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Application performance of the AMD Athlon Neo X2 L335, a 1.6 GHz dual core based on AMD's old K8 architecture, isn't likely to be full of many surprises, and the Radeon HD 3200 graphics are a known quantity at this point. The MSI U230 should surpass the Acer Ferrari One, thanks to the faster CPU, but otherwise they're about the same.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

Futuremark PCMark05

Internet Performance

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

The important takeaway is to look at how the L335 coupled with the HD 3200 outclasses not only Atom-based netbooks (including dual-core Atom and Ion-based machines), but also produces a commanding lead over the Acer Ferrari's 1.2 GHz Athlon X2. It's true it can't compete with Intel's CULV platform, but that's a given; we've known for a long time that K8 can't compete clock-for-clock with anything Conroe-derived onward, what we're looking for here is a compromise between the sometimes painful sluggishness of the Atom and the price of a CULV-based dual core, and MSI's Wind U230 more or less delivers one.

Futuremark 3DMark06

Futuremark 3DMark05

Futuremark 3DMark03

The other interesting item to note is the graphics performance. Sure, AMD can't touch the performance of CULV with their Neo processors, though they can often come close with a 300MHz advantage over the 1.3GHz SU4100 and SU7300. However, in the graphics department even the HD 3200 is head and shoulders above the GMA 4500MHD. And let's not even talk about the pathetic GMA 3150 in Pine Trail! Besides being faster for gaming (though you'll struggle in most 3D games at the native 1366x768), the HD 3200 also manages to handle HD video decoding much better than the 4500MHD. YouTube 720p content works quite well on the U230, with relatively low CPU usage, though the 4500MHD can usually manage to run such content without dropping frames. The real kicker is that both CULV and AMD's Ultraportable platforms typically provide HDMI output—something you'll need ION to get on Atom.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the added performance comes with a drawback or two….

Screen Analysis Battery Life and a Wrinkle or Two
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  • maniac5999 - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    Its interesting that your U230 didn't have powersaving options. Mine was probably one of the first US models to come out of the factory (purchased the week it went on sale) and it had them. Did you cycle through the power 'modes' that you can choose with the Fn + FX (I forget what number) command on the keyboard? Mine came with about 6 options. By default it would jump between 1.6ghz/0.925v and 800mhz/0.8v on everything but max performance, and even had a setting to lock it at 800mhz/0.8v.

    I wasn't quite as lucky with undervolting as you were however. I still get 0.825v at 1.6ghz but still need .775v to do 800mhz. What I realy wish I could find is a way to overclock it, but the clock generator seems to be totally locked down. I'd imagine that it could easily do 2ghz at about 0.9v, at which point it'd easily be more powerful than anything it's size, and since the battery life already stinks, making it a bit worse wouldn't be much of a big deal.
    Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    Seems like the worst of all worlds to me. Mediocre battery life and so/so performance at a high price for the components included in the package. I would either buy a low end Intel notebook and get better performance or a true netbook or ULV platform for long battery life.
    As another poster said, I would agree that at 300.00 this might sell. At the listed price, I see no place for it.
    Note to AMD: If you have inferior technology (except for the graphics), you have to sell at a reduced price. And is there any point to 4gb of ram?? Can this processor really run enough programs at once to use that much ram?
    Reply
  • Lolimaster - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    Blame MSI dude. All major players have already Athlon II / Turion II Neo and they compete on equal terms wil CULV cpus.

    The best ultraportable/netbooks right now are the AMD powered machines. From the single core V105 to the K665 1.7Ghz dual core.

    Single core
    V105 1.2Ghz 9w
    K125 1.7Ghz 12w

    Dual core
    K325 1.3Ghz 15w
    K625 1.5Ghz 15w
    K665 1.7Ghz 15w

    All of them with the HD4200. A tweaked HD3200 with updated UVD/DX10.1 and lower TDP's. Next, Fusion with even better GPU's.
    Reply
  • niva - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    Has this been tested to be fully compatible with linux flavors such as Ubuntu?

    As much as I like ATI cards in windows I always cringe at their terrible performance in linux when compared to the nvidia cards.

    This is a nice little machine and a definite alternative to the intel chips.
    Reply
  • wiak - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    but the U230 is old, its from 2009
    http://www.netbookreviews.net/msi/wind-u230/
    Reply
  • swaaye - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    Athlon Neo X2 arrived less than a year old, I believe. Why bother with K10 at this point as it's pretty retro too. :) Reply
  • matt b - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    Apparently, the Turion flavor of Congo, the L625, has better voltage management and thus battery life. Multiple reviews have shown that the Lenovo Thinkpad x100e with the K625 dual core processor has superior battery life to the MV-40 single core. Both are Congo chips with the same GPU, as well as the L325/335 processors, yet the higher clocked L625 with more cache appears the most power efficient.
    One complaint/issue that I would raise with battery life comparisions in these tests: Two of the four tests use the GPU to a greater extent. Unsuprisingly, with a superior performing GPU, AMD suffers in those battery test. How about non-flash heavy web browsing? Most of my websites are not flash intensive, and I never watch movie on my laptop (have a 50 incher at home for that). I know some people do and I think that the movie test is a good one, though I imagine it favors a weaker GPU. I work on flights, not watch movies. I think that a test that uses word processors, and some non-flash heavy browsing is probably the most realistic for most users.
    Reply
  • Cal123 - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    This weeks review is a k8, what's in store for next week, pentium D review? Try to review up to date stuff, k10.5 and i series have been out for months now. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    We can really only review what they send us. This one was actually a matter of some internal debate, but we decided to go ahead anyhow. There's no real reason NOT to review the thing.

    Of course, that said we like to think we're at least a little ahead of the curve. Pentium D for is old news, next week we're going to be posting our impressions of Intel's new Core 2 Duo E6600 and how well it pairs up with the GeForce 7800 GTX.
    Reply
  • danacee - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    I just picked up a K325 equipped toshiba for the $450 mark at newegg. They are hardly just trickling onto the market and I could not think of a reason anyone would look at MSI's line considering how god awful their wind series has been from the start. Reply

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