The burning questions on our mind, is whether the new Intel Atom N450 gains any performance boosts over the older Intel Atom N280, and while both processors share the same clock speed, the integration of the memory and graphics controller are supposed to have increased performance over the previous processor, but by performance, Intel probably meant footprint and power requirements.
|Specifications/ Notebook||ASUS Eee PC 1005PE||ASUS Eee PC 1008HA||Toshiba NB200|
|Processor||Intel Atom N450 (1.66GHz) with 512KB L2 cache||Intel Atom N280 (1.66GHz) with 512KB L2 cache||Intel Atom N280 (1.66GHz) with 512KB L2 cache|
|Chipset||Intel NM10||Intel 945GSE||Intel 945GSE|
|Memory||1 x 1GB DDR2||1 x 1GB DDR2||1 x 1GB DDR2|
|Video||Intel GMA 3150||Intel GMA 950||Intel GMA 950|
We noted no discernible performance increases on our PCMark 05 benchmark test against the ASUS Eee PC 1008HA nor the Toshiba NB200 that we've used for comparison. If anything, we noted a drop in the overall score, though CPU results remained consistent with the Intel Atom N280. Perhaps the platform, BIOS and drivers are still early days, but at least the figures are in the ballpark of our comparisons.
With also no change in gaming graphics capabilities, we decided to try out HD playback instead. Using our standard test clips of a 720p resolution video running at a bitrate of 8.2Mbps ran fine, though CPU usage was about maxed out. On a 1080p clip running at a video bitrate of 11Mbps had some slight audio stutter, though subsequent loops evened out the playback somewhat. CPU usage was likewise at 100 per cent, so if the bit rate is too high for the CPU to handle (more than 11Mbps), then it's probably not watchable. Note that these videos are web-optimized and hence these low birates; Full HD video resolution and quality of those found in Blu-ray discs are often 20Mbps and upwards.
On Flash playback, normal YouTube videos worked fine, though the problem starts when you try playing YouTube HD, which is basically unplayable. Broadcom's Crystal HD chip is supposed to remedy this, but early reports from reviews of other units which have the Broadcom chip mention that Flash support is not supported at the moment and will only be supported when Adobe Flash 10.1 Beta 3 is released later. Also, it seems this chip is currently limited to just accelerating Windows Media Player. So at least in the near-timeline, you can't use alternative media players if you want HD acceleration support. We'll update more when we have a unit with the chip installed to test. For now, it seems that if you want a comprehensive HD video playback solution on a netbook, NVIDIA's ION platform is probably the best way to go for now even if it's coupled with an older Atom processor and platform.