Intel’s Mobile Core i5 And Core i3: Arrandale Is For The Rest Of Us

Asus' K42F Calpella-Based Notebook

The first notebook to breeze through our lab based on the Calpella platform was Eurocom’s Cougar, which employed the Mobile Core i7-920XM. At the time, Clarksfield was the only processor design available for Calpella. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that the previous-generation Montevina collection of 4-series chipsets, Core 2 CPUs, and WiFi Link wireless networking controllers is still most prevalent when you go shopping for notebooks. Expect that to change now that Intel is adding its 5-series chipsets, Arrandale-based Mobile Core i5 and Mobile Core i3 processors, and Centrino-branded wireless modules.

As part of our launch coverage, we have the first Calpella notebook with all of these new components: Asus’ K42F. The pre-production configuration we received isn’t exactly representative of what you’ll find at e-tail though, so let’s go through what is and what isn’t included with this promising-looking notebook.

Asus is purportedly planning to launch a range of these SKUs with a number of different Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processor options in Q1. This one, slated to cost $999, is spec’ed out for a Core i5-520M CPU, 4GB of DDR3 memory, a 320GB 5,400 RPM mechanical hard drive, a BD-ROM drive, 802.11n wireless, and an eight-cell battery. You’ll get Windows 7 Home Premium bundled, too.

Our sample shipped with a Core i5-540M, which is really an almost-negligible step up that maintains a 35W TDP, but pushes the CPU’s base frequency to 2.53 GHz and its maximum Turbo’ed clock to 3.06 GHz. You’ll see why this is a welcome upgrade when it comes time to stack this notebook up against a competing Montevina machine.

We also received our sample with a 500GB 5,400 RPM hard drive—slightly larger than the stock 320GB disk. This didn’t really matter in our testing, though, because we substituted in our own second-generation Intel 160GB SSD to alleviate storage bottlenecks. The 500GB drive was useful for conducting MobileMark 2007 testing on clean copies of Windows 7, but that’s really the only time we went with mechanical storage.

The only other change, Windows 7 Ultimate (versus Windows 7 Home Premium) is simply what we’ve standardized as our testing OS in the lab, and has no real effect on performance.

Up Close And Personal

So let’s take a look at the Calpella-based notebook enabled by Intel’s Arrandale processor and 5-series chipset.

It’s significantly smaller than Eurocom’s Cougar mobile workstation, with its 14” 1366x768 display, naturally. Nevertheless, a full-sized keyboard ensures you that this isn’t some flimsy sub-compact. We’ll withhold judgment on the chassis itself, given its pre-production status. However, one aspect that likely won’t be changed between now and production is the extremely pressure-sensitive DVD multi-recorder drive, which had a habit of popping out at the slightest nudge.

With that said, the K42F is lined with a number of useful ports and connectors. The left side of the notebook sports a pair of USB 2.0 ports, HDMI output, VGA output, and a 1/8” jack for connecting headphones.The HDMI is a nice tough for those who want to use their notebook in a home theater environment.

There’s a media card reader dead-center under the notebook’s front lip, but otherwise nothing else aside from a pair of vents.

The system’s right side hosts its optical drive (in our case, a multi-function BD-ROM, included with the standard configuration from Asus), another USB 2.0 port, gigabit Ethernet, and the DC power input.

Because the notebook is technically what most folks would consider a thin-and-light, it’s designed for compactness. Most of its back side is populated by battery and swivel; there aren’t any connectors back there.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
    Your comment
  • Well played, Intel. You've been knocking it out of the park lately, keep up the good work.
  • I'm looking forward to getting an HP laptop with the Arrandale Core i5 processor in the near future.
  • It's going to be interesting to see the performance/battery time of the LM and UM processors as I'm in the market for a thin-and-light myself.

    Performance is good but I'm hoping for a viable update to the CULV offerings of yesterday.
  • Looks like there are finally some replacements for the Atom, at least in efficiency anyway. Too bad the price is currently too high for the UM versions of these processors to make their way into netbooks. I would guess that even the i5-520UM would destroy the Atom in every benchmark, except maybe power consumption.
  • C2D was one of the longest living platforms. But newer tech will replace slower processors.

    Keep it up intel. I do hope that AMD will release some new chips that will be able to compete with intel offerings.
  • ^^^ true that. arrandale will further diminish AMD's role in the mobile processor market. and there's nothing coming up before may.
  • Chris, the dv4 series from HP has a 12-cell extended battery available as well rated for 94Wh 2.2A. Once HP makes the transition to Arrandale, all else being same, you can expect the dv4 to hit 8-10 hours easy.
  • Thanks for the tip Lucious. I didn't have the higher-capacity battery available to test, but I'd absolutely love to see 8-10 hrs. real-world from an Arrandale-based machine.
  • Good bye NVidia ...

    That chops them completely out of the mobile graphics market for the masses ... Intel will pay the RIGHT OEM's some "adjustment" just to make sure their "Strategy" is right to ensure AMD's mobile market is thin and restricted to the backwaters of Bejjing.
  • Wish you would have compared it to Intel Extreme Graphics 2 or something.
  • These comparisons aren't very useful. Was really curious how it stacks up against other competing integrated graphics.
  • Like... what is the Vista / 7 Aero and Gaming graphics score?
  • spydercanopusThese comparisons aren't very useful. Was really curious how it stacks up against other competing integrated graphics.

    Have a look at Page 8, where HD Graphics is compared to the previous-generation GMA in Vantage and WoW. You're not going to get much else out of this, to be honest...
  • Ok so we get 20% improvement over a 2.53GHz C2D but what about the fact that C2D goes to 3.06 GHz and 3.33GHz in extreme edition, but the best arrandale is only 2.66Ghz?

    Also the integrated graphics can barely match the 9400m that is 1-2 years old.

    The battery life is the same or worse...

    What is so great about this chip?

    Personally I'm not at all impressed and find it a step side ways or even backwards.
  • ASUS EFI? can it load the apple one?
  • Just because the older C2D's have higher clocks doesn't necessarily mean they are better. Advances in the micro-architecture sometimes leave clock freqs irrelevant. An i7 920 @ 2.66 will beat a Core 2 Extreme QX9770 @ 3.2. But to be sure I guess we will have to see the highest end Arrendale vs highest end C2D.

    The integrated graphics do suck, but at least now we have a choice in some laptops where we can switch from the integrated to dedicated, saving battery life when needed and boosting performance where needed. It adds flexibility basically, I'm sure Intel was aiming more for that rather than performance in 3D games.

    What I really want to see is the ULV versions of this chip. I'm hoping whenever they start coming out, it'll push down the prices of older Ultra-Portable laptops around the 12-14" sizes. Certain ones with the C2D SU7300 and 4GB of RAM can be found for around $550 today. If these prices go down far enough, netbookks will be obsolete in my mind.
  • Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.I will recommend my friends to read this.I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often.I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else!....There is also a lot of visual symbolism that is sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle...
  • Interesting that no mention was made of how Apple has been building Core 2 Duo notebooks that will play 4 movies on a single battery charge, while the i5's and i7's are great, I don't think Intel's Duos can be blamed for your notebook's barely being able to play a single movie. (note Apple is now making notebooks with the i5 and i7 processors which also can run all major operating systems)
  • Hey, Did you know these Arrandale CPUs are starting to pop-up already? I've noticed this review for the Core i5-520UM today, google says it's new: . Hopefully It's ok to post links in here, as they are related and help the readers of this post.
  • I am very glad then read your posting. I think your information is very useful for everyone……..