Gateway MT6728, Toshiba A215-S5818, Sony VAIO VGN-NR220E/S, Dell Vostro 1400, Compaq Presario C581WM, C700T Laptops Comparison/Review

We did a similar review about a month back but some of those machines are no longer available and so we decided to revisit the post. A few key criteria should be evaluated when shopping for a laptop. Below is a summary of the five branded machines we selected for the comparison:

























ProductBest PriceStoreProcessorMemoryHard Disk (HD)Other Feature Summary
Compaq Presario C700T$299.99OfficeDepot.comIntel® Pentium® Dual-Core mobile processor T2330; 533MHz frontside bus, 1MB L2 cache and 1.6GHz processor speed1GB PC2-5300 DDR2 memory for multitasking power;80GBDL DVD±RW/CD-RW drive; 15.4" widescreen; Windows Vista Home Basic
Gateway MT6728$499.99BestBuy.com
Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core mobile processor T2330; 533MHz frontside bus, 1MB L2 cache and 1.6GHz processor speed 2GB PC2-5300 DDR2 memory for multitasking power; 160GBDL DVD±RW/CD-RW drive; Label flash support; 15.4" widescreen; Windows Vista Home Premium; Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator X3100.
Compaq Presario C581$548Walmart.comIntel Celeron Processor 530; 533MHz FSB bus speed;1MB L2 Cache 1024MB DDR2 System Memory120GB (5400RPM) SATA hard drive15.4" widescreen; Windows Vista Home Premium; Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 (shared) – 224MB total available shared graphics memory; Super Multi 8X DVD R/RW drive; S-video out.
Dell Vostro 1400$579.99 Dell.com Intel® Core2 Duo T5270 1.4GHz, 800Mhz, 2M L2 Cache2GB, DDR2, 667MHz 2 DIMM 160GB14.1” widescreen; Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator X3100; 85 WHr 9-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery. S-Video Out.
Sony VAIO VGN-NR220E/S$699.99BestBuy.comIntel® Pentium® Dual-Core mobile processor T2330; 533MHz frontside bus, 1MB L2 cache and 1.6GHz processor speed 1GB PC2-4200 DDR2 memory for multitasking power, expandable to 2GB 160GB Serial ATA hard drive (5400 rpm) DL DVD±RW/CD-RW drive; 15.4" widescreen; Windows Vista Home Premium; Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator X3100.
Toshiba A215-S5818 Onyx Blue$599.99BestBuy.comAMD Turion™ 64 X2 mobile technology TL-60; HyperTransport™ and AMD PowerNow!™ technologies and improved security with Enhanced Virus Protection 2GB DDR2 SDRAM for multitasking power, expandable to 4GB 160GB Serial ATA hard drive (5400 rpm) DL DVD±RW/CD-RW drive; 15.4" widescreen; Windows Vista Home Premium; ATI RADEON X1200 graphics with 128MB-319MB dynamically allocated shared graphics memory; S-video out.


The common features applicable to all of the models described above are:
  • Windows Vista or Windows XP Home OS.
  • Graphics Media Accelerator Chipset.
  • Lithium Ion 6 or 9-cell battery.
  • Wireless 802.11b/g card.
  • 10Base-T/100Base-TX Fast Ethernet LAN with RJ-45 connector
  • High-Speed Modem.
  • Two or more USB 2.0 ports.
The vital part of any computer is its Central Processing Unit (CPU) and should be considered in detail to effectively compare them. The Intel® Celeron processor is a basic low-end mobile chip and this is employed by Compaq. Pentium® Dual-Core is a higher-end chip that has hardware support for multi-threaded applications and is the one that Gateway and the Sony are shipped with. The AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-58 is the primary competition for Intel’s high-end mobile chips processor that Toshiba is based on. The Dell is fired by the Intel® Core 2 Duo chip, which is one of its high-end processors. The following CPU features affect system performance -
  • L1 Cache - faster than system memory and the L2 Cache usually located inside the CPU chip.
  • L2 Cache – faster than system memory usually separate from the CPU chip.
  • Clock Speed – Faster clock speed executes instructions more quickly. Benefits most applications - Media titles, games, and everyday productivity.
  • System Bus – Key component for overall system performance. Improvements in Performance and Responsiveness. Transfers data faster between processor, system memory, and graphics.
  • Hyper-threading technology – two software threads at the same time. Uses previously unused resources. Benefits multi-threaded applications and other applications such as virus protection that usually runs parallel with user applications.
  • Dual-Core – True parallel processing. Two threads to be processed using single execution core (single-core) – partially parallel. Dual core has two execution cores thereby enabling true parallel processing.
  • Virus Deterrent Technology – Added security for PCs. Avoids the classic buffer overflow viruses. Classify areas in memory by where application code can execute and where it cannot. When a malicious worm attempts to insert code in the buffer, the processor disables code execution, preventing damage and worm propagation.
  • Power Management – Allows using less power when computing doesn’t need to use power for all resources.
The table below summarizes the core differences in the CPUs used by these laptops:



















MachineProcessorL1 CacheL2 CacheClock SpeedSystem BusOthers

Compaq Presario C700T, Gateway MT6728 and Sony VAIO VGN-NR220E/S
Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core mobile processor T2330128 KB1MB 1.6 GHz533 MHzDual Core true parallel processing enabled. Execute Disable Bit Virus Deterrent Technology and Intel Speedstep Power Management Technology Built In.
Toshiba A215-S5818AMD Turion™ 64 X2 mobile technology TL-60256 KB*1MB*2.0 GHz1600MHz*AMD PowerNow Power Management Technology and AMD Enhanced Virus Protection capabilities.
Dell Vostro 1400Intel® Core2 Duo T5270128 KB2 MB1.4 GHz800 MHzDual Core true parallel processing enabled. Execute Disable Bit Virus Deterrent Technology and Intel Speedstep Power Management Technology Built In.
Compaq Presario C581Intel Celeron Processor 530128 KB1 MB1.73 GHz533 MHzExecute Disable Bit Virus Deterrent Technology.

  • The AMD processor uses dedicated L1 and L2 caches per core along with a full-duplex system bus. The Intel processors on the other hand use shared L1 and L2 caches along with a half-duplex front side bus.

Recommendation:

Compaq Presario C700T deal at Office Depot is an outstanding deal for a basic entry level laptop. Gateway MT6728 & Dell Vostro 1400 have better features but are priced higher. Gateway has almost the same features as the Dell, but has a wider screen, lower price, but a slightly less powerful CPU. The Dell fares better against Compaq C581 with more memory and better CPU. It also fares better against the Sony with better CPU and lower price. The Toshiba A215-S5818, on the other hand provides an interesting comparison. It has the AMD chip and that compares very well with Intel’s latest offerings but is pricey.

One other factor to consider is that the Dell comes preinstalled with Windows XP while the others come with Windows Vista. Windows XP sp2 is older but more stable operating system compared to Vista. Also, all the models except the Dell come with a number of trial versions of software installed. Needless to say, most will end up uninstalled.

For a basic family laptop, our recommendation would be the Compaq Presario T2330. The pricing on it is hard to beat. For a more enhanced user experience, the Gateway MT6728 with double the memory, and HD space, and the Premium version of the Windows Vista Operating System is a good value.

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