First Look Review: PolyNote 915P4-MXM31 Oct, 2005 By: Ron LaFon Cadalyst
Notebook computer for CAD.
Polywell Computer Is Well known for manufacturing custom high-end computers, with a product line that ranges from desktop PCs to RISC-based workstations. That line now includes the company's first notebook, the PolyNote 915P4-MXM. The PolyNote is available in two basic configurations: a standard model ($1,850) with a 3.4GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor and 1GB of RAM and a high-performance model ($2,450) that offers a 3.8GHz Pentium 4 processor and 2GB of RAM. A 120GB hard drive upgrade is available for either system for an additional $100.
Both models feature the PCI Express NVIDIA GeForce Go 6800 graphics card with a 256MB upgradable MXM module. The wide-screen 15.4" display features a default resolution of 1680X1050. The PolyNote 915P4-MXM measures 14" X 11.3" X 2" (wXdXh), weighs less than 9 lb. and includes Windows XP Professional.
The PolyNote 915P4-MXM features a broad array of connectivity options, including one VGA port/mini D-sub 15-pin for external display, five USB 2.0 ports, two audio jacks, one RJ-45 for LAN, one 1394a FireWire connection, S-video composite TV output and one Type II PCMCIA slot. It also features a 4-in-1 card reader, wireless options and a DVD R/W optical drive.
On the test bench, the PolyNote 915P4-MXM did well, although no CAD-specific application settings were available in the NVIDIA v184.108.40.206 driver. This driver is strong for games, but provides no specific settings for AutoCAD, 3ds max and Pro/ENGINEER, which would have likely raised the performance figures for the system. Using AutoCAD 2006 with the default accelerated WOPENGL8.HDI driver, the PolyNote produced a total index score of 115.91 on the Cadalyst Labs C2001 benchmark. For the MAXBench4 benchmark, the high score was 37.0511 and the low score 74.0264, for an average of 55.54—without the benefit of the NVIDIA MAXtreme accelerated driver, which does not work with this graphics chip. The final benchmark is the SPEC ViewPerf proe-03 viewset (www.spec.org), which produced a score of 18.55. Though these scores are not top of their class, they indicate that this system can be used in the field for CAD and engineering applications.
The PolyNote 915P4-MXM has a primary lithium-ion 8-cell battery pack with a charging time of about 2.5 hours in quick-charge mode (power off) or 4 hours (power on). A battery low warning occurs and save-to-disk mode is initiated when battery life is less than 5%. With the Cadalyst Labs C2001 benchmark running in a continuous loop and the screen at maximum brightness, we depleted the batteries in about 40 minutes in stress tests. With no application running other than normal background processes, battery life extended to well over an hour. These two tests are done to provide reference points for battery life, which in real-world situations will vary.
Polywell's moderately priced PolyNote 915P4-MXM notebook computer offers good performance for CAD work in the field.
The PolyNote 915P4-MXM carries a one-year limited warranty that can be upgraded to three years of coverage.
Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor and computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.