If you’re looking for the best Netbooks or best Mini Laptops (best small laptops) and still not decided yet, this article will help you to choose the best small laptops 2017. The netbook industry continues to introduce innovative options, including: solid-state drives, touch screen capability, integrated 3G broadband wireless, larger screens and other stylistic enhancements to improve user experience.
Best Small Laptops 2017 – Buying Guide
When buying a netbook, just like any computer, it is important to educate yourself about what is available in the market in order to get the best netbook deal. The tips in this small laptop buying guide will help you make the right decision in getting a netbook that offers the greatest value for what you want, and/or need.
It is important to keep a checklist of your computing needs and follow some basic guidelines in your netbook buying decision.
In this guide we will look at the internal components of a mini laptop. It is the internal components such as processor, graphical processing unit, memory, hard drive, etc that gives the small notebook its computing power. In Part 2 we will look at the external factors such as the screen size, keyboards, touch pads, ports, connectivity option, etc which largely determines how comfortable and usable is a small laptop.
1. Operating System
Netbooks are usually equipped with Atom processors and 1GB of RAM, and are limited in their performance when compared to a standard notebook. This is one of the main reasons why the operating system used is important, as one which is too demanding can drag down the entire system and lead to poor user experience.
Most netbooks come pre-installed with Windows, but some come with linux variants sucha as Jolicloud or Ubuntu.
There are three flavors of Windows you can find on netbooks . Windows XP, Windows Vista and the new Windows 7. Windows XP Home Edition used to come pre-installed on most netbooks but has been withdrawn from marketing since Oct 22, 2010. Most mini laptops have moved to Windows 7 Starter and have been shown to run well on the newer generation of small notebooks. Windows 7 will undoubtedly feel slower than XP on older machines but it is far more modern, and some users will find the features it offers a necessity and of course opt to upgrade to Windows 7. Windows Vista is so bloated, that it is not currently a practical choice for any netbook and has also been removed from marketing.
Mini laptops with Linux run great for web surfing, email, and word processing via Open Office. However, Linux may be incompatible with some programs, and if you’ve never used it, you may have to take some time to get used to it. Our personal opinion is that while Linux may be a cheap option, it really does not make sense to learn an entirely new operating system when the Microsoft Windows 7 option is just a few bucks more. The advantage of choosing a Windows small laptop is that most are familiar with Windows so the small notebook can be used right away.
2. Central Processing Unit
There are several different processors commonly found in netbooks today, and these processors offer varying levels of performance and battery life. In some cases manufacturers make the exact same netbook in multiple models which have different processors available. In these cases the processor in the netbook will have an impact on its performance.
Today, there are only two largest manufacturers of processors and they are Intel and AMD. There is a big competition between AMD vs Intel to improvise their individual products to the maximum, so as to reign the market. As a consumer, it is important to do an Intel and AMD processor comparison, so as to get a better understanding about what these two have to offer.
Intel Atom platform, made up of the Atom processor, integrated graphics, and memory (usually 1GB) is by and large the most popular one for netbooks and nettops. The Atom processors key is its power efficiency and first generation small laptops using atom N270 OR N280 processor were capable of up to eight hours of battery life. Intel also offered the Z-series (Z20, Z530, Z540) Atom CPU generally reserved for less demanding machines.
Pine Trail is the second generation Intel platform for netbooks. It consists of the Pineview processors Atom N450, N470, D410, and D510 paired with the new low-power NM10 Express chipset. The N450 is targeted at netbooks, while the single-core D410 and dual-core D510 are designed for nettops.(Pine Trail is the name of the technology platform; Pineview is the name of the new Atom processor).
The improvements in the Atom N450 come from the smaller chip size, achieved by integrating the graphics and memory controller into the CPU. Previously, the graphics and memory controller resided outside the CPU. This resulted in longer battery life and Atom N450 based small notebooks have been found to achieve up to fourteen hours of battery life. That is far more than any other netbook processor can achieve. In the second half of 2010, Intel refreshed the pineview processors with two new processors one Atom N475 clocked at 1.83GHz and the other Atom N455 at 1.6GHz to support DDR 3 RAM.
