ASUS Eee PC 1005HA: Refining the Netbook

by Jarred Walton on 8/20/2009 4:00 AM EST


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  • jigglywiggly - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    I just bought one about 1 week ago, and it's a great laptop. However with Windows 7 it runs like crap, it's sluggish. I put some nice Karmic koala(ubuntu 9.10) and it shines.

    Do note, I tried Debian first, except YOU NEED the 2.6.31 kernel, Debian is, 2.6.26, yes I could compile it, but what's the point of compiling my own "unstabler" kernel for a stable OS? It's pointless, so I just went with Ubuntu which was 9.10. Oh and Debian Squeeze comes soon anyway.

    It's way way way way faster in ubuntu, then I partioned it and installed xp professiona, which to my surprise was very fast as well. I thought Windows 7 would run the same, I was wrong, Windows XP still runs much better on really low end platforms.

    It's not sluggish at all. One thing I did change was the ram, 1 gig, meh, I switched it to two. Also note, it only has 1 ram slot.
  • rgathright - Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - link

    The ASUS 1005HA only needs an NVIDIA ION graphics processor to make it the best netbook ever produced.

    I ran some benchmarks and give more detail in this review:">
  • sillyfox - Tuesday, September 08, 2009 - link

    sharing for sharing">
  • ProDigit - Wednesday, September 02, 2009 - link

    Dude,I get irritated reading this review!
    Theymention that it wasn't clear why HD flash and HDmovies showed difficulty playing back?
    It's the CPU. DivX,XviD and 480p H264 is accelerated enough by the GPU to be played back. 720p XVid and DivX should pose no problem neither, but the GPU has difficulty taking the task of decoding high bitrate h264 or 1080p video's.

    The GPU does not accelerate Flash at all. Flash is decoded fully by the CPU.
    The Atom CPU is a big bottleneck for a graphics processor in many games and high bitrate HD video's.
    This is simple to see because many core2duo laptops are equipped with a GMA950 too and can perform considerably better in some tasks.

    Videogames higher than 800x600 resolution, especially high detail ones, or with anti-aliasing on might also start to suffer from lack of GPU horsepower.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 04, 2009 - link

    You might try reading comprehension 101. I don't say it's not clear why they have problems but instead I state:

    "HD Hulu and YouTube videos are a different matter, with serious performance issues to the point where they are unwatchable. It's not clear if this is a limitation of the graphics chip, the Atom processor, or Adobe Flash -- or all of the above."

    It's not just the Atom CPU, as many people experience issues with HD Flash videos at full screen, even on high-end desktops. I'm inclined to go with "all of the above" as I think an Ion system will handle Flash better - hence it's not the CPU.

    Contrary to your statement, there are drivers and GPUs where Flash is accelerated so that this isn't a problem at all. An update to Flash could address this issue in the future, just as updates to various other codecs could help with H.264 decoding.

    I also provided an update indicating x264 playback with the CoreAVC codec works at up to 720p (with moderate bitrates), and your comments on gaming performance are already clearly illustrated by the graphs of 3DMark03/05 and my statement that, "If you're planning to try to run any 3D games on these netbooks, you will definitely want to stick with older titles."

    You might try to calm yourself before posting rather than getting irritated by one little statement.
  • ProDigit - Wednesday, September 02, 2009 - link

    I hate these reviews where people are still 'in awe'of the fact that an Atom powered netbook should NOT be compared to a dualcore notebook. So much is obvious already for more than a year!
    Testing netbooks in 3D performance is nice, but it would have been better comparing netbooks vs netbooks; Atom 270 VS Atom 280...

