Asus EEE PC 1215B

At the end of 2007, the arrival of a new type of computer invented by Asus fed many topics of conversation. Since its commercialization, the Eee PC 701, the first of a long series of netbooks HP 484170-001 has been successful despite many limitations as an "SSD" only 4 GB, not really suited Celeron M, mini screen 7 inch 800 x 480 only, etc.. The netbook today has very little in common with its predecessor except maybe the price. Overall, it was "gentrified" but not necessarily in the bad sense. To make a point about the age of netbooks, we tested one of the latest Eee PC, Asus 1215B based on the AMD Brazos platform APU Zacate and E-450 ...


After 4 years of development ...


The Compaq Presario CQ60 arrived in Europe in the first quarter of 2008. This is the first netbook marketed by Asus, the inventor of the concept. The machine is extremely compact 225 x 165 x 30 mm and weighing less than 1 kg To contain the price, Asus Xandros book with this machine installed on a mini SSD 4 GB or 8 GB In the absence of processors Economic dedicated to such small machines, Asus chooses a Celeron M 353 900 MHz sub-clocked to preserve autonomy. Despite an advertised price of $ 299 which turns into € 299 in our countries, the Eee PC 701 is a great success ... Just what happened first netbook, the announcement of the Atom, Intel cheap low consumption and new machines for the summer of 2008 just calm the enthusiasm of buyers.


The summer of 2008 has witnessed a veritable tidal wave of netbooks, all brands are being launched into the adventure with models finally "slightly different" 1024 x 600 display, Intel Atom, 160GB hard drive Go, webcam, wifi, and Windows XP. The Asus EEE PC 901 and 1000H, MSI Wind clone and the Medion Akoya Mini and the Acer Aspire One and Samsung NC10 clearly marked that period ... The average price of a netbook is then around 350 €.


The year 2009 was marked by the arrival of the Atom Z and its companion chip Poulsbo much less demanding than the old i945GSE (and huge TDP of 12 watts or 5.5 times more than the Atom). Unfortunately, this trend is to the detriment of an already modest power. Machines like the Compaq Presario CQ61 has a nice offer beautiful 11.6 inch HD (1366x768 1024x600 cons) unusual for a netbook, the benefits duo Atom Z520 & Poulsbo make them lose the appeal. Samsung brings some freshness into the landscape with the NC20, a 12-inch 1280x800-based VIA Nano. NVIDIA benefits in September 2009 to offer an alternative to the old chipset i945GSE. Unlike Poulsbo, it is cut for excellent performance including 3D. The ION is experiencing a notable success thanks to Samsung N510 and Compaq 311C. It is only a first end of the year arrives in AMD netbooks with the Athlon L110 & torque Radeon X1270. In 2009, prices vary from € 300 for a 10-inch Atom over € 450 for a machine "ION" with 11.6 inches.


In 2010, Intel cut the grass under the feet of HP Pavilion DV6 NVIDIA by launching the Atom N450. They boarded the controller directly across the northbridge (memory controller and graphics) and do not leave much room to ION especially since it is only one free PCI-Express line for communication with any other GPU ... The arrival of this new Atom Dual Core variants and not restart the netbook market. The new Atom remain "soft knee" performance stagnate and Windows 7 is struggling to accommodate this if low power and a 10-inch screen with 1024x600. After a lackluster year in which the news was dominated by the iPad and future tablets competing, only the Asus EEE PC 1215N has been a notable success, but only to a very targeted audience. Models like the MSI Wind 12 with its AMD Neo MV-40 pass even "unnoticed"! The rate gap widened with an access price of around € 250 for a netbook first prize at almost € 500 for a top model as 1215N.


Since then, the market seems to be deliberately killed in the bud by Intel and Microsoft. In 3 years, Intel has not advanced the power of the Atom (excluding Dual Core) and Microsoft imposes limitations actually penalizing with Windows 7 Starter. So many manufacturers simply leave the netbook market ...


2011: a new hope!


Since 2009, AMD is working on a "new" concept called Fusion. It aims to integrate a graphics processor (in addition to the memory controller) within the CPU becomes the occasion for an APU (Accelerated Processing Unit). AMD prepares its "Fusion" for three different segments:


Brazos is ultraportables and netbooks.


