Ghz.



__________________
Rock me Amadeus,

Bill D.

More about : deal centrino

April 1, 2004 3:55:24 PM

<font color=red>Yeah! Centrino is crap! It's sh1t! Like Intel!</font color=red>

OK, April fool's jokes aside now...

The Pentium-Ms that come in Centrino platforms have the highest performance per clock around. It beats the P4 easily at same clock rates, and is even faster than equally-clocked Athlons, quite easily. Actually, a 1.6Ghz Centrino platform can easily match a 2.4Ghz P4. So in centrino's case, don't look at the Mhz!!!

<i>Edit: As a rule of thumb, consider that a P-M will easily match a P4 with 50% more clock. So the 1.6Ghz P-M matches a 1.5x1.6Ghz=2.4Ghz fairly easily.</i>

And while centrino is a good powersaver, you have to keep in mind that there's only so much power that the CPU can save: other components, like LCD and HDDs, will also consume significant amounts of power.

In any case, centrino is very easily your safest bet for a light and long-battery-life notebook.

You might also wait for Dothan (the next-gen centrino CPU) to arrive and reevaluate. Dothan will probably sport improved performance and its arrival will reduce the price on currently available CPUs as well.

<i><font color=red>You never change the existing reality by fighting it. Instead, create a new model that makes the old one obsolete</font color=red> - Buckminster Fuller </i>
April 1, 2004 4:03:14 PM

rough rule of thumb, assume a Pentium M chip @1.7 GHz performs like a P4 2.4 or AXP 2400+. Give or take.. A P4 2.8 would be faster, there is little doubt about that; however, it will also be bigger, bulkier and have a far inferior battery life. Pentium M really is a small miracle when it comes to power consumption, while still giving adequate performance.

As for the wireless; ignore it. The "Centrino" brand ties the excellent Pentium M chip with the "normal" i855 chipset (basically the same chip as the i845), and the below par intel PRO wireless lan card. Get the a Pentium M if you like, I doubt you'll regret it, but forgo the intel WLAN, and get a much better and sometimes even cheaper 802.11g or 802.11a card instead of the prehistoric intel one. The intel one is a 802.11b card, limited to 11Mbps, and afaik without better security like WPA. Modern cards based on 802.11a or g support up to 54MBps, have improved security, and the "g" models are backwards compatible with the old "b" standard.

Note that a laptop with the Pentium M and 855 but without the intel WLAN is not allowed to be called "centrino" by Intel, so ignore the Centrino brand, just look for Pentium M is you want a nice, small, long battery life notebook.

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
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April 1, 2004 4:13:14 PM

Wow! Thank you both very much for all the advice.
I don't know where I would even find that sort of information and I have been looking!
Especially the part about the Centrino name only being allowed when a Pentium-M is used in conjunction with the WLAN. So Centrino Processor = Pentium-M no matter what the label. Gotcha

Thanx!



__________________
Rock me Amadeus,

Bill D.
April 1, 2004 4:31:33 PM

You're welcome. Always a pleasure to be able to debunk smart, effective aka misleading marketing :) 

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
April 1, 2004 7:42:17 PM

Well you should be careful. The pentium-m is not the only processor intel will bundle with its centrino set. Now you can find celeron-m chips used as a centrino product too, so be sure your getting a pentium-m, not celeron.
April 1, 2004 7:53:55 PM

Yes, but the P-M derived Celeron is much better than the P4-derived Celeron. So actually, the P-M derived Celeron is not that horrible, really.

But the best alternative if you're looking to save a few bucks is to wait for the price drops on current P-Ms within the next two months or so...

<i><font color=red>You never change the existing reality by fighting it. Instead, create a new model that makes the old one obsolete</font color=red> - Buckminster Fuller </i>
April 1, 2004 7:56:18 PM

Wrong. Celeron-M may not be branded as "centrino".

Secondly, I'm not convinced the Celeron-M is such a bad product. Its basically a Pentium M without speedstep, and the cache cut in half; but the PM had tons of cache and is not nearly as cache dependant or bandwith starved as netburst cores. 512 Kb is still as much as the Tualatin P3-S which was a damn good performer, even with the 133 Mhz FSB (compared to 400 for the Celeron-M) and the other enhancements (like SSE2).

I'd like to see some more benchmarks before I make up my mind, but I'm thinking celeron-M might actually be a processor worth recommending for a budget notebook.

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
April 1, 2004 7:57:35 PM

You always beat me to it.. LOL. thats twice in this thread that you basically post the same thing, just before I do (and while I'm typing my reply). I need to learn to type quicker, or post shorter messages :) 

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
April 2, 2004 1:20:40 AM

Hmm thats wierd, I thought I saw notebooks branded as centrino running celeron-m's too. Ive seen them where you can choose either p-m or celron-m and both are referd to as centrinos, so maybe the oems are just doing it that way. as far as if its bad or not, tis true that it most liekly isnt as bad as the desktop version and good for the budget conscious, although i dont see the celeron-m being as popular.
April 2, 2004 3:29:57 AM

Quote:
512 Kb is still as much as the Tualatin P3-S which was a damn good performer, even with the 133 Mhz FSB (compared to 400 for the Celeron-M) and the other enhancements (like SSE2).



heh wow the first celeron sinse the 300a era that probably wont suck! imagine a P3 core @ 1.7ghz :D 

id have no problem with that , espeically in a laptop considering the excellent power savings

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April 2, 2004 5:51:29 AM

Now I disagree. The Tualatin-based Celerons were quite good. Intel just played them down a lot.

"We are Microsoft, resistance is futile." - Bill Gates, 2015.
April 2, 2004 4:37:08 PM

We have many Centrino laptops at work, and I'd have to say Mephistopheles P-M x 1.5 = P4 speed rule is pretty accurate.

As for power consumption? The fastest P-M chip made, the 1.8, still draws less than 25W running full out. So you're looking at roughly 1/3rd of the power draw of a P4. The P-Ms also undervolt and clock down depending on load. Our P-M 1.6s run at 600mhz when idle.

*Dual PIII-800 @900 i440BX and Tualeron 1.2 @1.7 i815*
April 2, 2004 4:39:10 PM

Quote:
heh wow the first celeron sinse the 300a era that probably wont suck! imagine a P3 core @ 1.7ghz :D 

I've got one right in front of me :) 

edit: And it only cost me $70 :) 

*Dual PIII-800 @900 i440BX and Tualeron 1.2 @1.7 i815*<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by JCLW on 04/02/04 12:41 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
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