For the V-series laptops we will be using the same hardware for both models. For the B550i we will be using a slightly slower i5 CPU since we would consider that unit to be more of a budget-friendly laptop that will very seldom be paired with a high-end Core i7 CPU. As for the RAM, we simply used as many RAM sticks as possible in our testing (two in the B550i and three in the V552i and V752i) and used both standard Kingston RAM and Low Voltage RAM. The Low Voltage RAM is faster, so we wanted to make sure that these laptops would correctly detect and use the RAM at its rated speed. For our battery life testing, however, we want to test using the standard RAM which uses slightly more power. The Kingston SODIMM DDR3-1600 standard RAM is easily our best-selling laptop RAM at the moment, so using that RAM will provide more realistic battery life measurements for the majority of our customers.
|CPU||Intel Core i5 Mobile 3520M 2.9GHz 35W||Intel Core i7 Mobile i7-3840QM 2.8GHz 45W|
2-3 x Kingston SODIMM DDR3-1600 8GB
2-3 x Kingston SODIMM DDR3-1600 8GB Low Voltage
|Hard Drive||Intel 510 120GB SATA 6Gb/s 2.5inch SSD|
|Wireless||Intel WiFi/Bluetooth 6230|
|Video Card||Intel Integrated||Intel Integrated + Nvidia GT 660M 2GB|
Stability and Compatibility Testing
Our extended testing procedure for motherboards (see below) may at first glance seem short, but in actuality is very extensive. What you need to keep in mind is that the very first item - running the test system through our standard build process - is in itself a 98-point checklist.
The majority of the other checkpoints are designed to verify that the motherboard will function properly with a wide range of hardware. For that reason, we test using the largest quantity of RAM (either 2 x 8GB or 3 x 8GB) and with the fastest SODIMM RAM currently offered by Puget Systems (DDR3-1600MHz).
|Run test system through the Puget Systems build process|
|Review Device Manager to ensure all drivers loaded correctly|
|Loop test system through >50 reboot loops|
|Loop test system through >50 standby loops|
|Verify standby functionality using supported GPUs|
|Run 3D graphics testing using supported GPUs|
|Test all internal SATA ports|
|Verify stability with the largest quantity/size of RAM available|
|Verify stability with the fastest RAM offered by Puget Systems|
Test battery life under various loads
See following section for results
|Test thermal performance in multiple environments|
|Review Event Log for any unexpected warnings/errors|
|Verify basic functionality with latest version of Ubuntu (12.10)|
Overall, all of these units did very well in our testing with only a few hardware issues coming up. Most of the issues were related to the units not being able to properly handle our very intense stress testing (a combination of Prime95 and Furmark). Due to the size restrictions found in laptops, the cooling capability of modern laptops is often not quite up to par with the performance of modern day CPUs and video cards. In our testing, we found the cooling to be completely adequate for everyday use and even gaming, but when we performed our stress test, we saw temperatures that were much higher than we are comfortable with (as high as 96C!). Unfortunately, this is a problem that you will find with almost any laptop when it is paired with this high-end of hardware, so it is not something we can hold against these units.
|Temperatures well below threshold||May have issues in some situations||Above acceptable temperature ranges|
As disappointing as this is, we need to make it clear that this is not at all uncommon for laptops. The whole point of our stress test is to put an abnormal amount of load on the system and frankly laptops are just not built to handle these insane loads. We have had these issues in the past, and every manufacture we have spoken to has simply told us to not run that combination of tests. Thankfully, outside of our stress test, these units all performed perfectly.
The other problems we found were all due to various issues with Ubuntu. Hardware compatibility in Ubuntu has greatly improved over the years, but driver support still lags just a bit behind the latest hardware. For example, it is not unusual for Ubuntu to not support 100% of the hotkeys found on laptops, and these units are no exception as the hotkeys for display output switching and screen brightness simply do not work. Since automatic GPU switching for Nvidia Optimus is not natively supported in Linux, the GPU switching button found on the V552i and V752i is also non-functional. You can get GPU switching to work, but it requires installing and configuring your software using Bumblebee.
The other issue we had was with the webcam in all three models. On the V552i and V752i, we managed to get it to work by installing the latest NVIDIA display driver and changing the display manager to GDM instead of the default LightDM display manager. On the B550i, however, we had to load unreleased versions of the kernel in order to get the webcam to function. Both of these are likely to be implemented in a future update, so we are not terribly concerned about them. The rest of the basic functionality of these units (including standby, audio, WiFi, Bluetooth, USB 3.0 and any hotkeys not previously mentioned) worked with no issues and no special driver installations.