Affordable Solution for Multi-Threaded Environments: Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Pro V3405 Notebook Review

Our test lab is being visited today by the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Pro V3405 notebook that is meant to be a perfectly balanced solution for businessmen. The combination of Intel Pentium Dual-Core and Intel Calistoga 945GM platform proved to be an excellent choice for the buck. Read more in our review!

by Alexander Britvin
06/18/2007 | 03:22 PM

Products are often thought to have certain attributes pertaining to the country of their origin. What would you say about a product manufactured in Germany? High quality, exactness of manufacture, and maximum reliability. What about Japan? Cutting-edge electronics and technologies. When companies merge into one, following the latest trend to build up international corporations, they merge their respective attributes, too, even though the resulting corporation resides within one country. A good example of that is Fujitsu Siemens Computers, which is reliable as every German firm and technologically progressive as every Japanese one.

 

Our test lab is being visited today by the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Pro V3405 notebook that is meant to be a perfectly balanced solution for businessmen. The optimum mix of price and quality is achieved by using inexpensive components but without sacrificing the resulting performance much. The most noticeable measure the manufacturer took to cheapen the notebook is the processor. It is the Intel Pentium Dual-Core T2060 we have recently tested in our review of the ASUS A6Rp (see our article called Dual-Core Budget Platform: Asus A6Rp Notebook Review for details), but as opposed to the top model of ASUS’ series, the Fujitsu Siemens notebook features the Intel Calistoga 945GM chipset. There is no “Centrino Duo” sticker beneath the keyboard due to the non-Napa processor. Instead, there is an “Intel Pentium Dual-Core” emblem that indicates the cut-down Yonah-core processor installed in this notebook.

Besides describing the exterior and ergonomics of the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Pro V3405, we will be able to see which chipset is better for the Intel Pentium Dual-Core, other parameters being equal.

Package and Accessories

The box is not decorated much, matching the low-end positioning of the product. The manufacturer’s name, a large black photo and box handling instructions are printed on its sides.

The Amilo Pro V3405 comes with a minimum of accessories. Besides the notebook, the box contains: 4400mAh battery, power adapter, modem cable (RJ-11), documentation (a guide on working in Microsoft Windows XP Home and Professional, a safety guide, a catalogue of additional accessories, a “Getting Started” booklet, a 2-year warranty, a list of service centers worldwide), and a set of discs that includes:

 

Exterior Design and Ergonomics

The notebook’s plastic case is designed in the classic way: the lid and body are black and separated with a silvery molding at the front. The rear part with the screen hinges is silvery, too.

The manufacturer’s logo and the series name are shown in the middle of the lid.

The display is locked by means of a slider. Below this slider lock there are two ports in the notebook’s body: a microphone input and a headphones output.

The hinges stick out from the bottom part of the notebook, allowing to unfold it by a full 180 degrees and even more.

A third color is added to the color scheme inside: the keyboard is painted gray. The top of the display bezel and the bottom of the body are silver. The sides and the area under your hands are black. There are rubber pads above and below the screen for a softer contact between the notebook’s lid and body.

The Amilo Pro V3405 is equipped with a 14.1” LCD matrix that has a native resolution of 1280x800 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:10 (WXGA). The display has a matte coating, which lowers its brightness and saturation but does not reflects light. With this notebook, you don’t have to care about ambient lighting.

We measured the brightness and contrast of the notebook’s display using a Pantone ColorVision Spyder with OptiCAL version 3.7.8 software. We selected the highest brightness setting before this test and it remained almost the same when the notebook switched to its battery. The contrast ratio changed more.

AC power source:

DC power source:

System status indicators are all placed in a single block on the left of the notebook’s front panel in such a way that they remain visible even when the lid is closed. When closed, the lid conceals the labels pressed out above the LEDs in the silvery plastic. This may be somewhat confusing considering the multitude of signaling lights. This group includes the following indicators (from left to right):

Above the middle of the keyboard there is a Power key together with three instant-launch buttons. There are grids of the integrated speakers on both sides of them. The instant-launch buttons include:

The Amilo Pro V3405 is equipped with an 85-key keyboard painted light gray, so you may want to wash your hands before touching it. The Enter button is shaped classically like the letter L. The movement keys are shifted below the keyboard’s baseline, so there’s a smaller risk of your pressing them accidentally.

