Core i7-2820QM: Sandy Bridge Shines In Notebooks

Core i7: Running The Gamut

In the past, Intel has used a handful of modifiers to further distinguish its model numbers: M, LM, UM, QM, and XM. There aren't any unlocked mobile processors, as overclocking generally isn't something power-conscious notebook users wish to inflict upon their batteries. This explains the lack of K-series SKUs on the mobile side.

Expectantly, M is the primary designator signaling the difference from mobile and desktop products. There are additional mobile offerings that substitute an E for M, which is a further subset of the mobile product line that indicates embedded processor packages. Everything else is pretty straightforward: L for Low Voltage, U for Ultra Low Voltage, Q for Quad-Core, and X for Extreme Quad-Core.

Today, we are looking at a fairly beefy selection of mobile Core i7s. If the performance of the desktop parts is any indicator, this is an exciting prospect. We are talking about some serious processing power at ultra-low and low-voltage power profiles.

As an aside, if you look at the whole Sandy Bridge mobile lineup, you will notice a lack of L- and U-designated processors. This can be explained away by the last digit of the model name. Models that end with 9 indicate LV parts, while 7 is for ULV. This is somewhat of a departure from the company's previous mobile scale.


i7-2620M i7-2649M i7-2629M i7-2657M i7-2617M
Price$346$346$311$317$289
TDP3525251717
Core  / Threads2 / 42 / 42 / 42 / 42 / 4
Base Clock2.7 GHz2.3 GHz2.1 GHz1.6 GHz1.5 GHz
Max. Turbo Clock3.4 GHz3.2 GHz3.0 GHz2.7 GHz2.6 GHz
Memory (MT/s)13331333133313331333
L3 Cache44444
HD Graphics30003000300030003000
Max. Graphics Clock1300 MHz1100 MHz1100 MHz1000 MHz950 MHz
Hyper-ThreadingYesYesYesYesYes
AVX SupportYesYesYesYesYes
Quick Sync SupportYesYesYesYesYes
AES-NI SupportYesYesYesYesYes


As we noted in our launch coverage, there are actually three different versions of the Sandy Bridge die shipping at launch. The quad-core configuration—the one composed of 995 million transistors—measures 216 mm². Then, there’s a dual-core die with 12 execution units making up its graphics engine. That one features 624 million transistors on a 149 mm² die. Finally, the slimmest variation sports two cores and a graphics engine composed of six EUs. You're won't see that last version represented in Intel's current mobile lineup, since the complete portfolio is made up of dual- and quad-core CPUs with HD Graphics 3000. Moreover, all of the mobile CPUs enjoy Hyper-Threading support, a benefit missing from about half of the desktop line, including our recommended i5-2500K.


Die Size (square mm)
Transistors (million)
Sandy Bridge (4C)
216
995
Sandy Bridge (2C, HD Graphics 3000)
149
624
Sandy Bridge (2C, HD Graphics 2000) - Desktop Only
131
504
Bloomfield (4C)
263
731
Lynnfield and Clarksfield (4C)
296
774
Westmere and Arrandale (2C)
81
383
Gulftown (6C)
248
1168


Another difference is the introduction of another new interface. The mobile world doesn't have the same issues to worry about as desktop PC. So, although its second-gen Core CPUs share a similar architecture, they employ dissimilar processor interfaces. The new Core i7 Mobile CPUs drop into an rPGA 988 socket, which is one pin short of the mPGA 989 seen on the previous Clarkdale-based i7s. That's right; Intel is breaking compatibility with its first-gen Core chips on the mobile side, just as it did on the desktop. Fortunately, processor upgrades are less prevalent in notebooks, so this move should affect enthusiasts far less.

And whereas the desktop chips are pinless, mobile Core i7s actually wear the pins in this relationship. Though, we should point out that we haven't even listed all variations of the mobile Core i7s. The ---9M (LV) and ---7M (ULV) parts come in BGA 1023, while the 55 W and 45 W also come in a BGA 1224 package. If that doesn't make things confusing, other models end in ---5. This seems to be the only differentiation between BGA and rPGA specific packages.

Everything in the architecture and technical details that we explained in our launch coverage of Sandy Bridge also applies to the mobile side, such as Quick Sync and Turbo Boost 2.0, and we suggest that you read over our earlier article if you haven't done so already.

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  • cmartin011
    Second!!! really a thousand dollars for a mobile cpu
    -3
  • one-shot
    What are the numbers for battery life for idle, surfing the web, and watching HD video? Several reputable sites have posted up numbers and I'm not seeing a chart that states these numbers, just lots of performance numbers to reiterate the obvious that it's more powerful and more efficient than Arrandale CPUs.
    0
  • acku
    This isn't a production notebook so battery life pertaining to this specific notebook is rather pointless in relation to other models. There are other factors at play: LCD panel, battery density, etc... However, platform power consumption numbers are posted on the second to last and last page.

