HP Mini 311 — Battery Life

We run many scenarios for our battery life tests. Most netbooks don't include optical drives, but since we had the external Blu-ray drive we were able to run our DVD and Blu-ray tests… sort of. We couldn't get DVD playback to work in Windows Media Player (or Media Player Classic - Home Cinema) due to "copy protection errors" (aka DRM rearing its ugly head — probably some codec or software we installed), but DVD playback worked fine with the included Arcsoft TotalMedia Theater 3.

TMT3 also supports a DVD up-sampling technology dubbed SimHD that's supposed to improve DVDs to "HD quality". Don't let that fool you! It's essentially a sharpening (sometimes over-sharpening) filter applied to every frame from the movie. It can look good in some scenes while adding noise to others, but some users might prefer the experience. SimHD isn't without its drawbacks, as it resulted in significantly lower battery life.

As a point of reference we ran the DVD playback tests with files copied to the HDD as well as from the external DVD; as you might expect, spinning a disc results in lower battery life — worse even than SimHD from the HDD. Honestly, DVD playback is so pre-2005, and this is the last you'll see of it in our testing of laptops. Rip a disc to your HDD and you won't have to worry about scratches or DRM issues, and you'll get better battery life to boot — a win-win-win scenario. Don't tell the MPAA and Media Conglomerate lawyers….

In addition to the above, we tested DivX HD, x264, Internet, Idle and even Gaming battery life. GPU decode acceleration is used where possible (and it's required for the Blu-ray test). DivX is also supported natively within Windows Media Player now, and a quick sanity check shows that it improved battery life slightly compared to decoding within MPC-HC (using ffdshow).

Battery Life - Idle

Battery Life - Internet

Battery Life - DivX Video

Battery Life - x264 720p

Battery Life - DVD Video

Battery Life - Blu-ray Video

Relative Battery Life

The battery life results are rather interesting. You can now get 9400M graphics performance (slightly slower than 9300M since it shares system memory bandwidth) with battery life that's at least close to some GMA 950 netbooks. The Mini 311 trades blows with the M1022 in our battery life tests, and it's very close to the old ASUS N10JC running in GMA 950 mode. In 9300M mode the Mini 311 offers clearly superior battery life compared to the N10JC. Unfortunately, that's only looking at half the picture.

The ASUS 1005HA still offers significantly better battery life in all tasks. The closest result is in x264 decoding, where the ION LE can help out, and the 1005HA still offers 40% better battery life. In other tests, the gap is as high as 80%, with the average advantage being closer to 60%. The 1005HA does have a larger batter (63Wh vs. 53Wh), though, so the real power advantage is 17% to 50%, depending on task.

As a whole, battery is generally good, but clearly certain tasks put a major load on the system. Blu-ray is still a killer, even with GPU acceleration, resulting in just over two hours of battery life. We don't have a chart (since we don't have results from most of the other laptops), but simulated gaming battery life (looping 3DMark at native resolution) lasted 160 minutes, actually surpassing Blu-ray playback time. However, as we discussed on the gaming performance page, that result should be taken with context: despite the ION graphics being plenty fast for low detail gaming, the Atom CPU just can't manage to run the majority of current 3D games. You'll want to stick to 2D games (a la Popcap) or titles from the early Pentium 4 era to get acceptable performance on the Mini 311.

HP Mini 311 — CUDA on ION HP Mini 311 — Power Requirements
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  • takbal - Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - link

    I turned the net upside down to find some comparisons in gaming with Acer AS1410 vs ION. None found, although there are plenty of videos on youtube about the ION-powered Samsung N510, showing games which look perfectly playable, while there are barely any for the 1410 or the 1810.

    And then came the surprise: the only comparable benchmarks I found were for Doom 3, where the N510 is said to have around 28 FPS while the 1810 had about 12 FPS, although it was with the SU3500 CPU. N510 costs £380 here while the Acer 1810TZ costs £430. Twice the performance is pretty good for less the price, isn't?

