The Nvidia Geforce MX 250 graphics chip
The Nvidia Geforce MX 250 is a laptop graphics chip that has meanwhile made it into the Nvidia Geforce MX 250 days, but still cuts a good figure in the application and modest 3D area. The 3D performance is sufficient to handle less demanding 3D titles in FullHD resolution in an appealing way. Performance-hungry games like Rage 2 or Anno 1800, on the other hand, hardly run satisfactorily and require a correspondingly more powerful system.
The user can expect a good working speed with OpenCL or CUDA applications, which can also accelerate image processing filters, conversion or encryption tasks with the graphics chip. This ensures improved performance in the application area and also reduces the load on the processor.
Nvidia’s graphics solution has all the important features in terms of functionality: Multi-monitor operation, 4k resolution, video acceleration or conversions are part of the extensive repertoire and should cover a multitude of possible areas of application.
Ranking First: HP Spectre x360
- High speed performance
- Also suitable for games
- Precise touch screen
- USB 3.1 port type C with Thunderbolt
- Battery life
- Under full load very loud
Those who want a notebook that is as cheap as possible can also be fobbed off with a lovelessly styled folding computer in a black plastic dress. However, manufacturers who want to meet high demands must not only score with performance, but also with noble design. Will HP succeed with the Spectre X360 15 equipment variant with Kaby-Lake-G processor and Windows 10, which is tested here.
No ordinary case
The HP comes in a chic brown aluminum case, display and base unit are framed in golden metal edges. If you like this color combination, you can also look forward to the notebook’s increased torsional stiffness. Too bad: The display can’t be folded up with one hand; you have to hold on to the base unit, otherwise it’ll struggle upwards with the display.
HP Spectre x360 15: Good touchscreen, but shaky
The screen can even be folded 360 degrees onto the back of the keyboard. Thus, the Spectre X360 qualifies both for notebook use and for use as a tablet. This is by no means a matter of course in this class, after all the tested version is a full-grown 15-inch notebook, so-called convertibles are mainly available in 13-inch format. The Spectre is also no flyweight with exactly 4.8 lbs. – longer use as a tablet requires strong arms or a storage surface. After all, the touchscreen converts fingertip input precisely and without delay. Those who use the touchscreen in notebook mode, on the other hand, would like to have tighter hinges: even the slightest touch and the display shakes back and forth like pudding.
Sharp, true-color 4K display
But the picture quality deserves only praise: the screen shows movies, games and photos in 4K with a lot of details. So even tiny flowers don’t sink into a colored mud, but are individually recognizable. And no matter what the subject is – the Spectre shows photos and videos with true-to-life colours. The image change is so fast at 12.4 milliseconds that no ugly streaks can ruin fast film scenes.
HP Spectre x360 15 with drive from AMD and Intel
But a great display doesn’t guarantee a perfect notebook by any means, because it also needs a powerful drive. HP didn’t choose a standard CPU for the Spectre, but the Kaby-Lake-G processor, which was jointly developed by AMD and Intel. After the Intel NUC8i7HVK Hades Canyon Mini PC and the Dell XPS 15 9575 Notebook, the Spectre is the third device with this CPU. The processor has 16 gigabytes of RAM at its side, the Nvidia Geforce MX250 graphics chip 4 gigabytes of graphics memory. Operating system, programs and files are stored on a fast Samsung m.2 SSD with PCI Express connection and 477 gigabytes of memory.
Really fast, but also thirsty
The lab attested the HP high speed, and with its powerful graphics chip the Spectre is even suitable for gaming current games. However, the noise level increases audibly, and the gamer has to reduce the resolution from 3840×2160 (4K) to 1920×1080 (Full HD) or 1366×768 pixels. Otherwise, frames will only jerk across the display in slow motion. Unfortunately, the display and processor suck the battery diligently, so one charge is enough for four hours of work without a power outlet – that’s okay, but not outstanding.
The short battery life and the high noise level under full load are the biggest points of criticism. But all in all, the HP Spectre X360 is an exceptional notebook with a great display and high speed, due to the powerful MX250 graphics chip.
