Each of the four Ion netbooks we tested beat the PCMark Vantage netbook average of 1,131. The Mini 311 had the lowest score (1,227) and the Eee PC 1201N had the highest (1,488). This isn’t surprising since the Eee PC has the advantage of a dual-core Atom processor. The next highest score was the IdeaPad S12, earning a solid 1,306.
WINNER: ASUS Eee PC 1201N. All four of the netbooks proved to be snappy performers, but the Eee PC 1201N’s dual core CPU helps the machine easily take this round.
Since netbooks started shipping with bigger screens and larger hard drives, consumers have wanted to use them as portable multimedia machines. And non-Ion netbooks just don’t cut it, with video that stutters at full screen, especially Hulu and YouTube content. Ion has changed all that, making it possible to watch both standard and high-definition video smoothly while also handling Flash-heavy websites with ease.
So how much better are Ion machines? The average netbook notches 857 in 3DMark06 (857), a graphics benchmark, and Ion netbooks blow this number away. Once again the Eee PC 1201N led the field with a score of 1,538, but the Mini 311 was less than 100 points behind (1,450). This time the Samsung N510 came in last (1,259) and the IdeaPad S12 was in the middle of the pack.
Most users won’t do heavy video editing or encoding on a netbook, but for the occasional YouTube video or webcam capture, it’s nice to know that you can do some simple encoding on an Ion netbook without having to fix a three-course meal while it’s processing. We transcoded a 114MB MPEG-4 video clip to AVI using vReveal, a program that takes advantage of Ion’s graphics acceleration (Nvidia calls this architecture CUDA for developers). The clear winner here was the Mini 311, completing the task in just 4 minutes, 52 seconds. The IdeaPad S12 took the longest at 9 minutes, 30 seconds.
WINNER: HP Mini 311. Taking both 3DMark06 and video transcoding into account, the Mini 311 comes out ahead of the Eee PC 1201N.