Review Asus Eee PC 1005PE Notebook
The Netbook Revolution!?
Not yet officially released but already available - with the Eee PC 1005PE, Asus presents one of the first netbooks based on Intel's new Pine Trail range. Intel's new Atom N450 processor now contains the memory controller and the graphic engine (Intel GMA 3150), which allegedly consumes even less electricity. Read in this review about how the new netbook stands up against models with an Intel Atom N270 or N280 processor.
Asus had delivered the first 1005 range models still with Windows XP and Intel's Atom N270 processor. The models have been updated and selectively equipped with a 250 GByte hard disk adjacent to the Windows 7 release. The design has majorly remained the same, as it obviously sold well. We'll take a closer look at the Asus Eee PC 1005PE and see if any changes have been made, other than the platform inside.
A bit of information about the configuration first: Our prototype has been made in an elegant high-gloss black and equipped with an Intel Atom N450 processor (clock rate: 1.66 GHz), a 10.1 inch screen (matt), a 1 GByte RAM, a 250 GByte hard disk, the WLAN standard 802.11n and Windows 7 Starter. Asus hasn't yet named a recommended retail price for the European market because the netbook hasn't yet been officially introduced. The Asus Eee PC 1005PE is listed at the retailer, Netbook.de, with 339 euro incl. VAT and has already been sold for a short while.
Asus has kept the design of the 1005 range upright and hasn't dared to make any big changes. The predecessors, 1005HA-M and 1005HA-H, were only available in black and white. The new models, 1005P and 1005PE, are now also available in dark blue and pink. The three new case surfaces with many small rhombuses in white, black or blue is completely new. Thus, Asus now has seven different alternatives amongst which everyone should find the right one.
One change is the new chiclet keyboard with single keys. Typing should be made more pleasant and easier with it. The design can convince even after the keyboard's facelift and with its elegant and timeless design. The workmanship looks very high-end at first sight and manufacturing flaws are looked for in vain. The entire case has been made of plastic but this isn't seen negative because of the good manufacturing and finish. We've brought the black model into the editorial office. The case is, regrettably, very susceptible for grime and fingerprints, as these quickly become very obviously visible. The lighter colored models in white or pink have a definite advantage in this regard.
The case has a good stability, despite the slim construction. The case barely yields on the upper and bottom side at slight pressure by hand. It only allows a deforming under strong and selective pressure. The display lid isn't especially stable. It can be easily twisted and makes a snapping sound in doing so. However, "waves" don't turn up on the screen when twisted.
The built-in display hinges look well-crafted at a first glance. But they have a bit too much backlash so that the display can't be aligned precisely. The hinges also seem very instable when the screen is opened to the full. Asus could have made improvements on the new P/PE models in this regard. The netbook only weighs only 1.27 kilograms at a size of 262 x 178 x 36.5 mm (width x depth x height). That's only 10 grams less than its forerunner that weighs 1.28 kilograms. A disadvantage of the slim and light construction lies in opening the netbook. The display lid can't be opened without holding the case.
Asus hasn't modified the connectivity and the well-known connections of the 1005HA are found.
You find an USB 2.0 port, the DC-in for the included adapter kept in the netbook's color, an analog video-out (VGA) for connecting a monitor or TV and a Kensington lock slot for securing the netbook against theft on the netbook's left.
Turning it by 180 degrees, you find on the right a further two USB 2.0 ports for peripherals, an RJ-45 network connection (Atheros AR8131 PCI-E Fast Ethernet Controller), the audio sockets (headphone-out and microphone-in) and a well-hidden 2-in-1 cardreader that can read and write SD (SDHC) and MMC memory media.
The front and rear of Asus' Eee PC 1005PE are still kept unfettered from interfaces. The front hasn't got any place for further connections because of the slim construction and the rear is occupied by the big 48 Wh lithium ion battery with a capacity of 4400 mAh.
The port distribution has been kept upright and has been well done. The USB ports aren't too close to each other so that even bigger plugs can be used without problems. The variety of connection hasn't changed in the refreshed model with Intel's Atom N450, either. So, a cardreader that can read and write several formats is still missing. An HDMI port for transmitting image and sound to high resolution devices hasn't been built in. The warranty adds up to 24 months including a pickup and return service by Asus. Asus grants a warranty of 12 months on batteries and adapters.