    I am totally not impressed at all with comments like "whooo! look at the difference between an Atom powered netbook, how sluggish it performs to a Dual core!; Man, I did the find of the year!"
    Get real...
    Instead "Whoo" for the battery life, and how the 280 marginally outperforms the 270!
  • JarredWalton - Monday, August 24, 2009 - link

    Thanks for the note. I tested with EeeCTL's "Ultrabright" setting and have added a comment on the LCD page. FWIW, I only measured about 250 nits (246 to be exact). Reply
  • heulenwolf - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    F11 is my friend on my 1005HAB from Best Buy. It has many of the HA's features at a lower price, the most notable difference being the shorter battery life. All the buttons and toolbars are still accessible if you mouse to the top of the page but they're not there when you don't need them. This works on IE, Firefox, and Chrome. Reply
  • Voldenuit - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    Do any of the netbooks tested have DXVA capable GPUs (and accompanying filters enabled)? How does GPU offloading influence battery life? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    I don't believe so... perhaps the GMA 4500 series can work with DXVA, but otherwise I'm pretty sure you need an ATI or NVIDIA GPU right now. I know I couldn't seem to get it to work on a laptop with GMA 4500MHD graphics. Reply
  • Mugur - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    I have an Acer Aspire One 150 from last year (N270, 1.5 GB RAM, 120GB harddisk) and I must say that the "slowness" is far less noticed than some may think. I tested with XP Pro, Vista Ultimate and now I have Windows 7 Ultimate RC on it. If you keep it clean and with some trivial optimizations (turn off system restore etc.) it performs fairly nice on tasks like browsing, Office, even movies.

    Some "myths" like not supporting Aero, or 720p video are false. It plays nice with Aero and using Vista's or 7 included video drivers I can play 720p with no dropped frames up to a certain bitrate. I tested with the wmv 720p clips from MS site and also with x264 encoded MKV files - the catch is to use Media Player Classic and CoreAVC codec (smt support). Files around 1 GB for a TV show (40 minutes) or up to 4-6 GB for a full length movie are 100% playable.

    I have also an old CeleronM 1.73 Ghz notebook with 2 GB RAM and 120 GB 7200rpm hdd and, side by side, the Atom doesn't feel slower. The benchmarks are "true", but I think that they are not painting the real picture: for light tasks and with a "clean" OS and not a bunch of start up applications :-) netbooks are perfectly usable.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    You are apparently correct; CoreAVC ($15) allows you to decode x264 720p videos. CPU usage looks to be around 70%, give or take. I'll run the battery test to see how it fares under that load and update the text. Reply
  • Codesmith - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    At your desk you hook it up to a 24" LCD, POWERED usb hub that connects to an external optical drive, keyboards, mouse, printer, and plug it into your speakers and you are good to go.

    When you are not at your desk its small, lightweight and has insane battery life.

    Even though I have a powerful gaming desktop and a 13" Macbook I loved the netbook, I just can't justify the purchase.

    If I was a student, or traveled a lot I'd buy one in a heart beat.

  • ashegam - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    regarding the browser size comparison (dots)

    you can rearrange firfox to display your buttons, File menu and address bar all in one line (bar). Add "addblock" to it you should have the most browsing real estate then all the other browsers.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    With the customizations you mention and with "small icons", Firefox is still *slightly* larger than Chrome. But I do like having menus. Of course I was going off of default settings, and AdBlock is an add-on... going there would open up a large can of worms. The basic comments still stand, however: the 600 pixel height is a real issue with netbooks and web pages. Honestly, even 768 or 800 is too short. It's on reason I miss the old 5:4 1280x1024 displays. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    This review suffers from the same thing 95% of Atom/Ion/Nano and other low-end performance reviews suffer from: too many benchmarks and not enough subjective impressions.

    I already know it's pitifully slow. I already know it can't do HD video. I already know it can't game. What I don't know is how painful it is to use doing the basic tasks it was designed for, and when it starts to choke and become annoying.

    This criticism isn't as critical for Netbooks, but if you ever do a Nettop review (especially for one designed as an office light-use low-power desktop replacement) subjective usage impressions under different types of typical workloads would be orders of magnitude more helpful than yet more graphs.
  • bigkah624 - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    Ditto what GeorgeH said. A netbook is for easy portable net browsing and document-editing on a usable screen. If you want a powerful netbook, then pay for it. Dont expect to spend sub-$400 (not yet anyway) and still expect all the sweet things most commenters are asking for here. If you want a powerful little box, go look at Sony's VAIO TT. And yes, expect to pay for it. Dearly. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    George, when we don't run the additional tests, people complain. Your own statement already sums up the situation: it's pitifully slow... compared to any modern PC. These netbooks are as fast as single-core 1.2GHz Pentium M Centrino laptops from about 2003. Plenty of people still use such laptops for office tasks, though.

