The Silicon: Bay Trail Inside

Obviously a big part of the Transformer Book T100 story is the inclusion of Intel's Bay Trail silicon. ASUS opted for Intel's second fastest solution: the Atom Z3740. That's four Silvermont cores running at 1.33GHz with a max turbo of 1.86GHz. I saw the T100 hit 1.86GHz fairly regularly, which backs up what we saw in our initial Bay Trail performance preview. For light tablet use, the Z3740 is incredibly quick. The beauty of Intel's latest Atom silicon is of course that it can run a huge library of x86 applications. I haven't spent enough time with Bay Trail to know whether or not its performance is truly good enough for most users. I suspect it probably needs to be a bit faster to truly replace a modern mainstream notebook + tablet, but if you're used to an older system you might be able to get away with Bay Trail. Intel claims ULV Penryn-like performance out of the fastest Bay Trail silicon, and I think that's a decent estimate. You benefit a lot from not having any silly mechanical hard drive inside, and unlike the initial wave of netbooks the T100 is actually usable.

I complained about multitasking performance in our recent Chromebook 11 review. Intel’s Bay Trail silicon in the T100 has no such  problem. Playing YouTube HD videos in the background while writing in Google Docs is a non-issue. I do occasionally see periods of high latency response, particularly when installing a new application. I believe this may be due to background AV scanning at launch.

It’s definitely possible to bring the T100 to its knees with just above a moderate multitasking workload. It’s important to keep in mind that we’re talking about ~1GHz Penryn sort of performance here and not what you’ll get out of a Haswell system. Think of it as better than what you’ll get from the ARM camp but still substantially behind what a more expensive Haswell solution will offer. Make no mistake, the T100 is very much an entry-level machine in terms of performance.

The four cores are paired with Intel's HD Graphics, a 4 EU implementation of the Intel GPU we saw in Ivy Bridge (running at up to 667MHz, sharing TDP with the CPU cores). The collection of CPUs and GPU are behind a 128-bit wide LPDDR3-1066 memory interface. Like most entry level notebooks in this price range the T100 comes with 2GB of memory. Internal storage is courtesy of an eMMC solution. I was sampled a 64GB model (using a SanDisk eMMC controller). Around 30GB of the device's storage was free at first boot (total partition size = 49GB, ~30GB free for additional apps/data).

ASUS equipped the Transformer Book T100 with dual-band (2.4/5GHz) 802.11n courtesy of Broadcom’s BCM4357. The T100 features a 1-stream (150Mbps) implementation. I didn’t have enough time to test wireless range/performance but the sheer inclusion of 5GHz WiFi in an entry level PC is music to my ears.

Software: Windows 8.1 + Office 2013

Although there are rumors of T100-like devices running Android, and eventually even dual-booting, the Transformer Book T100 launches with Windows 8.1. I haven't had much time to spend getting into 8.1 but it's largely an improvement over Windows 8. Overall it doesn't fundamentally change the concept behind the OS, although it does attempt to make migrating to it from other versions of Windows a bit easier. You have greater customization over the start screen's behavior, where the system boots by default (desktop or start screen) and installing applications doesn't automatically spam the start screen with tiles. You also get truly universal search now integrated into the start screen, which is a life saver.

Since you're dealing with an x86 version of Windows 8.1 here, you can obviously run nearly all old x86/Windows applications. This is a huge deal as it means you can replace IE11 with Chrome, not to mention use the T100 just like any other PC. I'm honestly surprised by the lack of really good 3rd party Windows applications that use the new UI. I expected there to be more uptake by now, but I was very wrong. The T100's success doesn't depend on having more modern UI Windows 8.1 apps since it can still function like a traditional PC, but the undocked tablet experience could surely benefit. Windows 8.1's native apps are definitely better this time around, but the tablet experience alone isn't as good as what you'd get on Android or iOS. Microsoft's new UI definitely has its moments (I'm still a fan of how easy it is to multitask in the OS), but it still has a long way to go.

