Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

We have a couple things to discuss, namely the Pineview Atom N450 and the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE. Let's start with ASUS.

Most of the changes relative to the older 1005HA (and 1008HA) are very minor. The LCD panel may or may not be better, depending on what particular panel you happen to get. That's unfortunate, but it's the only outwardly visible change. We did feel that the keyboard and touchpad buttons were "loose" compared to the 1005HA, but it might simply be a case of getting an early sample. The design doesn't appear to be any different so we can't imagine ASUS making changes to the keyboard that are clearly worse.

Internally, the changes haven't resulted in a system that's significantly faster, but the one change is very noticeable. Our initial tests indicate that Pineview has improved battery life on the 1005 laptops by a whopping 25%. If you want a netbook that can last 10+ hours and you want to spend less than $400, the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE has exactly what you need.

What about the ASUS Eee PC 1201N? We'll have a full review soon, but since we've already shown many of the results we might as well spoil the surprise: the 1201N is significantly faster than anything you're likely to see from Pine Trail netbooks. Dual-core Atom 330 trumps single-core N450, and ION pummels the GMA 3150, takes its lunch money, and sends it crying home to mama. The 330 and ION are a lot hungrier, though, so your lunch money (i.e. battery life) will only last half as long. As for the design, we like the 12.1" 1201N a lot more than the 10.1" 1005PE. The keyboard is roomier and the LCD gets a resolution that's more useful; personally, 11.6" netbooks are about where I draw the line, but some people will like the smaller designs.

The latest release of Atom brings quite a few changes, but the net result isn't quite as impressive as we were hoping. We have an integrated memory controller in the CPU along with a GPU on package. Those are cost saving measures that also provide some benefits in terms of power requirements. What they apparently don't provide is a significant improvement in performance. Anand saw around a 10% improvement in performance relative to Diamondville on the desktop, but the real problem is what we didn't get.

Specifically, Pineview needed a lot more than GMA 3150 to make it attractive. Given a choice between N280 ION and N450 Pineview, ION will offer a better overall experience for the vast majority of users. If you want to do a silent HTPC, Pineview is going to need some form of external graphics, making the GMA 3150 a waste of space. We would have been much happier if Intel had included GMA 4500 instead, and even then it would be underpowered compared to ION.

On the desktop, the launch of Pine Trail/Pineview seems a lot less interesting, since power requirements for nettops are much less of a concern. Shaving off 2W of power draw - or even 10W - really isn't a big deal. 10W would save something like $8 per year, and only if you run a system 24/7. Even 2W on a laptop is meaningful, but it's particularly useful when you're running at less than 10W idle power. Pine Trail is a real benefit for the mobility minded, and like the original Atom it's still "fast enough" for most users. Just stay away from HD Flash videos and forget about 1080p H.264 and you'll be fine.

Pine Trail does create some other concerns. With the GPU now integrated into the CPU package, what chance do we have for ION laptops? Well, obviously ION as a chipset is dead with Pineview, but we will likely see Pine Trail paired up with discrete GPUs. That means hybrid GPU solutions should become more common, allowing users to choose between performance and battery life as needed - like on the ASUS UL80Vt. But then, why even bother with an underperforming Atom when there's something twice as fast that only uses a bit more power? Yes, we're talking about CULV.

What we really want to see at this point is CULV with a 730i chipset (9400M). 730i certainly uses more power than GM45 (4500MHD), but netbooks using such a design should still be able to get 6+ hours of battery life and run the vast majority of games (albeit at low detail). In addition, it could handle all of the important video decode acceleration. The net result is that it would run games and applications a lot better than ION/Atom, and if you cut out the Intel chipset cost it should be possible to make something like the Acer 1410 with 9400M for around $450 - or add a slightly larger battery to get 8+ hours. The ASUS UL80Vt shows what is possible, and we hope to see future laptops learn from that approach. Get close to UL80Vt performance for under $500 and you have a real winner.

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  • JOEyGADGET - Friday, January 29, 2010 - link

    I bought a 100PE thinking I could use eeectl to boost the screen brightness to the ultrabright setting the way I boosted the brightness on previous ASUS netbooks. However eeectl ultrabright setting has no effect. Anyone know how to force the 1005PE to turn on or activate ultrabright setting? At its brightest setting the 1005PE is simply too dim for my eyes. Suggestions welcome and appreciated. Thanks, JOEyGADGET Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - link

    I totally stopped reading after page 4, where the results became opposite of tomshardware results, and opposite of logic.
    The memory controller is on chip, and yet it's slower than a separate?
    Don't make me laugh!

    Really, for benchmarks you don't need to be with anandtech, for they just paste some stupid numbers there that won't make any sense whatsoever!
    Then again, tomshardware is only interested in running 3D mark and Crysis tests!
    Reply
  • whatthehey - Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - link

    You, sir, are a moron if you are going to compare the THG article with this one. Unless I'm mistaken, the only Pine Trail article is this one:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/atom-d510-d510...">http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/atom-d510-d510...

    See the problem? One, they're testing D510, not a netbook. Two, they don't have results for old Atom N280 and new Atom N450. Three, you're trusting THG, a site known to have sold out on too many occasions to even begin to count, just like HardOCP.

    Which results in this article are wrong? PCMark is all over the map, which as they point out is pretty much par for the course. Don't trust PCMark05, and there aren't any meaningful points of comparison for Vantage. They would need to show other netbooks with Windows 7 Starter, and they don't have that here.

    In short, to be "opposite" of some other site, they actually have to compare the same sort of hardware. AnandTech has a separate D510 article, but D510 isn't a netbook. Looks to me like the N450 has no reason to be faster. Same cache instead of the desktop, where the D510 has twice the cache size compared to 330.

    Please take the THG trolling and go elsewhere. THG ceased to be relevant right around the time that Thomas Pabst stopped being the head honcho.
    Reply
  • foolsgambit11 - Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - link

    It looks like in the next couple years, we'll see Atom-derivatives relegated to MIDs and CULV-derivatives taking it's place for netbooks/nettops. I think this was Intel's stated objective for Atom from the beginning, right? Reply
  • geok1ng - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    The very simple reason that Pineview sucks soo much is that Intel want to push the crappy GMA 3150 and the sluggish 4500HD down our troats. Another point for the Asus UL80vt, Dell 14z, Ions. The consumer cant have both products:a good GPU and a good enough CPU. Reply
  • Fanfoot - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    I'm surprised that Intel had the GMA 500 core available to them, yet the GPU they've paired with the N450 is still so anemic. The battery life is certainly nice, but the inability to play HD Flash is seriously questionable. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - link

    GMA500 is a decent product with godawful driver support Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    Sempron M100 is lurking about out there. And I cant find much of any info on it. Can you guys try to find and review a Sempron M100 notebook with HD4200 graphics and a decent size battery? If you do can you play around with underclocking/undervolting it? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    I've been trying to get *any* of the 45nm AMD laptops. I'll continue working on it, as I'm quite interested in seeing what they can do for power reqs. Turion II Ultra + HD 4200 seems like it should at least be competitive with dual-core ION (i.e. ASUS 1201N), but I'm not sure AMD is going to get power requirements down low enough. Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    "When Intel released the Atom CPUs, netbooks received a dramatic boost in performance and battery life"

    Battery life, yes. Performance, not so much. In single threaded apps, the Celeron was faster than the Atom. Overall, having that second thread was nice, but raw performance wasn't helped so much
    Reply

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