Sandy Bridge Mobile Performance Review
With the pleasantries out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks – the benchmark numbers the Sandy Bridge Core i7-2630QM was able to crank out. We’re going to start with the SiSoft Sandra processor and memory bandwidth benchmarks, just as if this were a normal laptop review. These benchmarks provide a great general outline of how a processor performs.
Yes, that’s right – this new Sandy Bridge processor soundly thrashed the ASUS G53, which was powered by the Core i7-740QM, a 1.73 GHz beast. The thrashing was no small peanuts, either. As you can see, the performance gap between the older Core i7-740QM and the new Core i7-2630QM is nearly as large as the performance gap between the older Core i7 and AMD’s new single-core E-240.
Put simply; damn, son.
Even the memory bandwidth benchmark showed a respectable increase. Clearly, this new Sandy Bridge processor has a lot of raw hardware power to throw around. With that said, let’s look at two other benchmarks that provide a more general idea of performance.
It’s important to note, of course, that these benchmarks are obviously going to be influenced by the entirety of the system being benched. However, the system housing the Core i7-2630QM we tested was substantially similar to the ASUS G53 we reviewed about a month ago, so comparing the two should provide valid conclusions.
The PCMark Vantage benchmark shows a very respectable performance increase. The test laptop performed better than the G53 in
every category, resulting in a score just shy of 3000 points above the previously tested G53. Clearly, the incredible performance hinted at in the SiSoft benchmarks impacts a wide variety of activities.
Curious, I loaded CPU-Z to see what was happening with the processor’s clock speeds. From what I can gather, it appears that Sandy Bridge doles out processing power conservatively. In fact, the processor was clocked below 2 GHz for much of the benchmark, indicating that it was in a power-saving state rather than gearing towards full blown performance. I always test laptops on the High Performance power management setting, so the Sandy Bridge processor was plenty of leash.
The fact that the processor was so conservative may not be a bad thing, however; certainly, there was no indication during the benchmark that more juice was actually required. I think the performance in Peacekeeper reflects a conscious attempt to improve power efficiency by keeping the processor restrained when its full might is not needed rather than a fault in the processor’s performance. Additional testing in future Sandy Bridge powered laptops will be required to form a complete picture, however.
The 7-Zip Benchmark does an excellent job of stressing every thread of every core on a processor, and the results yet again provided evidence that the Core i7-2630QM packs quite a punch. It was able to best the previous champion, the ASUS G53, by nearly 3000 points on the compression side and over 3000 on the decompression side - and the Core i7-740QM processor in that laptop had already scored 5000 points higher than the next quickest laptop, the ThinkPad T410s powered by a Core i5.
Finally, let’s take a look at 3DMark 06.
Again, we were not able to test the integrated graphics in this processor, so this result is meant merely to provide an indication of processor performance. In this it is still fairly instructive, however, because the test-bed system we had access to made use of the same GPU that powered the ASUS G53.
As you can see, there wasn’t a huge performance difference as a result of the Sandy Bridge processor. These was not terribly surprising; 3DMark 06 is an older benchmark that does not place much demand on modern processors, so this benchmark’s score is determined largely by the GPU rather than the CPU. Still, the new Sandy Bridge processors should provide some modest improvement in gaming performance, and I imagine that the improvement would be greater if you’re playing a game well known for taxing processor