Fujitsu LifeBook E8410 Review

by Greg Ross Reads (62,353)

by Greg Ross

The Fujitsu E8410 is a Santa Rosa updated model notebook featuring a low-end 8400M-G DX10 graphics card but excellent connectivity and port options as well as a great battery life.   Let us see how well the E8410 feels and performs, and how well this 15.4” business-oriented machine strikes a healthy balance in its design, power, and usability!

Review Model Specifications

  • Our review notebook as equipped:
  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 Processor (Santa Rosa, 2.2GHz, 4MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)
  • Microsoft Genuine Windows Vista Business
  • 15.4” Crystal View (Glossy) WXGA Display (1280×800)
  • Integrated 1.3MP Webcam
  • nVidia GeForce 8400M G DX10 Graphics Card – 128MB Dedicated
  • 1GB DDR2 667MHz RAM (Upgraded to 2GB of DDR2 667MHz for the review)
  • Fujitsu 100GB 5400RPM SATA 1.5 Hard Drive
  • Modular Dual-Layer Multi-format DVD Writer
  • Modem, Intel 4965AGN (802.11a/b/g/n) WiFi, 10/100/1000 GigE LAN, Bluetooth
  • 8-call, 14.4V, 5200 mAh, 74.9 Whr Battery
  • One year international warranty

Had we purchased this notebook instead of getting a review laptop loaned to us, the E8410 would have cost a total of $1,849 before shipping and taxes.

Build and Design

Cosmetically, the E8410′s exterior consists largely of medium grade black matte plastic with some glossy highlights in the front for good looks.  This business-oriented notebook would look goodl in just about any public appearance.  It is not too flashy, nor is it too professional looking.  The plastic is smooth to the touch without being slippery.  However the glossy front "bumper" is definitely a fingerprint magnet.


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Opening up the interior, one sees the mostly light-silver interior.  The keyboard deck is again all plastic.  One of the more unique features on this laptop is that there are no LED status lights.  Instead, Fujitsu uses a black/white LCD display in all their laptops that convey a large amount of information about the current status of the laptop without bright and obtrusive lights like those bright-blue LEDs found on most consumer laptops.


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As shown in the picture below, this LCD ‘status display’ shows just about everything regarding the laptop.  Symbols convey if the laptop is powered on, if the battery is charging or discharging, the remaining charge in the battery, optical or storage drive activity, wireless activity, and more.  Overall, it is a very interesting and useful status indicator … and did I say I liked the lack of bright LED lights?


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The quality of materials used isn’t quite what we expected for a business laptop at this price point. I think Fujitsu could do just a little bit better.  The main body of the laptop is mostly sturdy, but the areas immediately above and below the optical drive have some give.  The flex is no doubt due to the modular optical drive bay and how it has to be built into the laptop.  However, the RAM bay cover has some flex and I do not like that much at all.  The good news is though that the remaining part of the body of the notebook is solid.

The screen housing is also similarly constructed.  I am able to twist the screen housing a little bit more than I would have preferred, but the screen does not distort at all while doing this.  Additionally, I can only produce ripples on the screen by pressing somewhat hard on the back surface.  The back will flex some under normal usage which is to be expected from plastic, but the bezel does a good job of protecting the valuable LCD screen.  It would be very difficult to damage the LCD under normal usage and that makes it a clear winner for travelling in a backpack or suitcase.

As mentioned previously, the optical drive is also modular, which means that any type of optical drive supported by Fujitsu can be placed in the E8410.  Or, one could put the included weight saver plastic insert in the slot to shave a little weight off of the laptop. Users can als insert a secondary battery instead of an optical drive to get a longer battery life.

My only issue with the optical drive bay is that the bay release trigger is at the back corner of the laptop.  That leaves it in a vulnerable position for handling and moving around. I did accidentally eject the drive while handling the notebook during the review.  While the modular bay release is definitely welcome I would like to see this feature implemented as a recessed button next time.

Last, but certainly not least, is that the E8410 comes equipped with anti-shock technology for the notebook’s hard drive.  In my time with the review unit, this shock sensor was tested a little bit as the notebook was shaken and stirred.  The sensor that monitors sudden movements is very sensitive and it will certainly protect your hard drive very well.

Screen and Speakers

The Fujitsu E8410 also houses a 15.4” wide-screen WXGA display with 1280×800 pixels.  Speaking from a business perspective this is a low resolution.  WSXGA+ at 1680×1050 would have been much better with regards to screen real estate at this price point, but at least the higher resolution is an option for $45 if you configure the E8410 yourself.  However, this screen on the E8410 is absolutely beautiful head-on.


