ul30a bench

I’m not a big fan of benchmarking tests like PCMark and 3DMark because I don’t feel like they give the average user a good idea of how a PC will perform in real-life scenarios. Over the past two years, this hasn’t been much of an issue because most of the laptops I’ve reviewed have been netbooks with Intel Atom N270, N280, or Z520 processors. In other words, they all performed pretty much the same.

Sure, there was the occasional Intel Celeron or VIA Nano chip thrown in for good measure. But for the most part, if you picked up a laptop with a 12 inch or smaller display for under $500 between 2007 and mid-2008, odds are it had an Intel Atom CPU. So I didn’t have to work that hard on the performance section of my laptop reviews.

Well, the times, they are a-changing. Soon Intel will launch its updated Intel Atom platform and it’s likely that we’ll start to see machines with Intel Atom N450, D510, and other chips hit the market. But more importantly, Intel is promoting its Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) platform for 11 to 12 inch thin and light laptops. AMD has its NEO line of processors. And we’re well past the days when a processor’s clock speed could tell you all there was to know about its performance.

So in order to help keep track of the new systems with processors like the Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300, Intel Pentium SU4100, Intel Pentium SU2700, Intel Celeron 743, and AMD Neo MV-40, I’ve put together a list of common CPU-intensive tasks that you might expect to do on a portable laptop. This includes transcoding audio and video files, copying a large number of files from one directory to another, and creating a zip file.

I’ve already used this method to test the performance of the Acer Aspire 1410 laptop (with Windows Vista Home Premium and a single core Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 CPU), and HP Mini 5101 netbook.

But since I probably won’t be able to test every single netbook and ultraportable laptop released over the next few years, I wanted to make my benchmarking tools available to the public. And it occurred to me that some of the files I was using in my tests were copyrighted and shouldn’t be distributed. So I’ve put together a new set of benchmarking tools which are available for download here.

Today I have results for the Asus UL30A, a 13.3 inch laptop with an Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 processor.

The test consists of 4 parts:

  1. Using VirtualDub to transcode the testvid file to XViD format using direct stream audio and the default video compression settings
  2. Using WinLAME to transcode the testaudio file to MP3 using the default setting for High Quality audio
  3. Copying the entire contents of the folder to a new folder
  4. Using 7-Zip to package the contents of the entire folder into a ZIP file using the default ZIP settings

The Liliputing Benchmarking tools (mirror link) are available as a 453MB ZIP file. When you uncompress it to a folder you should have 2186 files that take up about 478MB, including the XViD codec, VirtualDub, and WinLame.

Here are the results for the Asus UL30A:

  • Audio transcoding test: 32 seconds to transcode a 13:24 WAV file to MP3
  • Video transcoding test:  3:22 to transcode a 4:34 file
  • Folder copy test: 10 seconds to copy and paste 2186 files totaling 478MB
  • Folder zip test: 1:02 to create a 453MB ZIP file containing 2186 files

Just for comparison’s reference sake, here are the results of the first batch of tests I ran on the UL30A, using the same set of files as I used when testing the Acer Aspire 1410 and HP Mini 5101:

  • Audio transcoding test: 1:13 to transcode a 30 minute WAV file to MP3 (The same task took 1:10 on the Acer Aspire 1410 and 2:30 on the HP Mini 5101)
  • Video transcoding test: 1:54 to transcode a 2 minute AVI video to XViD (2:41 on the Aspire 1410 and 4:02 on the HP Mini 5101)
  • Folder copy test: 30 seconds to copy 3100 files totaling 832MB (54 seconds on the HP Mini 5101)
  • Folder zip test: 1:44 to ZIP 3100 files (4:11 on the HP Mini 5101)

The results should be fairly similar for the Asus UL20A, which has virtually identical hardware, but a smaller 12.1 inch display. But I’ll be curious to see how other laptops with the SU7300 processor stack up against the Asus UL30A… not to mention all those other machines with different processors.

Thanks to psydeways for the idea of making my benchmarking tools public!

