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Summary:

I barely got the new netbook unpacked and plugged in before emails started arriving asking “where are the benchmarks?” Actually, for folks curious about the slightly tweaked Intel Atom N280 CPU over the pretty standard N270, it’s a valid question. Just remember that we’re talking about […]

toshiba-netbook-benchmarksI barely got the new netbook unpacked and plugged in before emails started arriving asking “where are the benchmarks?” Actually, for folks curious about the slightly tweaked Intel Atom N280 CPU over the pretty standard N270, it’s a valid question. Just remember that we’re talking about some very minor differences in the architecture here: the N280 supports a faster front-side bus speed over the N270 — 667MHz vs 533MHz — and bumps the clock speed from 1.6GHz to 1.66GHz. That’s hardly a major change, so I wouldn’t expect a major difference.

The most fair comparison I can do is between the MSI Wind and the Toshiba NB205. When I ran the CrystalMark tests against the Wind, it had 1GB of RAM just like my NB205 currently does. I’m likely to upgrade that in the near future, but this makes for a good head to head comparison.

My pre-expectations were generally met with the Toshiba NB205 earning an overall score of 29,309. That compares to the MSI Wind’s score of 27,365 from last year, or about a 7% increase. Both have a 5400 RPM hard drive, but the NB205 earned 7,656 marks compared to the Wind’s 6,780. The difference is due to the faster read and write speeds on the Toshiba drive — they were in the 54 to 57MBps range for sequential reads and writes. The hard drive in the Wind could only push sequential data at around 42 to 44 MBps. Random reads and writes are important too, due to disk fragmentation, and the Toshiba’s drive edged out the one in the Wind there as well.

After I ran the CrystalMark program the first time, I thought to run it again. Why? Because I was using the Toshiba Power Saving program in “Full Power” mode and it’s actually unlikely that I’d be doing that while mobile. It’s also good to see what the minimum performance on the netbook is. To this, I unplugged the device from the AC adapter. I have the Toshiba Power Saving app configured to run in “Long Life” mode whenever it’s on battery power, so pulling the power cord immediately changed the power settings. Mostly, they dim the backlighting and reduce the amount of time before sleep mode, etc… but the “Long Life” mode also scales back the CPU to save some juice as well. That’s why I decided to re-run the benchmarks — to see what impact there was on the overall system.

The results were telling: an overall score of 21,625 marks. That’s nearly a 26% drop in overall benchmarked performance. Everything from graphics and hard drive to calculations and memory dropped as less power was provided to the components. Good to know when you’re on the road with a netbook and running on battery power. It should also provide some information on how to balance the compromise between performance and battery life with a mobile device.

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  1. For completeness, is there a similar drop in performance on the MSI Wind when its operating in mobile mode?

    1. yes you will

  2. Excellent write-up! I’m still happy with my NC10. But if the NB205 came in all black (at the top end model), I’d consider it.

  3. Did you see the netbook from Gatway with the AMD?
    Was that something you would have considered?

    1. Actually, I did see the Gateway LT3103u. It was on the other side of the NB205. It offered an 11.6″, higher resolution display, but when I saw that the 6-cell battery was rated for an estimated 5 hours, I never even considered it. Battery life is higher in my personal requirements. ;)

  4. The Toshiba has lots going for it, but durability and customer support aren’t on the list: the spacebar on my NB205 started sticking after a month of very light use. After more than two very frustrating hours on the phone with Toshiba’s ill-informed customer service people I learned that their netbooks come with a “limited” warranty that doesn’t even cover the shipping on nearly new defective devices. What does Toshiba know that we don’t? If they’re not even willing to stand behind the device for a measly 30-plus days maybe their just peddling junk. Buyer beware.

  5. I know you’ve said that you want to stick with XP while you review this but will you be installing Windows 7 before you upgrade the RAM? I’m a bit skeptical about running 7 on netbooks but I’d like to see how it runs with the default specs.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel Jake Tuesday, August 4, 2009

      Hmmm… not sure on the timing, Jake. I’ll probably put Windows 7 on before the RAM upgrade, but don’t hold me to that. I know that Toshiba has a bunch of beta drivers and apps for Windows 7 on the NB205 support site, so I may have to wait a bit in either case. Then again, beta drivers never stopped me before. ;)

      I’ve run various builds of Windows 7 on the MSI Wind and it doesn’t seem all that bad to me. Of course, we’ll take a closer look with the final build.

  6. I’m traveling and choose to take my NB205 on the road with me, because of the great battery life. I will posting pictures, email, and keeping in touch with friends, and family. I”m also going to upgrade the RAM to 2GB, I have a extra 2GB stick at home, just didn’t have time to install it. Besides I still have XP on it so I really don’t need more than that at the momment. Kevin keep us posted if you put Windows 7 on the 205 and let us know how it compares to the MSI Wind. I’m really liking the big track pad.

  7. So how is the battery life on power saving versus full power? That makes me wonder if the 9+ hours some of these manufacturers are quoting is in slow power mode.

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