Second: Dell Vostro 15
- Good system performance
- Average fast SSD with 512GByte
- Beautiful design
- Multiple connections
- Poor display
Good everyday performance and long battery life
Thanks to the Intel Core i7-10510U processor, the device is able to convince in terms of computing power. The system always feels lively enough thanks to the 16 GByte RAM and the fast SSD. The 42 watt hour battery lasts quite long thanks to energy-saving components. Over seven hours of video playback are good – and even if the computing load turns out a bit higher, you can still expect 5 hours.
The case quality and the connectivity are just as convincing. Enough USB ports (but without USB Type-C), VGA and HDMI, as well as a full-fledged SD card reader are built in, as well as ac-WLAN and Gigabit Ethernet (wired LAN). As a small extra, a fingerprint sensor is also included in addition to the number pad.
Unfortunately, Dell only has a mediocre to poor display. While the resolution with Full-HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) is okay, the rest of the measured data doesn’t please. The display is quite dark (223 cd/m² is a low level), the checkerboard contrast (simultaneous display of dark and light areas) is very low with 132:1. The display is unstable from the viewing angle, which means that one has to expect a loss of display quality when viewed from the side, and the sRGB color space coverage of 66 percent also only allows for a pale color display.
Whilst the touchpad is pleasantly rough and thus the finger slides well without sticking, the keyboard needs getting used to. A short stroke length and only low counterpressure doesn’t please everyone.
With an overall rating of 9.6 points, the notebook Dell Vostro 15 doesn’t occupy the top position in our test, but wins te price-performance ratio award. It convinced in our lab measurements in terms of battery life, system performance and case workmanship. We have to criticize the performance in the display category after our test.
Third: Acer Aspire 5
- Fast at Office and DX-11 games
- Low weight
- Comfortable operation
- High image quality
- Slightly pale colours
- Small SSD
What’s really new at Whiskey Lake? Apart from a little more power, Intel gives the processor family a USB 3.1 controller. This theoretically allows a transfer speed of 10 gigabits per second. This means, for example, that large videos from an external hard drive can be transferred to the internal hard drive twice as fast as before – theoretically. In practice, the interface of the internal hard disk in the Aspire 5 slows down the speed: The SATA connection is the bottleneck, only an SSD with PCI Express connection would be able to maintain the higher USB speed.
That’s not a disaster, but a pity because the processor works really fast: The Core i5-8265U has four cores, the clock rate is 1.6 gigahertz. In turbo mode, the processor puts on a lot more power and raises the clock rate to up to 3.9 gigahertz for energy-sapping tasks. However, the fans also accelerate under full load – it gets loud. Despite a strong breeze, the notebook doesn’t stay cool: The underside of the Aspire was 32 degrees hotter after two hours of use.
Acer Aspire 5: Whiskey at work
Office and video editing programs run smoothly. The Acer only starts to stagger when you’re playing. The Nvidia Geforce MX250 graphics unit in the chip isn’t sufficient for current top games, but the notebook still booms old Direct-X-11 games with 37 fps when the resolution is lowered – that’s not a matter of course. The DDR-4 memory is also nice and fast, but quite small with 8 gigabytes. Files like photos, videos, music fit on the classic hard disk with 932 gigabytes of memory.
Acer Aspire 5: Display with colour weakness
The Full HD display (1920×1080 pixels) was convincing in the visual test, even if colors looked a bit pale on the 15.6 inch screen. The brightness decreases very much when viewed from the side. The response time of 4.6 milliseconds is really good for an office notebook; even fast-paced action scenes in movies ran without streaks.
Acer Aspire 5: Simple configuration
The equipment is standard: In addition to two USB 3.1 sockets (one of type C) there are two slower ones with USB 2.0. A memory card reader is on board, as well as a webcam including microphone for video telephony. The Aspire 5 uses the current WLAN-ac standard, Bluetooth – for example for headphones – is included. Good: The battery lasts quite long with four hours and 19 minutes.
