Merom is the word of the moment, and Hi-Grade is one of the first vendors to provide PC Advisor with a laptop based on the new chip from Intel.

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Officially, the processor in the UltiNote D6000-2102 is called the Core 2 Duo T7400, but CPUs tend to be known by their nicknames before they see the light of day. The question is this: will this one be good enough to stick in the memory?

Rather like the Intel Core Duo T2600, the T7400 has two cores running at a speed of 2.16GHz. It has a 667MHz front-side bus – once again, just like the T2600. The major difference, however, is in the Level 2 cache. The T7400 has a whopping 4MB of it. That's twice the cache of the T2600.

This extra memory reduces the chance of bottlenecks, even when there are multiple complicated processes taking place. The Hi-Grade's score of 113 in our WorldBench 5 tests showed that the processor is certainly fast – although it doesn’t exactly tear strips off the T2600, which powered a Dell Inspiron XPS to a score of 111, or even the AMD Turion 64 MT-40, which helped the CyberPower Gamer Xplorer 80 to the same score.

New processors often add hundreds of pounds to a laptop or desktop PC's price tag, while offering only incremental improvements in performance. It's nice, then, to see that Hi-Grade has done its best to keep the price of the UltiNote as low as possible without compromising on the quality of other components.

You get 1GB of DDR RAM and a 100GB hard drive, for example. The 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 performed admirably in our graphics tests, and the DVD writer will enable you to burn home movies and back up your precious data. The software package includes the OpenOffice suite – it might not be Microsoft Office, but it's certainly not to be sneezed at.

Hi-Grade UltiNote D6000-2102: Specs

  • 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 processor
  • Windows XP Media Center 2005 Edition
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 100GB hard drive
  • 15.4in 1,280x800 TFT display
  • 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card
  • 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 2-year collect-and-return warranty
  • 802.11a/b/g
  • 363x282x30mm
  • 3.5kg
  • 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 processor
  • Windows XP Media Center 2005 Edition
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 100GB hard drive
  • 15.4in 1,280x800 TFT display
  • 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card
  • 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 2-year collect-and-return warranty
  • 802.11a/b/g
  • 363x282x30mm
  • 3.5kg

OUR VERDICT

The Merom processor doesn’t lift the portable market to a whole new level – it just offers a slight improvement. Credit, then, to Hi-Grade for making the latest technology affordable when it must have a big effect on profit margins. Not all vendors would do this.

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