PgUp and PgDn (they are duplicated as Fn+Home and Fn+End) are placed above the Arrow Right and Arrow Left buttons. The Fn button is located in the bottom left corner, second after the Control. This should be convenient for people who are used to shortcuts involving the Control key. Numeric buttons and two Windows keys are available: the Context Menu key is placed over one key to the right of the spacebar; the Windows Logo key is over one key to the left of the spacebar. The functional keys are smaller than others. Print Screen, Pause, Insert and Del are placed in the same row with the functional keys (you should press them in combination with Fn to access their additional functions). The letters are painted dark gray.

The notebook’s touchpad is almost the same black color as its surroundings. The touch-sensitive panel is sunken a little into the notebook’s surface so that your finger wouldn’t stray away from it accidentally. There are two buttons at the bottom of the panel – they perform the functions of the mouse’s buttons. The touchpad lacks a scrolling zone or a scrolling joystick.

The notebook’s left panel carries the following components (from left to right):

The right panel offers an optical drive with an activity indicator, eject button and emergency eject hole, a TV output (S-Video port), and a Kensington secure slot.

The back panel of the Amilo Pro V3405 offers the following:

The notebook is equipped with an elongated 4400mAh battery.

At the notebook’s bottom there is a cover of a joint WLAN, CPU and memory compartment, a battery module with two locks, stickers with model info and the OS serial number.

 

There are two slots in the memory compartment, one of which is occupied by a 512MB module. The other is free, giving you an upgrade opportunity.

Configuration

The Amilo Pro V3405 is based on a Pentium Dual-Core T2060 processor with a clock rate of 1.60GHz (65nm Yonah core with 1 megabyte of shared L2 cache).

Besides Enhanced SpeedStep technology that gives the notebook’s software and BIOS the control over the CPU frequency multiplier (to reduce it under low loads), the CPU features Dynamic Power Coordination (power consumption of the execution cores can be independently adjusted depending on the current load; one core may even slip into Deep Sleep mode with the lowest power consumption possible) and Dynamic Cache Sizing (unused segments of the CPU cache can be turned off to save power).

The CPU also supports Streaming SIMD Extensions 3 and the XD bit feature (hardware protection from CPU stack overflow). The virtualization technology is disabled. The 64-bit extensions aren’t supported. The FSB frequency is lowered to 533MHz.

 

This implementation of the Napa platform also incorporates an Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG adapter and an Intel Calistoga 945GM chipset. This chipset supports DDR2 SO-DIMMs, thus offering more memory bandwidth at lower power consumption. The South Bridge (ICH7-M) is connected to the North Bridge via a special-purpose Direct Media Interface and supports one Parallel ATA port, two Serial ATA ports, eight USB 2.0 ports and Intel High Definition Audio. It also offers six PCI Express x1 lanes to connect external devices. For more information about the Napa platform, visit the manufacturer’s website.

The i945GM chipset incorporates Intel’s Graphics Media Accelerator 950. As opposed to GMA 900, this integrated graphics core supports higher core frequencies (up to 400MHz) and a larger amount of dynamically allotted memory (up to 224MB, but limited to 128MB in our notebook). GMA 950 has four pixel pipelines and can map four textures per clock cycle. Like GMA 900, it supports DirectX 9 and Pixel Shader 2.0 on the GPU and Vertex Shader 3.0 and T&L on the CPU. GMA 950 is a fully DirectX 9-compliant, though. The detailed specification of the GMA 950 can be found at the manufacturer’s website.

The notebook comes with a WDC WD600BEVS-07LAT0 hard disk drive (2.5” form-factor, 5400rpm spindle rotation speed, 60GB capacity, Ultra-ATA interface) and an Optiarc AD-7540A DVD-burner with the following speed formula:

Writing:

Reading:

The Amilo Pro V3405 is equipped with DDR2-533 SDRAM. One slot in the memory compartment is occupied by a 512MB module and the other is empty. The notebook supports a maximum of 2048MB of system RAM, so you’ve got an upgrade opportunity here. The memory works in single-channel mode, of course:

We measured the temperature of the hottest spots on the notebook’s surfaces with an infrared thermometer after it had worked for half an hour in the Classic test mode of Battery Eater Pro 2.60 (the ambient temperature remained constant at 23°C during this test) and got the following numbers:

The next table lists the technical specs of the tested notebook in comparison with its opponent ASUS A6Rp:

Test Methods

The notebook’s hard drive was formatted in NTFS before the tests. Then we installed Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2 with DirectX 9.0c, system drivers (from the included disc), and Windows Media Encoder 9.0 with Windows Media Player 9.0. We also installed Windows Media Player 10.0 for such tests as PCMark 2005.

The following settings were used for the tests:

There were two exceptions: we returned to the Windows XP desktop theme for PCMark 2005 since the program required that. And for SYSMark 2004 SE to work normally, we had to roll each parameter back to its default (as they are set right after you install Windows).

