Asus Ion 2-Powered Eee PC 1201PN Review - HotHardware

Asus Ion 2-Powered Eee PC 1201PN Review

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It's been said for years by industry veterans: a lot can happen in a very short window of time when you're dealing with technology. As soon as one piece of cutting-edge tech makes it to market, the next big thing is just days, weeks or months away. In the netbook realm, that hasn't applied as much. Netbooks haven't evolved nearly as quickly as desktop and standard notebooks are evolving these days, largely because of just how difficult it is to create chips that have low power consumption and reasonable thermal characteristics, coupled with improved performance.  There's also the issue of cost: netbooks are priced at rock-bottom, leaving little room for chip makers to innovate or integrate, while still turning a profit. People have demanded machines that cost next to nothing, and the cost of that demand can slow innovation somewhat. 

We've watched netbooks from the launch of the very first Eee PC, and while they have evolved, the changes are certainly minimal. Most still use Atom processors that top out at 1.66GHz, most still only ship with 1 or 2GB of RAM, most still use integrated graphics and most still have no optical drive nor USB 3.0. To put it bluntly, you could buy a netbook that was produced 8 months ago, and it would probably be 90% as good as a netbook produced yesterday. But we have to give credit where credit is due: Asus is largely considered the company that ushered in the "netbook" form factor as we know it. The original Eee PC started a revolution that continues today.  The netbook craze is far from over and for good reason; people still want hyper-portable computing devices that reach beyond the bounds of a smartphone footprint. 

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Around seven months ago, we were able to review one of the more advanced netbooks out at the time, the Eee PC 1201N. It was one of the first netbooks to integrate a revolutionary graphics chip known as the NVIDIA Ion, which promised to both keep power draw and costs low, yet beef-up the netbook form factor for something it had been lacking: 3D graphics and HD video playback support. It was a lofty promise and goal, but it delivered. Now, here we are in the second half of 2010, and we're looking at what is essentially "Part II" of the 1201N legacy. The Eee PC 1201PN retains many of the same features and nearly the exact same form factor as the original, but it utilizes the next-generation of Ion (we'll call it Ion 2 throughout), which is based around a discrete NVIDIA GeForce 210M GPU. 

Asus Eee PC 1201PN Netbook
Specifications and Features (as tested)
  • Intel Atom N450 CPU (1.66GHz; single-core with Hyperthreading)
  • 2GB of DDR2-800 RAM 
  • 12.1" LCD (1366x768 resolution)
  • NVIDIA 512MB Ion 2 Graphics (Based on NVIDIA GeForce 210M)
  • 250GB (5400RPM) WD Scorpio Blue 250
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • No Optical Drive
  • 0.3 Megapixel Webcam
  • VGA and HDMI Outputs
  • USB 2.0 x 3
  • RJ-45 (Ethernet 10/100)
  • Headphone / Mic Input Jacks
  • SD / MMC / SDHC Multimedia Card Reader
  • Stereo Speakers
  • 'Chiclet' Keyboard
  • Gesture-Enabled Multi-Touch Trackpad
  • 3.22 Pounds (with 6-cell battery installed)
  • Removable 6-Cell (4700mAh) Li-ion Battery
  • "Up To 7 Hours" Claimed Battery Life
  • 11.54" (W) x 8.11" (D) x 1.06 - 1.3" (H) (Dimensions)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit)
  • Price (MSRP): $499.99 (street: $479 currently)

This netbook is obviously one of the more expensive on the market today. Priced at $499.99, it's double the price of some other rivals, but it borders on being a substitute for an ultraportable. It has a 12" LCD display (far larger than most netbooks that use 10" panels), a much larger keyboard for comfort, a discrete GPU and one of Intel's fastest Atom chips. But have the minor hardware upgrades and the Ion 2 chip made this machine powerful enough to warrant an upgrade if you purchased an older netbook with Atom and the first generation Ion under its hood? Or is this yet another marginal upgrade that is probably worth skipping over? Join us in the pages to come as we take an in-depth look and answer those very questions.

Article Index:

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I'm personally waiting for the dual-core Atom, Ion2 based 1215PN...

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My son has the original 1201N with the dual-core Atom 330. He then installed 4GB of RAM (with tighter timings than OEM), and Win7 Pro (eliminating the pre-installed bloatware). With those upgrades he has a pretty nice netbook! I was a bit disappointed when he mentioned he was getting silver, instead of black, but when I laid eyes on it for the first time I realized he'd made an excellent color choice. That silver color is very attractive, and it isn't a fingerprint magnet like the black one. Maybe someday, when prices drop, he'll even install an SSD. If I was in the market today to purchase a netbook I would choose the 1201N...without the 'P'.

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The Windows 7 Experience Index score for my Son's 1201N is showing:

Calculations per second                                                     3.2

Memory operations per second                                         4.6

Desktop performance for Windows

Aero                                                                                         4.3

3D business and gaming graphics

performance                                                                          5.3

Disk data transfer rate                                                         5.9



and here is the WEI shot of the 1201PN in the article:

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It seems like it is pretty much on par with the old version.

With a better CPU it might be able to pull ahead.

HT is no replacement for 2 real cores :-P

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I still dont know bout an Atom? My GF is looking for a netbook for work. Yet this one is to pricey for such a mediocre battery life!

I am still gonna try and keep her away from Apple! Ill just have to tell her I dont know how to work on them Geeked

Cuz I know how much she loves the Pompasity of the Apple reps....

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lol... yes avoid apple like the plague! lol

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My sister  bought a apple( dont know why) and got screwed for around 200 bucks.

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This thing has nice specs, but the price is too high to compete with the other plethora of NetBooks out there.

My son's MSI Wind was $325.00 and we doubled the RAM in it (1 to 2GB) right away with old Apple notebook RAM that was laying around here. It's very strong running and does everything he needs it to without any problems. It has decent battery life too.

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