Thread for CUDA-capable laptop reviews Post performance and compatibility reviews here


I would like to open a thread to post reviews of CUDA capable laptops here.

Things of interest would be:

  • hardware spec (CPU, graphics, RAM, etc…)
  • CUDA specs (CUDA compute model supported, amount of dedicated video RAM)
  • price point, availability
  • driver compatibility (do generic nVidia drivers work?)
  • OS compatibility (e.g. what flavours of Linux work, where are driver issues)
  • general design and quality of the device
  • battery life
  • quality of service and support

Please try to keep posting objective.

Please limit public feedback to questions about the device or review, try not to fall into generic discussions or brand or OS bashing.

I am going to post a review of a Hewlett Packard Pavilion DV5-1042 EG model soon (probably on the weekend). I would welcome some postings about the CUDA capable Macbook (Pro and regular) models.

Hi everone,

In this posting, I am going to review the HP Pavilion DV5-1142EG (E = Europe, G = German keyboard and Vista version) with a strong emphasis on use with nVidia CUDA. This is a consumer type laptop, so the low price mostly manifests itself in a shorter battery life (the consumer type graphics chipset pulls a lot of power) - and you will find a 32 bit Vista Home Premium operating system and lots of other applications preinstalled. Unlike some other HUGE consumer laptops, this model has a display size of 15.4 inches and can still be considered portable.

Windows XP driver support is NOT provided by Hewlett-Packard, but some third party web sites offer driver downloads for all hardware components. You will find drivers for 32 bit and 64 bit Vista versions on the HP support pages.

If you cannot find this HP model in your country, note that HP Models with very similar specs are available in the US and worldwide - for CUDA use you should make sure that you get one with 9600M GT graphics. The various DV5 Models differ mostly by added BluRay support, DVD LightScribe feature, CPU model, RAM and hard drive capacity.

The price point for this particular model in Germany is 666 Euros at some retailers - the high CPU and graphics specs are offset by some reduced installed memory and hard drive capacity compared to other DV5 models. But if you are going to get this laptop mainly for portable CUDA development, this should not be your primary concern. Hard drive and memory are easy enough to upgrade. Note that HP chose to use DDR2/GDDR2 (over DDR3 and GDDR3) memory for graphics and system RAM, which can not be upgraded to DDR3.

The CPU fan runs all the time at low speed, and at a very tolerable volume (unless you start 3D games where it notably spins up). There is a BIOS setting that will allow the fan to stop when under low load.

The stock battery does not provide a large battery life (~2 hours), especially when gaming, so I got the larger 12 cell battery pack accessory. This adds a bulge at the laptop’s bottom side and makes the laptop stand at an angle (some may actually prefer it this way, as it facilitates typing). This accessory roughly doubles the battery life.

GPU Capabilities

The GPU is fast enough to run just about all modern games at the native resolution of 1280x800 pixels at least on their medium detail level. It is a DirectX 10 compliant part and supports CUDA with 32 Stream processors (4 multiprocessors with 8 ALUs each). Its 512MB dedicated GDDR2 memory should be good enough for gaming use as well as most CUDA needs. Memory bus width is 128 bits, GPU-Z reports 12.8 GB/s bus bandwidth. Clocks are 500MHz Core, 400 MHz Memory, 1250 MHz Shaders. The CUDA compute capability is 1.1.

CUDA Device Query (Runtime API) version (CUDART static linking)

There is 1 device supporting CUDA

Device 0: "GeForce 9600M GT"

  CUDA Capability Major revision number:		 1

  CUDA Capability Minor revision number:		 1

  Total amount of global memory:				 536870912 bytes

  Number of multiprocessors:					 4

  Number of cores:							   32

  Total amount of constant memory:			   65536 bytes

  Total amount of shared memory per block:	   16384 bytes

  Total number of registers available per block: 8192

  Warp size:									 32

  Maximum number of threads per block:		   512

  Maximum sizes of each dimension of a block:	512 x 512 x 64

  Maximum sizes of each dimension of a grid:	 65535 x 65535 x 1

  Maximum memory pitch:						  262144 bytes

  Texture alignment:							 256 bytes

  Clock rate:									1.25 GHz

  Concurrent copy and execution:				 Yes

  Run time limit on kernels:					 No

  Integrated:									No

  Support host page-locked memory mapping:	   No

  Compute mode:								  Default (multiple host threads can use this device simultaneously)

Windows and CUDA compatibility:

The nVidia notebook drivers 186.03 released on June 9th 2009 installed flawlessly and provide PhysX and CUDA 2.2 support.

A word of warning though: The nVidia control panel started to hard-lock the computer after installing nTune (formerly nVidia System Tools). Normally this tool would allow you to fine-tune your GPU’s clock settings when idle and when under load - but on this laptop nTune is a no-go.

Linux and CUDA compatibility:

Before installing any Linux (and its boot loader) make sure you install the Vista SP2 - the service pack would otherwise fail to install when it detects that the MBR has been replaced with a GRUB boot loader.