Sabine target conventional laptops.


Lynx is designed for desktops.


In early 2010, Intel has been against the first to market such a processor with Atom Pineview ... AMD does not, however, lower arms and believes in its Fusion project. Unlike Intel, with its ATI graphics division, the Texas firm can integrate graphics chips more advanced than the Intel HD Graphics.


For netbooks, the Brazos platform is segmented into three classes:


Desna APU for Z series: TDP 6 Watts


Ontario APU C Series: 9 Watt TDP


APU Zacate E series for: TDP of 18 Watts


As part of the VGP-BPS9/S 1215B is the variant Zacate APU with E-450, which interests us. It is a Dual Core chip using the new Bobcat architecture (codenamed K14) super scalar type 2 exits such as the Atom. If technological choices are close, however, AMD has less performance sacrificed on the altar of consumption that Intel has done with the Atom.


Bobcat architecture and enjoys running "OOO" (Out Of Order) that lack the Atom and penalized in terms of performance. As a reminder, the processors working in "In-Order" process instructions according to their order of entry (defined by program code) that is not necessarily suitable for the microarchitecture of the processor. Treatment "OOO" which was introduced by the Pentium Pro can reorder instructions to optimize their passage through the pipeline according to the specific architecture of the processor and avoid potential bottlenecks or slowdowns. The Bobcat architecture also uses physical registers (PRF) recently reintroduced especially with Sandy Bridge that help reduce consumption. The pipeline "Bobcat" type is short with only 15 floors. AMD has also integrated virtualization that is not present on the Atom.


Any specifications, the Sony VGP-BPS9/B E-450 is clocked at 1650 MHz based on a system bus 100 MHz. Its frequency varies between 825 MHz and 1650 MHz according to the workload by adjusting the multiplier. It loads 32 KB L1 cache and 512 KB L2 cache per core. Zacate processors as the E-450 are engraved in 40 nm CMOS and occupy 75 mm ². In the case of the Asus 1215B, E-450 BGA-413 is soldered to the motherboard and power supply is 1.35 volts. AMD has apparently never disclosed the number of transistors but estimates put ~ 400 million. As an indication, the 176 million transistors on a 45nm Pineview Atom Dual Core N570 occupy as 87 mm ² (123 million of 66 mm ² single core version).


APU Zacate ship also 128-bit memory controller for single-channel DDR3 shared between the two cores and the GPU. This is also the highlight of APU as it is a Radeon Cedar Family "Evergreen" vect5 with 16 units (80 stream processors), 8 texture units and 4 ROPs. In the case of the SONY VAIO PCG-5K1L, the controller supports DDR3 1333 and Radeon HD 6320 is clocked at 508 MHz with Turbo mode at 600 MHz. Derived from the Radeon HD 5450, it supports DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1, OpenCL and decoding most video streams MPEG2, H.264, VC1 and Xvid. For their part, the latest Atom merely a GMA 3150 2007 400 MHz limited to support DirectX 9.0c, OpenGL 1.5 and MPEG2 decoding.


The Bobcat APU family are associated with a "chipset" A50M (Hudson-M1) via a PCI-Express 1.1 4x called UMI (2.5 GT / s). The A50M supports 14 USB 2.0 ports, six SATA 6 Gbps ports and HD Audio on 4 channels. Engraved in 65 nm, it has a relatively high TDP of 4.7 watts, which leads the total platform TDP Zacate 22.5 Watts.


Asus Seashell


The Asus A42-V6 uses the chassis Seashell Asus launched in 2009. It is therefore a design quite old and already widely used by other EEE PC Series 12xxYZ. Rather successful in terms of aesthetics, it is against the most closed. Indeed, it allows the change of the memory. Any other operation such as changing hard drive or wireless card goes through a tedious removal of parts to fragile clips and removing a sticker "Warranty Void" ... The chassis is rigid SeaShell thanks to a large metal plate under the keyboard and palm rest. It also acts as a heat sink for the APU. A fan ensures the evacuation of the hot air inside outwards. There is, however, no radiator or heatpipe system to remove heat directly from the APU ... This is the same maximum load, the 1215B is absolutely no heat. The fan rotates against all the time at very low speed. It's generally not audible but when he revs it sounds. However, it should seek the APU for the noise of the fan exceeds the Seagate as noisy as winded.