    So whatever the specs on paper, probably the reality is that GPU-limited games are perfectly playable on ION, and having a CPU 2x-2.5x stronger usually counts less than having a stronger GPU. It would be nice to see clear and I hope you will do a fair heads-on comparison on games in that upcoming article.

    And exactly what does the 2x more powerful CPU helps? Video encoding is something I never do on the move. If I really-really need to, I can just simply remote into my quad i7, and I do it quicker than anything here. Actually, the review at http://www.rgbfilter.com/?p=1923">http://www.rgbfilter.com/?p=1923 says about the 1410:

    "When officially benchmarked, the Core Solo SU3500 is about 20 percent faster than an Atom N270 at 1.6GHz, but ‘real world’ it felt about the same."

    If I add to this that N510 has bluetooth, matte screen and a much better keyboard imho, until somebody shows strong arguments against, my vote is currently for the ION.
  • takbal - Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - link

    Some more found with 3DMark03. Sources:

    Acer 1410 SU3500: 1529
    Acer 1810T SU7300: 1543

    and the dual-cores seem to perform worse as they are lower clocked.

    Compare it the N510's result which is 3470, more than 2x better.

    You may hate Atom, but looks like that for gaming ION wins hands-down over current CULV platforms. For other purposes, I am fine until Atom can play all videos, run a text editor, office apps and remote desktop, which it does. Oh, and add decent Linux support, too.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 3, 2009 - link

    3DMark is NOT a game. At all. Sorry. I include is mostly because the earlier versions in particular are great "theoretical gaming" benchmarks -- they show what the GPU can do when CPU performance isn't much of a factor.

    The reality is that many games do a lot of work on the CPU. There are games that don't run acceptably on a 1.3GHz dual-core CPU (Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Call of Duty World at War...) and that CPU is still more than twice as fast as Atom. As you can imagine, that makes Atom very questionable on all but the least demanding games, even when paired with ION.
  • CZroe - Friday, November 27, 2009 - link

    "The HP Mini 311 is one of the first netbooks to ship with NVIDIA's ION platform. The question everyone's... "


    "The question everone's [asking]" is, where is the question? ;)

    This is gettting ridiculous. Anandtech has had truncated opening statements for as long as I can remember with no continuation inside the article. If you can't fix it, stop typing up opening statements that don't fit!
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 27, 2009 - link

    You'd need to look at the "Mobile" tab to get the full abstract. Here it is:

    The HP Mini 311 is one of the first netbooks to ship with NVIDIA's ION platform. The question everyone's asking is: does ION improve the netbook experience? The answer is yes, but there are other questions we still need to address.
  • rwrentf - Friday, November 27, 2009 - link

    I don't know why the review sites seem to be ignoring this (I can't find a decent review anywhere), but what about the HP Pavilion dm3z? The specs I've been able to find specify a 4-5 hour battery life, 13.3" display, Radeon 4330 graphics (on the high end, but low end is still Radeon HD 3200), 7200rpm hard drive options, and a dual core AMD Athlon X2 Neo processor. There's a sweet system for $650 AR at the egg (just search for dm3 - 4GB, 320GB 7200rpm, and Radeon 3200 graphics). If you're already talking about close to $500 for this HP netbook, it's not a lot more, and it sounds like it would be enough for me to retire my real notebook. Please review it if possible.
  • rwrentf - Friday, November 27, 2009 - link

    If you go to Amazon you can get just about the same machine (with Windows 7 home) for $550
  • noquarter - Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - link

    I'm curious to how well these Ion netbooks handle popular MMO's, specifically World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online, any chance to test those and maybe Eve?
  • zxc367 - Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - link

    i want gigabit ethernet too! 100bit fails!
  • Roy2001 - Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - link

    And what's the point to watch HD movies on a netbook? 18fps with 800x600 and lowest quaility for game, that's a joke. 18fps == 0fps.

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