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Systemax TourBook 5127 – Dothan Notebook Review

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1174.00

Once again it’s time for a new processor revision and this time around it’s Intel’s Pentium M that has been given an overhaul. The new core, codenamed Dothan is here, but what does it have to offer? First of all the humble Pentium M has undergone a die shrink and is now fabricated at 90nm, and thanks to the die shrink Intel has managed to squeeze in some more cache. So, this latest version of Intel’s mobile chip sports a whopping 2MB of cache.

The increase in cache memory should result in a very healthy boost in performance, especially as the Pentium M has been designed to rely heavily on its cache memory. The new Pentium M will initially be available at a clock speed of 1.8GHz with faster parts arriving later this year, clocked up to at least 2GHz. One other thing worth mentioning is that Intel is about to change its processor model names, so the 1.8GHz model will be known as the Pentium M 745. I’m not sure what the number relates to, but I would expect Intel to clarify it all shortly.

However, there is more to this story than just a new CPU. As the Pentium M is only one part of Intel’s Centrino brand, the overhaul has gone one step further than just the processor. The other part of the Centrino equation is the WiFi adapter, and this has undergone a major refresh as well – there is now support for all three WiFi standards, namely 802.11a/b/g. Expect to see mainly 802.11b/g products in Europe as the 802.11a standard has yet to gain ground here.

The new CPU core and the WiFi options are supported by the current chipsets, but later on this year there will be a new chipset arriving with support for Serial ATA, PCI Express and DDR2. Other improvements include better sound and a new graphics core with DirectX 9 support, which shouldn’t differ vastly from the new desktop part. I don’t want to delve too deeply into future chipset developments now, but TrustedReviews will bring you up to speed when actual hardware arrives later this year.

For now, let’s take a look at the first laptop to arrive at our offices featuring the new Dothan Pentium M 1.8GHz – the Systemax TourBook 5127. If you’re an avid reader of TrustedReviews you’ll notice that the chassis is the same as that of the TourBook 5112 that we reviewed a few weeks ago (to read the full review of the TourBook 5112 click here). This is not a bad thing though, as the TourBook 5112 managed to grab an Editor’s Choice award, proving to be a truly amazing laptop for the price.

The TourBook 5127 comes in at a mere £100 +VAT more than the 5112, totalling up to a sum of £1173.83 inc VAT. So what do you get for your money? Well, the TourBook 5127 is a fully fledged Centrino branded notebook, featuring the latest 1.8GHz Pentium M processor, 512MB of PC2700 DDR SDRAM and an 80GB hard drive. The rest of the hardware remains the same as the TourBook 5112, which means that you still get a Mobility Radeon 9600 graphics chipset, a DVD+R/RW DVD writer and a 15in TFT display with a 1,400 x 1,050 resolution.

Since Systemax has not changed too much of the hardware configuration there’s very little to say about the TourBook 5127 that wasn’t said about the TourBook 5112. But Systemax has managed to improve upon an already great laptop, even though the price has increased somewhat. You do however get cutting edge hardware for the money which makes the increase in price fair.

Let’s take a closer look at the performance of the new Pentium M, and see how it compares to other notebooks we’ve reviewed. As I had very limited time to test the TourBook 5127, I didn’t have a chance to run a full set of benchmarks. You will notice that MobileMark 2002 is missing from the results due to the length of time it takes to run this benchmark, especially since the TourBook 5112 exhibited such great battery life. I would expect the battery life to be very similar on the TourBook 5127 as the die shrink of the processor should negate the increase in speed, especially since the battery capacity is identical on both notebooks.

The TourBook 5127 did however manage to produce some very good numbers in SYSmark 2002 and it scored only one point lower than the Sony VAIO PCG-FR415S, and that was based on a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processor. This is very impressive and shows that the extra cache memory has done a fair bit to improve overall performance. But even more impressively, the TourBook 5127 scored almost 50 points more in SYSmark 2002 than the IBM ThinkPad T41p.

Systemax has, yet again come through with an amazing product for the money and also managed to be the first UK supplier to sell the new Dothan Pentium M 1.8GHz. It’s impossible not to recommend the TourBook 5127 as it offers even better features than the TourBook 5112, and showcases the latest mobile technology. The chassis and design may be identical to the older product, but the inclusion of brand new technology at such an affordable price point makes it a clear winner.

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The Systemax TourBook 5127 offers the latest in mobile technology without costing a fortune. The previous model was a great notebook at an amazing price, but this latest version pushes the price/performance ratio even further. Put simply, the TourBook 5127 is one of the best all round notebook deals we’ve ever seen.


Trusted Score

Score in detail

  • Performance 10
  • Value 9
  • Features 10