Netbook vs Laptop Performance  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , ,

It's safe to say that netbooks are here to stay, and they could even come to dominate the laptop landscape in a couple of years. Since their humble beginnings as cheap laptops that could be used to surf the Web, compose e-mails, do light office tasks, and play music or videos but not much more, they are evolving into more substantial machines. Set against their low price and portability are limitations such as screen and keyboard size, and lack of a built-in optical drive. But perhaps the biggest differentiator between netbooks and other laptops is performance. We know netbooks can easily handle the sort of basic tasks I mention above, but how do they do at more rigorous tasks such as resizing photos, transcoding videos, or ripping an audio CD? And how do they stack up against mainstream laptops?

First, I'll say a few words about netbook limitations other than performance. We know that the small screens (most less than 12 inches), lack of optical drive, and constricted keyboard influence price (and buying decisions), but we'll keep our focus here on performance, which for many users is paramount.

Key to the performance of any PC, netbook or otherwise, are its processing parts. The vast majority of netbooks (including the two we'll focus on here) run on an Intel Atom processor, a small percentage use VIA processors, and a scant few with processors from Texas Instruments and ARM have trickled out. Netbooks typically ship with 1GB of memory, while bigger laptops are standardizing at 3GB and 4GB now. And let's not forget that graphics components and hard drives can influence the performance of a netbook.

Performance-wise, netbooks are configured with very few differentiating features between them. But how do they fare against other laptops that cost a little more, run faster processors, and pile on memory? Is improved performance commensurate with the increase in price? Well, we took two netbooks—the Acer Aspire One (10-inch) and the Dell Inspiron Mini 12, which cost $350 and $500, respectively—and compared them with mainstream laptops that aren't outrageously expensive (ranging from $700 to $1,300) but cost considerably more than your average netbook. Next: How We Tested >

This entry was posted on May 7, 2009 at 4:49 AM and is filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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