Intel sent me a prototype of a Haswell Developer Ultrabook to review in August. Last month I wrote a about my first impressions of the Intel Haswell Ultrabook, which were pretty good. Since then I have used this ultrabook extensively on a daily basis and brought it with me to present several sessions at several conferences.

haswell trim

Before I give my impressions, like Scott, I had several issues with the pre-production hardware. It wasn’t unexpected as these are not-for-resale prototypes, which Intel made very clear to me. The idea is to review the Intel hardware such as the Haswell chip, so I’ll separate my experience with the Haswell chip from the pre-production prototype unit.

In a Nutshell

Haswell is awesome. Whether you want a Mac, Dell, Lenovo or whatever your favorite brand is, make sure it has the Haswell chip. You won’t regret it.

Prototype Unit

I’m on my 2nd unit, with a 3rd on its way. The first had major issues with the fan where it would constantly run for days. Oddly, this has now stopped after 5 weeks. I am not sure what is (or was) causing it but it was so loud I couldn’t hear folks around me. The machine was not hot and I’ve never had a laptop that ran the fan 100% of the time from boot to shut down. I also had some issues with drivers early on, but that’s the life of a pre-production unit. My second unit was quiet as can be, but 2 keys on the keyboard were broken. 1 fell off with broken plastic while the other (the space bar) only worked if you told it a bedtime story. Why explain this? Because despite my awesome experience with this laptop overall, the fan noise made it a huge detracting feature.

In this post I am reviewing the first unit, which I have had for 5+ weeks (loud fan and all).

Haswell Chip

I’ve used sub 3 pound laptops for 4 years now. I’ll never go back. Not just the laptops, but also their power bricks are lightweight. as much as I carry around my laptop I don;t need to carry the additional weight. Now we can get great performance and great looks in a small sub 3 lb package. But what about battery life? That used to suffer big time. That’s where the Haswell steps in.

My standard day would be to open the Intel Haswell Ultrabook unit in the morning and use it for an hour before heading to work (unplugged). Then I go to work (without the power brick) toting along the Intel Haswell Ultrabook and use it for most of the work day (let’s say 4 hours of usage, because I have a desktop there too). When I get home I usually have about 40% battery remaining. That’s after 5 hours of usage! I then crank up the laptop at night and watch some TV with the family while I do some open source work or work on my Pluralsight courses. I usually get another 2 hours in (7 total) before I feel the need to plug-in. I have not run it down to 0% battery, but I’ve never gotten less than 6 hours on the laptop unplugged and I have gotten as much as 8 hours.

I use Visual Studio and development tools extensively. I also play several games on Windows 8 on the machine for breaks. So it’s not like I am just surfing the web (which is less intensive on the battery). I keep the brightness level on the screen bright, which can drain battery (as much as an hour of a charge). ALl this said, I am pretty thrilled with the battery life of the Haswell. I’ve gotten half that (at best) from previous machines.


To review the specs on this unit, it is an i5 1.40Ghz processor, 4GB RAM, and a 180GB SSD drive. I was concerned about speed since I normally prefer 8gb RAM and an i7, but so far this Ultrabook has not disappointed me at all in my early tests. Of course it has all the standard ports and then some (USB 3, Bluetooth, WiFi, SD card slot, and more) and it has 3 dongles for other adapters as I previously mentioned. I’m not a fan of dongles as I usually lose them, but its a minor nit. Good news is that I did get to test the dongles out when I traveled for conferences and they worked great.

Touch Screen

Nothing to see here … it’s awesome. Works great. Looks great. Touch points are all excellent.

Windows 8 Apps

I tried out several Windows 8 store apps including some games like Toy Story Smash It, Royal Revolt, and Temple Run Brave. These looked and performed great especially with the touch, accelerometer, and gestures! My kids keep trying to take this laptop away from me :)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe my readers will enjoy. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”