Video Game Tips, A little bit of Humor, and Lots of Coffee.

Working and Gaming on an Asus N10J-A2 Netbook

This won’t be an overly in-depth article, it’s really just a couple of paragraphs on my thoughts about my Asus N10J-A2.  If there is a certain benchmark or piece of software you’re interested in seeing on the N10J just leave me a comment and I’ll see If I can’t make it happen.  Back in Mid December my company purchased us a batch of new laptops.  We went from 15inch Toshiba Satellites to a 9inch Asus N10J Netbook.

Asus N10J-A2 openAsus N10J-A2 keyboardAsus N10J-A2 TopAsus N10J-A2 hdmiAsus N10J-A2 spdif

First Impression
The size of the Asus N10J is really amazing, it has a smaller footprint then a manilla folder and weighs in at just a few pounds.
My system specs are:

  • Atom N270 CPU
  • 6 cell Lithium Ion Battery
  • 10.2 inch WSVGA screen
  • Nvidia 9300M GS 256MB
  • Integrated Intel Graphics
  • 320GB Harddrive
  • 2GB of ram
  • Vista BIZ for the OS
  • 802.11N WiFi and Bluetooth

After using Vista for a week or so I was about ready to lose my mind.  Vista is utter garbage on this machine.  I don’t know what it is but the boot and shutdown times were ridiculous.  There were times when I would power up my machine and it would say, Loading, for 30 minutes or so.  I don’t think that is the N10J’s fault, I believe it to be Bill Gates fault.  I promptly went to my boss/network admin and told him I wanted to put XP on my machine.  He replied with a, No keep Vista, I replied with a, Nah I think I’ll put XP on instead, He further insisted I keep Vista, so I installed XP and dual boot into Vista when he’s around.  With XP on the N10J I’m happy as a clam, it really runs extremely well and I have not had a single crash yet.  Setting up the Native SATA driver was a bit of a hassle but with a little help from the folks over at N10User, I had it working in no time.

Battery Life
I’ll give the battery it’s own paragraph here because I’m really surprised at how long it lasts.  On this specific model I have the ability to turn off the 9300M video card and use the integrated Intel Graphics on the motherboard.  This is a great advantage and I have had this laptop on and running for 6 hours and still had about 30% juice left on it.

UPDATE
Someone mentioned they were glad I had some info about the battery life on this machine, so I figured I could go a bit more in depth, cause I’m awesome. For testing I charged the N10J up to 100%, unplugged it, powered it off and rebooted. I left it running for a bit then played around with it to find a screencasting program. Without further ado, here is the screencast showing current battery power after 2 hours of normal use on DC power.

UPDATE 2
I ran some Passmark Benchmarks at the request of a commenter.

Asus N10J A2 Passmark SpecsAsus N10J A2 Passmark SummaryAsus N10J A2 Passmark Score

HD Playback
The N10J comes equipped with a HDMI and SPDIF out to allow HD playback on an external device.  I did hook this up to my 42inch 720P Panasonic Plasma, but was not very impressed with the quality.  I may just be spoiled but my ATI3870->HDMI->Plasma kicks the pants off the N10J.  The HD vids look great on the tiny screen though, and they run very smooth after a bit of tweaking and offloading to the 9300M GS.

Actual Daily Use
So far this netbook has really performed well for me, much better than the twice the size toshiba.  I do alot of firmware updating and schematic reading for the machines I service.  PDF reading on this netbook is a little on the tough side, you will definitely will have to use the zoom in/out feature and alot of scrolling, but it’s nothing that will deter me from enjoying the rest of the N10J.  The absence of a DVD drive can be annoying at times, but there’s not too much you can’t accomplish with a bootable usb stick.  My machine also came equipped with a webcam installed in the lid and a fingerprint scanner, both of which I use rarely if at all.

