Monday, August 16, 2010

ASUS X5EAE / K51AE Performance Tests

This is the last of three articles concerning the ASUS X5EAE laptop; the first was a general review, the second covered software configuration. Here I will provide some tentative performance and battery tests. As mentioned previously, this laptop reports to Windows as the ASUS K51AE, so perhaps that model is fundamentally the same.

The Windows Experience Index (WEI) is a performance score that provides a baseline method of rating your computer relative to others. It is composed of five sub-scores: processor, memory, 2D graphics, 3D graphics (e.g. gaming) and disk. The lowest of these is taken to be the base score. This makes good sense in most cases, since the slowest part of a system will be the performance bottleneck.

The one exception is graphics. So long as the graphics performance is "good enough" for the apps you use, it really doesn't matter how your computer might compare to some gaming super-computer. As far as business work goes, turning off some of the more expensive Aero effects (gimmicky as hell) will save you grief. You want pretty? You will pay for it.

Microsoft changes the possible marks with each operating system. For Windows 7 the scores are between 1.0 and 7.9. The X5EAE achieved a final 3.4, broken down as follows:
Processor.......... 5.1
Memory............. 5.5
2D graphics........ 3.4
3D graphics........ 5.1
Hard disk.......... 6.8

My desktop machine, with Core i7 920 processor, 6 GB RAM and ATI Radeon HD 4600 scored a base 5.4 as follows:
Processor.......... 7.5
Memory............. 7.5
2D Graphics........ 5.9
3D Graphics........ 5.9
Hard disk.......... 5.4

From this it seems that the X5EAE is performing excellently. (I really must put in a faster boot drive on my desktop.)

Battery Life
The X5EAE has a 3-cell battery rated at 48.4 Wh. There are many ways to test a battery but the most intensive is Battery Eater. This app provides a worst case scenario. In real usage you will always do better than this, generally much better. The Battery Eater result was a full discharge (down to about 5%) in 68 minutes.

When watching a DVD full screen with uncompromised brightness, the playback lasted 109 minutes before a battery warning appeared. One could play for at least another ten minutes -- and longer if one turned down the screen a tad, turned off the wi-fi or made other optimisations. This is obviously not a computer to take on a long-haul flight, but no-one expected miracles from a 3-cell battery.

I can compare this to another laptop I have on hand, the ASUS A8J running Windows XP Service Pack 3. This computer has a T2300 processor, 1GB RAM and NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300 graphics. Since it is far from new, the 3-cell 51Wh battery reports only a capacity of 34Wh. Battery Eater took 93 minutes to get to 10% capacity. Though the result was far longer, this computer has a smaller screen and less powerful processor.

Other Measures
The ASUS X5EAE takes around 34 seconds to boot, from the moment one presses the power button to the login screen. In practice that is quite fast. Logging in to a complete and ready Windows desktop takes only 10 seconds, even with all the background processes that are still active. Logging out and shutting down are equally zippy. I don't think anyone would notice a lag in operating the basic functions of this computer.

Ripping a CD with CDex to MP3 files using the "alt fast extreme" setting took 5:12. Doing the same on my desktop took 2:37. This seemed to utilise four of the eight cores, with another for systems processes. I am not sure if CDex is specifically coded for parallel processing, but this is an excellent illustration of the advantages of multiple cores.

One could go on and on testing performance, but what matters is how fast your important tasks are. I do not think this laptop would let you down, especially for the price.



jc said...

Hi, thanks for the helpful review. Am interested in ordering this laptop.

Do you know whether it would be possible to increase the RAM at a later date if required??

robin said...

The specs for the K51AE say "DDR2 667/800 MHz SDRAM, 2x SODIMM socket for expansion up to 4GB SDRAM". This makes sense in a laptop of this class, that is, entry-level.

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