Two power modes were used. First, we selected the Always On power mode for maximum performance and the shortest battery life. Then we switched to the Max Battery mode for the maximum battery run-down time.

Our tests:

  1. Performance benchmarks: synthetic (SiSoftware Sandra 2005, SiSoftware Sandra 2007, PCMark 2004 1.3.0, PCMark 2005 1.2.0), office and multimedia (SYSMark 2004 SE, Business Winstone 2004, Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004), and games (3DMark 2001SE Pro, 3DMark 2003 3.6.0, 3DMark 2005 1.2.0, 3DMark 2006 1.1.0, Quake 3, Quake 4, Unreal Tournament 2003)
  2. Battery life tests (Battery Eater Pro 2.60)

There are three test modes in Battery Eater:

We used the first two modes as they are in Battery Eater, but in the Idle mode (when the test utility doesn’t put any load of its own on the notebook) we played a DVD movie.

Performance

As usual, we will first run our synthetic benchmarks.

The SiSoftware 2007 suite features an updated enhanced-functionality interface, runs on three platforms (Win32 x86, Win64 x64, WinCE ARM), contains 13 tests and 34 informational modules, and supports a large range of devices thanks to the developer’s collaboration with Intel, AMD, ATI, SiS and VIA. The program is supported in six languages and has a free Lite version for personal and educational purposes. SiSoftware Sandra measures the overall performance of the system as well as that of each of its subsystems.

PCMark benchmarks the computer performance in office and office-related applications and also produces performance scores for the main subsystems (CPU, memory, graphical, and disk subsystem). PCMark 2005 carries on the tradition of complex benchmarks of the series and uses fragments of real-life applications as tests. This makes it somewhat more relevant for end-users as opposed to fully synthetic benchmarks. After running a series of 11 tests on the different components of the system, the program calculates an overall performance score in units called PCMarks. PCMark 2005 can check a computer out at processing HD video and encoding audio, and offers enhanced tests of the CPU and hard disk under multi-threaded load. The overall score is calculated by the formula: PCMark Score = 87 x (the geometric mean of the basic tests), where the geometric mean is calculated as (Result 1 x Result 2 x…) divided by the number of results.

Being equipped with identical Pentium Dual-Core T2060 CPUs, the notebooks have identical results in the CPU tests. The numbers are twice lower in the battery mode because the CPU clock rate is reduced from 1.6GHz to 0.8GHz then to save power. The Amilo Pro V3405 wins the memory subsystem test which is a point in favor of Intel’s chipset. The hard disk with a SATA interface shows its superiority over the Ultra-ATA HDD. Intel’s integrated GMA 950 core is somewhat slower than the integrated solution from ATI.

The Business Winstone 2004 test runs scripts of the following real-life office applications, several scripts at a time to simulate multi-tasking: Internet Explorer, Outlook, Word, Excel, Access, Project, PowerPoint, FrontPage, WinZip, and Norton AntiVirus Professional Edition.

The Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004 test evaluates performance of a computer in the following multimedia applications: Windows Media Encoder, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere, NewTek LightWave 3D, Steinberg WaveLab, Micromedia Dreamweaver MX, and Micromedia Director MX.

The following table and diagrams show the outcome of these tests:

The tests from PC Magazine put a stress on CPU performance and show that the Pentium Dual-Core works faster when installed on the i945GM than on the Radeon Xpress 200M chipset. The results are lower in the battery mode proportionally to the CPU frequency reduction.

SYSMark 2004 SE is intended to reveal a system’s performance under different types of load. It simulates a user who is solving practical tasks in a few popular applications. Multi-threading is taken into account. The benchmark issues a few ratings that are indicative of the system performance under different loads. SYSMark 2004 SE is mainly positioned as a tool for testing desktop systems and includes applications that are not often run on mobile computers. That’s why the results for each test load are shown separately.

The 3D Creation script simulates a user who is rendering an image into a BMP-file in 3ds max 5.1 and is also working on web-pages in Dreamweaver MX. After these operations are done, a 3D animation is created in a vector graphics format.

This test needs high CPU performance, and the Amilo notebook wins by a narrow margin. The results are lower by a half in the battery mode due to the CPU frequency reduction.

The 2D Creation script simulates a user creating a video out of a few RAW-format fragments and audio tracks in Premier 6.5. Waiting for the operation to complete, the user is also modifying an image in Photoshop 7.01 and then saves it to the hard disk. When the video clip is ready, the user edits it and adds special effects in After Effects 5.5.