The Acer Aspire 5 in the A515-52-58S9 equipment version tested here with the brand-new Whiskey Lake processor is of high-quality workmanship, light and fast. Office users shouldn’t have any reason to complain – on the contrary: The Aspire has a lot of steam under the hood. Only the Core i5-8265U processor doesn’t use its potential consistently.
Fourth: Asus ZenBook 14
- Chic, extremely narrow screen edges
- Touchpad can display virtual number pad
- Good keyboard
- Very quiet and long lasting operation
- Very slow SD card reader
- Few upgrade options
Asus ZenBook Pro 14 in review
In practice, we particularly liked the high mobility. Although dimensions and weight don’t sound exactly exhilarating on paper, the Zenbook Pro 14 is still an easily transportable and inconspicuous notebook, considering the hardware built into it.
You can expect a decent performance from our test device in terms of performance and you get it delivered. We were able to achieve 1590 points in our runs in the 3DMark Time Spy and 658 points in the Cinebench R15 CPU test, both with the power cable connected. The rates are somewhat worse in battery mode with 1542 points in Time Spy and 456 points in Cinebench R15. In both cases the CPU heated up to 100 degrees, which is already very hot. Meanwhile, the Nvidia Geforce MX250 graphics card still remained comparatively cool in the area around 70 degrees.
The data carrier is the NVME-SSD Western Digital PC SN520, which offers a data rate of 1700 MB/s for reading and 1400 MB/s for writing according to the manufacturer. This is also pretty much in line with the values we determined in CrystalDiskMark.
The Zenbook didn’t show any weaknesses in everyday tasks like surfing or using office programs. However, the MX250’s performance limits show up for more demanding tasks like gaming. We were able to play games with moderate demands, such as Overwatch or Apex Legends, smoothly with medium details in FullHD resolution of around 60 FPS. However, it can become critical with top modern titles in maximum details, although the card is quite well equipped with 4GB GDDR5 RAM in terms of memory. Here, the raw GPU performance is simply too low to compete with the performance of full-fledged gaming notebooks. It should also be noted that the system only develops its full gaming performance when the power supply is plugged in. In battery mode, the performance is throttled as standard to save energy and conserve the battery.
Asus has designed an outstanding all-rounder in the premium segment with the Zenbook Pro 14, which however has a slight focus on performance instead of mobility. This is especially apparent in the weight, which at 3.3 lbs. is a bit higher than in ultra-portable ultrabooks, which tend to weigh 2.0 – 2.4 lbs. In return, the user gets a potent eighth generation i7 with enough fast memory and with the Geforce Mx250 4GB above all a graphics card that is also suitable for gaming and can display most current games smoothly – at least when a power supply is given via the adapter. In view of this, the 14 inch FullHD display is basically a suitable choice, whereby a 4K option wouldn’t have hurt for professional users.
There’s nothing to complain about in terms of design, because as always the workmanship and looks are very good, and the clever lifting of the device when opening it up is also a cleverly implemented feature. The number and placement of the ports are appropriate in our opinion, only the abandonment of Thunderbolt 3 would be a downer here, but it’s a pain to bear. As already mentioned, opinions are divided on the ScreenPad, but Asus’ Effort is definitely to be assessed positively in the implementation. In consideration of these points, the Zenbook Pro 14 gets our editorial recommendation.
Fifth: Asus ZenBook 13
- WLAN-ac, Bluetooth 4.2
- Good illuminated keyboard
- Long battery life (6:33 hours)
- Extremely light
- No upgrade options
- Under full load somewhat loud
If you don’t just want to put a notebook on your desk, but also use it on the road, you’ll appreciate models like the ZenBook 13: The Windows-10-Ultrabook weighs only 2.8 lbs. and appears in a discreet garment on top of that. Whether the thin lightweight has enough power and endurance is clarified in the Asus ZenBook 13 test.
Asus ZenBook 13: Not too big and not too small
The ZenBook is neither too big nor too small. You can work reasonably with the handy 13 inch Ultrabook. It’s in a well manufactured case – nothing creaks or squeaks under firm pressure. And that’s by no means a matter of course. After all, Asus has used light plastic as case material instead of noble aluminum. This was the only way the Taiwanese could push the weight below the 3 lbs. mark. And because the Asus is not a notebook tablet combo with a rotatable display and elaborate hinge, it stays nice and thin: With a height of only 0.8 inches, it also finds room in smaller pockets.
