Mobile ION Does Gaming… Sometimes

We tried all of these games on the Gateway EC5409u and 1201N. With its GMA 4500MHD GPU and with the latest drivers, the EC5409u performance is in the single digits on most titles, even at minimum detail levels. We wanted to show results for the 1201N and its closest competition in a large number of titles, including older and newer games. (We brought back a few older gaming tests to see if 1201N could run them acceptably; we didn't try to pull together results from previously tested laptops on those games.)

Assassin's Creed DX9

Batman: Arkham Asylum



Empire: Total War

Fallout 3

Far Cry 2


Mass Effect

Devil May Cry 4

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

FEAR2: Project Origin

Half-Life 2: Episode 2


So the good news is that the 1201N can definitely handle gaming… but the bad news is that it's only in some games. Falling into the "acceptable performance" category are titles like Empire: Total War, Fallout 3, Devil May Cry 4, Spore, Sims, and any other less demanding titles. A few titles are borderline, like Batman: Arkham Asylum, Borderlands, Crysis, FEAR2, Half-Life 2 EP2, Oblivion, and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. Games that really stress the CPU performance end up in the dog house. Assassin's Creed, Far Cry 2, GRID, and in particular Mass Effect all fall into the "need more CPU power" category. Still, the 1201N is a universally superior gaming solution compared to any laptop using current Intel graphics.

As for the potential of ION, we can see that with the Studio 14z. It's always a good deal faster than the 1201N, and in several titles it's even more than twice as fast. 3DMark put the 14z as being ~40% faster than the 1201N, but only Empire: Total War matches that figure.

General Performance: Dual-Core Beats Single-Core Windows OS Performance
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  • chrnochime - Thursday, December 24, 2009 - link

    Some of us don't want to lug around a 14" and its requisite 9 cell battery plus the charger and the bag.

    I'd still take the SU2300 version over this, that's cheaper and faster.
  • mindless1 - Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - link

    But some of us DO want to lug around a netbook with at least a 9 cell battery.

    I chuckle every time someone thinks "I'll only use it X amount of time", as if it's really acceptable to them to have to make a beeline to a power socket to recharge it every chance they get. THAT is far far far far more of a burden than the extra few ounces and cubic centimeters 3 x more 18650(?) cells take up.

    It's just plain madness. Even if you don't need that runtime when it's new, it'll retain the runtime you do need a couple years later rather than requiring another battery. IMO, a battery pack should last the viable lifespan of the system even if they have to move to LiPOFE4 and make it twice the size it already is! No more packs bursting into flames would be an added bonus.

  • yyrkoon - Friday, December 25, 2009 - link

    "Lug around a 14" laptop" ? "requisite 9 cell battery" ? Netbooks do not have chargers, or bags ?

    All I can say is wow. Anything more, and I will become the troll. . . . Or maybe I already am ? Because some people can not handle criticism ?
  • san1s - Saturday, December 26, 2009 - link

    I'm guessing he/she means that the netbook's battery life is long enough to not require a charger and/or additional batteries, and that it is so small that you do not need a separate bag.
  • sublifer - Thursday, December 24, 2009 - link

    I'd like to see the Gateway EC1435u compared or an equivalent. These cheap dual-core celeron proc's probably would smear the atoms across the floor. Same price, same size, better performance. :)
  • yacoub - Thursday, December 24, 2009 - link

    I am SUPER disappointed by the crappy LCD in this netbook. That was one of the things I was most hoping they would improve alongside the better CPU and GPU. :(

    Thanks for the review!!
  • SilthDraeth - Thursday, December 24, 2009 - link

    Asus is an ODM and one of the largest lap top designers out there. I don't get why they add stupid features like a rocker mouse button to their own branded laptops, and netbooks. Also, why are they sticking to the glossy plastic. Gloss only looks good in a display window. Most people prefer the flat black that some Dells come with.

    I certainly hope they don't design it to be inferior to justify the low price of selling, and design their higher end laptops with the features people like/want.
  • withog - Thursday, December 24, 2009 - link

    Curious how the amd congo powered (dual core mv40+radeon hd3200) will fare up to its dual core atom+ion sibling.
    Should be cheaper (no hdmi, 7 starter ed.), lesser battery life (processor tdp of 18w), more appealing looks (silver version should cut the gloss at least) and i guess the overall performance should be more balanced as processor seems to be more closer to culv levels than d330.
  • IdBuRnS - Thursday, December 24, 2009 - link

    "I can comfortably type on such a laptop, though I still prefer full-size ergonomic ("natural") keyboards"

    So you've come across many portables with full-size ergonomic keyboards? Doubtful, so why even mention it in a portable review?
  • brybir - Thursday, December 24, 2009 - link

    He is letting you know what he prefers so that when he says "I dont like X, it is because I prefer Y" you have some basis of comparison. Would his review be better if it just said "I don't like the keyboard because its small"? That is nothing but a subjective statement, and when he makes those subjective statements, he qualifies them as a good reviewer does, rather than pass something that is only opinion off as fact.

    This would be different if he were talking about build quality of the keyboard, key response or anything else that is objective, but I for one like when authors qualify subjective comments like the one you quoted above so I know why they think what they do.

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