    Subjectively, you *know* the netbook is slow when you use it. Launching Internet Explorer (or Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or Safari for that matter) takes noticeably longer. Opening and rendering web pages takes noticeably longer. Interacting with Windows in general is far more sluggish. I included the detailed PCMark05 results for a reason, because they explain in numbers exactly what you'll experience with a netbook. An entry-level $500 laptop is about 50% faster at rendering *simple* web pages. Loading up in IE takes around 3.5 seconds per page compared to 2-2.5 seconds. MS Office will load slower and take a bit before you feel it reaches full responsiveness (maybe 10 seconds or so).

    Does any of that qualify as choking and being annoying? Relative to a really fast system, perhaps, but for $300-$375 I don't think so. Don't run tons of web pages in tabs, don't open eighteen applications at once, and you'll be fine. I don't know what you want me to say subjectively that isn't already conveyed by the performance charts. It's slow, but it's "fast enough".

    The most annoying aspect for me continues to be the low resolution LCD. It's at its best in movies, and everywhere else I wish I had a larger, higher resolution LCD. However, it will suffice for normal office use. Note also that most web pages aren't designed for optimal viewing on a 1024x600 LCD panel - the majority don't have a problem with the width, but the height is a real issue so expect to do a lot of scrolling. IE8 (or Firefox) with the address bar, menu, tabs, and status bar uses 150 pixels. The task bar is another 30 or so (unless you hide it). That's one third of the vertical space without any useful content! Most web sites then put a ~130 pixel site banner at the top, and perhaps some other stuff. For instance, our site is 330 pixels before you even see the articles on the home page and 600 pixels to the article text when reading an article. It's why the touchpad gestures are useful, because you'll do a lot of scrolling.

    Hope that helps... maybe I'll update the conclusion.
  • GeorgeH - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    That helps. Part of the problem is that in the past 4+ years I haven't spent any real time with anything much slower than a high end Prescott, so I have a hard time visualizing what scores as low as the Atom's really mean or "feel like" in practice.

    After thinking about it more, I guess I'm really asking what types of users and what types of tasks you think Atom/Nano platforms would be acceptable for, purely from a performance perspective and beyond the obvious ones such as a 12th PC or simple fileserver. I realize that's a very difficult and highly subjective question to answer, but that's why you get the big fat paycheck, right? ;)

    One scenario that might help explain what I'm trying to get at:
    Imagine yourself as the head of IT for a large, multinational corporation (one that only uses mainstream applications.) The CEO wants to "Go Green" and replace as many PCs as possible with low power Atom/Nano boxes without negatively impacting productivity or morale. How many new PCs do you buy (if any), and for whom?
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    Well, I know you did not address me, but I would like to add on things that I feel Jarred left out.

    First, I have helped a couple of friends do the initial OEM setup on XP netbooks, and they are dog slow. Boot up on these Dell netbooks takes what seems like forever, just to enter into the the welcome/setup screen. Probably around 1.5-2 minutes for first boot. Then going through the different setup pages for the various things such as computername, and network setup are very sluggish compared to say a doing the same on a Pentium 4 onward. Honestly, I have installed XP Pro on a PII 300 with 384 MB of RAM, and I do not think it was this slow( it was a few years ago ). This I would have to assume would have to do with HDD speeds but I am not 100% sure. In relation again to your Prescott onwards comment, I would have to say if you're not very patient, you would probably get upset waiting to do things, or perhaps start reading a book, or doing something else ( cook dinner ? Yes, exaggeration ). I myself got very frustrated just navigating around in XP home on these two Dell mini's, but I am not exactly patient. For someone else who has little experience with reasonably updated Windows system, they would probably be happy. *Until* they try and do something like play a game other than minesweeper, or tried using Photoshop, etc.

    On the flip side of things, the atom classed CPU's would make for a fairly decent embedded system CPU. But only for certain applications, and definitely not in netbook form. unless perhaps a developer was using one for the development stages for some reason.

