The Dell XPS 13 always was a well-rounded Ultrabook but the 2015 versions with Broadwell are looking like no-brainers for people needing a highly mobile laptop. The entry-level price of $799 for a non-touch 1920×1080, a weight of 1.17 Kg (2.6 pounds) and a 54Wh put this at the top of a lot of lists. It looks fantastic too! Ultabookreview have just completed a full review of the new Dell XPS 13 and after reading the review you’ll probably have it on your wish list.
Back-lit keyboard? Check! AC Wifi? Check! Touchscreen option? Check!
Ultrabookreview have the Dell XPS 13 9343 Signature Edition (Microsoft no-crapware version) with full-HD matte display and a Core i5 CPU with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD which performed very well under the tests.
Battery life is superb thanks to the 52Wh battery and, unlike Core-M based laptops it looks like entry-level desktop gaming is possible. Check out the review for performance figures for Dirt 3, Grid 2, Tomb Raider, NFS Most Wanted and Bioshock Infinite.
There’s good news on fan noise as it remains silent until put under load and there’s more good news from the keyboard and touchpad testing. It looks like Dell have everything right. Almost…
Screen brightness was raised as an issue and I’ve spoken to Andrei, the reviewer, about this. It’s possible that he’s got a faulty unit as other reviewers are reporting good screen brightness. We’ll have to keep an eye on this as other reviews come in.
There’s some heat under load and a slow-charging issue to take note of too.
At under 1.2KG with 5-10 hours of true battery and this much processing power, for $899, it’s difficult to see anything coming close to the new Dell XPS 13 during the Broadwell lifespan, which could take us through most of 2015. If you’re getting close to choosing a new mobile laptop, read the review and bookmark our information page.
I started testing the Intel NUC with Bay Trail-M yesterday and in the post you’ll see some performance figures for Android 4.4. Today I’m looking at Windows 8.1 (Pro) which was a simple, if lengthy, install process. Windows installed correctly from a DVD but a lot of time was taken installing all the (64-bit) drivers. Today I’ve had a chance to go through my usual suite of tests and you see the results below along with some comparison figures.
It’s important to note that I’ve gone for a fast SSD drive in the system. The MyDigitalSSD BP4 I have is a 240GB version but you can pick up the BP4 in a 64GB version for around $60 and it’s something I would recommend because this dual-core Atom CPU isn’t hugely powerful. We’re talking about the CPU and GPU power of an 8-inch Windows tablet here so in order to use this as a desktop PC you really can’t cut corners on storage speed. Oh, and why wouldn’t you just use an 8-inch tablet with a free copy of Microsoft Office? It’s a good question but a SATA disk interface and USB3.0 are just two arguments against that but given that a Windows 8 license is around $100 on top of the, approximately $240 you’ve already spent on the NUC, RAM and disk, if you’re also in the market for a student solution with MS Office you can afford to look at a 64GB Lenovo Thinkpad 8.
Buying a tablet isn’t as much fun as building your own NUC though and I suspect that most NUCs won’t end up running Windows. XBMCbuntu or some other free Linux distribution is more likely, especially when you consider the built-in IR receiver. Advertising displays, education, POS and automotive industries (and hobbyist) are also likely to be interested. Having said that, I’m enjoying this Windows 8.1 solution so far. The SATA SSD is making it feel much faster in operation than a Windows 8 tablet and it’s quieter than any laptop once the unit is mounted behind a monitor. The Gigabit Ethernet port is helping to boost internet speeds too.
System information and device manager information.
In terms of raw power I am a little disappointed. I should know better but the promise of a 2.4Ghz dual-core CPU had me thinking in terms of Ultrabooks and not tablets. It’s good, but don’t get over excited about anything like PC gaming or video editing. On that topic, note that there is no Intel Quick-Sync hardware video encoding so rendering videos could take a long time unless, you have a very very recent (we haven’t seen any in circulation yet) version with the N2830 processor inside. That version does support Intel Quick Sync and should improve basic video encoding performance by about 10X.
