Samsung N120 Performance, Battery Life, and Conclusion

August 14, 2009 by Charles P. Jefferies Reads (62,981)

Performance
We ran a full suite of benchmarks on the N120 and before I give you the numbers, let us talk about what really matters – the usability factor. The best way to describe using a small netbook like the N120 is confining. The ten inch screen is small and takes getting used to – even though I have spent a lot of time with 12 inch notebooks, ten inches is in another league entirely. The 1024×600 screen resolution does not help the situation; the minimum on notebooks these days is 1366×768, which has over 70% more pixels than this display. As I noted earlier, a lot of scrolling will be necessary with this screen, and using two windows side-by-side will be near impossible. I moved the Windows taskbar to the side of the screen to regain some vertical space, but the fact is only so much can be done with 600 pixels. That said, surfing the Internet in full screen mode (press [F11] in Firefox/Internet Explorer) helps alleviate the lack of space.

Performance is adequate for most everyday tasks, including Internet browsing, listening to music, and using word processors. The Intel Atom processor is weak compared to even budget processors in full-size notebooks, but is much smaller and uses far less power. It is perfect for use in a machine like this. That said, performance is somewhat sluggish, especially when opening programs and alt-tabbing between them. Internet surfing performance is fine with the occasional stutter; standard YouTube videos play without issue though HD lags too much to watch.

In the end, the N120 does what a netbook is designed to do – act as a compliment to a main computer. It is not designed to be and should not be used as a primary computer. I found the N120 to be a great take-along companion since it is so thin and light.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
HP Pavilion dv2 (AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 @ 1.60GHz)
103.521 seconds
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 114.749 seconds
Toshiba mini NB205 (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 115.891 seconds
ASUS Eee PC 1008HA (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 116.030 seconds
ASUS Eee PC 1005HA (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 116.421 seconds
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60GHz) 123.281 seconds
Samsung N110 (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60GHz) 123.422 seconds
Dell Latitude 2100 (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 124.062 seconds
Samsung N120 (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60GHz) 124.203 seconds
Acer Aspire One (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz)  125.812 seconds
Lenovo IdeaPad S10 (2009) (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 126.406 seconds
ASUS Eee PC T91 (Intel Atom Z520 @ 1.33GHz) 141.031 seconds
Samsung NC20 (VIA Nano ULV U2250 @ 1.30GHz) 173.968 seconds

 

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
HP Pavilion dv2 (1.60GHz AMD Athlon Neo, ATI Radeon HD 3410 512MB) 2,191 PCMarks
ASUS N10 (1.60GHz Intel Atom, NVIDIA 9300M 256MB) 1,851 PCMarks
Toshiba Portege R500 (1.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600, Intel GMA 950) 1,839 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1005HA (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1,637 PCMarks
Dell Latitude 2100 (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,588 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1008HA (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1,564 PCMarks
Acer Aspire One (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,555 PCMarks
Toshiba mini NB205 (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1,538 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1,535 PCMarks
Samsung N120 (1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, Intel GMA 950) 1,533 PCMarks
Samsung N110 (1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, Intel GMA 950) 1,511 PCMarks
Samsung NC20 (1.30GHz VIA Nano ULV U2250, VIA Chrome9 HC3) 1,441 PCMarks
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,437 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC T91 (1.33GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,292 PCMarks

 

We selected a family-friendly movie trailer and downloaded three different versions in 480p, 720p, and 1080p resolutions. We used the CCCP Codec Pack for decoding and Media Player Classic Homecinema (version 1.1.796.0) for playing all of the video files.

Video Playback Performance:

Video Resolution CPU Usage Playback Comments
480p 20%-25% (hyperthreading) Plays flawlessly
720p 35%-45% (hyperthreading) Plays flawlessly
1080p 50%-65% (hyperthreading) Severe audio and video stutter

 

HDTune for the hard drive performance:

Heat and Noise
The N120 stayed relatively cool and quiet even while running benchmarks. The keyboard area and bottom of the netbook get lukewarm at most and are never uncomfortable. The internal components do not produce much heat, and what little is produced is pushed out the left side by the N120s small cooling fan. For all intents and purposes the fan is silent.

Battery Life
At 3/8 brightness using the “Normal” power management profile, I managed an amazing eight hours and twenty minutes of battery life while surfing the Internet and word processing. By lowering the brightness further and using a more aggressive power saving profile, more is possible. Keep in mind that the N120 uses a traditional hard disk and not a Solid State Drive (SSD); with an SSD the N120 could go even longer. The system tray battery icon consistently estimated over nine hours of battery life remaining with a 90% charge.

Although the N120 does not match the battery life of the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE, it is almost one half-pound lighter which is significant.

Conclusion
The Samsung N120 should be high on the list for anyone in the 10-inch netbook market. At less than three pounds and with over eight hours of battery life, the N120 makes for a superb traveling companion. A stylish design, great screen, keyboard, and touchpad sweeten the deal.

Pros:

  • Attractive design
  • High quality construction
  • Nice screen
  • Great keyboard and touchpad
  • Excellent battery life (over eight hours)
  • Light (2.8 pounds)
  • Nearly silent operation
  • Built-in Bluetooth

Cons:

  • Weak speakers (normally not a con but the N120 is marketed to have better sound and it fails to impress)
  • Odd keyboard layout choices
  • No ExpressCard slot


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