Asus Eee PC 1215N review

Does dual-core performance and Nvidia Ion graphics make this a netbook to look for?

Asus Eee PC 1215N
Will more power make for a better netbook?

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asus eee pc 1215n

Although it comes from Intel's Atom line-up and runs at just 1.8GHz, the D525 processor powering the Eee PC 1215N has two cores at its disposal. This means it's far more capable in terms of multitasking and won't slow to a crawl when your weekly antivirus scan kicks in. It also supports hyper-threading, so Windows will see it as a quad-core processor.

A total of 2GB of DDR3 memory is supplied, which is double that of most netbooks and helps Windows 7 tick along that bit smoother.

Graphics performance also gets a shot in the arm thanks to the use of Nvidia's Ion chip. Impressively, when running tasks that aren't graphics-intensive, the netbook is able to fall back on Intel's integrated GMA 3150 graphics chipset, and the dynamic switching between the two is handled so smoothly by Nvidia's Optimus technology that you won't even know it's happening.

More powerful graphics means shorter battery life, so the netbook's ability to automatically switch between the two is welcome. However, it's also possible to manually choose when to activate Nvidia's Ion chip.

This can either be done using Nvidia's Control Panel or on an ad-hoc basis; for the latter you can choose whether or not to use the more powerful graphics by right-clicking a program icon and selecting 'Nvidia' or 'Integrated' from the 'Run with graphics processor' option.

The big question is whether Nvidia's Ion graphics makes a difference. In short, it does, but it's not a massive leap. We managed smooth fullscreen 720p playback on the 12-inch display and, impressively, even when outputting Full HD 1080p content via the HDMI port. Adobe Flash Player 10.1 also supports Ion, so you'll be able to enjoy stutter-free playback online.

However, you can banish all thoughts of playing graphically intensive 3D games. When we gave Crysis a whirl, it just about managed 12fps, but that was at the very lowest resolution and detail settings – not exactly a fun-filled gaming experience.

Despite the dual-core processor and 12-inch display, battery life on the Eee PC 1215N is pretty good, and when we ran it at full pelt with the brightness at full whack it lasted 204 minutes.

Running the same test, but with the Ion graphics chip activated, saw this drop to 156 minutes, which highlights the added power-draw of Nvidia's chip. Stick to the integrated graphics and dim the screen, though, and you can expect around five or possibly even six hours from a single charge.

It's by no means table-topping battery life (Samsung's N230 can manage well over 10 hours), but it's not bad considering the higher-spec components.