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19 replies on “Benchmarking the Asus UL30A (and other PCs)”

  1. I got my black Lenovo U150 (SU7300) and I’d be happy to run & post benchmarks. I downloaded & decompressed & started running the tasks. I would appreciate more detailed instructions to (1) make it easier for people like me unfamiliar with these apps to run them and (2) make our results more comparable. E.g., What files need to be run for installation (& in what order), how to use VirtualDub to save the file as XViD, etc. Also, any prep work such as turning off the antivirus, bluetooth, internet access, or defrag, etc. Also, my folder copy was much longer than 10s – was that an SSD in your ASUS UL30A?

  2. Brad, I did some benchmarking with this folder and something seems wierd comared to your results of 10s / 1:02.For example on my desktop (Intel E7400, 7200RPM HDD) I’m getting 56s / 3:18 for the copy / zip tests. The 1410 gets 1:49 / 6:07.

    Audio and video scores look right and fit in neatly between my desktop and the AS1410. (SU2300)

    1. I was zipping / copying the whole folder rather than just the picture folder. Wasn’t sure which one you did.

    2. Hmm… that’s odd. I did the same test on the new dual core 1410 and got
      0:55 for folder copy (2186 files totaling 478MB) and 1:38 for the zip test
      (2186 files, the ZIP file is 453MB).

      Did you use 7-zip to zip the folders, and did you use the ZIP settings
      instead of the 7z setting?

      I was shocked by the 10 second folder copy on the UL30A, but that’s honestly
      what happened.

      1. Ah so you’re making a .zip file. I redid it using .zip and got 1:39 so we’re getting the same for both. (give or take a second). Cool.

        1. Yeah, I figured ZIP is probably a more common file format, and I just like
          the 7-zip user interface better than the Windows utility. Basically I picked
          these CPU and HDD stress tests because they represent things I’m likely to
          actually do with a PC.

          1. I just remembered I have a 250GB HDD in mine, not a 160GB HDD like on yours and the US models so that would account for differences.

            I’ve run the test about 10 times and am getting various scores between 1:16 – 1:38 seconds. Are you getting the same score (55s) every time?

          2. Yeah looks like it. Since the score varies so much (I am seeing a 20 sec difference) for copying what do you suggest? taking the average of 5 results?

  3. BYTE magazine published the results of social benchmarking in Jan 1983. It was the Sieve of Eretosthenese done on multiple machines in multiple languages done by people all over the US.

    I downloaded the zip file. I don’t see a batch file or any instructions but I think it is a great idea. I am very curious to compare it to the BYTE data.

    1. Right… a txt file with instructions probably would have been a good idea. But I don’t really feel like uploading another 450MB file over my DSL connection tonight, so I’d just direct people to this blog post for instructions… for now.

      1. This is a great idea and I might start using this for my benchmarks too.

  4. Hey Brad, thanks for making your benchmarking tools public so others can use them too to compare with your results.

    Now all we need is a place were users can submit their own results in a format that can be used to easily compare results with other models. Let us know if you come up with any ideas for this kind of public forum for sharing benchmarking results using your tool set.

      1. Meanwhile maybe people could post to a thread in the Liliputing forums, maybe General Discussion (or maybe Hardware, since that would be the main variable), and if there’s enough interest, I suppose there could be a dedicated forum category.

  5. Brad,

    This officially makes you the father of Social Benchmarking. I hope it catches on. I will run this on my old toys now, but I’ll run it on whatever new CULV toy I buy my wife soon and post the results here.

    Thank you for sharing.

    -psydeways

    1. Nice to see numbers there… and that going Dual Core seems to help quite a bit. Now the missing part of info for me is how it compares to a full-blown small portable. The easy example here is a 13″ MacBook, and obviously benchmarking under Windows is odd, and also I know it’s not the point of this site.

      Just so you know, the question’s coming from someone who been using his 1000HA under OS X as a primary computer for a year now and who’s always thinking of ways to make things faster. Obviously, going to an N280 and slimmer design has been tempting, but the gains are small. There’s the Eee 1201N coming and it’ll be interesting to see what it can do, but I expect it to maybe equal the slowest single core CULV processor-wise, nothing more. But then decent dual-core CULVs are coming and will get great graphic solutions like Ion 2, and these could be interesting (and Hackintosh-friendly eventually). But the question remains: is the processor horsepower difference between a good CULV and an high-tech Core 2 Duo 50%, 100%, 150% ???? Then, when I move on to something bigger I’ll see whether it makes more sense ($$$ vs performance vs format) to go for a pimped CULV or for a the cheapest MacBook available.

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