While Intel is without question the dominant chip-maker in the netbook space thanks to its low power Atom chips, the company has a little more competition in the budget thin and light laptop space. Basically these are laptops with 11 to 14 inch displays. They tend to weigh less than 4 pounds, and companies including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and toshiba all offer models which fall into this category, many with starting prices around $500 or less.
While Intel’s CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) line of processors are pretty popular in this space, AMD also offers a line of budget, low power Neo chips.
It’s typically hard to do an apples to apples comparison of a laptop by pitting a laptop with an AMD CPU against one with an Intel chipset… because other hardware tends to vary from system to system. So, for example, it’s hardly fair to compare a Lenovo X100e with an AMD Neo processor to an Asus UL20A with an Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 CPU because the machines have completely different hardware.
But Toshiba offers two versions of the 13 inch Satellite T135 — one with an AMD chipset and the other with Intel hardware. A far as I can tell, most of the other specs are pretty similar. And that’s why Laptop Magazine’s comparison of the Toshiba Satellite T135 and the T135D was so interesting. The T135 has a 1.3GHz Pentium SU4100 dual core CPU and GMA 4500MHD graphics while the T135D has an AMD Neo X2 L625 dual core processor and ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics.
You can find a detailed explanation of the differences between these two systems at Laptop Magazine. But here’s the short version: The Intel version gets about 2 hours of extra battery life, while the AMD version scores higher in graphics tests and in some CPU tests. For day to day use, both laptops are powerful enough for web surfing, watching HD video, or casual gaming. But if you plan to do video editing or other CPU-intensive tasks, the AMD version might be a better bet. If you want all-day computing, the Intel model appears to have the edge.
Of course, this test really only applies to these particular computer models. Intel has other versions of its CULV processors, and AMD has other versions of its low power Neo chips. And they may interact differently with different hardware. But as a general rule, Laptop’s results seem to bear out things I’ve read elsewhere which indicate that AMD’s strength is performance while Intel’s is energy consumption.