Asus N10J netbook with Geforce 9 graphics unit reviewed
Netbook pioneer Asus puts another log in the fire: If the Intel graphics unit that is used in the 7 to 10 inch netbooks prevented you from buying one of the devices, then the N10J might be interesting for you. It is equipped with a Geforce 9300M GS.
Asus Eee PC, MSI Wind, Medion Akoya, Samsung NC10 or Fukato Datacask: They all are based on the same hardware - Intel's low-cost CPU Atom n270 (1.6 GHz) and the GM945 chipset with the GMA950 graphics unit. The latter one is technically out-dated, since it offers Shader Model 2.0 at best, and weak in gaming performance. But on the other hand the GMA950 doesn't need a lot of energy, a feature that makes the chip perfect for using it in thermally critical cases - like netbooks. If you are looking for a netbook that can be used for more than Windows Vista's Aero surface, than you might want to read on.
Asus N10: Two versions available
Asus' latest 10 inch netbook, the N10, is available in two versions. The N10E (about 450 Euro) doesn't differ much from the Eee PC 1000H if you don't take the case into account. Besides the Atom N270 it offers the GMA950, 1,024 MiByte DDR2 memory and a 160 GByte hard drive. Visually it reminds of Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 because of the finish and the smoky black color. The display also bears a similarity to the Inspiron: It's glossy; the native resolution is 1,024 x 600 pixels.
More interesting than the N10E and our test sample actually is the N10J (about 580 Euro). Currently it costs about 130 Euro more than N10E, but delivers some noticeable improvements: Besides the GMA950 a Geforce 9300M GS with 256 MiByte VRAM is on board, the memory is increased to 2,048 MiByte and the hard drive is extended to 250 GiByte. Although the 9300M is far away from being high-end, it nevertheless delivers a noticeable benefit in 3D performance. We will check how big that benefit actually is.
A small switch on the side of the netbook let's you choose between the GMA950 and the Geforce 9300M GS. After a restart - on the fly is not possible - the selected GPU is used. Thus you can use the economical IGP to get a maximal battery life and for gaming in between you can activate the faster and more compatible Geforce.
On the next page we take a look at the performance of the new Asus netbook and the benefit delivered by the Geforce 9300M GS.