The Eee PC naturally also has a WLAN module aside from the Atheros AR8131 Ethernet Controller. An Atheros AR9285 WLAN module, which supports the n-standard (802.11 a/g/n), is used. The cheaper 1005F models only support 802.11 b/g and also have a smaller hard disk. A Bluetooth module hasn't been built into the 1005P or the 1005PE. This can be quickly remedied with an USB dongle.
As already the predecessor, the 1005PE is equipped with Windows 7 Starter (32 bit). Windows 7 Starter only has the most vital functions of Windows 7, allowing for shorter boot times and faster working. If you look at the rest of the software, you'll soon notice that Asus has only supplied a standard alignment. Asus installs Adobe Reader 9, the E-Cam camera software, Skype, a 60 day trial version of Microsoft Office 2007 (Excel 2007, OneNote 2007, PowerPoint 2007, and Word 2007), Trend Micro Internet Security, a few self-developed games and tools that have been created just for Eee PCs, or rather the Eee family.
Scope of Delivery and Supplies
The scope of delivery can also only be called "standard" because Asus only includes the most necessary. Thus, aside from the netbook in the color or pattern desired, you'll find a short user's manual, the warranty card, a small adapter with cable, a 6 cell battery and a support DVD for the 1005P, 1005PE and 1001P that can be called up in five languages (German, English, French, Italian and Dutch). Although the 1005PE is the expensive model, a protection cover hasn't been included as in the case of the forerunners.
Asus hasn't stated any prices for optional supplies for the new 1005P and 1005PE models, but there is already a 6 cell battery, a replacement adapter, a protection case, a car-charger, an optical mouse in two colors, an external 8x DVD drive and a hybrid TV tuner. We'll have to wait and see if the prices remain the same or if they have been changed for the new models.
The keyboard makes a good first impression. Asus has completely revised it and now uses a chiclet keyboard with single keys, which is supposed to bid better ergonomics. The keys fit tight in their position and have a good and firm pressure point. The keys have a medium short stroke length and have an overall good typing feel. Asus has improved the keyboard's ergonomics with the new chiclet keyboard and fewer typos occur because of a key gap of 3 millimeters. The key grid is 19 x19 millimeters, whereas the keys have a size of 14 x 14 millimeters.
The keyboard has a standard layout. The right shift key is a bit smaller than that of its forerunner, but it still has a sufficient size. The layout doesn't prove to be a problem for touch typing. A separate numerical block isn't integrated due to the restricted place. The number keys have been placed above the letters. The keyboard's FN keys are highlighted in a chic blue and can be found even in poor light conditions. Handy functions (WLAN, display brightness, volume, etc.) can be enabled or disabled above the FN keys.
There are two hardware buttons in a chrome look built-in above the keyboard. The netbook can be turned on and off with the right button. The left hardware button manages the performance profile during use. There are four profiles to choose from (Power Saving, High Performance, Auto High Performance and Super Performance). ExpressGate is enabled with this button when the netbook is turned off. It allows media to be rendered without having to boot the operating system.
The touchpad has been built into the case without a bezel and this in a very simple but elegant way. The touchpad can only be recognized by its surface. It has a lot of little knobs, which additionally improves the touchpad's haptic. Navigating is easier and more precise but the surface is, as usual, a matter of taste because it's a bit coarse and rough.
The touchpad doesn't have a vertical or horizontal scroll area, as these and other functions have been resolved with multi-touch gestures. Thus, various commands can be executed with two fingers directly on the touchpad. Among them, scrolling and zooming images or rotating elements. A mouse-less use is made easier and more comfortable with that. Instructions about how exactly the multi-touch gestures are to be executed can be seen on a sticker on the touchpad. The possibility of settings is quite extensive. The integrated mouse keys are found immediately underneath the touchpad in a narrow, silver bar. They have a good and pleasant pressure point.
Asus hasn't changed anything about the display. A 10.1 inch display with an LED backlight and matt surface is still used. The matt display is a big advantage because only few reflections evolve in sunlight. Merely the display's bezel reflects because of the high-gloss surface. Working outdoors is simplified with the matt surface, whereas recognizing the content is only difficult when the light's intensity is too great. The display has a native resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels; however an interpolated resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels isn't possible under Windows 7. An external monitor or LCD TV can be connected via the integrated, analog video-out (VGA). Nevertheless, an HDMI-out would have been desirable for higher resolutions.
