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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Working and Gaming on an Asus N10J-A2 Netbook

This won’t be an overly in-depth article, it’s really just a couple of paragraphs on my thoughts about my Asus N10J-A2. If there is a certain benchmark or piece of software you’re interested in seeing on the N10J just leave me a comment and I’ll see If I can’t make it happen. Back in Mid December my company purchased us a batch of new laptops. We went from 15inch Toshiba Satellites to a 9inch Asus N10J Netbook.

Asus N10J-A2 openAsus N10J-A2 keyboardAsus N10J-A2 TopAsus N10J-A2 hdmiAsus N10J-A2 spdif

First Impression
The size of the Asus N10J is really amazing, it has a smaller footprint then a manilla folder and weighs in at just a few pounds.
My system specs are:

  • Atom N270 CPU
  • 6 cell Lithium Ion Battery
  • 10.2 inch WSVGA screen
  • Nvidia 9300M GS 256MB
  • Integrated Intel Graphics
  • 320GB Harddrive
  • 2GB of ram
  • Vista BIZ for the OS
  • 802.11N WiFi and Bluetooth

After using Vista for a week or so I was about ready to lose my mind. Vista is utter garbage on this machine. I don’t know what it is but the boot and shutdown times were ridiculous. There were times when I would power up my machine and it would say, Loading, for 30 minutes or so. I don’t think that is the N10J’s fault, I believe it to be Bill Gates fault. I promptly went to my boss/network admin and told him I wanted to put XP on my machine. He replied with a, No keep Vista, I replied with a, Nah I think I’ll put XP on instead, He further insisted I keep Vista, so I installed XP and dual boot into Vista when he’s around. With XP on the N10J I’m happy as a clam, it really runs extremely well and I have not had a single crash yet. Setting up the Native SATA driver was a bit of a hassle but with a little help from the folks over at N10User, I had it working in no time.

Battery Life
I’ll give the battery it’s own paragraph here because I’m really surprised at how long it lasts. On this specific model I have the ability to turn off the 9300M video card and use the integrated Intel Graphics on the motherboard. This is a great advantage and I have had this laptop on and running for 6 hours and still had about 30% juice left on it.

Someone mentioned they were glad I had some info about the battery life on this machine, so I figured I could go a bit more in depth, cause I’m awesome. For testing I charged the N10J up to 100%, unplugged it, powered it off and rebooted. I left it running for a bit then played around with it to find a screencasting program. Without further ado, here is the screencast showing current battery power after 2 hours of normal use on DC power.

HD Playback
The N10J comes equipped with a HDMI and SPDIF out to allow HD playback on an external device. I did hook this up to my 42inch 720P Panasonic Plasma, but was not very impressed with the quality. I may just be spoiled but my ATI3870->HDMI->Plasma kicks the pants off the N10J. The HD vids look great on the tiny screen though, and they run very smooth after a bit of tweaking and offloading to the 9300M GS.

Actual Daily Use
So far this netbook has really performed well for me, much better than the twice the size toshiba. I do alot of firmware updating and schematic reading for the machines I service. PDF reading on this netbook is a little on the tough side, you will definitely will have to use the zoom in/out feature and alot of scrolling, but it’s nothing that will deter me from enjoying the rest of the N10J. The absence of a DVD drive can be annoying at times, but there’s not too much you can’t accomplish with a bootable usb stick. My machine also came equipped with a webcam installed in the lid and a fingerprint scanner, both of which I use rarely if at all.

The N10J is not designed as a gaming machine but I have installed a few games and am pretty happy with how it performs.
So far I have installed:

  • Need for speed Most Wanted - Runs excellent with settings on medium to full.
  • Need for Speed Carbon - Same as MW, runs great on medium settings.
  • Codemasters DiRT - Could not get this to run well at all, at minimum res with settings on low I was pulling maybe 15FPS.
  • NHL 2009 - Runs great on
  • Syberia - Older game, but it runs just fine.
  • Diablo II - The classic diablo, runs fine.
  • GTAIII and Vice City - Very playable at medium settings on both games.
  • Call of Duty 4 - This game requires a few tweaks, but there is a modified config file out there that make it run at over 50FPS.

Final Thoughts
I believe my company spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 USD on our new netbooks, but I have seen the same system with 1GB of ram and a 160GB HDD go for less than $400USD. There are really only a few issues I have with the N10J… Vista is crap, buy it with XP installed if you can, the absence of a DVD drive, and the Native resolution of 1024×600. I can understand why they would’nt include a DVD drive, it would be almost impossible to fit one in such a small platform, but the weird resolution is a bit strange. I’m not sure I understand why they couldn’t just make it 1024×768 and be done with it. Many programs today won’t run at less then 1024×768 and gaming takes a bit of tweaking to get them to look right. Only thing I can figure is that they got a honey of a deal on 1024×600 screens. I think if you’re using the N10J as a work/play laptop you’ll be more then happy, but there’s no doubt in my mind I would never be able to use this as my main system.

Hope this article helped you in your future purchases, and if you have any questions or feedback please leave a comment.


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