I intend to buy a new laptop this year, following the lauch of the much-anticipated Sandy Bridge. I bought my last laptop, which sports a Core 2 Duo T8300 2.4 GHz processor, in 2008, and, although it still handles most tasks quite well, I could definitely benefit from a significant speed boost. However, this decision became more imminent since my laptop had its screen damaged last week. I can certainly have my screen repaired, but that there is no point in fixing it if I am going to replace the laptop anyway.
I've noticed that there are some new laptops with a quad-core Sandy Bridge processor. I've read some tests and even the i7-2630QM (which represents the low-end of these processors) seems to be faster than any Clarksfield (even the almighty i7-940XM).
In addition, this processor seems to be more power-efficient than the Arrendale. I've read reports that a Sager NP5160 sporting an i7-2630QM has a battery life of 4.5-5 hours or even 6 hours (with NVIDIA GT540M disabled). That's a lot of time, considering that the battery of previous Sager notebooks would be drained after only 2 hours of use or even less.
I understand that this increase in battery life comes, to a large extent, from the gymnics Intel has done with its integrated graphics. However, as far as I am concerned, quad-core processors still consume more power than dual-core processors. A Core i7-2630QM has a TDP of 45W; the dual-core Sandy Bridge, on the other hand, will have a TDP of 35W. I have no doubt that the dual-core Sandy Bridge would be more power-efficient than the quad-core. But I wonder how much more efficient it will be.
I am not aware of any tests or reviews of dual-core mobile Sandy Bridges nor of any report of Intel on this respect. No real facts, just thoughts posted in forums. I've read thoughts that a dual-core Sandy Bridge would allow notebooks with an 8-hour battery life. But I've also read that most of this power efficiency comes from the integrated graphics and that a dual-core Sandy Bridge would not allow a significant increase in battery life over the quad-core Sandy Bridge (it would be about half an hour). While I believe the truth is in the middle, I would like to further investigate this matter, so I can decide whether to buy a laptop with a quad-core Sandy Bridge now or wait until the dual-core is available.
Any thoughts on this issue? I would much appreciate if someone had more information (real facts) on this. Thank you in advance.
You are correct a dual core 'may' increase battery life over the quad just because its 2 vs 4. All depends what you are going to be doing and how many cores can be utilized. Imo we will know best when apple refreshes the macbook pro line with Sandybridge with the dual core as we already know thats what they are waiting for.
Apple will probably refresh its MacBook Pro line in February/March when dual-core Sandy Bridges come out. Apple may even use the quad-cores this time, given its improved battery life. But if Apple uses only dual-cores, it will be quite difficult to compare dual-cores and quad-cores based on Macs. MacBooks are quite different: they have a non-removable battery and MacOS consumes less power than Windows for most tasks.