Performance and Benchmarks
Like the older Eee PC 1201N, the dual-core Atom processor paired with NVIDIA’s ION puts the ASUS Eee PC 1215N somewhere in-between the performance level of a single-core netbook and a CULV notebook. General system performance is only slightly more impressive than single-core Atom netbooks, as the 1215N is less “laggy” in a Windows environment but still isn’t as responsive as the latest Core i5 and Core i7 CULV processors.
The latest version of Nvidia ION inside the Eee PC 1215N offers several new features not seen in previous ION-based netbooks. First, since the latest Intel Atom processors integrate the memory controller, display controller and integrated graphics processor (IGP) onto the same die as the processor itself, ION is able to use Optimus technology to pair the discrete/dedicated GPU with the CPU and IGP to offer better performance when wanted and better battery life when needed. Thanks to Nvidia ION with Optimus, the ASUS Eee PC 1215N is basically smart enough to know when it needs to use the dedicated graphics for high performance (video and gaming) and it can switch to the low-power integrated graphics when you need to have as much battery life as possible.
In terms of real world gaming this means you can play World of Warcraft on low detail settings at 1366×768 resolution and gameplay has an average framerate of about 45 frames per second. Similarly, you can play Left 4 Dead on low settings at 1366×768 and get average framerates in the low 20s. The bottom line is the latest version of Nvidia Ion works fine for games with low requirements (World of Warcraft, Portal, or Sims 3) but really starts to slow down with slightly more taxing first person shooters like Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil 5. Although this level of performance isn’t as jaw dropping as a portable gaming system like the Alienware M11x, the Eee PC 1215N certainly is the most impressive standard netbook we’ve reviewed to date.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark06 measures gaming performance (higher scores mean better performance):
Heat and Noise
Under stress the dual core Intel Atom D525 and Nvidia ION graphics raised the outside case temperature of the 1215N into the “warm but still comfortable” category. After 30 minutes with both the CPU and GPU stressed, some parts of the reached temperatures as high as 89 degrees Fahrenheit. Under normal conditions at or near idle the same spots were about 5 degrees cooler. The system fan worked harder in this netbook compared to models we have tested without the NVIDIA ION or dual-core Atom, but it still stayed below audible levels in a typical office environment. While at or close to idle the fan noise would be comparable to a virtually silent whisper or heavy breath and under load would be a quiet whisper.
The ASUS Eee PC 1215N has a dual-core Intel Atom processor and NVIDIA ION graphics both working against it when it comes to battery life. Despite this, ASUS claims that this netbook can deliver up to 7 hours of battery life depending on the settings and use. In our tests with the screen brightness set to 70%, wireless active, and Windows 7 set to the Balanced profile, the ASUS 1215N stayed on for 5 hours and 34 minutes. This is roughly an hour more than the older Eee PC 1201N which used a battery with higher capacity cells. Granted, this isn’t as good as some of the older ASUS netbooks that delivered more than 10 hours of battery life, but this is the most powerful Eee PC we’ve seen so far.
In truth, the only things we didn’t like about this netbook were all related to design. First, the keyboard was too bouncy and the touchpad buttons are just horrible. We also would have liked to see easier access to the hard drive and wireless cards since many well-informed owners add new hard drives or SSDs to their netbooks.
Still, it’s hard to find another 12-inch laptop that offers better performance for just $500 retail price. If you want an ultraportable netbook with a good screen and good performance for less than the price of a CULV-based notebook then the ASUS Eee PC 1215N probably belongs at the top of a very short list.