Sep 062012
 

The other day I went to Best Buy to see the new sub-$500 3rd gen Core-i5 laptop when a number of netbooks drew my attention with a bigger 11.6″ screen (usually they top at 10″).

Curious to see how they perform, I browsed the net looking up their processing power and I could barely believe the huge disparity of these seemingly identical units.  Some of them had the quite slow last year’s AMD C-60 netbook CPU, others had the not much faster Atom N2600, while the quite affordable $279.99 Acer Aspire  has a Celeron 877 CPU more than twice as powerful as the others.  Here’s the CPU benchmark I’ve found at cpubenchmark.net:

AMD C-60 – average CPU Mark: 558

Atom N2600 – average CPU Mark: 607

Celeron 877 – average CPU Mark:  1426 

 

The winner is obvious, and I just don’t understand how it gets such a good price – Acer has another netbook of same size with AMD C-60 with 4 GB of RAM though, surprisingly priced higher at $339.99.  RAM is cheap and so this laptop can be upgraded from 2 GB to up to 8 GB and it can performance-wise almost compete with my old Arrandale Core-i3 laptop when it doesn’t need to do much multitasking.  While I was checking the accompanying CPU benchmarks on the internet, one older lady came in and spent some time right next to me looking at netbooks and deep inside I was screaming “ask me!” but she apparently didn’t fall for Jedi tricks, choosing instead a much slower and a bit more expensive older gen netbook. UGH, why people choose computers based on the color of the box or who knows what else, when there are benchmarks and reviews?

Back at home I see that the Best Buy’s website doesn’t even classify this unit as a netbook but as a laptop, which is absolutely right.  This is a small 11.6″ laptop with a Celeron processor, which is a natural, hardware dual-core CPU, while Atom processors found in most netbooks  are either single core, or single core with hyper-threading, dual core simulated performance and the processing power difference shows in the numbers above and in numerous positive reviews of this laptop on Amazon and Best Buy.

Pros:

– 1366×768 screen resolution (above the usual 1024×600 or 1280×720)

– Celeron 877 – a new, 2012 CPU, far above the average processing power of a netbook-like laptop

– 720p webcam (which I interpret as 1366×720 or 1 megapixel)

– upgradeable to 8 GB RAM

Cons:

– no 3.0 USB ports (oh well, do you really need extra high speed USB on this small dude?)

– What gives when you get a big screen and fast processor?  Usually both affordability and battery life, but since this is a laptop and not a netbook, you only get a shorter battery life,  up to only 3.5 hours according to some user reviews.

 

If you need a zippy little machine for short intermezzos during traveling or coffee breaks, this is it.  If you want to use it as a nettop, that’s it as well, and even if you want to use it to be creative and do your articles or posts with an external HDMI monitor and keyboard, this is it as well.  It’s not made to last the whole day, unless you buy some GB-battery, if there’s such a thing.

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