It’s always interesting to see how Intel and AMD processors compare, and on this evidence the difference in processing power isn’t significant. Both the Dell and the Acer perform to a similar level, as does another AMD-based low-voltage system, the HP Pavilion dm3. We’d wager Intel’s latest Core i5-based low-voltage CPU ups the performance stakes a notch, but there aren’t many models using it yet and certainly not in this price range.
In real-world use, the M101z offers excellent day-to-day productivity performance. Unlike netbooks, where the combination of anti-virus and Windows 7 often results in glacial performance, this laptop can cope with genuine computing. This includes multi-tasking, and you certainly have enough memory to be going on with. It’s only really floored by very intensive tasks like HD video encoding, though it can play back any kind of HD video with no problems at all.
Where AMD’s chipset comes out on top is in the graphics department. While the Acer can’t even muster double figures, the M101z manages a passable 23fps in our TrackMania Nations test. This doesn’t make it a gaming machine by a long chalk, but does make playing older titles a more realistic prospect. Moreover, unlike Intel’s graphics chip, ATI’s actually supports anti-aliasing.
Every cloud has a silver lining, however, as Intel and the Acer retain their superiority in the arguably more important battery life test. Though the M101z still manages an impressive five hours battery life, the 1810TZ lasts over eight and a half. There is an element of diminishing returns here as five hours should suffice for most scenarios, but with the Acer you can be confident in leaving your charger at home. Not so the M101z.
For many this might swing things in favour of the 1810TZ, but the Dell Inspiron M101z is still an outstanding portable laptop. It’s definitely the more attractive, sturdier and most usable of the two machines, and has a keyboard we’d love to carry around with us everywhere. If battery life is uppermost in your thoughts then the 1810TZ still wins hands down, but in all other respects the Dell is the better machine.
Dell has produced an outstanding portable laptop in the Inspiron M101z. It doesn’t quite match Intel-based systems for battery life, but it’s not embarrassed by them and the build quality, features and usability of the M101z is a cut above.