Samsung N210 review
By Andrew Harrison | PC Advisor | Published: 13:30, 30 March 2010
The Samsung N210 is from Samsung's freshest netbook lineup, but offers little new over its similar 10in-screen brethren such as the Samsung NC10, N110 and N140 models - except a new version of the Intel Atom and a new integrated graphics processor. Pine Trail M is the codename Intel gives its new series of Atom processors honed for low-power netbooks, leading with the Atom N450 chip used in this Samsung N210.
‘Low power', meaning they consume little power and radiate minimal waste heat - useful attributes in a laptop that's more likely than not to spend time working from battery power. But that low-power rating extends to raw performance too of course. Even if you're not asking your laptop to take on desktop power duties, you still need enough compute clout to stop your portable being dragged down by mundane tasks like running a Skype video chat or viewing Flash-based websites.
There may be a fraction more horsepower from the N450 Atom, looking at the 1.66GHz clock spec, against the 1.60GHz of the original N270. In fact the Atom N450 has more in common with the Intel Atom N280 chip, as found in the Samsung N510 netbook, for example. It shares the exact same 1.66GHz clock speed, 667MHz front-side bus and 512kB of L2 cache.
In its favour, the new Atom N450 is specified to work with a 64-bit OS - but we can't see that feature being exploited very often on netbooks where most manufacturers install a paltry 1GB RAM, and don't provide the means to upgrade beyond 2GB.
But in our lab tests, we did notice a measurable difference, with the Samsung N210 scoring 36 points in WorldBench 6. While regular readers might question this so-so result - actually little different to just about every netbook we've benchtested in the last two years - it's worth noting that this is a Windows 7 result.
Our previous tests suggest that when moving from Windows XP to Windows 7, you will see around a 10% drop in real world performance, caused by the overheads of the new operating system. Hence, netbooks running the original Intel Atom tend to score closer to just 30 points when wielding Windows 7.
The other mooted benefit of the latest Intel Atom N450 is better battery life, helped along here by the use of more efficient complementary graphics and system chipsets. Here, however, we saw little tangible benefit - at least not when referenced to the last Samsung netbook we tested.
The Samsung N210 lasted for 9 hrs 42 mins in our MobileMark 2007 Productivity test - a truly outstanding result that should allow a long day's work before recharging. But set against this, the Samsung N140 with its original Atom, Windows XP, and the exact same capacity battery (66Wh) lasted for very nearly as long: 9 hrs 36 mins.
The move to Intel GMA 3150 integrated graphics in the Samsung N210 resulted in no real difference in gaming performance either. Given the ordeal by FEAR at Maximum quality settings, the Samsung N210 limped along at 2 frames per second, rising glacially to 4fps at High, 6fps at Medium, then 25fps at Low quality settings.