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The life of a truly modern man is like a train that is steadily speeding up from its station towards an unknown destination. It is getting faster and faster every moment, and there’s no stopping or even pausing this process. Living at a high speed, the modern man regards time as a great value. Some people are even dreaming about extra hours in the day that would sum up into extra days monthly. To avoid floundering in such unreal dreaming, you can put to good use those hours that you’d just waste otherwise. You only need a portable digital companion, a notebook computer.

There is, however, a list of minimum requirements this digital companion must comply with to satisfy its owner. The notebook must be light and small, yet easy to work with. It must have high-performance but economical components so that it could last long on the battery. A large selection of wireless interfaces would also be welcome in a traveling notebook. A good graphics subsystem might also come in handy so that the user could relax a little at some game.

You think it’s impossible? Not at all! The Dell Inspiron XPS M1201 is a vivid example of that. Depending on the configuration, this 12” cutie (it easily fits within the dimensions of the A4 paper format and thus into any briefcase or bag) can satisfy any person who is spending much of his life traveling. Appearances are often misleading, and a cursory glance over the Inspiron XPS M1210 won’t disclose to you the fact that this notebook has one of the most advanced of today’s mobile CPUs coupled with a rather powerful graphics subsystem. Not all notebooks marked as XPS M1210 have a discrete graphics solution on board, though. There is a version that has a tremendous computing power but is weak in 3D and gaming applications because it uses the integrated graphics core Graphics Media Accelerator 950.

It’s the latter version of the notebook that we’ve got for our tests. The Dell Inspiron XPS M1210 is based on a Merom-core CPU with the Core micro-architecture. The Merom differs from the previous core Yonah in a few respects. First, the Intel Core 2 Duo T7600 has a 4MB L2 cache. The execution pipeline is almost the same length in all CPUs with the Core architecture, yet it is longer by two stages in the Core 2 Duo. The most notable improvement is the support of Intel’s 64-bit extensions to the x86 architecture and the so-called Intel Wide Dynamic Execution that means that the CPU core now has more decoders and execution units. The processing of SSE and floating-point instructions has been accelerated. With all these innovations, the Merom core has a typical heat dissipation of 34W as opposed to the Yonah’s 31W. The rest of the components of the Napa platform are left unchanged and the CPU socket will remain the same until the upcoming transition to the Santa Rosa platform.


Refreshed Napa platform

The stickers they put on the notebook case are the same too, except that the Intel Core 2 Duo Inside sticker now has the number 2 that stands for Merom. The Centrino Duo logo doesn’t allow telling which exactly CPU resides inside the notebook.

 

Our tests will show how such crucial parameters of notebooks as battery life and performance have been affected by the technical innovations. But first we’ll examine the Dell Inspiron XPS X1210 carefully from all the sides. We’ll also take an ASUS W5F notebook as an opponent to the Inspiron. The notebook from ASUS has a similar hardware configuration, but a different CPU with a different clock rate. The Inspiron XPS M1210 is based on a Merom-core processor with a frequency of 2.33GHz while the ASUS W5F has a Yonah-core 2.0GHz CPU (it is the highest CPU frequency among all the Intel Core Duo processors we’ve ever tested in our labs).

 
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