QL-60? T3200? Laptop processors make no sense!
December 28, 2008 8:36 AM   Subscribe

Yet another laptop question - somebody please explain the difference between the processors for me?

So, my current laptop (a Dell Inspiron 700m) is reaching its last legs, and I'm looking to get a new one. I used to stay up to speed on all the latest processor and video card news, but since I stopped building my own desktops, I've seriously fallen out of the loop. I've tried searching extensively here on AskMe, as well as on Google, and had little luck trying to figure things out.

What I've found is that the main makers have finally given up on the megahertz myth, which is good, but also makes it impossible for me to determine even superficially which processors are better - for example, Intel now has dual core and core2 duo processors? What's the difference? I can't tell how a T3200 processor compares to a P8400 processor. And then AMD has the X2 QL-60, TK-57, and TL-60... Is Turion better than Athlon? It's all a jumble. Really, the best I can hope for is to base it on price... But even then it might be hit or miss.

As for my needs - I'm not planning any hardcore gaming or 3d modeling work, though I'd love to be ABLE to play some of the more recent games... But mostly, I do a lot of photo editing (Photoshop CS3 and Bibble Pro for RAW conversion), and I occasionally do some video conversion (from Divx to MP4 for viewing on my iPod) and I'd appreciate processing power that can handle that. The reason I'm upgrading my laptop is that I've noticed it can't really deal very well with RAW conversions for my D300, and audio is very often out of sync when doing the video conversions.

I'm not overly concerned with power consumption of the processor - I'm happy if that's a part of the processor that I pick, but mostly I just don't want it to set my lap on fire when I'm using it.

As a bonus, anybody who can give me a quick rundown of the various mobile video chipsets, I'd greatly appreciate that as well. :)
posted by antifuse to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Check this out
posted by mpls2 at 8:52 AM on December 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

Best answer: and this for GPUs
posted by mpls2 at 8:54 AM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

In Intel-land, Core 2 is higher-end than their "dual core".

The out-of-syncness of your video conversions sounds like a software issue rather than a speed thing. Ceteris paribus, upgrading your machine's processor will only make it create unsync'd video/audio faster.
posted by rbs at 8:56 AM on December 28, 2008

Google the processor name and the word "benchmarks." This will give you an idea of the performance of the processor. Here's an informative graph from the search results.

Is Turion better than Athlon

Depends on what you idea of better is. Cheaper? Less power? Faster? Cooler? Essentially the turion is an mobile athlon. You'll really need to read up on the specs of these chips and benchmarks. At a certain point, especially with laptops, there's a lot of hair splitting.

Personally, I think you are going about this backwards. You should be researching laptops in your pricepoint and seeing benchmarks for that model, as opposed to researching individual chipsets. The wattage on the CPU is almost meaningless if the OEM doesnt give you a nice 9 cell battery. Or if its mated with a 17" screen that sucks battery.

though I'd love to be ABLE to play some of the more recent games

In laptops, the processor isnt usually the bottleneck for games or 3D graphics. Its the video card. You'll definately want to to get either an ATI or Nvidia graphics chipset, not an intel one. You can also google the benchmarks for these, but there are only a handful of mobile processing chipsets out there.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:02 AM on December 28, 2008

Its also worth noting that if you'll be doing a lot of disk access then your bottleneck wont be either your CPU or graphics card, but your hard drive. Laptop hard drives are built for low power consumption and low heat. If you are shopping around for a performance laptop then you should see which models/OEMs offer a 7800 rpm drive or even a SSD.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:05 AM on December 28, 2008

and audio is very often out of sync when doing the video conversions.

Whatever you're using for processing isn't carrying over the audio muxing delay from the original AVI to the new MP4 container. Quicktime on Windows doesn't respect delay settings for MP4 audio containers anyway; I'm not sure whether it will on OS X. In short, this has nothing to do with hardware.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:19 AM on December 28, 2008

Response by poster: In short, this has nothing to do with hardware.

Well, the only reason I suspect hardware is that no matter WHAT software I use (my most recent software that I tried was Auto Gordian Knot), I end up with sync issues.

Thanks for the benchmarking sites... That's pretty much exactly what I was looking for. Looks like those competing AMD CPUs in my price range are definitely lagging behind Intel's offerings.
posted by antifuse at 9:54 AM on December 28, 2008

This is the sort of question wikipedia is great for. For instance, compare specifications between List of Intel Pentium Dual-Core microprocessors and List of Intel Core 2 microprocessors.
posted by PueExMachina at 12:41 PM on December 28, 2008

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