- Review Price: £1053.00
The second generation of Intel’s Centrino platform, named Sonoma, has now been available for a couple of months and judging from the machines we’ve been getting in lately, seems to be quickly gaining popularity. So far we have seen notebooks from Acer, Dell, IBM and Sony – all big players in the notebook market. Today we’re looking at one of the first Sonoma offering from a smaller company – Evesham although the chassis is actually made by Asus.
The Voyager C510 as Evesham calls it, is pretty generic looking but does at least feel well built – something that isn’t always the case with third party laptops. However, the specifications are what make this machine interesting, especially considering the price. At its core is a Pentium M 750 processors clocked at 1.86GHz, combined with 512MB of dual channel PC4200 (533MHz) DDR2 memory. This is interesting as many of the Sonoma based machines from the bigger brands have stuck with DDR memory. Whether DDR2 has a major impact on performance is hard to say, as you would need two machines with identical specifications apart from the memory to know for sure. However, if one is to believe Intel, DDR2 offers a reasonable performance boost while lowering power consumption.
The Sonoma spec also brought tri-band Wi-Fi to the masses, as the 802.11a standard was not part of it until recently. But the key feature of Sonoma is of course PCI Express and much to my approval Evesham has gone for a discrete graphics chip. And it’s not a basic chip either as the Voyager C510 comes fitted with a 128MB GeForce Go 6600.
This is currently the fastest nVidia GPU for this type of notebook, as the Go 6800 runs far too hot for a small chassis like this. The Go 6600 is clocked slower than the initial numbers nVidia showed to the press at a mere 250MHz core speed and 500MHz for the memory (compared to 300/600). So while this won’t be the best gaming laptop around it is still far superior to integrated graphics.
The Voyager C510 has a 15.4in widescreen display with a pretty standard 1,280 x 800 resolution, although a 1,680 x 1,050 panel is also available as a cost option. This is a traditional TFT display rather than one of the new glossy types that have become popular.
On the storage side you get a well sized 5,400rpm Fujitsu 80GB SATA hard drive. This makes the Voyager C510 the first notebook we have reviewed here at TrustedReviews with a SATA hard drive. An 8x DVD+/-R writer from Samsung is also part of the package. It can also write to DVD+/-RW media at 4x and DVD+RW DL media at 2.4x.
Looking at the connectivity options on the Voyager C510, on the left hand side of the chassis you will find a Type II PC Card slot and a memory card reader for MMC, SD and MS/MS Pro cards. Furthermore there is a four pin FireWire connector, a microphone and headphone socket – with the headphone socket doubling up as optical S/PDIF output – and a single USB 2.0 port.
At the back you’ll find the 56k modem connector, the Gigabit Ethernet connector, four additional USB 2.0 ports, a D-SUB connector and S-Video output. And that is pretty much it, as on the right hand side is the optical drive and there are no connectors around the front.
What you will find on the front of the laptop is a set of playback controls for audio CDs that also work when the laptop is powered off. Above the keyboard is a set of quick access buttons for email and web browsing, a one that enables and disables the internal Wi-Fi antenna. Another disables the touchpad and one gives you access to Asus Power 4 Gear software.
The keyboard is quite pleasant to type on and not too bouncy. The layout is fine except that the Fn key has been swapped with the Ctrl key, which is one of my pet hates. The touchpad is functional and thankfully square instead of some of the odd shapes that seem popular on so many laptops at the moment.
The C510 is not the lightest or smallest laptop around at 2.9KG and measuring 357 x 276 x 35 mm (W x D x H) but then again this notebook is not targeted at the mobile worker.
Judging from the benchmark numbers it’s satisfying to see the new Sonoma platform really making a difference. The overall SYSMark 2002 score of 243 is very impressive and it is only really overshadowed by the Acer TravelMate 8104WLMi but as that has a faster CPU it’s not a completely fair comparison. The PCMark 2004 scores are similarly impressive, especially the hard drive scores, which are some of the best we have seen from a laptop in this price range. Then there’s the battery life scores and at three hours and four minutes you can actually use the Voyager C510 away from a power socket if need be. It’s even just about good enough for watching a full length movie on it.
The 3DMark scores are disappointing however, at least if you are to compare them with nVidia’s predictions. However, as I mentioned earlier, the Go 6600 chip in the Voyager C510 is clocked far lower than what nVidia told the press at the launch, although this might be unique to this specific laptop. With a 3DMark05 score of 1,751 I was quite disappointed as I had expected it to break the 2,000 point mark.
But as 3DMark is not a game I decided to fire up some proper games and with a Doom 3 score of 50.1 fps things are looking up, although this was at 1,024 x 768 without anti aliasing. Half-Life 2 is not quite as impressive, but at 37.4 fps it is still playable. Far Cry puts in the best numbers with 53.75 fps.
Overall the Evesham Voyager C510 is a decent laptop that comes in at £1,056.33, which is quite an impressive price for what you get. The Acer TravelMate 8104WLMi is the closest thing we have looked at so far, although it is more expensive you do get a faster CPU, more memory and a better display to mention a few advantages.
In the Voyager C510’s favour, the nVidia GeForce Go 6600 beats the ATi Mobility X700 in the Acer in Doom 3 and FarCry, but as with the desktop parts, trails in Half Life 2.
The Evesham Voyager C510 is up against some very tough competition from bigger, established laptop manufacturers but manages to offer a lot for the price. Performance is good and you will even be able to play current games on it, if not at desktop performance levels. Overall, if you’re looking for a well rounded notebook at a decent price then the Evesham could be what you’re looking for.
Score in detail
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