Like the predecessor, the 10.1 inch display makes a good first impression. The rates differ negatively in comparison to the forerunner... We noted the even still good illumination of 78 percent, a very good black value of 0.14 and a high contrast of 847:1 positively. The illumination and the contrast differ slightly. The Asus Eee PC 1005HA-M bids an illumination of 80% and a contrast of 1011:1. Furthermore, we noted the display's low brightness negative. The average is 108 cd/m2, whereas the minimum of 95 cd/m2 is reached in the lower area and the maximum of 122.3 cd/m2 in the center area.
A few refinements and more brightness can be tickled out of the screen with the display optimizing program EeeCTL in many Eee variants. But there were no improvements or a plus of brightness in our prototype with EeeCTL.
The viewing angle stability hasn't changed in comparison to the forerunners with Windows XP and Vista. Everything's okay on the horizontal plane but on the vertical plane, the stability can only be called average.
Now we come to probably one of the most important points of this review: The new hardware components' performance. The Asus Eee PC 1005PE is one of the first netbook models that are based on Intel's new Pine Trail platform. The Intel Atom N450 works with a clock rate of 1.66 GHz. This, of course, equals that of Intel's Atom N280 just alone from the clock rate. However, the memory controller and the graphic engine (Intel GMA 3150) are packed into the processor of the new Atom N450. In the end this means that the chip set (NM10) can do without these components, making a Soutbridge unnecessary. A three-chip turns into a two-chip solution, which bids a bit more power but uses less electricity and makes a longer battery life possible at the same time. The new Atom processors are manufactured in a cutting edge 45 nanometer structure width.
The new CPU with the correlating NM10 chip set from Intel has a power consumption (TDP) of only 7.5 watts. In comparison, an Intel Atom N280 with an Intel GMA 950 graphic consumes 24.5 watts.
The Asus Eee PC 1005PE is supplied with a 1 GByte DDR2-800 from Asinc ex-factory. The memory bank is easily accessible via a cover on the bottom. A maximum of a 2 GByte DDR2-800 memory can thus be built in. A 250 GByte hard disk from Seagate (Momentus 5400.6) is implemented as a mass memory device. A 1005P/PE model with a solid state drive (SSD) hasn't been announced.
The Intel GMA 3150 Graphic engine is now integrated in the processor and not longer in the chip set. The new processors haven't yet been officially released and there is only still little information available at the moment. New details and a few netbooks of various manufacturers can be expected on the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas taking place from January 7th to 10th 2010. The Intel Atom N450 is manufactured in a 45 nanometer structure width and has a power dissipation (TDP) of 5.5 watts. A slight performance gain is achieved with Intel's GMA 3150 in comparison to the Atom N280 in combination with Intel's GMA950. The biggest advantage is the lower power consumption.
The benchmarks have all been executed in the Super Performance Profile, in which the CPU is overclocked to 1710 MHz. In return, the CPU can be clocked down to 800 MHz in energy savings mode.
The Intel Atom N450's "strength" lies in the field of application benchmarks. The N450 achieved 584 points in single-core and 894 points in multi-core rendering of CineBench R10. Current netbook models with an Intel Atom N280 and a GMA 950 graphic have only slightly fewer points than the GMA 3150. The distance is between 10 - 20 points. By the way, the 1005PE achieves 1425 points in PCMark 2005 with which it can't distinguish itself significantly from older models, either. We couldn't execute PCMark Vantage on our prototype without errors.
|PCMark 05 Standard||1426 points|
The synthetic gaming benchmarks aren't the Intel GMA 3150's field. The graphic chip scored 2840 points in 3DMark 2001SE! (2146 in a resolution of 1024x768). It goes even further downwards in newer benchmarks. It's then only a meager 150 points in 3DMark 2006, whereby the processor reached 507 points. The netbook isn't suitable for gaming and a performance gain, in comparison to the N280 with Intel's GMA 950, can't be achieved.
