9-Way Linux Laptop Performance Comparison From Intel Nehalem To Broadwell

Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 7 February 2015 at 11:00 AM EST. Page 1 of 8. 15 Comments.

As the latest Linux benchmark numbers to deliver for Intel Broadwell and the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon ultrabook, here's a nine-way Linux laptop/ultrabook comparison. All nine devices in this article were tested against the latest snapshot of Ubuntu 15.04 while running a big set of benchmarks and also monitoring the CPU temperatures and battery power consumption while testing for a nice look at Clarksfield/Nehalem, Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell, and Broadwell mobile hardware on Linux.

Using a number of the laptops at Phoronix, I did a fresh install of Ubuntu 15.04 x86_64 in its latest development state on each of the available laptops that would provide an interesting perspective on the evolution of Intel Linux laptop performance. The tested laptops/ultrabooks included:

Lenovo ThinkPad W510 - Intel Core i7 720QM, 4GB of RAM, 160GB Fujitsu HDD, and NVIDIA Quadro FX 880M.

Apple MacBook Pro - Intel Core i5 520M, 4GB of RAM, 120GB OCZ Agility 2 SSD, and Intel HD Graphics.

HP EliteBook 161C - Intel Core i5 2520M, 4GB RAM, 160GB Intel SSD, Intel HD Graphics 3000.

ASUS K56CA - Intel Core i5 3217U, 4GB RAM, 500GB Hitachi HDD + 24GB SanDisk SSD, Intel HD Graphics 4000.

ASUS Zenbook UX32VDA - Intel Core i7 3517U, 4GB RAM, 2 x 128GB SanDisk SSDs, Intel HD Graphics 4000.

Apple Retina MacBook Pro - Intel Core i7 3615QM, 8GB RAM, 256GB Apple SSD, Intel HD Graphics 4000.

Apple MacBook Air - Intel Core i5 4250U, 4GB RAM, 120GB Apple SSD, Intel HD Graphics 5000.

ASUS Zenbook UX301LAA - Intel Core i5 4558U, 8GB RAM, 2 x 128GB SanDisk SSDs, Iris Graphics 5100.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon - Intel Core i7 5600U, 8GB RAM, 128GB Samsung SSD, HD Graphics 5500.

For the laptops with two GPUs, the Intel HD Graphics were used. On systems with dual disk drives, only the first drive was utilized. For the ThinkPad W510 tested with NVIDIA graphics, the binary driver packaged on Ubuntu 15.04 was used. From this test version of Ubuntu 15.04, the key components included the Linux 3.18 kernel, Unity 7.3.1, X.Org Server 1.16.3 RC1, and Mesa 10.3.2~10.4.2.

9-Way Linux Laptop Comparison

Take these results for what you wish. Ubuntu 15.04 was tested out-of-the-box using the same daily Ubuntu 15.04 development ISO. However, there seems to be a change in behavior with Ubuntu 15.04 that system updates were being installed automatically and thus bumped some of the package versions during the week that it took to run all of these laptop benchmarks. There was a minor bump to the 3.18 kernel on some of these systems but unfortunately for the graphics results, some of the systems ended up getting bumped from Mesa 10.3 to 10.4. As the updates were happening without user invention, I hadn't realized this immediately until after many of the tests took place. So take the graphics results for what you wish and once Ubuntu 15.04 is further stabilized I'll run another comparison, perhaps with even a few more laptops, assuming there's time and enough interest. All of the other Ubuntu 15.04 defaults were used during testing.

All nine Linux laptops from Clarksfield to Broadwell were benchmarked using the open-source and fully automated Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software. Besides the raw performance results are also some CPU temps and performance-per-Watt values.

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