    In your scenario where you may have a CEO who wants to "go green", there are better options. One could consider buying a specific motherboard with the ability to undervolt/underclock the system, and pay someone to set this up in the BIOS. George Oui ( last name correctly spelled ? ) from ZDNets tech article section ( before he left ) seemed to have done some very intensive/hands on testing of some of the lower power rated Core 2 Duo CPU's, and was able to to achieve ~50W for a single system including a LCD monitor ( full load ). That is definitely not bad for a desktop classed system, but you could do better with laptop classed parts in a mini ITX system ( which are available ), but at a comparitively higher price. All in all however, it would probably be better to contact an OEM vendor such as Dell, tell them what you need, and see if they can build something to meet your needs.

    As for the testing . . . I do not see what they could do really. Well, other than what they have done except perhaps include system boot times. Only the odd "current" titled games such as WoW will play on these, and even on the ION platform, are terrible compared to any desktop system made within the last 5-6 years ( assuming said parts were current at the time ).

  • GeorgeH - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    Thanks for those perspectives, they're much appreciated. I should probably just go buy one and judge for myself, but $200+ for another doorstop is a little steep. :)

    I guess for the time being I'll just stick with LGA775/AM2 for my low end needs.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    Honestly, employees get paid so much more than the computers they use (in all but a few situations) that there's no way I'd recommend "going green" by using Atom-based systems. Let's just estimate that computer-related tasks end up taking 10% more time on average (because multitasking is going to be more limited on such PCs). If you pay someone $20 per hour, you've now wasted $16 per day per employee.

    Even if it's only 5% and $8 per day, considering a 200W PC uses around $0.16 in electricity during an eight hour shift, cutting that down to an 8W netbook and spending a penny a day on power means that your net costs have still gone up $7.85 per day or more based on lost productivity.

    Unless you're power constrained (i.e. in a data center), I think the whole green movement is just a bunch of marketing and political mumbo jumbo. Other "green" CPUs like Core 2 Duo would be far more effective at saving money over the course of the year.

    Then again, the biggest source of lost money for companies is probably employees wasting time rather than waiting on their PCs. :-)
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    "Dont expect to spend sub-$400 (not yet anyway) and still expect all the sweet things most commenters are asking for here"

    I did exactly that, 3 month ago. But it was not a netbook, it was a full blown laptop, even if low powered. $399, free shipping. But, I did add to the cost by having enough foresight to order a 4GB upgrade for it ( $50 ). It will definitely not win any speed records, but at least it *will* run Photoshop, play video without skipping a beat,and play game titles such as GTA San Andreas, or Titan Quest with no problems. All while using a maximum of 40W full load. Idle is only ~17W. Battery life is only ~2 hours, unless you turn it down to energy conservation mode, but that does not bother me one bit. As a matter of a fact, playing no games, and turning the power option down, I have had it last 8-9 hours, but I was not constantly using it like I often do while gaming.

    Also, at the same time I was looking at an Asus C2D system, with 4 GB RAM, and one of the newer 512MB/1GB N120 nVidia dedicated graphics cards in it. It was not sub $400, but it was sub $800. This is something that I personally did not ever expect to see, and wished at the time - I had the cash to divert towards. Sadly, I could not :(

    Anyhow, this all just lends to what I have been thinking ever since netbooks have been on the market. Which is: "Why even bother". You can get a decent laptop, for close to, or the same price, and get much better performance for your price. These laptop also may not be built like an M1 Abrams, but if you're careful with them, they will last a good long time.
  • qwertymac93 - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    im just waiting for amd's 45nm notebook chips, or at least their dual core neo's. the ones used by hp are custom, i want dual cores for everyone! is it too much to ask for a sempron 140 that uses 10watts or a 240 that uses 25? Reply
  • BigLan - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    It looks like the xvid and x264 pass 1 charts have got mixed up - I'd be really suprised in any of the laptops could only manage single digit xvid encoding. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    The x264 encoding graphs are correct; there are no Xvid encoding results - I assume you mean the DivX results? x264 is much more complex than DivX, true, and the second pass in particular can take a very long time. However, the x264 encoding results are for a 720p video (graysky x264 HD Benchmark) while the DivX results are for a 1080p file (done in single-pass, quality-based, preset of 5). The settings and video source definitely have an impact on how quickly DivX encoding will run; a regular single-pass DVD encode is going to be about four or five times as fast in DivX. I'll add the video file information to the charts for clarification. Reply
  • Mithan - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    These netbooks are all fine and dandy, but they still have not made one I want.