These single-core Atom processors are also inexpensive for netbook manufacturers to purchase, which is why Atom netbooks are typically the least expensive netbooks available. The main drawback is the lack of processing power for CPU intesive application.
In order to cater for increasing computing demand, Intel introduced the dual core atom N330 in the first half of 2009. Technically, Intel only recommends this CPU for nettops, which have the same specs as small notebooks but are always plugged in. The chip isn’t as power efficient, but nonetheless you can find some small laptops on the market shipped with Atom N330.
In the third quarter of 2010, Intel introduced the Atom N550 dual-core processor. The Atom N550 is the first dual-core Atom processor targeted specifically at netbooks, which finally puts the same number of processing cores inside these tiny laptops as found on larger mainstream laptops. Intel claims the N550 offers improved application performance with battery life in the same range as the single-core processors, along with support for faster DDR3 memory. The Atom N550 promises a smoother and more responsive netbook experience.
In late Feb 2011 Intel upgraded the Atom N550 to Atom N570 which run at 1.66Ghz clock speed instead of 1.5GHz. The atom N570 is just a modest update to an existing product. It is produced in 45nm and supports DDR3 main memory. It contains the GMA3150 graphics card on the same chip.
AMD V, Athlon II Neo and Turion II Neo are equivalent to the Atom processor which are found in netbooks and nettops. On the performance front the AMD Neo absolutely beats the Atom, as it is integrated with ATI graphics. This accelerates videos and 3D graphics far better to give decent multimedia output than the integrated solutions used by atom.
But there is a price to pay for this performance. Battery life has found to be rather poor averaging about 4-6 hours. This is pretty dismal when compared to the Atoms fourteen hours and it is arguable that the Neo is really a small laptop processor at all. Thats an argument that has some merit, since many do buy small notebooks for their battery life.
That has changed with the introduction of Zacate and Ontario based processors in the 1Q of 2011. Zacate and Ontario are based on AMD’s Fusion architecture which is a hybrid design combining both the central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU) on a single chip, and AMD calls it ???Application Processor Unit (APU)??? rather than just processor. AMD Fusion is a new approach to processor design and is a solution to a long-standing problem with netbooks: the communications bottleneck between the CPU and the GPU. By combining the CPU and GPU onto a single processor die you get faster performance and less power consumption packed into a smaller space enabling improved performance when it comes to visual computing, security, performance-per-watt and device form factor.
Compared to the slow GMA 3150 in the Atom processors, the Radeon based GPUs offers a lot more performance. It is also capable of supporting DirectX 11 graphics while Intel is still stuck at DirectX 9. The biggest advantage which puts it in a different usability and usefulness league is the higher screen resolution. The Acer Aspire One AO522 10.1-inch display has a resolution of 1280??720 pixels, while the 11.6-inch HP Pavilion DM1Z has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.
Benchmark tests show that the APU improves the battery life and is as efficient as Intels Atom. And whatever battery trade-off there is, it is well worth it for the extra horsepower gained. AMD is now officially a contender in the netbook space, and the Acer Aspire One AO522 and HP Pavilion DM1Z is the proof.
The Intel Atom is clearly the victor when it comes to inexpensive small notebooks and netbooks with amazing battery life. For maximum performance consider a dual-core netbook if you can. You???ll lose some battery life, but gain a lot in raw CPU performance. With 1MB L2 cache (versus 512KB in single core) and higher clock speed it would not only be faster in multi-threaded application but should be better for single-threaded as well.
3. Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
We have reviewed many an Intel Atom netbook. Performance is quite standard at this point; the netbooks can handle basic multi-tasking including Web browsing and word processing and light multimedia use. But you are limited in what you can do on your netbook in terms of graphics performance.
This is not surprising as most small laptops today use the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3150 (GMA 3150) graphics card and it is integrated into the Atom CPU. Integrated graphics products rely on the computers main memory for storage, which imposes a performance penalty, as both the CPU and GPU have to access memory over the same bus.