OpenSuse 11.1 (ix86) installed without a hitch, graphics and sound worked out of the box (I tested after running an online update as part of the installation procedure). WIFI also worked out of the box. To get 3D acceleration it was necessary to download the closed source nVidia driver.

The nVidia CUDA 2.2 release graphics drivers installed just fine after installing gcc and kernel sources because the installer needed to compile the nVidia kernel module. I got the CUDA SDK 2.2 and some sample applications running within 15 minutes. I did not test the OpenSuse x64 version or any other Linux distributions yet.

Hardware Specs:

-Hard drive:  250 GB hard drive 5400 RPM (less capacity than in most other Pavilion DV5 models)

-CPU:		 Core 2 Duo P8400 2.27GHz

-RAM:		 2GB DDR2 800 (2 x 1 GB), 8 GB max.

-Video:	   nVidia 9600M GT, 512 MB dedicated GDDR2 RAM

-LCD:		 Glare display, 1280x800 pixels (WXGA), 15.4 inches, 

-Optical Drv: Lightscribe capable CD-R/Multi DVD +-R, +-RW burner with dual layer support

-Weight:	  2.65 kg

-Wireless:	Intel Wifi Link 5100 (802.11 b/g/draft N)

-Other notable features: -Webcam and array microphone included

						 -Gigabit LAN port (manufactuerer RealTek)

						 -one HDMI, one eSata port, one Mini Firewire port

						 -Multi card reader (manufactuerer JMicron)

						 -HP proprietary connector for HP docking or port extender

						 -Dual headphone jack allowing 2 people to listen in

						 -Remote Control for Media Center that can be stored in the Express Card Slot

-Features that this laptop does NOT include:



						 -No fingerprint reader was installed

						  (some product shots e.g on amazon give a false impression)

Optional accessories: a larger 12 cell battery pack instead of the default 6 cells,

					  Quick Dock 2.0 (basically a port extender with a single cable link

					  that can also power and charge the laptop)


-Stylish metallic look with a black display lid, attracts fingerprints like mad. A soft wipe cloth is included.

-Lit sensor buttons for volume control as well as media control right above the keyboard

-Stickers next to touch pad: HP Protect Smart, HDMI, QuickPlay, eSATA, energy Star, “Read the handbook for safe use”, Intel Centrino 2, Graphics by nVidia, Windows Vista, lightScribe - could I have some more useless stickers please?

Software Specs:

-OS: Vista Home Premium 32bit (SP1 delivered on my machine)

-BIOS and most drivers were a bit outdated - the HP support web site had more recent downloads available.

-System recovery from BIOS is possible by means of a 9GB recovery partition.

-Does not ship with recovery DVD, but a provided software allows to burn one set of recovery CDs/DVDs.

Preloaded Software (if you’re going to clean reinstall the OS, this won’t be a concern to you)

-Adobe Reader 8


-AOL Toolbar

-Cyberlink DVD Suite

-Cyberlink Youcam

-Cyberlink Power2Go (CD Burner Suite)

-Cyberlink PowerDirector (Video

-Microsoft Works

-Recovery Manager

-HP Total Care Advisor

-Norton Internet Security with a short trial subscription

-Microsoft Office 2007 60 day trial

-HP Games (30 casual games of all genres preloaded,

       decompress on first use to save hard drive space)

-QuickPlay (some kind of alternative media center)

-Skype (Installer only)

-Viewpoint Media Player

-“For Kids”: some kind of parental control mechanism (installs itself on first use)

I uninstalled Norton Internet Security, AIM and AOL toolbar, Viewpoint Media Player, and the “For Kids” application, but the other products seemed to provide enough value to me to justify keeping them.

The verdict:

Overall this machine should make a decent development and gaming machine that also allows for CUDA use and development on the go. HP have found a good tradeoff between price and performance - which can be shifted a bit more towards the performance edge as needed by upgrading some parts and getting extra accessories. This may just be the desktop replacement that I’ve been waiting for.

This review will be updated and amended with some more information and benchmarks soon.

Ill add my contribution to this thread with the new macbook pro 13". It is the version introduce at WWDC in the first week of june 2009.

Fear not, im not an Apple dedicated supporter. But this laptop is nice.

It has “pro” in the name, but who cares really. What i was looking for was a 13" laptop with an nvidia/CUDA enabled video card. It is one of the few i have found that actually has this.

Others model considered were the dell m1330 and dell studio 14z, with a strong hesitation on the later. The reasons i chose the macbook were the size (13 vs 14), the fact that i missed being able to run osx, the general finish, the free ipod touch (student thing).

The things that made me hesitate towards the studio 14z: 900P screen (versus 720p for the macbook), 3gb of ram versus 2gb in the macbook, and priced around 200$ cheaper (which is actually the price of the free ipod touch :) ).

A skinny of the hardware:

2.26 core2duo penryn wth 3mb of cache

2gb of 1066mhz DDR3 memory (it supports up to 8gb in 2x4gb configurations)

160GB of harddrive. (base model)

Geforce 9400M

And the less important stuff:

Integrated webcam

1280x720 glossy led screen.