As mentioned, general performance is OK. It reminds me of the performance I got from the Acer V5 laptop with A6-1450 CPU after I had done an SSD upgrade. That platform, however, has better GPU performance. The PCMark7 score was good at 2732 points which safely beats al the Bay Trail-T tablets and even the Lenovo 11S with an Ivy Bridge Y-Series Core i3 CPU. Ultrabooks with recent CPUs and SSDs are getting around 5000 points in this test though and that’s the sort of performance you should be looking for if you’re doing serious multitasking and are looking for a ‘barrier-free’ office PC platform.
For a raw CPU test we ran Cinebench 11.5 64-bit and saw a rather poor score of 0.83 which is the slowest CPU we’ve tested this year. The Z3740-based Windows tablets are showing 50% better CPU performance. Clearly the SSD is helping to prop-up the PCMark7 scores so if it’s CPU performance you need (excel calculations, software development environments for example) then step away. A 2012/2013 Acer W510 running Clovertrail returned 0.53 points in our review so at least it’s a step up from that.
In addition to Cinebench we ran Passmark.
Intel NUC (N2820) Passmark CPU: 970
Floating Point Math:723
Extended Instructions (SSE): 2.49
GPU performance is comparable to the Bay Trail-T tablets we’ve seen. The Cinebench OpenGL test returned 6.0 FPS. We also ran the cross-platform 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme and saw results slightly above that which we see on the Intel Windows 8.1 Bay Trail-T tablets. The Ice Storm result on Windows 8.1 was also 13% better than the result on the NUC when we tested it with Android 4.4 although that OS build is still an early one and might need some optimizations. Again, this isn’t a gaming platform but Windows 8 ‘modern’ games did play smoothly. Pinball FX was smooth and responsive on a Full HD screen. F18 Carrier Landing was the same; Drift Mania Street Outlaws too.
Update: Under ‘Performance’ power profile and with the latest BIOS installed we saw a score of 8604 under Windows 8.1
Browsing speeds are good on the NUC. The SSD and Gigabit Ethernet are helping but tests like Peacekeeper and Sunspider show some lead over Baytrail-T devices. A Sunspider score of 495 beats all the Baytrail-T tablets we’ve tested and a Peacekeeper score of 1374 is good too. It doesn’t come close to the value you get out of an Acer C720 Chromebook though – and that’s cheaper!
Finally we come to video performance. In a Handbrake encoding test both with and without Intel Media SDK options turned on we saw under 9 FPS in our test which is truly bad. The Bay Trail-T tablets are scoring over 100 on this test and current Ultrabooks score over 300 fps. As for decoding, we played a 50 FPS Full HD H.264 video (30Mbps) through Windows Media Player and saw no problems but a CPU utilization of over 70%. Under Windows 8 Video app, however, the utilization was down to under 20%. Clearly there’s some hardware acceleration going on under Windows 8 modern that doesn’t happen when using Windows Media Player on the Desktop. Playing a 3Mbps H.264 video from a network drive through the Windows 8 Video app resulted in about 6% CPU utilization.
YouTube performance varied between browsers with Chrome struggling to offer a 1080p video without dropping frames at 100% CPU utilization. Both Modern and desktop versions of Internet Explorer were able to provide a smooth playback experience with under 20% CPU load. We continue to recommend Internet Explorer for YouTube playback on Windows 8.1 (the Modern app comes with extra security advantages too.)
A video playback test under XMBCbuntu is probably more relevant for many people thinking about the Intel NUC. We’ll be testing that out at a later stage.
We are using a MyDigitalSSD BP4 240Gb unit to test with. Here are the Crystal DiskMark results.
As you can see there’s not much to moan about. In a previous test with this SSD on an AMD A6-1450 system (here) we saw slightly lower scores. We don’t recommend using this NUC as a desktop with a spinning hard-disk as it will significantly slow down the perceived performance of the system.
