Graeme already has a fast quad-core laptop but wants something that will run Corel VideoStudio faster
I use Corel VideoStudio extensively and want to buy a faster system to run it. My current HP Envy has an Intel Core i7-3630QM. New HPs have an i7-5500U. My confusion is that when I search for a comparison on the internet, I am told the 3630 is better than the 5500 as it has more cores. Graeme
The internet is correct. Your old Intel Core i7-3630QM is a very fast processor, by laptop standards, and it is a lot faster than the new i7-5500U. The fashion for thin laptops is crippling performance.
Thin laptops require chips that run at low voltages and don’t generate much heat. The Core i7-3630QM runs at 45W, whereas the i7-5500U (U for Ultra-low voltage) runs at only 15W. The latest Core M chips run at 4.5W, so they work without cooling fans.
The internet is also right about cores. It’s relatively simple to run video processes in parallel streams, though this depends on the software and drivers exploiting parallelism. Most Intel chips also use hyper-threading, where each core runs two threads (processes). The i7-5500U has two cores/four threads whereas the i7-3630QM has four cores/eight threads. If all the threads are used, the i7-3630QM could be twice as quick.
Clock speed and cache memory also make a difference. Generally, a chip with a higher clock speed will run faster, so your current processor has a very slight edge. The i7-3630QM runs at 2.4GHz, with a burst mode that can reach 3.4GHz for short periods. The i7-5500U also runs at 2.4GHz, but the burst mode is limited to 3.0GHz.
Burst mode generates extra heat, so it’s not much of an advantage. The processors in thin laptops tend to get hot, and when they do, their performance is throttled until they cool down. Processors in thin laptops can’t run four or eight threads at burst speed for the amount of time needed to render a movie.
Getting data to the CPU is another bottleneck, so processors use memory caches to keep stocks of data handy. Again, the Core i7-3630QM wins: it has a megabyte of Level 2 cache and 6MB of Level 3 cache. The i7-5500U has only 512K and 4MB respectively.
Intel does make chips that should outperform your third-generation i7. These include the Core i7-4980HQ, used in the HP 450 and other laptops, such as the quad-core version of the Apple MacBook Pro Retina. However, it’s barely faster – 2.8GHz, same cache – and, at 47W, even hotter. CPU Boss says it’s “too close to call”. An i7-4980HQ probably adds around £500/$500 to the price of a laptop, so it’s not a worthwhile improvement on what you have now.
If you want a big increase in processor speed, you might have to switch to a desktop tower that can support a hot processor. The current ultimate is the 12-core Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2, which runs at 130W. Check the top 30 at Notebookcheck’s Comparison of Mobile Processors (CPU Benchmarks) for some alternatives. However, I notice the 2011-vintage Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition (6 cores, 15MB cache), in fifth place, still knocks spots off almost all modern processors.
Extra speed comes from adding a GPU or Graphics Processing Unit, but the fashion for thin laptops has hit those as well. A few laptops still have them, but the vast majority don’t: GPUs use too much power, run too hot, and cost too much.
Instead, most of today’s laptops use “integrated graphics”, where the GPU is included with the CPU, and shares its slow memory. Processors with Intel Integrated Graphics are fine for most purposes, but dedicated cards are better for games and serious graphics processing.
If you have an HP Envy dv6, you’re probably using the Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU integrated with the Core i7-3630QM. (HP sold a version of the dv6 with a slowish Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics card – you may have one – but you can’t upgrade the graphics card without changing the motherboard.) You therefore need to find a laptop with a faster graphics card that is compatible with Corel VideoStudio.
Alas, I have no idea which laptop graphics cards run Corel VideoStudio best, and I can’t find any useful information of the sort you can get for Adobe Premier, which works best with Quadro cards.
However, you can compare the performance of your HD Graphics 4000 with alternatives such as the GeForce GT 750M at the Game Debate website. I’ve picked the GT 750M because it’s used in the previously-mentioned MacBook Pro, Dell and other serious laptops.
If you have an HP Envy dv6, it has a 5400RPM hard drive, which could be a bottleneck. For video processing, it’s better to have a 7200RPM drive. Obviously SSDs (solid-state drives) are even faster, but they tend to be too small or too expensive for video.
Either way, the best option is to have two (or more!) drives: one for the operating system, video editor and caches and the other for reading and writing video files.
Due to the problem of overheating and throttling, mentioned above, an active cooler would be a useful accessory. Try one with your HP Envy 15.
You should also be using a 64-bit version of Corel VideoStudio, such as Pro or Ultimate X7, Pro X8 Ultimate or Pro X8.5. Earlier releases were 32-bit. If you have to buy a new copy, consider trying Sony Movie Studio 13 Platinum for 30 days (free).
The new Dell XPS 15 (9530, 2015) looks roughly equivalent to the MacBook Pro Retina. The cheapest model has a fast Core i7-4712HQ, 16GB of memory, a GeForce GT 750M graphics card with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, a 32GB SSD and a terabyte hard drive. The 4K Ultra HD screen has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, though a Full HD version (1920 x 1080) would probably be better for your purposes. Unfortunately, I can only find this on Dell’s US website for $2,199.99, though there’s a similar laptop for £1,811.16 on Amazon.co.uk. Maybe the US versions will appear in the UK….
A cheaper option would be an Asus N550JK-CM604H with a Core i7-4720HQ, 12GB of memory, and GeForce GTX 850M graphics card for £720. Swapping the 5400RPM terabyte hard drive for a 7200RPM 750GB model would bump the price up to £814.80. SSD drives are available at extra cost. In fact, this website has a number of Asus and MSI Prestige models you could consider.
I’ve ignored the HP Envy 15 laptops because of their Core i7-5500U processors, but you might consider HP’s Omen 15 gaming laptop. This has a Core i7-4710HQ, 16GB of memory, GeForce GTX 860M graphics with 4GB of GDDR5 memory, and a 256GB SSD for £1,399.
There are many other gaming laptops from the Asus ROG (Republic of Gamers), MSI and Dell Alienware ranges, but Gigabyte offers some cheap options. For example, you could get a Gigabyte P35W with a Core i7-4710HQ, 8GB of memory, GeForce GTX 870M, 128GB SSD and 1TB hard drive for £1,099. A P15F with a GeForce GTX 950M but without the SSD costs £799.99. Shop around for prices.
But I can’t really recommend any particular model, I’m just trying to indicate possible directions.
It would be easier if someone benchmarked Corel VideoStudio on a range of GeForce GT, GTX, Quadro and ATI Radeon graphics cards to find the best, because I don’t know. And, unfortunately, the graphics card will be the main factor in whether a new laptop performs significantly better than your old one.
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