Ever wondered what a lady blogger keeps in her bag when covering key technology events around the world? If, so then you are in for a treat as our intrepid Nicole Scott reveals the devices and technologies that keep her productive on the road, including the ASUS Zenbook Infinity which features Intel’s latest Iris Graphics platform.
Nicole spends a great deal of time on the road, most of the time it involves major technology events like CES, IFA, IDF or Computex, which are often events that can involve plenty traveling as well as plenty of working. Our work here at Mobile Geeks often involves video production, which generally speaking will require some pretty serious software applications. Two that we use frequently are Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro, two applications that would typically require plenty of processing power. Luckily for us we have some excellent mobile PCs around that are offering performance levels very similar to what you would find on a larger more power hungry desktop PC.
Don’t forget to catch this video from Nicole where she shares her innermost thoughts on what devices her frequently nomadic lifestyle requires:
Introducing the ASUS Zenbook Infinity UX301
Nicole’s go to machine while she’s on the road is the ASUS ZenBook Infinity UX301, a very stylish Ultrabook that marries really good looks with a powerful Intel Core i7 processor that manages to get some really impressive performance from the Adobe apps mentioned above. The powerful Intel processor is complemented by 8GB of DDR3L, the storage is RAID 0 SSDs of up to 512GB (this means two SSD modules working together to share the work load to deliver amazing read and write speeds) while the display is a gorgeous 13.3″, 2560 x 1440 WQHD resolution touch-screen. The finishing touch in terms of aesthetics is the lid of the device which is a fantastic looking, scratch-resistant piece of Corning Gorilla Glass.
You can catch some more in-depth coverage of the ASUS and Nicole’s detailed device walk through below.
Intel Iris Inside
Nicole’s Zenbook Infinity UX301 is fortunate enough to take advantage of Intel’s latest Haswell processor platform. The Intel Core i7-4558U is a powerful mobile processor by any estimation, its dual-core CPUs would be impressive enough – the latest Haswell architecture is arguably the best performing mobile Intel have ever produced. Although the performance is there in spades when you need it, its idle power draw is also very low. Regular use will see the UX301 get 4.5 hours usage without issue.
The real highlight of the i7-4558U however is that it also integrates Intel’s latest graphics performance; Intel Iris Graphics. Technically known as the Intel Iris Graphics 5100 (codenamed GT3), this integrated graphics processor is one of the best performing ever used in an Intel processor and it has everything required to tackle any intensive applications you care to mention. This is why Nicole gets so stoked about the Infinity UX310, it eats processor-intensive apps for lunch.
The Intel Iris Pro features 40 separate cores, each capable of delivering 16 floating operations per core, per second. The maximum frequency of the GPU clock is also seriously jacked to up to 1,300MHz. If we compare performance in strictly theoretical terms, the Iris 5100 GPU can push 832 GFLOPS (Giga-Floating Point Operations-per Second) while Intel HD2000 that featured on Sandy Bridge processors launched in early 2011, can manage only 97.2 GFLOPS. A huge difference.
In simple terms, Intel is giving you one of the best mobile processors around. However, much of the performance we have come enjoy on the Infinity UX301 is the result for some hard work on the software side too.
Adobe Supports OpenCL on Iris
The cores of a GPU are the ideal solution to many applications that require heavy processing and memory resources – exactly like the two Adobe apps listed above, but especially in the case of Adobe Premiere Pro. Premiere Pro is Nicole’s preferred video editing app, and is widely used across the industry including professional video production houses. It is a massive offering of graphical manipulation, color and light filters and much, much more beyond. The problem is that engaging with several filters and effects can mean that your work flow totally slows down as the hardware is given more and more work to do.
Adobe have recently incorporated more OpenCL and OpenGL standards to both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro, when enabled in the settings, the application can then offload much of the 40 GPU cores of the Intel Iris GPU, freeing up the dual-core CPU and making the whole task happen much faster.
Check out this video from Adobe’s David Helmly which expands a little on what Nicole showed us in the video above, with effects and filters being applied by the Intel Iris Graphics in real-time.
GIGABYTE P34 – Enabling Cuda Cores
Intel’s latest and greatest might get plenty of headlines for its next-gen integrated graphics, but let’s not forget that there is always the tried and trusted discrete graphics options too. Nicole also got hold a GIGABYTE P34, a more traditional notebook PC, but one the packs a top-end Intel Core i7 chip with a discrete Nvidia GT860M GPU.
The GIGABYTE P34 configuration takes advantage not only of Nvidia’s prowess in providing really solid 3D gaming, but also of the many hundreds of Cuda cores that make up the GPU. Nvidia’s Cuda technology has long been supported by Adobe, offering a great way of off-loading CPU tasks to the graphics cores.
In the video above you can see Nicole check that her Cuda cores are configured correctly for Adobe Premiere Pro. It goes something like this. – Note these settings are the same for configuring either Intel Iris and Nvidia Cuda technologies, just select one that is available.
File> Project Settings> General > Render > Mercury Playback Engine (CUDA)
The GIGABYTE P35 is marketed as a high performance gaming machine, and is far less mobile than the ASUS Zenbook Infinity UX301. It is considerably thicker and heavier, and all the GPU horsepower under the hood can also make it quite hot. The system as a whole has a significantly higher power draw than the ASUS device, and requires a much larger, higher voltage power supply.
Performance in My Purse
The ASUS Zenbook Infinity UX301 can be bought for $1,600 USD. The GIGABYTE P35 Gaming notebook retails for around the same and is in general a larger 15.6″ device that places emphasis more on raw grunt than flair or good looks. See link the below for some good deals on Amazon.
As any technology writer will tell you today, there has never been a better time to be a Road Warrior, an Urban Nomad… or just someone who needs to get some video editing done while on the move.
If you are looking to pick up an ASUS Zenbook UX301LA, is on sale on Amazon for $1600, the Gigabyte P35G will set you back about the same.