When it arrived on the desktop scene, Intel's Core i7 levelled the opposition. With enough power to embarrass Intel's own Core 2, not to mention AMD's efforts, Core i7 set the benchmark and set it high. Now it's set to repeat the trick in the laptop market with the Asus M60.
The first surprise is that Intel's latest CPU doesn't come housed in a desk-swallowing behemoth. In fact, the Asus M60 is about as sleek and swish as you'd hope a desktop replacement would be, and it weighs just 3.34kg.
Inside, however, lurks one of the latest Core i7 quad-core CPUs. Asus has opted for the mid-range 1.73GHz processor, but unlike Intel's Core 2 Quad predecessors, all four of those cores boast Hyper-Threading – a move that allows the processors to handle up to eight separate threads simultaneously.
Okay, so that clockspeed may sound a touch underwhelming, but it doesn’t take account of the ace resting up Core i7's sleeve – Turbo Boost.
Basically, if two or more cores are sitting unused and the processor isn't running too hot or drawing too much current, Turbo Boost kicks in and ups the speed of the remaining cores. This can take the stock speed of 1.73GHz up to a maximum of 3.06GHz.
Take it from us, it's very, very quick. In our testing Turbo Boost worked without a hitch, dynamically overclocking cores to suit single and multithreaded applications, while disabling unused cores to keep power consumption within acceptable limits.
And if you're expecting all this power to turn your laptop into a mobile fireball, you'll be surprised – the single vent at its side keeps the innards cool even when the CPU is working flat out.
This efficiency helps to improve battery life. We rarely see quad-core laptops last more than a couple of hours, but this one defied expectations, lasting 3hrs 32mins with a bog-standard 4800mAh battery.
When pushed to its limits, however, it lasted 46 minutes. But don't forget, you can always engage Windows' Power Saver mode: with all four cores at full load, power consumption falls to 52W and boosts heavy-usage battery life to 1hr 15mins.
Core i7 is, then, far more suited to laptops than anyone might have imagined. Price may yet prove to be a stumbling block, especially for the quad-core models, but we can keep our fingers crossed that the forthcoming dual-core CPUs will bring all the i7's benefits – Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading included – to laptops of all prices, shapes and sizes.