    Andrew
    TomsHardware
    -1
  • one-shot
    ackuThis isn't a production notebook so battery life pertaining to this specific notebook is rather pointless in relation to other models. There are other factors at play: LCD panel, battery density, etc... However, platform power consumption numbers are posted on the second to last and last page.AndrewTomsHardware


    That isn't what I was looking for. On Anandtech and Tech Report, a Compal notebook with a Core i7 2820QM achieved between six and seven hours of battery life when web browsing. I was looking for a comparison to help me make a more informed decision.

    Something like these is what I was referring to.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4084/intels-sandy-bridge-upheaval-in-the-mobile-landscape/9

    http://techreport.com/articles.x/20294/8

    Battery life is not pointless in any way. A pre-production model or not, it's relevant. If helps give us, the consumers, a better perspective to how laptops with these CPUs will perform with regards to battery life.

    I'm surprised it wasn't included.
    2
  • acku
    Fair point and I completely agree that battery life is not pointless. But on our point, we did go over power as far as browsing and Flash video if you read our conclusion.

    On an platform level, you can expect a new Sandy Bridge Core i7 to achieve roughly double the battery life of a notebook with an Arrandale Core i5.

    What I disliked about the previous benchmarks (including the ones you referenced) was that they automatically handicapped the benchmark against the Sandy Bridge mobile platform. Forget the whole DTR argument. A 17.3" panel will generally consume more power than a 15.6" (Look at the notebooks it was compared against.) When you isolate it down to the platform level then you can say all-else-being-equal (LCD, hard drive, wireless card, etc...), a notebook based on a Sandy Bridge mobile processor will ~ double battery life. Those other sites showed a roughly 33% improvement because of the other variables at play.

    Remember though that when you are talking about H.264 playback, this is all run through the hardware decoder. You are getting very little battery burn no matter what hardware you are running. What really matters then is the total platforms power consumption and the density of your battery (2.6AH vs 2.9AH cells).

    But back to your main point, if that is what you want to see on a DTR, then we will include it next time. Frankly, I'm more interested in the battery life of non-DTR mobile CPUs. "Normally" people don't care about battery life on a 17.3" mobile workstation.
    3
  • bearclaw99
    Damnnnnn...those are some amazing benches for a laptop CPU. Beats some of the desktop i7s and probably all of AMDs desktop chips
    0
  • SteelCity1981
    Quote:
    If AMD is paying attention, it needs to get its act in order. Brazos is one step up from being a pawn in the AMD Fusion chess set.


    AMD's Brazos platform is very impressive especially the E-350 series that's paired with an Radeon HD 6310 in gaming performance. Soo impressive in fact that the gaming performance rivals that of Core i5 661 in a lot of games and even goes toe to toe with the Core i5 2500k in some games like Call OF Duty Black Ops! As show here....

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4134/the-brazos-review-amds-e350-supplants-ion-for-miniitx/5
    1
  • _Pez_
    amd is losing ground.. they are taking too long releasing new products.. Intel is expensive.. damm!
    -1
  • hardcore_gamer
    I think bulldozer will be able to compete in terms of TDP because of the two integer units / core
    0
  • Vadim_79
    I just bought myself an Asus N53SV a couple of days ago, so far it's been great, it can handle any game i throw at it due to the combined intel 3000 and gf540m. Whenever i use the notebook for things like surfing the web it uses the intel 3000, so i get better battery life. I game with the notebook plugged in and set to maximum performance on a 42 inch plasma through hdmi. And it beats my desktop as far as framerates are concerned
    0
  • acku
    Anonymous said:
    Quote:
    If AMD is paying attention, it needs to get its act in order. Brazos is one step up from being a pawn in the AMD Fusion chess set.


    AMD's Brazos platform is very impressive especially the E-350 series that's paired with an Radeon HD 6310 in gaming performance. Soo impressive in fact that the gaming performance rivals that of Core i5 661 in a lot of games and even goes toe to toe with the Core i5 2500k in some games like Call OF Duty Black Ops! As show here....

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4134/the-brazos-review-amds-e350-supplants-ion-for-miniitx/5



    Do you really want to play Call of Duty Black Ops at 1024 x 768 at low quality? I wouldn't ever want to punish any TomsHardware reader that harshly. :)

    Andrew
    TomsHardware
    1
  • silverblue
    I'm really not sure that's the intention. Sure, it supports DirectX 11, but we all know that below the 5700 series, there's little point using it. The true strength of Brazos' GPU is slightly older games or ones that don't require masses of bandwidth because that single channel memory interface will strangle it in the end.
    1
  • acku
    Anonymous said:
    I'm really not sure that's the intention. Sure, it supports DirectX 11, but we all know that below the 5700 series, there's little point using it. The true strength of Brazos' GPU is slightly older games or ones that don't require masses of bandwidth because that single channel memory interface will strangle it in the end.


    I think you hit the nail on its head right there. AMD never really positioned the Brazos platform as a "gaming platform." It can't handle it. It works better as a more powerful enhancement over an Atom.

