You should have stopped referring to Yonah and Napa by now – Centrino Duo is the phrase of the moment. Intel announced at the recent CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas that the mobile processors and platform would not be known by their nicknames any more – they are places in Israel, in case you didn't know – and the new name was formally introduced.
Acer has built several laptops around this new platform, including the Aspire 5672. Using the lowest-powered CPU from the T range the Acer has a processor with two cores, each of them running at 1.66GHz, teamed with 1GB of DDR RAM and the new Intel chipset. We were expecting a fairly stunning WorldBench 5 result from the Aspire.
And we weren't wrong. Although it isn't the fastest laptop we've seen, the score of 95 points was only three behind the record. Besides, dual-core is all about multitasking, and on one test in our benchmarking suite the Acer stormed to a time that was some 20 percent faster than the WorldBench 5 control system. There's no two ways about it: this is impressive stuff.
Keeping costs down
When buying new technologies you expect to pay a premium, but with the Acer this is simply not the case. It'll set you back just under £1,200 all in, so some compromises had to be made – although not many, it would appear. The graphics card is a 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1400, and it struggled to provide playable frame rates in our Doom3 tests, although it coped slightly better with Halo. Nevertheless, it's clear this isn't a gaming notebook.
For other forms of entertainment, however, the 5672 is ideal. The 15.4in widescreen lends itself perfectly to DVD movies, and the sound quality is good for a laptop. The Acer Arcade software is a welcome addition, doing such a good impression of Windows Media Center that you'll barely notice the difference, and there's a 1.3Mp (megapixel) camera that can rotate through 180 degrees on the vertical plane.
The Acer boasts connectivity options galore, with Wi-Fi and an array of connectors. The keyboard is a good size and very usable – all the keys are where you'd expect them to be. The all-too-brief warranty is one of the few disappointments here.
The Centrino Duo CPUs, formerly code-named Yonah, also come with a new platform (previously known as Napa) that boasts a faster frontside bus (now 667MHz, up from 533MHz), support for faster memory, a new chipset (the 945 GM/PM), and Intel's wireless 802.11a/b/g technology.
The processors come in two main streams: the T line for mainstream notebooks, and the L line of low-voltage models intended for ultraportable laptops. The T line will range from the 1.66GHz T2300 to the 2.16GHz T2600; the L line will initially have two variants: the 1.5GHz L2300 and the 1.66GHz L2400.
As was the case with the Pentium M line, Intel's previous generation of mobile processors, all of the new chips also offer a 2MB cache. In addition, the systems feature Intel power-management technology that can shut down one of the processor cores if the application workload is light, thereby significantly improving all-important notebook battery life.
Intel has said it expects performance boosts of 68 percent or more on some tests. Keith Kressin, director of marketing for Intel's mobile products group, says games should look better on Duo notebooks but reckons multitasking would benefit the most, as our tests show. "The more demanding the task – ripping a CD while watching a movie, for instance – the better the performance improvement," he says.