We also ran SuperPI, WPrime and SiSoftware Sandra in order to create a broader CPU comparison base. The SuperPI 1M calculation was finished after 86 seconds (2M: 196 seconds; 32M: 4337 seconds). The WPrime computation was finished after 114 seconds (1024M: 3626 seconds). Furthermore, the processor achieved 4210 MIPS and 2512 MFLOPS in SiSoftware Sandra's benchmark test. These tests show that the Intel Atom N450 can't clearly distinguish itself from the N280, either. It is always only in the lead with a few points, with which however a performance gain can't be achieved.
|3DMark 2001SE Standard||2840 points|
|3DMark 03 Standard||748 points|
|3DMark 05 Standard||310 points|
|3DMark 06 Standard||150 points|
Moreover, Asus equips the more expensive models (1005PE) with Seagate's fast 250 GByte Momentus hard disks. The cheaper models (1005P) only get a 160 GByte hard disk instead. The tool, HDTune Pro 4.00, certifies that the built-in SATA hard disk has good rates. The transfer rates are between 36.5 and 76.5 MBytes per second, whereas the average rate is 61.7 MByte per second. The access rate of 18.1 milliseconds is normal. In return, the throughput rate is in the upper third with 117.0 MBytes per second.
It can come to problems when external peripherals are attached if the latencies of a netbook are too high. A frequent problem is sound crackling with external sound cards. In order to prevent unpleasant surprises, we checked the latencies under Windows with help from the DPC Latency Checker Tool. Result: The rates majorly stay under 500µs, but there are a few outliers over the limit of 1000µs. Thus, it could come to problems with peripheral devices.
Naturally, the following question also comes up: Is the new Intel Pine Trail platform suitable for gaming and HD video material? In order to check this, we insinuated World of Warcraft's trial version and watched flash HD videos via You Tube.
HD videos are becoming more and more popular and naturally you'd like to enjoy videos on the go on a netbook. We've chosen the trailer from "Ninja Assassin" on YouTube and let it run as a normal video (854x354/701Kbps), in 720p (1280x532/701kbps) and in 1080p (1920x789/701kbps).
The normal flash video wasn't a problem and the processor had a capacity of around 55 percent. The frame rate was between 18 and 25.6 fps. The 720p HD video already demanded the graphic engine and the processor significantly more and didn't run smoothly any longer. The processor settled to about 90% and the frame rate fluctuated between 7.8 and 21.5 fps. Rendering in 1080p isn't possible. The picture jolted quite intensely (0.8 to 4.7 fps) and the system was loaded to full.
To judge the gaming performance in comparison, we insinuated World of Warcraft's (WoW) trial version and measured the refresh rate. We measured outside and of course also inside of buildings (abbey) once. We reached a maximum of 12 fps outside the abbey. The graphics are put under higher demand inside the abbey and it was only a weak 9 fps on average. Thus, the new Pine Trail range is only suitable for gaming to an extent. A performance gain in comparison to the old range couldn't be observed here, either.
The Eee PC 1005PE works almost silently in normal mode. The new model could impress us with that. The netbook gets a lot more audible under load during 3D operation.
We assessed rates between 30.1 dB(A) and 33.2 dB(A) in normal use. You barely ever hear the netbook. The built-in 250 GByte hard disk emits a maximum of 31.2 dB(A) at access. In return, the Asus Eee PC 1005PE is quite audible under load. We could assess a maximum volume of 39.2 dB(A) under 3D and CPU load. The soundscape isn't annoying in normal use and the maximum volume only evolves in exceptions for a short time.
30.1 / 30.1 / 33.2 dB(A)
||36.7 / 39.2 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: (15 cm distance)
The temperatures that we assessed left a good impression. The measurements were made at a room temperature of 23.0°C. The temperatures on the upper side always stay within a green field, even in normal use, with a maximum of 29.9 degrees Celsius. However, the warmest area is on the wrist-rest's level. The assessed temperatures on the bottom also stay within a limit. We could establish a maximum of 32.7 degrees Celsius. In opposition, it was 5 degrees Celsius more on the Eee PC 1005HA-M.
Asus has placed two stereo loudspeakers almost invisibly on the case's front bottom. But the speakers weren't impressive in the new model, either. They emit a high volume but it's not really a delight. Deep pitches and bass are still not existent and high pitches are too dominating. The loudspeaker's sound makes a very artificial impression. You should use external loudspeakers or good headphones for a better playback because the sound is a good deal better over the 3.5 millimeter socket.
Now we'll look at the second focal point of this review: the battery life. How big is the difference between the older Intel Atom N280 with an Intel 945GC chip set (Intel 950 graphics), which have a power consumption (TDP) of 11.8 watts in comparison to the new Intel Atom N450 (integrated Intel GMA 3150 graphics) with Intel's NM10 chip set, which only has a power consumption of 7.5 watts? What benefits does a difference of 4.3 watts of power gain or a longer battery life have?
