We have a new laptop, based on the Intel Sandybridge chipset.  If you have been following trends in computers you will know that Intel introduced the Sandybridge chips at the start of the year but had to recall all the motherboards for them because of a minor flaw on the hard drive controllers.  Now the new, fixed, versions have arrived.  We have new Sandybridge desktop computers as well as this new laptop using these processors.

We have been testing the laptop in the last few days and it works fine with GrassValley EDIUS and Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, and we are currently testing it with  Sony Vegas and Avid Media Composer (it is not validated for the latter but should work).       

This type of processor is a Quad core processor but because it also has  another addition called "HyperThreading" it is actually seen as an 8 core processor by the computer.  There are various speed processors available but even the lowest one is faster than the fastest processor we could put in our standard i7 laptop. 

Not all speeds quoted for laptop processors are correct!

If comparing the processor speed of this laptop to others you have to be wary of the claims made by other suppliers.  You can get processors with run at higher Mhz, but they are normally only dual core - which means compared to these processors which are seen as having 8 cores they are not as good.  Also some suppliers will quote the top speed of the processor and that is not the same as the speed we quote.  Laptop processors have multiple cores these days, and many are programmed so that if they are not using all the cores, which can happen with a lot of simple programs, they will stop using all the cores and run one core a lot faster.  This means they appear to have a very high speed processor but in fact if using a program, like an editing application, that will use all the cores they run a lot slower.

What are the special features of this laptop?

In addition to the high speed processor the laptop can also take two hard drives internally, as well as a DVD or Blu-ray writer.  Since we can now get 7200 RPM 750GB laptop drives, this means you can have a laptop with 1.5TB of storage on board.  This laptop also has a more powerful graphic card than found in most as well as a full HD  screen - this is not a graphic card officially certified for the Adobe Premiere Pro Mercury playback engine, but this is mainly because Adobe have not certified ANY laptop graphic card.  It is possible to enable the MPE and it does improve the performance of the laptop considerably.  In using a non-validate card you do run the risk of occasional crashes you would not get otherwise but over all the performance is significantly better.  It is also a good card to accelerate the GPU parts of Grass Valley EDIUS and the new titling program, Vistitle.

The laptop has a whole variety of ports built-in which includes 2 x USB3 ports and 1 x eSATA ports, so you can plug fast external drives in easily.  However unlike previous laptops it does not have an EXPRESS CARD slot.  This is quite common with the new ranges of laptops being released currently.  The only thing we generally use this slot for are the Matrox MX02 range of in/out devices, and it is a shame you cannot use these with the laptop.  If you want to use an MX02 device then the best options currently are either the older i7 laptop: http://www.dvc.uk.com/acatalog/i7_Quad_core_laptop.html, or an HP laptop: http://www.dvc.uk.com/acatalog/HP_laptops.html.

We have also used the EXPRESS card slot to plug in various external RAID devices, however all the new ones will plug directly into the eSATA port so this is less of an issue.

The good news is that Black Magic's USB devices, theIntensity Shuttle and the Ultra Studio Pro, both will work with the on board USB3 sockets (they do not work with any of the USB3 ports on previous laptops).  We are just finishing testing on the devices at the moment but they work perfectly for monitoring video using either Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 or Sony Vegas.

With our previous laptops we have also needed to supply an extra FireWire card as the built-in socket did not work well for editing applications, but the Sandybridge FireWire port functions perfectly in all our tests for both DV and HDV footage.

This is a really exciting laptop - fast, powerful with lots of storage space!

You can read more of the specifications on our webshop.  We will shortly add a page where you can also choose a custom build of the laptop:  http://www.dvc.uk.com/acatalog/Sandybridge_Laptop.html