Display with a small weakness
The screen displays documents and web pages in Full HD (1920×1080 pixels). This is absolutely sufficient for a sharp display, as the 2,073,600 pixels crowd on a 13 inch display with a 13.5 inch screen diagonal. But the Asus doesn’t take the color representation too seriously: In the test, the color fidelity was 80.9 percent. This is definitely better; the cool reproduction only disturbs in everyday life when editing photos – not when working with office and internet programs. Good: The display is anti-glare and thus hardly annoys with reflections.
Small steam engine
A customer who is supposed to invest some money for the Asus ZenBook 13 in the equipment variant “UX331UAL (90NB0HT3-M01170)”, which is reviewed here, naturally expects high-performance hardware. And you get that. The upper class processor, Intel Core i7-10510U from Intel’s Kaby-Lake refresh series really steps on the gas, the RAM is generously dimensioned with 16 gigabytes. And instead of a lame hard disk, the operating system, programs and data are on an 512GB M.2 SSD with fast NVMe memory. This high-quality hardware is now a must in this price class. Because only with it does an Ultrabook work very quickly, even when it has to assemble several clips to a video or has to do something else that consumes energy. The Nvidia Geforce MX250 graphics chipset gives it the necessary power for gaming and editing.
A lot of puff, a bit loud under full load
But the processor sweats during harder tasks; a small fan must therefore transport the heat out of the case. The fan noise is certainly audible in quiet surroundings, but the Asus ZenBook stays cool and works almost silently for internet and office tasks. The battery runtimes are also convincing: In the test, the lights only went out after six and a half hours both during work and video rendering before the Asus had to be plugged in for about two and a half hours for a full battery charge.
The Zenbook 13 didn’t do much wrong in the test – only the color fidelity of the display could be improved. Apart from that, it convinced with its compact, light design, high speed and long battery life.
About the Nvidia Geforce MX250 Graphics Card
Entry solution, the Nvidia Geforce MX 250 is a mobile graphics solution for entry-level laptops. As the successor to the Nvidia Geforce MX 150, it is suitable for less demanding games with low demands on resolution and detail quality.
The Nvidia Geforce MX 250 is based on Nvidia’s Pascal architecture and, at first glance, shows hardly any changes compared to the Nvidia Geforce MX 150. The GP108 chip is still manufactured in the 14-nm process and thus shouldn’t show any changes in energy consumption or heat development.
Nevertheless, there are some not unimportant innovations for the user in the capabilities offered now. HDMI 2.0b, DisplayPort 1.4 and HDR are supported in the current revision and provide for extended possibilities in the targeted application areas.
Nvidia Geforce MX 250: Model variants
As already seen with the Nvidia Geforce MX 150, the GPU-Z (techpowerup) database lists two different performance versions of the Nvidia Geforce MX 250. The 10 watt version (GP108B) is suitable for especially flat notebooks designed for economy and the 30 watt version (GP108) is probably preferred for more powerful models. The memory clock and core clock rates differ in particular here.
Moreover, some notebooks are obviously equipped with an Nvidia-Geforce-MX-250 variant, which can fall back on 4 GB GDDR5 graphic memory. Thus, for example, the data sheets for the HP Pavilion 14-ce2010ng or the HP Envy 17 ce0002ng show this deviating variant.
