For those curious about how Intel's laptop/ultrabook CPUs have evolved over the past few generations and whether it's worthwhile upgrading from one generation to the next, here's a fresh Linux laptop comparison with seven different laptops being tested on Ubuntu 15.10 x86_64 and comparing these laptops from Sandy Bridge to Broadwell on a variety of workloads while also doing some performance-per-Watt measurements.
If you are debating whether to buy a new laptop this holiday shopping season or just curious how the performance has evolved over the past few years for Intel mobile hardware, I took seven laptops I had available to represent the Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell, and Broadwell generations and ran some fresh benchmarks on them. Ubuntu 15.10 64-bit was running on all seven devices using clean installs while I manually upgraded to the Linux 4.4 Git kernel for the best support. Key Ubuntu 15.10 components worth mentioning include Mesa 11.0.2, GCC 5.2.1, the EXT4 file-system, and X.Org Server 1.17.2.
The laptops I had available for testing in this year-end comparison included:
HP EliteBook 161C - What was Intel's Software Development Vehicle (SDV) for Sandy Bridge, sent over by the Intel OTC folks a few years back. This laptop has the Core i5 2520M CPU with HD Graphics 3000, 160GB Intel SSD, and 4GB of RAM.
ASUS K56CA - A ultrabook with Core i3 3217U processor having HD Graphics 4000. This ultrabook also had 4GB of RAM and was using a 24GB SanDisk SSD as the main storage medium plus a 500GB hard drive for extra storage capacity.
ASUS UX32VDA - Another ASUS ultrabook, this one with a Core i7 3517U Ivy Bridge processor and HD Graphics 4000. This ultrabook has 4GB of RAM and dual 128GB SanDisk SSDs.
Apple MacBook Air - A Haswell-based Core i5 4250U with HD Graphics 5000. This MacBook Air has 4GB of RAM and 120GB of SSD storage.
ASUS UX301LAA - An ASUS Haswell ultrabook with Core i7 4558U with Iris Graphics 5100. This ultrabook has 8GB of RAM and dual 128GB SSDs.
ASUS X555LAB - A newer ASUS laptop with Core i3 5010U Broadwell with HD Graphics 5500. This laptop has 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD.
Toshiba FF50 06F2 - A newer Toshiba laptop with Core i5 5200U Broadwell CPU with HD Graphics 5500. This laptop has 8GB of RAM and a 1TB Toshiba HDD.
Those were the laptops I had available for testing with this fresh Ubuntu 15.10 + Linux 4.4 comparison. Unfortunately I don't yet have any Skylake laptops for testing.
While the screen sizes varied, followed all of the raw OpenGL performance results are also some power consumption and performance-per-Watt benchmark results for some additional data points. All of these laptops on Linux were benchmarked using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite.
If you are thinking about upgrading one of your laptops and want to see how it currently stacks up against this selection of Intel laptops, simply install the Phoronix Test Suite and run phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1512142-GA-LAPTOPSDO70 for a fully-automated, side-by-side comparison against the results in this article.