HP Mini 311 Ion-Based Netbook Review
Introduction and Specifications
Now, there are two major reasons to pay close attention to the Mini 311. It may follow the prior Minis in terms of size and style, but it's the differences within that promise to make this a new, refreshed machine. For starters, HP has loaded Windows 7 onto this machine. We waited for what felt like forever to finally have Windows 7 available for netbooks, and we can confess that it really adds a touch of style and functionality compared to older models with XP. The second major addition is NVIDIA's Ion technology, which--according to NVIDIA--is "essentially the same chipset as our GeForce 9400M used in higher end products like the MacBook line." It's labeled Ion, but if you were wondering what GPU was actually under the hood, there's your answer. This is obviously superior to more generic integrated options like Intel's GMA500, but we were curious to see exactly how much of a difference it made. The CPU is still a lower-end 1.6GHz Atom N270, so can a bolstered GPU really make an average netbook a netbook that's better-than-average? Let's find out.
You'll notice that the specifications here are somewhat more advanced than on the Mini 311 that shipped back before Windows 7 was out; the 2GB of RAM is a welcome addition, as is the Ion GPU and spacious 11.6" display. You'll also notice that these extras cost dearly, as this is one of only a few netbooks that break the $500 barrier (heading north, that is).