    Same thing goes for the HD Graphics 3000. If you have a DTR, it is likely you are going to get a discrete chipset anyways.
    1
  • silverblue
    It can play modern games without textures flickering all over the place, but most won't be too smooth, and you certainly wouldn't want to enable AA thanks to the bandwidth issue unless you're really limited by CPU performance (and even then...).

    It's fantastic that you can play some modern games in low detail with a decent framerate with something as small as your fingernail and use very little power doing it, but people shouldn't get their hopes up that this is, say, a console killer. Let's wait and see what Enhanced Bobcat is like for that sort of thing.
    0
  • marraco
    The 7-zip chart needs to be fixed.
    0
  • Onus
    On a lighter note, "RLUMark" is unpronounceable. I would like to suggest "IRLMark," (pronounced "Earl-Mark") for "In-Real-Life" for your realistic benchmark.
    0
  • SteelCity1981
    Quote:
    Do you really want to play Call of Duty Black Ops at 1024 x 768 at low quality? I wouldn't ever want to punish any TomsHardware reader that harshly.


    Well the same can be said when benchmarking an Intel Core i7/5/3 2xxx using its integraded graphics unit on game like Call Of Duty Black Opts. But I think you are missing the point in regards to the AMD's E-350 and the Call of Duty Black Ops benchmark. Of course no one is really going to play a game like Call Of Duty Black Opts on a integrated graphics unit with everything on low settings unless they are really that desperate. The point of doing that benchmark was to show the capabilities of the E-350's integrated graphics unit and for a processor aimed at the budget and ultra budget markets that can compete with mid-range processors with integrated graphics units built in, that's pretty impressive to say the least.
    1
  • acku
    SteelCity1981Well the same can be said when benchmarking an Intel Core i7/5/3 2xxx using its integraded graphics unit on game like Call Of Duty Black Opts. But I think you are missing the point in regards to the AMD's E-350 and the Call of Duty Black Ops benchmark. Of course no one is really going to play a game like Call Of Duty Black Opts on a integrated graphics unit with everything on low settings unless they are really that desperate. The point of doing that benchmark was to show the capabilities of the E-350's integrated graphics unit and for a processor aimed at the budget and ultra budget markets that can compete with mid-range processors with integrated graphics units built in, that's pretty impressive to say the least.


    I'll agree with that sentiment. However, simply stating that it the E-350 can perform similarly still doesn't address how similar it is in higher resolutions or a realistic quality setting. Or even in real life. It's a different market altogether. As Chris has often said, "Sorry your princess is in a different castle."

    That said, he actually covered all of this in his original desktop Brazos review. And it isn't right in my mind to make that type of comparison anyways. On the i7-2820QM, it's a mobile CPU that is going into a DTR notebook and is almost guaranteed to have discrete chip. On the mobile side things come out as systems, rarely do you get to simply pick and choose CPU + Graphics. What is the point about talking about the graphic short comings on this CPU when it is certainly always going to be paired with a powerful GPU?

    With the E-350, you are talking about nettops and netbooks. You won't be able to game anything larger than 1366 x 768 even at the most optimistic notebook configuration. So 1024 x 768 is a reasonable expectation given that is the resolution most often seen on the netbook side. Remember, AMD is hitting low prices with their 100 CPU/mobo combo, so this it is truly meant as a budget option.

    Meanwhile the i7-2820QM is certainly always going to be in a 15.6" LCD system or larger. Brazos is $500 and under. That is the target. With the i5-2820QM you are looking at systems that are going to be priced at least $1,000 plus its going to come with a discrete chip. Realistically, we are talking about at least $1,500. The i7-2630 is down the ladder on the Asus N53SV and probably ran around 1k, but I'm sure vadim_79 can jump and share the final price tag.
    -1
  • acku
    Anonymous said:
    It can play modern games without textures flickering all over the place, but most won't be too smooth, and you certainly wouldn't want to enable AA thanks to the bandwidth issue unless you're really limited by CPU performance (and even then...).

    It's fantastic that you can play some modern games in low detail with a decent framerate with something as small as your fingernail and use very little power doing it, but people shouldn't get their hopes up that this is, say, a console killer. Let's wait and see what Enhanced Bobcat is like for that sort of thing.


    That Enhanced Bobcat will be a 2012 move. And that would be "some modern games." CodBO isn't DX11. And I doubt anyone wants to attempt to play Crysis on a Brazos system even at 1024x768

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-fusion-brazos-performance,2790-7.html

    You will be wanting to look toward Krishna. Ontario and Wichita will still be ala Atom flavors.

    AMD's mobile plans hang on Llano and the Sabine platform. I'm teething to see them in action.
    0
  • acku
    Anonymous said:
    On a lighter note, "RLUMark" is unpronounceable. I would like to suggest "IRLMark," (pronounced "Earl-Mark") for "In-Real-Life" for your realistic benchmark.

    I may just have to steal that idea! Thanks
    0