The Asus Eee PC 1201N is the first 12.1 inch laptop to hit the streets with NVIDIA ION graphics and a dual core Atom 330 CPU, which is more typically found in desktop computers. The combination means two things:

  1. This notebook has more oomph in the graphics and processing departments than your average netbook.
  2. You won’t get the same kind of battery life you get from a typical netbook.

The dual core Atom processor is designed to provide a boost when it comes to multitasking or running applications that can take advantage of multiple cores. But for many activities, a dual core processor isn’t going to make a huge difference, and the truth is a dual core Atom CPU isn’t anywhere near as fast as a dual core Intel CULV processor. But the NVIDIA ION graphics are much more powerful than the GMA 4500MHD graphics found in most CULV systems, so you should have a better experience playing games, watching HD video, or running CUDA-enabled software.

It’s going to be at least a few more days until my review unit shows up, but Asus did send out its first batch of demo models recently, and I’ve spotted at least four reviews so far. Here’s a brief summary:

  • Engadget – This netbook is good for gaming and HD video, but expect about 3.5 hour battery life for general use, and closer to 2.5 for video playback.
  • Hot Hardware – The Eee PC 1201N outperforms the lower cost HP Mini 311 in graphics and overall performance thanks to the dual core Atom CPU.
  • Notebook Review – Good screen color saturation, above average netbook CPU performance, good graphics, but the computer gets a little warm and battery life suffers.
  • Laptop Magazine – The dual core CPU is twice as fast as a single core Atom for video transcoding, and almost 4 x faster when using a CUDA-enabled encoder.

Probably the most telling line comes from Notebook Review, which suggests that the Eee PC 1201N “was designed to fit a market segment that didn’t really need to be filled.” It has better graphics than most CULV-based notebooks, but not the processing power. It has a faster processor than most netbooks, but not the same kind of battery life. And of course, at about $499, it’s about the same price as a low end CULV notebook such as the Acer Aspire 1410.

I’m going to try to reserve final judgement until I’ve had a chance to test an Asus Eee PC 1201N for myself. But it sounds to me like this might be the best computer on the market if you’re looking for a low end, light weight, portable gaming rig and battery life isn’t your top priority. But if you plan to use your computer for almost anything other than gaming, you might be better off with a CULV-based machine.

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10 replies on “Asus Eee PC 1201N review roundup”

  1. I’m in the Navy. a large laptop, or a PS3 with monitor is going to get in my way aboard ship. i want something for old-school gaming anyway, as well as reading ebooks, storing music, and watching movies. i have electricity where i need it. i don’t want something expensive getting stolen or destroyed. the keyboard feels a bit cheap, but this is otherwise ideal for my needs.

  2. This will ne a total failure. People want processing power not really for graphics. They want strong battery life besides portability too.

    Everybody has a primary desktop or notebook (besides their netbook which is used for travel) as their main video editing machine. Nobody edits video or graphics whislt travelling or sitting in Starbucks. People just surf.

    And for games, nearly everyone has a PS3 or a Nintendo Wii at home.

    So most people just want a fast machine to surf the web. That is all.

    720p and 1080p, most CULV can handle.

    1. Disagree with you completely, Michael. IF you are trashing something, at least trash it with valid points..everybody is very ambiguous to say the least..everyone has a PS3 or WII? Point is this isnt meant to sell only in the rich US and European neighborhoods..its supposed to sell the world research entails that this is THE netbook/notebook that u’d wanna buy on a fixed budget..way to go, Asus!

  3. And I was basically chastised for calling this overpriced heap of trash for what it is.

    I’ve been following netbooks since OLPC was just a concept and, in my opinion, the 1201N is an insult to what netbooks have been about thus far.

    This is not 2005. The 1201N comes to $534 with tax which is a “fools born every minute” ripoff. In fact, I don’t think it is worth any more than $329 to be honest (due to its 5-hour backwards step in battery life and tiny 250GB hard drive). Only an uninformed nut would purchase this.

    And I don’t see too many self-respecting gamers taking the fish bait either — as who is going to want to play video games on such a machine (it doesn’t even come with an optical drive)? You could also purchase two Xbox 360s for the price of this laptop. Or purchase, on sale, 7.5TBs of hard drive space at $495 (i.e. five $99 1.5TB hard drives at ChiefValue which charges no tax and usually ships free) — for less than the 1201N.

    There are so many neat tech-gadgets that can be purchased adding up to $500 that one would almost have to be insane to consider the 1201N their next laptop purchase over them. In any case, I’m sure someone out there will out to buy this Eee Laptop before it gets reduced to the clearance.

    But, in the four hundred range, the Acer 1410 ULV/netbook (at $409) or the MSI Wind U110 with 14-hour battery life ($389) would make more sense.

    And, with the 1201N getting only 2-hours of battery life under full load, you mind as well purchase a mid-tower desktop then carry it around with you.

    1. “And, with the 1201N getting only 2-hours of battery life under full load, you mind as well purchase a mid-tower desktop then carry it around with you.”

      Yea go ahead and bring that monitor, keyboard and mouse with you as well.

      So the way you’re gonna argue against the 1201N’s one true selling point is to dismiss it with ridiculous exaggeration? To put it simply, the 1201N is a good budget gaming solution. The ULV and netbook you mention don’t fill the same niche at all. The 1201N outperforms my full fledged dual-core AMD (RM-72) + HD3200 in gaming but with better battery life. Brad posted another roundup that shows what modern it can play at low settings.

      Although the battery life is short under full load, no one is going to break their backs carrying around the power adapter for when they want to hunker down and game.

      1. Personally, I like what Asus has done with the 1201n. I know that for $100 more I could get a much more powerful machine; however, I’m a college student and will need to carry it around with me, so the extra weight and the fact that stronger notebooks will not make it through two consecutive classes without plugging in is a bit of a turn off. The 1201 may not have the best battery life; but, 3.5 hours is enough for 2 classes. Turn it to power save mode, it’s performance will still be on par with the N270 netbooks and the battery life will be closer to 4.5+ hours, possibly enough to make it through 3 classes without the need to recharge.

        The ability to play light games is a plus on this system. Most netbooks and CULV notebooks cant game at all; so, gaming, even at low/med settings is very attractive. I know it will not be anything awe inspiring; but, gaming is not the primary purpose of this machine, I have a desktop at home for that, it’s just a perk to be able to play a little between classes.

        Granted, the 1201n is not perfect; but, I believe it has a nice balance between performance and portability. I plan to order one at the end of this week.

  4. I would be very interested to see if ASUS updates this with a Pine Trail dual core CPU – and how much extra battery life it got from that update.

    Does it use the same size battery as other ASUS netbooks? EG, could a third party 9 cell battery fix the battery life issue?

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