Gaming
The N10J is not designed as a gaming machine but I have installed a few games and am pretty happy with how it performs.
So far I have installed:

  • Need for speed Most Wanted –  Runs excellent with settings on medium to full.
  • Need for Speed Carbon – Same as MW, runs great on medium settings.
  • Codemasters DiRT – Could not get this to run well at all, at minimum res with settings on low I was pulling maybe 15FPS.
  • NHL 2009 – Runs great on
  • Syberia – Older game, but it runs just fine.
  • Diablo II – The classic diablo, runs fine.
  • GTAIII and Vice City – Very playable at medium settings on both games.
  • Call of Duty 4 – This game requires a few tweaks, but there is a modified config file (Yitch3), out there that make it run at over 50FPS.

Final Thoughts
I believe my company spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 USD on our new netbooks, but I have seen the same system with 1GB of ram and a 160GB HDD go for less than $400USD.  There are really only a few issues I have with the N10J… Vista is crap, buy it with XP installed if you can, the absence of a DVD drive, and the Native resolution of 1024×600.  I can understand why they would’nt include a DVD drive, it would be almost impossible to fit one in such a small platform, but the weird resolution is a bit strange.  I’m not sure I understand why they couldn’t just make it 1024×768 and be done with it.  Many programs today won’t run at less then 1024×768 and gaming takes a bit of tweaking to get them to look right.  Only thing I can figure is that they got a honey of a deal on 1024×600 screens.  I think if you’re using the N10J as a work/play laptop you’ll be more then happy, but there’s no doubt in my mind I would never be able to use this as my main system.

Hope this article helped you in your future purchases, and if you have any questions or feedback please leave a comment.

  • Darkjeric

    Hi there, nice little review you put together! I do have some remarks though:

    Vista isn’t that utter crap you describe it for. Yes, boot times are ridiculous, but when you use S3 suspend like I do it’s up and running in under 3s! And the fact you used Vista only for a week already is a statement. Vista has a new technology that caches and predicts stuff you’re most likely going to use in the near-future, so the more you use it, the faster it gets (and this is no lie, I actually noticed a serious increase in responsiveness after 2-3 weeks usage).

    Furthermore: a resolution of 1024×768 would be equal crap, as that is a 4:3 aspect ratio. You really want to have widescreen on such small devices, so that would be a 1280×768. As far as I know, that still isn’t fysically possible on 10″ screens.

    • http://www.fragtheplanet.com The Admin

      I guess I was a little harsh on Vista, my issue with Vista is that, for me, it provided no real advantage over XP. I have used Vista on various different computers and never could get over the, Allow It, Disallow It popup.
      That drove me batty, especially when it was a program Microsoft had built… like Control Panel. I really wish I did like Vista, but for me that’s just not in the cards. I’m very optimistic about Windows 7 though.

      I stand corrected with the resolution though, there is no way you would want a 4:3 screen on this machine…. now the 1024×600 makes a bit more sense.

  • http://onecallpestcontrol.com web3221

    nice place u have, vlite vista and u will be one happy puppy, and with all the benefits of vista you will not even consider going back to xp (maybe), some people just like xp period. I was that way i am now a convert. i lke the hong kong wallpaper i have one like it. Maybe you might know, our n10 has a limitation of 2gb memory b/c of the design of our intel chip. intel could fix if they wanted, asus said said theoretically, if they wanted, the could provide a work around but due to costs of R&D, and the fact that the intel chipset is not designed for it they will not do it. can’t blame them on this on. but, is there anyone out there that maybe can figure the work around to get n10 to accept 4gb memory stick. it doesn’t really need it but would be really nice. thanks

  • Connor Steward

    hi there, i really enjoyed your article on the Asus N10J series, i’ve have one too! could you please tell me where you got the modified config file from. I am going to purchase CoD 4 soon and your help would be greatly appresiated. ( Sorry about the spelling but i’m only 14 years old). Thanks in advance, Connor Steward.

    • http://www.fragtheplanet.com CEO

      Hey, thanks for the comment, I must have forgot to include the link for the config file in the post. The custom config was called Yitch3.

      Hope that helps.

  • Joel

    Can you run passmark benchmark and give us your results?

    • http://www.fragtheplanet.com CEO

      Ill give it a go and get back to you.