The performance of GMA 3150 is only a bit better than the old GMA 950 found in many netbooks with N270/280 Atom CPUs. However, it is not sufficient to watch H.264 encoded HD videos with a higher resolution than 720p. HD flash videos from Youtube does not run smoothly on these graphical processor.
In order to cope with this problem, some mini laptops now supplement their Intel GPUs with a Broadcom decoder chip that does nothing but speed up video playback and improve its quality; if you want to use your netbook to watch a lot of Hulu or YouTube videos, you may want to pay a little extra for this option if it???s available. For example, HP Mini 210 HD Edition offers an optional HD panel and Broadcom Crystal HD media accelerator to render full high-definition 1080p video.
There???s also another solution involving the use of NVIDIA ION netbook graphics processor. It???s a discrete GPU with dedicated memory that attaches to an Intel Atom Pine Trail CPU via PCI Express and offers smooth 1080p video decoding, including accelerated h.264 playback, Blu-ray playback and moderate gaming capabilities.
The new Nvidia ION 2 netbook GPU also feature NVIDIA Optimus technology, which automatically selects the best graphics processor for running any given application. Optimus powers down the GPU for basic tasks like web surfing, further extending battery life. When more graphics horsepower is needed for playing 3D games, running videos, or using GPU compute applications, Optimus automatically enables the ION GPU. This sharing of workload with the processor allows the small notebook to seamlessly hand over workload to either an NVIDIA discrete GPU or Intel integrated graphics. The result is great battery life and superior performance when you need it.
Unfortunately, this automatic switching is not available if your netbook runs on Windows 7 Starter Edition as it doesn???t support NVIDIA Optimus automatic graphics switching technology. You can manually filp between the integrated Intel GMA 3150 graphics and the ION graphics when you want to perform graphics intensive activities. However, for seamless switching and to get better battery life at least upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium.
The new ASUS Eee PC 1215N-PU17 small laptop equipped atom N525 dual processor, Nvidia Ion 2 and Windows 7 Home Premium operating system is a bestseller in this category of mini laptop.
Selecting a netbook with more memory is one of the most effective ways to ensure enhanced performance, smoother multitasking, and faster web surfing. To run Windows 7 Starter Edition on an Atom processor, you need at least 1 GB, but would be much better off with 2 GB of RAM.
If the mini laptop allows for easy upgrading of memory, you will be able to save money by upgrading later on by buying the memory at discount sites and installing it yourself. Some mini laptops use nonstandard memory ports and may make upgrading difficult. It is recommended that you buy the highest memory available for these netbooks.
Netbooks that you buy today may come with either be 1GB of DDR2 or DDR3 memory. Many benchmark tests confirm that there is no difference when it comes to performance of DDR2 and DDR3 memory. DDR3 is another stop in the long line of new technologies becoming available to help manufacturers get away with charging more for their computers.
As manufacturers decide what memory to pair with their new small laptops cost will be a primary consideration. No matter if your mini laptop has either kind of memory you can be sure that you???re getting a good deal as long as you aren???t paying a premium for having the latest in memory technology.
5. Storage Drive
Storage capacity should be a consideration for any computer you buy, but netbooks (and notebooks, for that matter) aren???t easily upgradeable, so it pays to choose a model that suits your needs from the start.
You have either the Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or the Solid State Drive (SSD) option. HDDs consists of regular spinning hard drives. They give you more capacity, and are cheaper, while weighing more, using more power,and having an increased failure rate. Most popular sizes today are 160GB, 250GB and 320GB.
Solid State Drive technology brings a new level of performance and reliability to small laptops as it uses computer chips for storage and have no moving parts. This improves durability and helps prevent data loss resulting from drive failure. In addition, SSD equipped netbooks run cooler, more quietly and consume less power than those using HDDs.