Intel's silicon in the T100 is 64-bit capable but Microsoft still lacks a 64-bit version of Windows 8/8.1 with Connected Standby enabled. As a result, the T100 (just like all other Bay Trail platforms) ships with a 32-bit copy of Windows 8.1 (with Connected Standby enabled).  

Another huge component of the T100 offering is the in-box Office 2013 Home & Student Edition serial key. Office 2013 is pre-loaded on the device, and each box should have a booklet with a serial key to unlock the Home & Student version of the suite. I realize there's this march away from Office, but to those who still heavily use and depend on the suite it's a tremendous part of the overall T100 value.


Introduction & Hardware Display
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  • vista1984 - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    people are just finding a better mix functioned device. i am sure most people here have a power desktop that can beat yoga pro's performance easily, and also have an ipad or android tablet can beat yoga pro's portability and battery life easily. but we are tired of switching between and trying to find one device that can be a tablet + netbook with enough power and long battery life.
  • Arbie - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    Process Lasso will seriously boost response = apparent performance, where that's a concern. I'm still running two old Asus eeePC netbooks with weak processors and PL makes a huge difference. It takes them from PITA to passable, or even pleasant except when the slow HD bogs down.

    I can't say enough good things about Process Lasso, and just realized that here is a good place to mention it. Because these new Asus machines run Windows, they can run PL. With that and the fast storage I'd bet the lower CPU grade won't mean much in pactice.
  • sirfergy - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    Could you elaborate on why IE11 is terrible? I hate generalizations like that w/o any data to back them up.
  • Klimax - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    Frankly, it doesn't make sense. Chrome might have been at some point better, but I don¨t think it is true for some time.He might want to update his knowledge, it is out of date by quite few years.
    (And the only thing Chrome had was Javascript performance, nothing else)
  • Braumin - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    I agree I actually prefer IE11 even in desktop mode.

    Chrome is great too I just think they are both great. Not sure why there's all the hatred.
  • Drumsticks - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    Me too. I just got 8.1 and I'm unbelievably impressed with IE11. Scrolling is awesome (finally!) and performance is quite snappy.
  • cylemmulo - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    It is listed to release today but no stores carry it and Amazon won't do saturday delivery, I guess I will have to wait until Monday, I wish the review had some actual games on the performance I'm curious to see how it does on some older ones.
  • tential - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    Because of the pricepoint of this laptop and the fact that it's running full windows, I find most of these benchmarks to be UTTERLY useless.
    I am not crossbuying a laptop with keyboard vs a tablet.
    I think this is more for us looking to upgrade our laptops vs other entry level laptops (like haswell entry level). Feel most of these benchmarks are quite useless when it comes to comparisons. I'd rather see it compared vs
    Ivybridge Celeron
    Haswell Celeron
    Other <350 laptops.

    Dunno how I can compare an Android laptop I can't use anything with(exaggeration) compared to Windows.

    Also, slightly annoying that these companies think 2GB of ram is acceptable. Just add another 2GB and put it at cost rather than need to make a margin on EVERY single thing. 2GB of ram would add what? 10-20 dollars extra tops? Probably less since they buy it in bulk...
  • tential - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    Can't edit, I know it docks and is used as a tablet as well but man, it's running windows. Other things aren't. I need to compare it to other windows devices!!! =D
  • BrianChase1776 - Friday, October 18, 2013 - link

    I want to buy the product for web browsing and light gaming in bed. The only laptop I ever owned (broke after a year) was an HP with a Core2Duo 1.8gig processor, 4 gigs DDR2, and an 8600M GS on Windows Vista. The laptop was fantastic at even moderate to heavy gaming and I could play Far Cry 2 at an enjoyable frame-rate at pretty high settings (I know the game sucks, but the visuals it could pull off blew my mind on a laptop). So I'd rather see how it stacks up to a ~4 year old laptop in terms of performance because I won't end up buying it if I can't play: STALKER, Mount and Blade, and AI War on it.

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