SD reader


1 video out which can be converted to a number of things (dvi, hdmi, rca) through buyable adapters (this is a pain)

1 firewire

1 dvd writer (dont know the exact specs, dont care to know!)

backlit keyboard

It is priced (as specced) at 1299 CAD, where canadians are getting somewhat ripped off when compared to the us price (with edu discount) of 1099 and pretty much equivalent currency value.

On the Mac OS side of things, the os takes care of installing video drivers that just work. I then proceeded to install the cuda toolkit and SDK. Everything just works. Battery life is out of this world, as im sure you have heard. My battery is currently showing 7:15h remaining. The fan cant be heard, which is pleasing but kinda scares me at time since i KNOW im generating some extra heat, from time to time.

Ive also installed Windows 7 RC1 64 bits through BootCamp. It also works fine and combined with Apple’s provided drivers, it enables trackpad features as well as keyboard/screen backlighting levels. I then installed the 9400M drivers from nvidia’s website and it went without a hitch, no need to play with the INF or anything. Then cuda toolkit and SDK. Everything works. I had heard reports that there were some problems on the windows side of things but i can confirm that there is no problems with my config.

GPU Capabilities

Its a 9400M. I have no plans or desire to game on this, i have a desktop for that. This laptop was bought since im often on the road and need to be able to continue to work (i work with cuda everyday) and be able to test what i write. So this handles that.

It has no dedicated memory, it uses the systems ram (256mb of it).

It has 2 MPs for a total of 16 SPs.

It is of compute capability 1.1.

Device 0: "GeForce 9400M"

  CUDA Capability Major revision number:		 1

  CUDA Capability Minor revision number:		 1

  Total amount of global memory:				 266010624 bytes

  Number of multiprocessors:					 2

  Number of cores:							   16

  Total amount of constant memory:			   65536 bytes

  Total amount of shared memory per block:	   16384 bytes

  Total number of registers available per block: 8192

  Warp size:									 32

  Maximum number of threads per block:		   512

  Maximum sizes of each dimension of a block:	512 x 512 x 64

  Maximum sizes of each dimension of a grid:	 65535 x 65535 x 1

  Maximum memory pitch:						  262144 bytes

  Texture alignment:							 256 bytes

  Clock rate:									0.20 GHz

  Concurrent copy and execution:				 No

  Run time limit on kernels:					 Yes

  Integrated:									Yes

  Support host page-locked memory mapping:	   Yes

  Compute mode:								  Default (multiple host threads can use this device simultaneously)



Its a mac. Its an aluminum unibody mac. Style isnt high on my list of priorities but this is one sweet looking laptop.

Lit keyboard is pretty useful i find.


At 2GB, i feel i could use 4gb when running osx and win7 through vmware fusion. So if you plan on running a virtual machine, get 4GB of ram.

The graphics card is a 9400M, you have to realize that. I wanted a CUDA enabled laptop, and that it is. It wont be the laptop youll be benchmarking your applications on though.

Price? Well, it IS pricy, theres no denying that. As ive stated, the studio 14z is cheaper and has better specs on some points, lower specs on some other (CPU being one of them).

Coming from my old HP with about 1:20h of battery on a full charge (i said OLD hp!), this battery life is a nice change of pace.

double post, sorry

Clock rate:									0.20 GHz

  Concurrent copy and execution:				 No

  Support host page-locked memory mapping:	   Yes

Okay, I am little envious now. You get the memory mapping feature. But why did they remove the Concurrent copy and execution feature?

I also notice your GPU reports being clocked down when not in use. Would you know the nominal clock rate for the 9400M GPU in this notebook?


I didn’t use so far laptops for CUDA development, so excuse me if the answers are obvious.

What if I buy, let’s say, a Vista capable laptop, remove it and put instead Ubuntu, or xp. Will there be problems with drivers and CUDA. Or worse, buy an macbook pro, and later decide to use xp or ubuntu?

Also, are the new NVidia drivers supporting older hardware(cuda capable)?


Like I said, HP are not supporting XP on my laptop only Vista. Apple are supporting XP on Macbooks by means of an application called “Boot camp” (not 100% sure about Vista)

Regarding Ubuntu and other Linux flavors, drivers can be a hit or miss, especially for integrated peripherals such as card readers, webcams, Wifi, sound.

Typically the nVidia drivers support older hardware - situation for Notebooks has much improved since nVidia have started to bundle notebook driver sets (before that you were at the mercy of the notebook manufacturer to get updated Gfx drivers, or you would have to use unsupported third party hacks)


The major problem with Linux on highly integrated platforms like the MCP79, which has north bridge, south bridge and gpu on the same piece of silicon, is drivers for everything except the GPU. While you can usually get drivers at launch that will work OK with the GPU, it is the other platform drivers (especially networking and audio) which can be problematic. Most of the Taiwanese OEMs also habitually ship broken ACPI tables which can play havoc getting stuff to work and makes troubleshooting even harder than it should be. It can take a long time for patches to propagate upstream and into distro kernel trees.

Right now the Macbook is probably still the safest best for CUDA development.