The glossy screen suffers from the characteristic defects of TN LED. Black and burned too bright, which inevitably leads to a poor contrast ... HD resolution (1366 x 768) is nice on a 12.1-inch screen. We thus find the same workspace as the majority of 15.6 inches. The hinges hold the screen and well casing plastic brushed aluminum finish provides good rigidity. 0.3 Mpixel webcam is poor and it is not the little touches made by Asus as the shutter to temporarily turn off the camera or the power LED nor the software ergonomics "Made In China", which corrects the shooting ...


The speakers are of the same ilk as the webcam. This is certainly a netbook but with two small speakers facing down under the palm rest, the 1215B is far from the sound, as well as a good old 1000H. In a similar way, the microphone is not in stereo as on former Asus EEE PC 901 EEE PC ...


Accessibility boils down to a door giving access to the memory banks ...


The keyboard type "Chicklet" is correct for this type of machine with keys spaced 15 mm 3 mm. We appreciate the arrows of the same size as the other keys and dedicated keys: Home, End, Page Up and Page Down. For cons, the gloss plastic around the keyboard is a disaster! It retains all the fingerprints it is difficult to clean between the keys ... In addition, there is a gap between the keyboard and the large plate (just below) which ensures rigidity. So, on certain areas, the abutment after the end of travel of the buttons, there is a second stop when the keyboard base comes into contact with the plate. Unpleasant effect spongy assured.


The touchpad is Synapthics against a reference with a multitouch area of ​​85 x 48 mm. The driver is programmable and allows desire to easily switch buttons. These are combined into a single bar. Clicks are frank and discreet, but the material retains once again all fingerprints. This is not the case against the touchpad "drowned" in the wrist rests in brushed aluminum finish.


In addition to the power button, HP Pavilion ZE2000Z has added a double switch to enable / disable wireless connections (WiFi and Bluetooth) and to cycle between modes of energy saving SHE (Super Hybrid Engine). Incidentally, it is simply triple employment given the presence of three operating modes already present in the original Windows 7 and those offered by AMD Vision Engine Control Center.


Black area represents the added battery and Asus clears on its feet photos ...


The 1215B is really high ~ 40 mm at the rear as advertised: 296 x 203 x 38 mm.


The chip is a Broadcom 802.11n WiFi 4313GN really inefficient. On our router D-Link DIR-855, it connects to only 72 Mbps max transfer rate of ~ 4 MB / s. On average, rates are only of the order of 2.5 to 2.6 MB / s and it is not an isolated case, many users have found these performances worthy of a "Wireless-N".


Finally, if there is a strong point for this pin 1215B is its adapter "size pokey" with its mini netbook side connector and a simple two-pole mains side. It is compact and lightweight, short, well designed and designed for mobility. The 1215B is not too heavy: 1516 grams for the netbook and 204 grams for the adapter (or 1720 grams total transport).


Characteristic


Long slit at the hardware level because of Compaq Presario M2200 constraints imposed by Microsoft for Windows XP to take advantage of licenses, the old netbooks had very similar characteristics. In early 2010, the arrival of Windows 7 Starter on netbooks helped increase the capacity of hard drives of 160 GB to 250 GB The latest high-end netbooks were freed from version "Starter" and its limitations. Corollary of these freedoms taken: a netbook like the Eee PC 1215N worth € 499 in September 2010 when it was launched. With 500GB, 2 x 2 GB DDR3-1333 and USB 3.0, 1215B differs widely even more than the price of 349 € is not excessive for a 12 inch HD.


Specifications of netbooks last tested.


Performance


The result of the APU 'Fusion' of a CPU and a GPU. It is therefore necessary to examine the performance of the two components, although in the case of a laptop, it is always a good practice to analyze the two parties ... We have "dug" in our database to retrieve benchs netbooks significant (ION), representative (Atom N270, N520, N450 and D525) and / or exotic (Via Nano or AMD Neo) to identify the best benefits APU Zacate.