We've sent the new Asus Eee PC 1005PE through three varying test in which we assessed the minimum and maximum battery life, as well as the battery life in plain WLAN surfing. We established these rates with the BatteryEater tool and selected different performance profiles in doing so. We established the minimum battery life with the "Classic Test" and enabled the maximum display brightness, the Super Performance profile and WLAN for this. The battery was empty and the netbook couldn't be turned on anymore after exactly 5 hours and 16 minutes. There isn't yet a significant difference here in comparison to the Asus Eee PC 1005HA-M. Next we enabled the High Performance Profile, a medium display brightness and WLAN to see how long the battery can survive when WLAN is used. The difference of over 3 hours here is baffling. On the whole, the Eee PC 1005PE ran a very good 9 hours and 43 minutes. The netbook's maximum battery life can be assessed with the "Reader's Test". For this, we turned down the display brightness, disabled WLAN and enabled the Power Saving Profile. Additionally. the processor then operates with only 800 MHz then, increasing the runtime once more. The battery was empty after an amazing 13 hours and 15 minutes. In comparison to the forerunner, over 4 hours of additional battery runtime is possible with Intel's new Atom N450 with an Intel NM10.
The processor barely contributes a bonus for the performance field but the system's lower power consumption makes a great difference. Thus, an increased battery life of more than 40 percent are possible in the "Reader's Test". The new Intel Pine Trail range can convince in this point.
|Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)||13h 15min|
|WiFi Surfing||9h 43min|
|Load (maximum brightness)||5h 16min|
A further point in this connection is also of course the netbooks's power consumption in comparison to Intel's Atom N280.
The power consumption of 4.6 - 6.6 watts in idle mode and 10.1 - 12.1 watts under full load is lower than that of the predecessor (Asus Eee PC 1005HA-M) in every consideration. The difference is always 2 to 3 watts. 0.1 watt is needed in a deactivated state and 0.2 in standby. Those are good rates for a netbook. The new Intel Pine Trail range with an Intel Atom N450 CPU receives a further plus point in terms of power consumption.
|Off / Standby||0.1 / 0.2 Watt|
|Idle|| 4.6 / 5.6 / 6.6 Watt|
10.1 / 12.1 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max:
The Asus Eee PC 1005PE based on Intel's new Pine Trail range with an Intel Atom N450 processor, whereas the Intel GMA 3150 graphic and NM10 chip set is integrated in the processor, was majorly impressive in our test. The increased battery life and the lower power consumption are delighting plus points and the stated maximum battery life by the manufacturer could be exceeded by lengths with 13 hours and 15 minutes. The operating velocity of the new Intel Atom N450 with a 250 GByte hard disk and a 1 GByte RAM was convincing but a significant performance gain in comparison to Intel's Atom N280 hasn't been accomplished. Multitasking with several programs and windows still causes problems and more likely than not, the new 2 core Atom processor (Intel Atom D510) will be able to solve these.
We only miss a multi-format cardreader and maybe an HDMI port in view of the 1005PE's connectivity. The display has lost even more of its brightness and the viewing angle support isn't ideal but the high black value of 0.14 and the high contrast were further on impressive. The new chiclet keyboard with single keys were convincing with a pleasant pressure point and good ergonomics. The noise and temperature development are within limits but the netbook is very audible under full load.
The poor stereo loudspeakers, which already are noticed negatively in a low volume, are still a reason for complaint. Perhaps you should invest a few euro more in good loudspeakers, i.e. from Altec Lansing. A further, even if smaller, minus point is the built-in touchpad. It supports multi-touch gestures but the poor marking and unpleasant surface, which is certainly a matter of taste, carry weight.
Conclusively it can be said that Asus has launched a good netbook with many plus points in the market, with its Eee PC 1005PE. Intel's new Pine Trail range with an Intel Atom N450 processor doesn't provide more performance but a longer battery life and a lower power consumption that is noticeable in routine. This isn't a revolution yet but definitely a step in the right direction. If you're thinking about buying a netbook, especially now after Christmas and New Year, you should consider taking models with Intel's Atom N450 processor because they are on the same price level or even cheaper than comparable models with Intel's N280 processor. The first models are being launched onto the market by several manufacturers now, in January.