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The screen itself is bright enough for office use and fits perfectly within the home as well.  It is also bright enough that you can comfortably run at 50% of the screen brightness within the office or a library (great for battery life too).  Anything lower and I found myself straining my eyes.

On the bad side, this screen has poor vertical viewing angles.  Anything past a few degrees above and all the color washed out.  Anything lower than a few degrees and the colors became distorted, saturated, and generally too dark to read. 


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The horizontal angles of this laptop are astounding.  Basically, you can read the screen well enough at any angle on the horizontal viewing plane.  There might be a little distortion of color at the extreme angles, but everything was perfectly readable and colors were close enough to the “head-on” view to qualify as ‘nearly as good.’  With horizontal viewing angles this good, the laptop would excel at a group meeting when everyone had to gather around the laptop screen.


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There are two speakers, each to one side of the keyboard when you open up the laptop.  The speakers work fine and they do not sound distorted at even the highest volumes. That said, they do sound a little tinny and lack bass like most other notebook speakers.  For business purposes the speakers suffice but for multimedia you might want to (as always) get a good set of external speakers.

Processor and Performance

The E8410 features the latest in processing and graphics technology with the newest Intel Santa Rosa CPU and an nVidia DX10 graphics card for playing the latest games within Vista.  DX10 is especially new to gamers, as it promises more eye-candy and more realistic features and graphics within the gaming environment, which is something DX9 could not do without much more overhead.  The Santa Rosa platform is also new, and introduces several new technologies including a faster FSB for laptops, future support for EFI (the future version of BIOS), support for Turbo Memory (embedded flash memory), and better WiFi and integrated graphics options.

Before running any of the benchmark or real life tests, I cleaned the system as much as possible and put the laptop into ‘Performance’ mode.

At 2.2GHz, the T7500 processor found in the review laptop does quite well in PCMark05 benchmarks.  As shown below, it managed to pull a score of 4618 PCMark points.

PCMark05 comparison results:

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Fujitsu E8410 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA 8400M G) 4,618 PCMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,377 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,591 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 4,153 PCMarks
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,987 PCMarks
Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB) 4,189 PCMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks

What is interesting about this is that my personal laptop with a T7400 actually managed to just about tie the T7500.  My T7400 scored 4652.  But, there is one HUGE difference between these machines: Vista is running on the T7500 and XP on the T7400.  In effect, this means that the slightly more powerful Santa Rosa processor running from within Vista performs about the same as its slightly slower bro in XP.  Bottom line: the T7500 allows one to run Vista, deal with all the additional overhead associated with the various features of the OS, and still have at least the same amount of power available for your personal programs as would a slightly lowered clocked laptop running XP.

Running SuperPI, a benchmark that forces the processor to calculate millions of digits of PI, is a fairly good indicator of how single-threaded programs will perform with any processor.  It is not the newest benchmark available, but it does provide some insight as to the power of each core in the T7500.  When calculating 2 million digits of PI, the T7500 clocked in at 55 seconds when running Vista.  Clearly, this beats the T7400 by a good margin and indicates that Intel has made some other improvements besides a small ‘clock bump.’

Super Pi comparison results:

Notebook Time
Fujitsu E8410 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 55s
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 59s
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 58s
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 59s
HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100) 1m 09s
Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300) 0m 59s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo T7200) 1m 03s
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300) 1m 24s
Toshiba Satellite A205 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 34s
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52) 2m 05s
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T2400) 0m 59s

The Fujitsu E8410 configuration that we received came equipped with a 100GB Fujitsu hard drive running at 5400RPMs which is the standard speed for laptop drives.  While this is not the fastest drive available, it does support the latest in Perpendicular Magnetic Recording and that helps to give it a small bump in speed compared to the last generation of notebook drives and will suffice for office tasks.  For general multimedia use it would suffice, but the hard drive is always going to be a bottleneck for any system and more speed would be appreciated.  Either look into a 7200RPM drive or get a higher capacity 5400RPM drive to get faster loading speeds.


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Finally, last and definitely least is the Windows Experience Index…and the E8410 comes in at 3.2 with graphics as the limiting factor.  Now, the WEI is HIGHLY dependent upon drivers and is nowhere near the quality of other industry standard benchmarks so it may not be the best indicator of system performance.


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Gaming

Although the E8410 comes with a DX10 nVidia 8400M G graphics card I could not get DX10 games to play. That said, a business machine does not need heavy graphics capability.  You need something that can play a solitaire or chess game when your boss is not looking, or a little online multiplayer FEAR via the corporate network with a few of your lunch buddies. For low gaming needs this card will suffice.  As shown in my scores below, this laptop performs about on-par with the nVidia X1400 according to benchmark score but in reality fares a little worse.