The CPU part of the APU does not offer revolutionary performance in single task. Indeed, with Mark CPU score of 130, the E-450 is only 11% faster than the Atom N450 and only 5.7% more efficient than Atom D525. Other processors rare as Via Nano U225 1.3 GHz and AMD Neo MV-40 respectively do best with 141 (8.5%) and 183 (40.7%). Incidentally, the E-450 is far from a Core 2 Duo SU9600 (1.6 GHz) as the MacBook Air 2010 which gives an index of 228 (75%) ...


The E-450 benefits from a strong FPU against mono task. Mark with a score of 7529 FPU, it is placed in second position in the ranking of machines used for the comparison.


GeekBench multitasking is a test that exploits the capabilities of the hardware. In this test, the Via Nano U225 (-44.7%) and other AMD Neo MV-40 (37%) fast single task is now to just over the E-450 because of their design single core. Despite the presence of HyperThreading, the Atom N (single core) are simply dropped (-50% to -63%)! With an impressive index of 1723, the E-450 (Dual Core 1.6GHz) is even better than the Atom D525 (Dual Core 1.8 GHz with hyperthreading) and score of "only" 1394. The APU is also not far from the Core 2 Duo MacBook Air (1816 Windows 7 score significantly worse than under OS X).


Fritz ChessBenchmark is an application that simulates multi-tasking a game of chess. This time, the E-450 APU is exceeded by very few (3.7%) by the Atom D525. All other processors for netbooks are twice as slow ... The Core 2 Duo SU9600 is against 28% faster than the E-450.


When transcoding video, the Compaq Presario V2200 offers very good performance. In AVCHD conversion, it is slower than the Atom D525 but it is far more swift against a light encoding format (iPod). The N Atom, Nano U225 and to some extent the Neo MV-40 run in a much lower class ... We note in passing that the Core 2 Duo officiating in a higher grade.


Few tests 3D accommodate the low power of a GMA 950 while being representative of the performance of GPU much more recent and swift like ION or AMD Radeon uses. However, make no mistake with the name Radeon HD 6320 relatively "pompous" of the graphical part of the E-450 APU. It offers exceptional graphics performance and support API unusual for an integrated GPU in a processor "modest" but as evidenced by the number of frames per second achieved in "Games / tests" of 3D Mark 2005, gameplay would not go!


HD at minimum: Good results for the APU.


We tested the ASUS A3000 APU and Radeon HD 6320 in games in order to compare with the Intel HD Graphics 3000 Sandy Bridge and GeForce 320m (one of the most powerful IGP) the MacBook Air. The measurements were carried out with all the settings to the minimum HD resolution. The results of the APU are downright good. There is a lack of CPU power in ancient games like Street Fighter IV where a Core ix boosts the score of a Radeon HD 3000. In more complex games in graphics, processor power plays less and the Radeon HD 6320 is no longer behind. Finally, the GeForce 320m is still going strong!


The Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500 GB is a real ball with access time (18.4 ms) and a noise worthy of the last century. Only his transfer rates are correct with a minimum of 41 MB / s and a maximum of almost 82 MB / s for an average of 66.3 MB / s.


After these tests, the performance of the E-450 are "amazing." We expected a greater difference in raw CPU power compared to an Atom D525 and we expected lower performance 3D/ludiques. In practice, performance recreational and / or 3D that are excellent APU with Radeon HD 6320 that stands up to a Radeon HD 3000 (GPU processor class much higher) but at the processor, the E-450 is not able to compete with an old Core 2 Duo ULV same frequency. In the case of the Eee PC 1215B interests us today is especially hard beating down performance and certainly not the APU.


Consumption, pollution and energy management


At rest, the energy saving profile Windows 7, the HP Pavilion DV4 PC 1215B consumes ~ 7 watts, which is far from extraordinary. In fact, in our tests, the Acer Timeline X 4820TG consumed only 6 watts while idle features a Core i3 330 and a larger screen and equally bright. The Packard Bell TS11, a "15.6 inch" down in turn to 7 watts while the Asus X53SC very similar, can not go under 10 watts. In our tests, the MacBook Air 11.6-inch 2010 is unbeatable only 3.6 watts to display the desktop ... The latest netbooks that we tested consumed between 7.5 and 8 watts in the same conditions. According to our usual tests, autonomy is about 5 ½ hours. We expected better from a newer netbook with a battery of 56 Wh ...


