Netbook Performance Comparison

Futuremark PCMark05

Video Encoding - DivX

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

Starting with general application performance, the AMD-based NV52 is 142% faster than the 1005HA and the Intel-based NV58 is 192% faster in PCMark05. If we move to purely CPU limited tasks like 3D rendering and video encoding, the margin is often even greater: NV52 is 130% to 257% faster and the NV58 is 255% to 380% faster. Ouch! Do we even need to explain that the Intel Atom is anything but a high-performance CPU? It's worth noting that none of the netbooks we've tested so far can handle x264 720p (let alone 1080p) decoding; they drop frames like a bad habit. 720p DivX on the other hand works quite well, so we used that for one of our battery life tests on the next page. Update: As one of the readers pointed out, CoreAVC with Media Player Classic will handle x264 720p decode. If that's important to you, the $15 for CoreAVC is a worthy investment. We'll update with x264 battery life decoding results once the tests complete.

The detailed PCMark05 results tell a similar story, with the netbooks trailing entry-level notebooks in nearly every category, often by large margins. Graphics in particular show a huge discrepancy, with the NV52 coming in over 50X faster than the 1005HA in 2D Transparency and 40X faster in 3D Pixel Shaders. Part of the difference comes from OS - XP scores much lower on 2D Transparency than Vista; however, XP also scores higher on HDD tests, which accounts for the netbook scores being higher than the NV52. Testing all platforms with XP (not shown), only the HDD tests are close, which makes sense; the remaining tests favor the NV52 by 90% to 520% and the NV58 by 85% to 345%.

Futuremark 3DMark03

Futuremark 3DMark05

If general performance was bad, 3D performance is even worse. 3DMark03 -- a benchmark that focuses primarily on DirectX 8 performance -- has the GMA 4500MHD outperforming the outdated GMA 950 by 212%, and AMD's HD 3200 comes in 319% faster. Switching to a more modern DirectX 9 benchmark, 3DMark05 gives the 4500MHD a 465% advantage and the HD 3200 is nearly ten times as fast (953% faster). If you're planning to try to run any 3D games on these netbooks, you will definitely want to stick with older titles. The original Half-Life should work okay, for example, along with other games from 2000 and earlier. 2D titles should present fewer difficulties… Diablo 2 for example is a good option.

For those interested in other tasks, we were able to watch (360p) movies in fullscreen mode without difficulty. Standard YouTube videos also work fine -- in fact, here's one case where the low 1024x600 native resolution is actually a bonus. 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. As you can imagine, higher quality QuickTime videos (i.e. with H.264 encoding) are also a problem as there's simply not enough oomph to decode them properly. Stick with less complex codecs, however, and the 1005HA works well as a portable video device.

In contrast, the higher performance AMD and Intel laptops from Gateway have no problem with HD YouTube and other web content. H.264 playback is also possible, though the NV58 couldn't handle 1080p x264 content while the HD 3200 in the AMD system manages that task... and do we even need to mention how much better the NV52 is at gaming? Higher bitrate x264 videos aren't a serious need on netbooks, however, particularly those with 1024x600 LCD panels. Such videos may be nice to watch if you have them, but there's also the question of battery life when watching movies. As we'll see on the next page that's one area where the netbooks really trump regular laptops. Without further adieu, then, let's move on to battery life testing.

Netbook Testing Setup Netbook Battery Life Comparison


View All Comments

  • 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

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