Investigation Test Subjects
First I'll provide you with a little bit of information about the two different computers we used during our investigation before we get into the benchmarking. Please remember this piece is an article and not a review, and as such, I will not be reviewing individual parts - just a break down of each system and its configuration setup.
Dell Inspiron 8200
Representing the mobile platform will be Dell's latest and fastest notebook computer, the beastie yet expensive Inspiron 8200.
Our performance customised 8200 notebook with 15" Ultra Sharp UXGA digital flat panel display is decked out with Intel's latest Pentium 4 M 2.2GHz processor with 845M chipset, 384mb PC2100 memory, ATI Mobility 9000 graphics with 64mb of memory with latest drives dated October 8th 2002 from Dell support website, 40gb Hitachi 5,400RPM drive and pre-installed with Windows XP Home SP1 and a bunch of other Dell software which likely I will never use.
In summary, the 8200 is a real credit to Dell. It took me some time to fully comprehend the product in front of me after ripping open the packaging. I didn't expect things to be this fast, on a notebook computer - but it comes at a cost, and that is battery life.
To see if it would make any difference, we choose to benchmark with SpeedStep enabled and disabled for your reference - in other words, when running off of the included Sanyo battery and running off of AC power. For those not up to speed on SpeedStep, it is a technology which tells the notebook when to increase and decrease the processor clock speed depending on what the user is doing at the time (the same theory also applies for the Mobility 9000 GPU trough ATI's intelligent PowerPlay technology) and also how much battery life is remaining.
During idle or non-intensive periods, the processor speed will kick back to around 1GHz (even lower sometimes depending on the amount of battery power remaining) and cooling fans will slow to reduce battery usage as it senses system temperatures are decreasing. During heavy active periods, such as gaming, the processor will kick back up to full speed and as temperatures begin to rise, the cooling fans will automatically being spinning at full revs to keep the unit operating in a cool, stable environment.
As far as actual gaming goes on the notebook, it did take a bit of adjustment since I've been used to playing on a desktop PC with 21" monitor for such a long time. I hooked up an external USB Microsoft mouse and after a half an hour or so I was all but adapt to fragging on the compact platform - Even outside in the day light sun, god forbid! :)