Nvidia Geforce MX 250: Excerpt of the technical data GP108/ 30 Watt TDP
- 14-nm manufacturing process
- 384 shader units
- 16 ROPs/ 24 TMUs
- 1,519 MHz core clock up to 1,582 MHz Turbo Boost
- 2 GB GDDR5 graphics memory/ 4 GB GDDR5 graphics memory
- 1.752 MHz Memory clock
- 64 bit memory bus
- DX 12.1
- OpenGL 4.6
- OpenCL 1.2
- DirectCompute 5.0
- Nvidia Optimus
- Nvidia Gameworks
- Nvidia GPU Boost 3.0
- TDP 30 Watt
Nvidia Geforce MX 250: Extract of the technical data GP108B/ 10 Watt TDP
- 14-nm manufacturing process
- 384 shader units
- 16 ROPs/ 24 TMUs
- 937 MHz core clock up to 1,038 MHz Turbo Boost
- 2 GB GDDR5 graphics memory
- 1.502 MHz memory clock
- 64 bit memory bus
- DX 12.1
- OpenGL 4.6
- OpenCL 1.2
- DirectCompute 5.0
- Nvidia Optimus
- Nvidia Gameworks
- Nvidia GPU Boost 3.0
- TDP 10 Watt
- Nvidia product specifications
Nvidia Geforce MX 250: Extract of the technical data of the test system
- Lenovo ThinkPad T490
- WQHD-IPS display
- Intel Core i7-8565U
- 16 GB DDR4 RAM (Dual Channel)
- Nvidia Geforce MX 250 with 2 GB GDDR5 graphics memory
- 512 GB SSD
- Windows 10 Pro 64 bit
- Nvidia 417.37
Nvidia Geforce MX 250: Benchmarks
Our test results show that the Nvidia-Geforce-MX-250 graphics is a quite powerful solution. It reaches a respectable 12.876 points in 3DMark Cloud Gate and 1.274 points are possible in 3DMark Time Spy. In comparison to the Intel UHD Graphics 620, you can expect more than twice the 3D performance. This isn’t enough for current 3D titles like Rage 2 or Anno 1800, but older games like Dirt Rally or Tomb Raider run smoothly on the screen with reduced resolution and reserved quality settings.
In comparison to the previously reviewed Nvidia Geforce MX 150, no relevant improvements can be seen on the bottom line. The Nvidia Geforce MX 250 ranks pretty much on the level of the Nvidia Geforce MX 150 from the Acer Aspire 5 A515 and thus doesn’t represent more than a renamed Nvidia Geforce MX 150 in terms of pure performance.
Like the Nvidia Geforce MX 150, the Nvidia Geforce MX 250 gets along surprisingly well with OpenGL applications. In Cinebench R15 OpenGL shading, the achieved result of 105 fps is only missing one frame per second in order to catch up with the Nvidia Quadro P4000.
OpenGL (optimized, workstation CAD)
In opposition to the Nvidia Quadro M520, the Nvidia Geforce MX 250 can’t fall back on special drivers for professional software. The performance should therefore, as in the Nvidia Geforce MX 150, turn out comparatively poor in applications optimized for the OpenGL interface. If, on the other hand, CAD programs like 3dsMax or Showcase with DirectX interface are used, the OpenGL restriction is dropped and should correspond to the actual computing power. See the test results for the Nvidia Geforce MX 150.
In addition to typical graphics tasks, graphics chips can also be used for many other computationally intensive tasks via the OpenCL interface. These include conversions, image processing filters, video filters, encrypting and decrypting data or calculations in the context of financial analysis. The use of the graphics chip for such tasks relieves the processor on the one hand and on the other hand provides a considerable speed boost.
We tested the Nvidia Geforce MX 150 in the areas of financial analysis, cryptography, image processing, scientific calculations and raytracing. The results should be transferable to the Nvidia Geforce MX 250.
The stability of the graphics performance in the notebook area always depends on the cooling system actually installed in the respective notebook. Manufacturers also like to limit the graphics and/or CPU performance under full load scenarios from time to time in order to comply with specified thermal limits. In the Nvidia Geforce MX 250 there is also the fact that two versions with different performance are in circulation, which partly show considerable performance differences. Which version is used in which notebook is usually only found out after purchase.
In the reviewed Lenovo ThinkPad T490, the Nvidia Geforce MX 250 benefits from the efficiently working Intel Core i7-8565U CPU and a well-dimensioned cooling system. Moreover, the more powerful variant with a GP108 chip is used here. In the test, the graphics unit runs with a permanently stable clock rate of 1.518 MHz, which occasionally increases up to 1.582 MHz. There may be differences in other notebook concepts with different alignment and hardware equipment.