3DMark05 comparison results:

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Results
Fujitsu E8410 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA 8400M G) 1,925 3DMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 910 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 3,116 3DMarks
HP Compaq 6510b (2.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Intel X3100) 916 3DMarks
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1270) 871 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 2,013 3D Marks
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 1,791 3D Marks
Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB) 4,236 3DMarks
Alienware Aurora M-7700(AMD Dual Core FX-60, ATI X1600 256MB) 7,078 3D Marks
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,092 3D Marks
Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI x700 128 MB) 2,530 3D Marks
Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,273 3DMarks

3DMark06 comparison results:

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Fujitsu E8410 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA 8400M G) 1,030 3DMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 532 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 3DMarks
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 1,069 3DMarks
Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB) 2,344 3DMarks
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB 2,183 3DMarks
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB) 1,831 3DMarks
Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,819 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 827 3DMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 794 3DMarks

For the intended audience for this notebook, this is a good balance between power and battery life.  Fujitsu also offers the Intel X3100 in the E8410, which may actually be a better choice with the promise of better battery life of integrated graphics.  But, some people are going to appreciate the 8400M-G for a little extra power. 

I had Vista related problems with getting the Company of Heroes demo game running, but I was able to get Lost Planet working after a little tweaking of the demo.


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Heat and Noise

One of the first things that I noticed about this laptop was the sound of it turning on for the very first time.  That sound … almost absolute silence.  A whisper.  And for that, I was very optimistic about the performance of this laptop with respects to noise.

During general usage, I could barely hear the fan ever coming on.  Even when running it was generally as a low and quiet speed that was still capable of keeping the laptop cool.  The loudest sound, not that I would even call it loud, was the sound of the hard drive as the computer needed to access data.  For watching DVDs and listening to CDs this laptop is still fairly quiet and will not spoil the experience of the movie/music.

During benchmarking the laptop did have to speed up the fan a little bit.  The laptop was noticeably warmer (not hot) on the surface, and the fans did make enough sound to be noticed from a few feet away.  Slightly annoying, but I have heard much worse from many other laptops.  However, even with the elevated noise you could just turn the speakers up a notch or two and probably drown it out.  Again, the E8410 shows us how well it can perform as a business and entertainment-oriented machine.

With respect to the heat of the laptop, it does stay mercifully cool compared to many other laptops I have handled.  However, it still gets warm enough that I would not use it on my lap for anything other than the most basic (aka: low power requirement) tasks.  But, during the benchmarking process I took recordings of all the temperature points of interest and they are summarized below.  Again, this just gives you an idea of how hot the laptop gets inside.


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Heat and noise are generally direct trade-offs in the balancing act of making a notebook.  Fujitsu, thinking of their business customers, decided to focus on keeping the laptop quiet at the cost of a few degrees of heat.  However, they actually managed to strike a very healthy balance between both needs and many consumers will appreciate that.  Just do not play games or run intensive applications in your lap!

Keyboard and Touchpad

Cosmetically the keyboard could have been a little bit better.  It could have been black, or grey, or something other than the same light-silver that colors the entire keyboard deck of the laptop.  The same comments apply to the touchpad.  With respect to usage, I would have to rate the E8410 as slightly subpar in the keyboard and touchpad department.  They keyboard is useable indeed, and thankfully quiet.

However, the keyboard layout is the real reason for the subpar rating.  During the course of writing the review, I really could not believe how different the placement of the PgUp/PgDown, End, Home, Delete, and Insert keys were … and how it impacted me when editing the review documents.  Page Up and Down were located right next to the arrow keys out of all places, and every other keyboard I have ever seen places the Delete button fairly close to Backspace.


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The touchpad is responsive and definitely fairs better than the keyboard.  The fingerprint reader sits right in-between the two mouse buttons on the bottom, but leaves plenty of room for those two buttons.  Additionally, two wider mouse buttons are placed at the top of the touchpad.  Fujitsu offers an option for a touch-stick pointer with this notebook, but it was surprising to see the dual-button setup on our review model since it doesn’t have the touchpoint.

Near the power button above the keyboard, there rests a total of four special function keys that can be mapped to launch various applications.  The assignments can be controlled via Fujitsu’s LifeBook Application Portal, and any program can be mapped to those keys.

Input and Output Ports, Wireless, and Battery

The E8410 contains a very nice range of ports to ensure both forwards and backwards compatibility with old and new hardware, to maximize your abilities to use all kinds of technology.  The most welcome thing about this laptop’s array of ports is that it contains both PCMCIA and ExpressCard technology!