On the downside, SSDs still cost significantly more which means many mini laptops come with low capacity drives to keep costs down. The idea of a mini laptop with solid-state technology is appealing and users for whom performance takes priority over capacity are beginning to make the switch. With further innovation and price drops, the solid-state drive may become a popular replacement option for the hard disk drive in the coming months. Most popular sizes today are 64GB and 128GB.
A Few Things to Consider When Buying Best Mini Laptops
Everyone wants a laptop that is powerful while at the same time small and convenient. Before you buy a laptop or Macbook, it’s important to review the facts and differences between them first.
With the advances in technology people no longer have to deal with a heavy laptop just to get the power that they want and need. It is now possible to purchase tiny laptop computers that offer many of the same computing abilities that the traditional laptops offer without spending exorbitant amounts of money. When people are looking for laptops that offer easy computing, a compact size and the most up to date functioning there are a number of factors that should be considered to ensure that you are purchasing the best small laptops for your money.
- Usage. One factor that should be considered when shopping for best mini size laptops is its usage. There are numerous different laptops on the market, but not all of them are right for everyone. Individuals should consider how they plan to use their laptops and then select a device that is suitable for their personal needs. A “small” laptop is sometimes relative to the individual. Small can mean petite in proportion or size or it could mean thin and lightweight. When selecting a laptop individuals should be prepared to decide if they want a device that will be used exclusively to replace an existing laptop or a laptop that will be used for daily computing on the go. Weight will be a very important factor when purchasing a laptop for daily usage. Individuals that are interested in purchasing a computer that they will use on daily basis should be very aware of the overall size and the weight. How often will you actually travel with this computer? If you travel often, weight and size will be a more important factor.
- Features. Individuals that are interested in purchasing tiny laptops will find that features are very important. The features on a laptop allow the user to take advantage of all that the device has to offer. Individuals can choose from high definition or glossy screens, automatic wi-fi locaters and web cameras. Processor speeds and storage capacity is also very important when selecting a laptop. People that are interested in owning a computer that is fast and has the ability to store lots of data should definitely select laptops or a MacBook that has certain speeds and storage capabilities.
- Software. Software is also another element that needs to be considered when selecting mini laptops for sale. Many laptops today come preloaded with certain types of software, or individuals can request that software be installed on the computer. Some of the most popular software packages include word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications. Anti-virus software has become a necessity as it keeps an individual’s computer from being damaged by viruses. Oftentimes people can obtain this type of software as a trial when first purchasing their laptop computer. Software choices are very important when selecting a company for personal usage. Make sure you clearly understand what is included prior to purchase.
There are some companies that will allow the user to customize their computers step by step. This allows the individual to select all the different components, both hardware and software, for a laptop. This method of “building a computer” is highly sought after and many like the idea of being able to create small size laptops that are specially tailored to their needs.
To help in selecting best small laptop for your personal use, make a checklist of the components you consider to be most important. For example, memory, disk size, processing speed, wireless card, USB ports, battery life, size, weight, software included, keyboard touch and ease, screen resolution and size, etc.
Macbook Vs Windows Laptop
If you want a computer that’s the most eco-friendly, MacBooks are the best out there at this time. They don’t use mercury and as of today’s writing, their durability can’t be matched in any laptops that we’re aware of. This may change over time, but for now, both from an anti-virus, durability, battery life, and eco-friendly perspective, MacBooks win hands down.
Software can be considered both a detriment and benefit to a MacBook. They come with very basic software options, however additional software is often reasonably priced. If you are used to PC specific software, you may find that it is not yet available for Macs. Research this carefully before you buy the best netbook or best mini laptop.
Best Small Laptops Under :
- Best Netbooks Under 800,
- Best Netbooks Under 600,
- Best Netbooks Under 1000,
- Best netbooks Under 500,
- Best Netbooks Under 700,
- Best Nebooks Under 400,
- Best Netbooks Under 200,
- Best Netbooks Under 100
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- Best Netbook and Laptops for Gaming
- Best Netbook for gaming Under 1000
- Best Netbook for Gaming Under 500