Playing a Flash video in 1080p (Waka Waka Shakira) in power saving mode application between 12 and 13 watts in both windowed and full screen. The CPU load is of the order of 65%, whereas it does not even use the maximum frequency. There is no loss of image as we leave the machine fully devote himself to reading. To do anything else during playback of this video in 1080p, you must switch to "normal" with a consumption between 13 and 15 watts. These values ​​are comparable to those obtained by HP Pavilion DV5 X53SC and Packard Bell TS11-based Core i3-2310m. The outcome is far from being exceptional ...


Prime95, consumption is 18 watts. It rises to 23 watts adding FurMark, giving a range of nearly 2 ½ hours in maximum utilization. With only FurMark, consumption is about 20 ~ 21 watts.


The Asus 1215B is discreet with 33.3 dBA rest. Under these conditions, the hard drive is probably the most audible component. The fan runs all the time makes a noise but low rolling unpleasant middle silencer. When the fan rotates at high speed, the noise level increases to 35 or 36 dBA. Values ​​comparable to those of the last two 15.6 inch we tested with a Core i3-2310 and a GeForce GT 520m ... In these conditions, the noise emitted by the fan is "overshadowed" by the air flow " nicer "to the ear.


The E-450 APU benefits of a variable frequency which is between 825 MHz and 1650 MHz. However, the two cores operating at the same frequency even if one of them is not solicited. The Radeon HD 6320 running at 275 MHz at rest and in 2D. Its frequency climbs to 508 MHz active: 3D and video playback. At rest, the APU is around 50 ° C and the temperature stabilized at 72 ° C after half an hour of Prime95 and FurMark. It should be remembered, however, that there is no heatpipe from the APU fan (which simply extract the hot air from the inside) ...


AMD offers Vision Engine Control software which is none other than the Catalyst control panel in its latest incarnation with shortcuts to different energy parameter settings of Windows 7. The utility allows for example to cut Wifi (but not Bluetooth), limiting the maximum frequency of the E-450 1350 MHz or 825 MHz and modify the profile PowerPlay (performance and economy) with different settings if necessary battery and mains (both for CPU GPU), enable questionable Vari-Bright technology (which "washes" a totally made already low contrast), etc.. It offers power management profiles in addition to those already offered by Windows 7 (yet sufficient in our view). To complicate matters, Asus SHE (aka Super Hybrid Engine) also offers profiles ... What greatly complicate simple things!


Conclusion


Mink with its platform and particularly Zacate, AMD offers "the" solution that should have existed from the earliest days of the era of netbooks. If the power processor is not significantly higher than the last Atom Dual Core, it is sufficient for Windows 7 and especially in the context of a netbook. The HP Pavilion DV7 Radeon HD 6320 is a blessing for casual gamers and multimedia fans. It is incomparably more powerful than the GMA filthy totally overwhelmed at the support provided by Intel HD streams for netbooks. The Radeon HD 6320 also distance ION "next gen" (too more "next" these days) and can compete with the Intel HD Graphics 3000 and one of the best ever marketed IGP: GeForce 320m.


Unfortunately, AMD is a little late, the market for netbooks being abandoned by the builders ... And if the E-450 is enough for a netbook or an ultraportable, it is a bit "feeble" compared to a Core i3 in current laptops first prize. In addition, the TDP of the E-450 is still high with 18 watts which should be added almost 5 watts for the chipset. Certainly, we must use software like Prime95 or Furmark to achieve maximum consumption but 7.5 watts idle and up to 15 watts 1080p Flash playback does not constitute feats: large 15-inch laptop with a Core i3, i5 or i7 are the same "as well" ... or better performance per watt Zacate is not exceptional.


In addition to its APU, HP Pavilion DV9000 has strengths as an excellent touchpad, mini adapter with little space taken, good rigidity, port 3.0, 4 GB DDR3-1333, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit . It also has its faults: keyboard spongy place finish gloss around the keys, webcam mediocre speakers very average, low contrast screen with black burnt and no access (except for memory). Finally, € 349 requested help to obscure defects but do not preclude considering models like the HP DM1, the Lenovo IdeaPad S205 or Samsung NP305.

 

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