    What do I want?
    -1.6Ghz+ CPU
    -Higher than 1024x600 resolution (1366x768?)
    -Preferably an ION chipset, but I can still live with the 950.

    There are a few 11-12" Netbooks on the market, but they all have that crappy 1.2Ghz Celeron or ZA520 chip or whatever it is called.

    No, I dont want a 15" Laptop, even for the same price.

    I guess the wait goes on...
  • Voldenuit - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    What about CULV C2Ds and Athlon Neos? Ultraportable, ultrapowerful and ultraaffordable. Reply
  • qwertymac93 - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    ever heard of the samsung nc20? its via chip is actually a little faster then the atom n270 despite its low clock speed. the only drawback is its $100 more then most atom notebooks, but it does have a 12 inch screen! Reply
  • Visual - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    Well I am a bit more hard to satisfy than you then. the 950 is definitely not enough, i'd not say that even for the GMA 4500... but at least it would have been a step in the right direction.

    I also am ready to pay a bit more to have it convertible with a simple touchscreen... and pay even double if it were a really good touchscreen - at least 1024 pixels in vertical for adequate portrait operation, with multitouch, decent amount of pressure levels, both pen and finger sensitivity and ability to distinguish between the two.

    Bonus points (and price) if it also distinguishes between the two sides of the pen or has a button or two on it, though buttons on the screen bezel can do the trick as well - they just need to be accessible in tablet mode. I think they are a must-have for emulation of hover functionality, where you're not forced to click and/or drag every time you touch the screen to move the "mouse" somewhere - anyone that has ever used a touchscreen probably understands this, so I really can't believe it's not a standard feature of every tablet by now.
  • Mithan - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    I want it for Internet, Word Processing, Email and maybe the odd crappy old game, so I dont need a killer video card.

    Still, 1.2 isnt enough speed..
  • gaiden2k7 - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    they do have one - it's called a mac :p

    and you can bootcamp W7 if you so desire

    drawback? cost.
  • orenlevy - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    as i Open the New 1005 i noticed immediate the charger plug that shrink to size of is absolute drawback case when u move the notebook when connected to charger it is so fragile connection .i already have this problem with 1 client it is too thin for notebook world.
    besides the surface of the touch pad
    is strange if your finger little wet it is heard to controls the mouse.
    that's all for now.
  • vlado08 - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    Is it possible to compare the Acer Timeline 3810T (Intel ULV Core 2 Solo SU3500) with these netbooks (Intel atom) Reply
  • bingeboy86 - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    This is a great netbook for making a hackintosh.

    Only annoyances are no access to the wifi card or the HD with out really taking the machine apart. Other then that I've loved it.

    Here is a good read if you want to install osx on it:">
  • jabber - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    ....when I saw the vertical res was still 600 in the spec list. Reply
  • Visual - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    it is also again using the old chipset and crap video, really disappointing.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    Acer AO751h is 1366x768... but it's not a clean win by any stretch. Review should be up next week. Reply
  • crimson117 - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    CPU = z520 = boo, hiss!">

    Am I really expecting too much for a ~$320 netbook without any obnoxious drawback? They fixed one thing (the screen size) but at the same time they ruin another (the much crappier processor), making this a compromise sidegrade instead of a sure-buy.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    And just because the LCD resolution and size are "better" doesn't make the LCD the better choice overall. The ASUS display looks *much* nicer than the low contrast 751h... but I do have to say the 1366x768 resolution is much more desirable. There are a few other netbooks coming out with 11.6" LCDs as well; hopefully one of them will work better. Reply
  • buzznut - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    AFAIK, any netbooks over 10.1 inches do not use the N270,N280/gma 900. They all seem to use the m520/gma 500. What you lose in performance (clock speed) it may be gained from Win7,as the gma 500 supports HD and direct X10. Which I believe means GMA 500 supports Aero, and GMA 900 does not.
    So slower overall, but perhaps more media friendly?

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