Idle power used on this platform is so low that it’s not possible to measure it accurately using a consumer ‘Watt’ meter. In our tests it looked like the PSU was actually using 9W of power. We’ll set up a DC-only test at some point in the future in order to allow us to more accurately measure power usage.
Noise measurement has proved almost impossible here as the levels are so low. As ambient noise on the workbench is 44 dB it’s very difficult to tell if the NUC is on when mounted behind the screen but there is definitely fan noise detectable if you listen carefully in a silent room. We are running the latest BIOS with default cooling settings and understand from owner feedback that it might be possible to reduce the fan noise through settings available in the BIOS.
We haven’t performed tests on the WiFi module or done any audio tests.
In a follow-up article we’ll be looking at XBMCbuntu.
Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below.
We’re reluctant to call this NUC an all-round capable Windows desktop PC but there are definitely some interesting use cases here. It’s small and quiet and can support fast SSDs. It works well as a video playback unit (assuming Modern or IE is used as the playback environment) and keeps up well with multi-tab browsing usage. With the built-in WiFi unit it’s very portable and could make a useful camping, holiday home or hotel solution. For those thinking of Microsoft Office use cases we would suggest to take a look at the Lenovo Thinkpad 8 which comes with a 64GB SSD, USB3.0, HDMI and Office Home and Student for the same price as a NUC with Windows 8 and the Office license. For those looking for a browsing only solution, you can’t beat the Acer C720 at $220 with this unit.
Overall we think that the Celeron N2820 NUC may appeal to those who have specific Windows 8 use cases in mind (data collection, control, advertising, education, kiosk, IoT etc) or for those that have a spare SSD, memory and Windows license lying around. For those wanting a media-center solution, stay tuned. We’ll be looking at XBMCbuntu where we really think this NUC will shine.
In our last review we looked at an 8-inch tablet running on the Atom Z3740 costing under $300. In this review we have the Dell Venue 11 Pro 10.8 inch tablet running the current high-end Z3770 CPU and costing $499. The powered keyboard is an additional accessory at $159. The two units are extremely well built but are they worth it? We take a look in our detailed Dell Venue 11 Pro review.
In our fifth 8-inch Windows Tablet review we’re taking a look at the Acer Iconia W4. Acer were the first to bring an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet to the market but the W3 really wasn’t at all an impressive device. The W4, however, looks a whole lot better and performs a whole lot better thanks to the upgrade from Clovertrail to Baytrail. We’ve also got 3G on board which makes it one of the first 8-inch Windows tablets to have the feature. Read-on for the full Acer Iconia W4-821P 3G 32GB review.
The 8-inch Windows Tablets all look similar but underneath the specifications there’s always one or two unique features. The Lenovo Miix 2 8 offers us the lightest 8-inch Windows 8 tablet build, GPS, a good price and some good looks but are there any issues lurking under the cover? We take a deep-dive in our Lenovo Miix 2 8 review.
Looking for a tablet that just might be your favorite mobile productivity tool, as well as being a good sofa-side consumption device? The ASUS Vivotab Note 8 might be the one because of its digitizer and an all-round solid performance. Are there any major issues though and how does the ASUS Vivotab Note 8 performance compared to other 8-inch Windows tablets? We’ve picked up the 32GB version of the Vivotab Note 8 and the full review is available below. Read the full story
The Lenovo Miix 2 10 is a 2-in-1 Windows 8.1 tablet with a keyboard dock, not a laptop with detachable tablet! You’ll find out why in the detailed Lenovo Miix 2 10 review below along with details on performance, battery life, usability and quality. We’ve also included a comparison with the ASUS Transformer Book T100.
This is UMPCPortal, the site that’s been covering handheld Windows PCs since 2006 and as you might imagine we’ve been quite excited about the return of the small-form-factor Windows PC. The Acer Iconia W3 piqued our interest earlier in the year but the sector has now been completely re-born through products that combine Intel’s Baytrail platform with Windows 8.1. The Dell Venue 8 Pro is one of five or six devices already on the market and it will be joining us soon but we’ve already bought the Toshiba Encore WT8 and our full review is here. There are additional videos on our YouTube channel and even more detail coming soon.