The E8410 contains the following list of standard ports:

  • Four USB 2.0 Ports
  • Serial Port
  • Parallel Port
  • Infrared
  • Modem
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • S-Video OUT
  • Headphone/Audio-out Jack
  • Microphone/Audio-in Jack
  • IEEE 1394 (4-pin) Firewire 400
  • Docking Connector
  • SD/MMC Card Slot
  • PCMCIA and ExpressCard Ports!

Two of the USB ports are on the left side, two in the back.  At least one would have been appreciated on the right side, as any connected mouse may now get in the way of the right-side optical drive.


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So, here are from left to right…AC Power, Microphone jack, headphones jack, modem, 2x USB 2.0, IEEE 1394 (Firewire 400), Cooling Grills, PCMCIA and ExpressCard slots, and a Smart Card Reader at below the two card slots!


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The right side only has the security lock slot, the modular optical drive, and the latch for the drive.


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The back has 2x USB 2.0, Parallel, Serial, VGA out, Ethernet, and S-Video Out ports.

The front of the notebook has a WiFi/Bluetooth Switch, SD/MMC Card Reader, and the screen latch.


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The bottom of the notebook has access to the fan grills (middle left), access panel to both memory slots (center), docking connector (bottom center), and the battery (top right).

The E8410 also features Integrated Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (802.11a/b/g) for wireless networking possibilities.  Well, it works so there is not much to write about that.  The E8410 also comes equipped with Bluetooth, which I could not test as I own no BT devices.  However, there is a combo WiFi/BT On/Off switch to the front of the laptop for easily access and control of those parts.

Battery life was also a pleasant surprise, as during the course of this review I had a couple chances to really run the battery down.  For my timed tests, the WiFi was on, the screen was at 50% brightness, Vista was on the most conservative power profile possible, but the laptop was configured to never dim the screen further or turn it off, nor to go into standby or any other sleep mode.  The laptop stayed on for 5 hours and 15 minutes before forced hibernation at 5% battery remaining.  By those estimations, the laptop would easily have lasted 5 hours 30 minutes which is very close to the rated ability of the 8-cell battery with a claimed life of 5 hours 45 minutes.  I probably could have pushed it a little further with a dimmer screen and no WiFi.

Operating System and Software

The Fujitsu comes equipped with Vista Business Edition, which lacks the Media Center functionality found in Home Premium or Ultimate.  Considering that this is a laptop more oriented to a business person, it is a logical choice.  However, there is a lot going for this notebook as an entertainment machine, so if you pick this up an upgrade to Ultimate or a fresh installation of Home Premium might make this a perfect machine for you.  Also, the laptop can be customized with XP Professional. 

Bloatware was kept to a minimum and consisted mostly of Google applications and MS Office and Norton trial packages.  It only took me about 30 minutes to find and unload all of it, and make sure it was gone.

Conclusion

Overall, I would say that the Fujistu E8410 embodies the struggle between battery life and power, heat and noise, price and performance, weight and build quality.  The E8410 has great advantages and features … but also a few weaknesses. The important thing to note is that the E8410 has many more advantages than disadvantages and that makes for a good laptop!

I would recommend this notebook for business professionals, casual computing users, and some of the entry-level configurations of this notebook will work well for students or people on a budget. Of course, anyone looking for a quiet notebook should consider the E8410 as well.

Personally, I would suggest the following configuration changes based on my experiences in order to maximize the strengths of this notebook:

  1. T7300 2.0GHz Processor, as the T7500 does not offer too much more performance but costs $100 more.
  2. Get 2GB of RAM, but at a $130 price tag at Fujitsu you may want to consider purchasing aftermarket RAM.
  3. Ditch the fingerprint reader and webcam unless you need it.
  4. Get the Intel X3100 graphics card.  This will further reduce noise and heat, and extend the battery life.  Choosing this option would enhance the best features of this notebook!  Gamers do not want the 8400M-G, but professionals may want the extra power…but I still think the X3100 would be best.  Be your own judge.
  5. Consider the modular battery addition if you are a road warrior as battery life is excellent.
  6. Consider the higher resolution screen.

Pros

  • LCD Status Indicator.
  • Modular Optical Bay.
  • Options for X3100 (more battery life, less heat) and the 8400M-G (a little more power, some loss of battery life).
  • Firm Screen.
  • Very sensitive HDD shock cage.
  • Beautiful screen with resolutions options.
  • Excellent processing performance, needs 2GB RAM though in my opinion.
  • Very quiet…some heat though.
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Plethora of ports and connectivity options.
  • Options for Vista and XP.

Cons

  • Poor keyboard layout.
  • Touchpad feedback.
  • Some flexibility in the notebook body.
  • Flex in the screen casing.




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