The Amilo Pro V3405 is superior when powered from the mains. The numbers are lower and closer to each other in the battery mode.

The next test simulates the work routines of a professional web-master. The user unzips the content of a website while using Flash MX to open an exported 3D vector graphics clip. Then the user modifies it by including more pictures and optimizes it for faster animation. The resulting clip with special effects is compressed with Windows Media Encoder 9 to be broadcast via the Internet. Next, the website is compiled in Dreamweaver MX while the system is being scanned for viruses with VirusScan 7.0 in the background.

Intel’s CPU and chipset ensure a certain advantage for the Amilo Pro V3405.

The next script simulates an ordinary user who’s receiving a letter with a .zip attachment in Outlook 2002. While the received files are being scanned for viruses with VirusScan 7.0, the user looks through his e-mail, enters some comments into the Outlook calendar, and then opens a corporate website and some documents with Internet Explorer 6.0.

The ASUS A6Rp is faster in the Communication test which does not depend so heavily on the CPU alone. The results don’t go down much in the battery mode.

In the Document Creation script the user is editing text in Word 2002 and is also using Dragon NaturallySpeaking to convert an audio file into a text document. This text document is then converted into PDF format with Acrobat 5.0.5. And finally, the document is employed in a PowerPoint 2002 presentation.

This script is CPU-dependent and the Amilo Pro V3405 regains its leadership. The results are lower in the battery mode in proportion to the CPU frequency drop.

The final script from SYSMark 2004 SE includes the following: the user opens a database in Access 2002 and creates a few queries. Documents are archived with WinZip 8.1. The results of the queries are exported into Excel 2002 and are used to construct a diagram.

The results of the final SYSMark 2004 SE script agree well with those of the previous scripts.

The Amilo Pro V3405 and ASUS A6Rp having integrated graphics cores, we tested them in all versions of 3DMark: 3DMark 2001SE Pro, 3DMark 2003 3.6.0, 3DMark 2005 1.2.0 and 3DMark 2006 1.1.0.

3DMark uses its own rendering engine to create a set of 3D scenes that load the graphics subsystem in various ways. Compared with the previous version, 3DMark 2005 uses Shader Model 2.0x/3.0 instead of Shader Model 1.x, provides full compatibility with Shader Model 2.0, includes more complex tests (over a million polygons per each frame), and employs normal maps. 3DMark 2006 brings support for HDR, Uniform Shadow Maps, and multi-core CPUs. It is overall oriented at Shader Model 3.0, but two out of its four graphics tests work within the Shader Model 2.0 framework.

3DMark shows that the graphics core in the Radeon Xpress 200M chipset is not far better than the popular GMA 950. The results aren’t much lower in the battery mode thanks to flexible power-saving technologies. Both solutions fail to pass the tests that require support of Shader Model 3.0 due to their limited capabilities. The ASUS A6Rp looks better than its opponent in the Batch Size Tests.

Next, we tested the notebooks in two modes in Quake 3 :

And in one mode in Quake 4 :

There was no standard demo record in Quake 4 , so we had to create one by ourselves. We will use it in every review of notebooks on our site so that different notebooks could be compared under identical conditions.

The Quake 3 results prove the superiority of the graphics core integrated into the Radeon Xpress 200M chipset.

The ASUS A6Rp wins the last of our graphics tests, too. Summing it up, the Amilo Pro V3405 does not suit well for playing 3D games, being a typical representative of the segment of business laptops.

The notebook’s battery life was measured with Battery Eater Pro 2.60. The test was performed at the maximum screen brightness in the following modes:

The Amilo Pro V3405 is better in the Reader’s test and worse in the others. Although it is equipped with a surprisingly quiet optical drive, the drive proved to be very hungry for power. The cut-down Napa platform consumed a lot of power under load, too. So, these are results are not exactly as good as we might wish.

Here are the battery discharge diagrams for the different operation modes.

Conclusion

As we might have guessed even before our tests of the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Pro V3405, the product from the German-Japanese corporation combines high quality with high technologies. Perfectly matching its positioning, this notebook is a good balance between price, reliability and performance. It is going to solve easily any business task you have. You won’t be able to play heavy 3D games on it, however, due to the integrated graphics core.

The difference between the Intel Calistoga 945GM and ATI Radeon Xpress 200M chipsets is not too big for you to pay attention to it when you are choosing your business notebook because you won’t feel this difference in office applications unless you run special benchmarks. As for the graphics subsystem, the Radeon Xpress 200M features a more advanced graphics solution, yet it is still insufficiently fast for a gamer.

Highs:

Lows: