Fujitsu Lifebook E8410
- Good multitasking and productivity application performance results, Connectivity
- Lacks Turbo Boost; Build quality isn't great on our pre-production model
This is one of the best business notebooks we've put to the test and it says a lot about Intel's latest Centrino Pro platform. Despite the build quality and lack of Turbo Boost we were very happy with the results.
On top of its clean, functional design, the Fujitsu Lifebook E8410 also showcases Intel's most innovative notebook technology to date, Centrino Pro, based on the latest Centrino platform codenamed Santa Rosa. Although Centrino Pro, and the Fujitsu E8410, are aimed at business users, the new Santa Rosa platform offers a number of benefits for any situation and the E8410 impressed us throughout our tests (see also the Asus F3Sv (pre-production model) and the Acer TravelMate 6592G (601G16N)).
Santa Rosa is the next step for Intel's ubiquitous Centrino platform and brings a number of fresh enhancements to the notebook market. On top of these new features Centrino Pro adds Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT) into the mix. AMT is similar to vPro for the desktop space and could potentially be very useful as a business management tool. However, before factoring AMT into the equation there is plenty happening with the new Santa Rosa platform.
Some of the most notable of these enhancements are faster wireless connectivity, using pre-n 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi, Turbo Memory and a range of new CPUs based on the Core 2 Duo Merom micro-architecture. The AMT feature added to Centrino Pro notebooks allows IT administrators and support staff to remotely access fleets of computers wirelessly for patches, updates, diagnostics and a certain level of maintenance.
The new platform also feature's a brand new Intel 965 Express chipset-based integrated graphics card (X3100) for enhanced video clarity and brightness. However, the Fujitsu E8410 we reviewed has an NVIDIA 8400M G graphics card, one of NVIDIA's latest, DirectX 10 graphics cards for notebooks.
Installed in the E8410 is a T7300 2.0GHz CPU, 1GB of DDR2 667MHz RAM, and the aforementioned NVIDIA 8400M G graphics card. As mentioned above, Turbo Memory is on of Santa Rosa's new features, but is an optional part of the platform. Turbo Memory uses NAND flash memory decreases the time windows takes to boot, load applications and can speed up multi-tasking. Unfortunately the Fujitsu E8410 doesn't have any of the optional Turbo Memory installed. The memory can be installed in an available mini PCI Express slot and is one of the more impressive additions to the Centrino platform, so it's disappointing not to see in this unit.
Although the T7300 sports the same frequency CPU as the current generation's T7200 CPU (2.0GHz), there are a number of enhancements that make this notebook that little bit faster. Firstly, the 667MHz front side bus (FSB) of the current generation Centrino platform has been increased to 800MHZ in Santa Rosa. This added bandwidth provides a bigger and faster pipeline to transfer data between the CPU, chipset and RAM.
Another key feature is Enhanced Dynamic Acceleration, which allows one core to be powered down when both cores aren't required by an application. The power saved from that core can be used to boost the still-active core and increase performance in single-threaded applications. The Fujitsu E8410 performed well in our benchmarks, regardless of the missing Turbo Memory, and it dished up some of the nicest results we've seen to date from a business notebook. This unit is a pre-production model, so it should be noted that the specifications stated here may differ from the retail product; specifically, Fujitsu has suggested a possible increase from 1GB of RAM to 2GB of RAM, so the retail product may offer even better performance that what we see here.
In WorldBench 6, with its 2.0GHz (T7300) CPU and 1GB of RAM, it achieved an overall score of 74. Given that the Centrino Duo-based Acer Aspire 9425WSMi, which also has a 2.0GHz CPU (T7200), scored a 71, but has 2GB of RAM installed, we're impressed with this result. Individual tests showed marked improvements over the Acer in the multitasking, Firefox 2, and office application tests.
We also ran an encoding test using Cdex, a freely available, single-threaded encoding application. In this test we encode 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files. The Fujitsu managed to finish this task in just 127 seconds, which is very impressive when compared to CPUs with higher frequencies, such as the T7400 2.13GHz CPU. The aforementioned Acer took 143 seconds to complete the same task, meaning the E8410 surpassed that score by about twelve percent. Surprisingly the Asus F3Sv Centrino Pro notebook didn't show nearly as impressive a result, despite its additional 1GB of RAM and 1GB of Turbo Memory.
Although it's not a gaming machine, the NVIDIA 8400M G is one of the new-generation, unified shader architecture, DirectX 10 graphics processing units (GPU) and it was able to punch out a respectable score for a business notebook. In 3DMark 2006 it scored 1125. This is hardly a high-end gamer's magic number, but it's a good score nonetheless. It will handle older games well, as its score of 8987 in 3DMark 2001 SE indicates.
Santa Rosa offers a number of small power saving features. As mentioned previously, Enhanced Dynamic Acceleration allows one core to be turned off when it's not in use, but more importantly, a feature has been added that allows the CPU and the FSB to be clocked down according to the system's needs. Despite these additional power saving features we didn't see any improved performance in our battery life tests.
In our worst-case scenario DVD rundown test, where we drain the battery by looping a DVD movie, the Fujitsu lasted for just 83 minutes. This result is similar to other notebooks of this size and power. The worst case scenario continuously works the speakers, optical drive, CPU, RAM and LCD screen of a notebook. Similar to the advantages of Core 2 Duo over Core Duo, the new platform aims to increase performance without impacting battery life, rather than drastically increasing performance as well as battery life, so this result isn't a great shock.
While we're happy with the E8410's performance, we're a little concerned by its build quality. The keyboard is comfortable to type on, but tends to bend downwards when any pressure is applied to the keys. It must be reinforced that this is a pre-production model and this may be addressed by the time the E8410 hits the retail market.
The 15.4in screen is clear and bright, but has a shallow viewing angle that's common to most notebooks of this size. Built in to the bezel around the screen is a 1.3 megapixel camera, which is a nice touch, and is useful for videoconferencing using Windows Live Messenger, for example. For connectivity, the E8410 has four USB ports, a FireWire port and an Express card slot, as well as a PC Card slot. Also installed are a VGA and an S-Video port, and serial and parallel ports. A media card reader supporting SD and MS-Pro formats, and will come in handy when getting photos off a digital camera, for example. The E8410 also offers a gigabit Ethernet port with AMT support.
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Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
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