I’ve tested a number of Baytrail devices and, as always with a new platform, there’s potentially a difference between the over-excited experience at the launch event and real-life usage; Sometimes it’s disappointing. In this case, I’m extremely excited because the experience is better than I thought. I’ve just received the Toshiba Encore WT8 (bought for UMPCPortal) and spent 2 hours unboxing and testing in front of cameras. My first impressions in blog-form will take a few days but if you’ve got time to watch through this 40 minute testing video, you’ll see why I’m excited. That’s all I’m saying for now. Your questions are, as always, welcome.
1.3KG with 11.6-inch screen. If that’s outside your target range for an ultra mobile PC, move on. If not, pay close attention because the Yoga 11S is an interesting touch-convertible with a Core i3 CPU that turns in some excellent all-round performance figures. Battery life and quality are up there too and to top it all off, you can get it for $699. From video editing to 2nd-screen sofa activity, it’s highly capable.
It’s easy to summarise the review that we’ve just published over at Ultrabooknews (in theory, this is an Ultrabook) by saying that the only thing you might not like about the Yoga 11S is that it doesn’t have the latest 4th-gen Core, Haswell, inside. WiFi performance could be better too but apart from that, there’s little to dislike.
One interesting discovery is that the CPU performance, the raw number crunching performance, is no better than the Baytail-T performance on the Transformer Book T100. However, when you factor in the better GPU performance, faster memory bus, 4GB RAM and very fast SATA-SSD, you end up with a far more capable PC. It’s worth bearing in mind when looking at Baytrail performance tests. PCMark on the Yoga 11S with Core i3-3229Y is better than that on the Tramsformer Pad T100 with Atom Z3740 and that doesn’t include the fast video enc/decoder and some other features of the Core i3.
At $699 it’s worth considering if you’re in the market for a sub-notebook. Oh, and the ‘Yoga’ fold-back screen feature is pretty good too.
The Acer Iconia W510 Tablet review went out a few weeks ago and since then I’ve had a driver-set update that is worth mentioning. I can alsoÂ add thatÂ I’m still using the W510. It’s really finding a place in my life.
The main feature here is that there’s a huge improvement in stability and it appears that the audio problem is fixed.
The touchpad response, for me, is still a problem and likely to be a hardware issue as it’s still locking into a vertical plane occasionally.
The drivers don’t seem to improve WiFi performance for me either although I’m not having a problem in my main zones of use (at home.)
As for general usage I’m finding the tablet getting a lot of use at home and it’s replacing my (old) 7â€ tablet for a lot of activities. I’m trusting financial transactions to the browser too which is something I rarely do in Android. I’ve found a good set of apps too.
Very importantly though i’m still not using the Acer W510 for any sort of document creation and have decided I won’t risk doing any sort of mobile productivity with the device. I’ve looked at a 11.6â€ Lenovo Lynx but based on the poor keyboard, that’s going back. I’m struggling to find a Clovertrail tablet with a really good keyboard and a built-in battery although I haven’t done extended testing with the HP Envy x2 yet. Anyone?
599 Euro was a great price for the Acer W510 with docking station, despite the cramped keyboard. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it as I’m looking to test a few other Clovertrail and Core devices soon but for the time being, I’m happy with the stability, value-for-money and completely spoiled with the battery life. I tested the ASUS Taichi 21 recently and the 3.5hrs of battery life on that (in exactly the same total weight) is shockingly bad in comparison.
Any W510 owners out there care to put a few comments below? How’s the experience for you?
The Acer Iconia Tab has been here for over a month now. Bought as a Clovertrail test device it has turned into a surprisingly usable and flexible ultra-mobile PC. The Acer W510 might be using the same Atom core as netbooks did but the package here is far more than that both in terms of computing and usage flexibility. Read on for the full review of the Acer Iconia W510 and a summary of where this ground-breaking style of smart and ultra mobile PC fits into the market.