With the latest crop of netbooks beginning to sport Intel’s new Atom N280, which features a slightly higher clock speed (1.66GHz vs. 1.6GHz) and a faster front-side bus (667MHz vs. 533MHz), how well does a netbook built around the earlier Atom N270 hold up? To find out, we put Samsung’s NC10 to the test.
The Samsung NC10 is a pearl-white clamshell with a chrome-like strip running around the outer edge of its base. It has a 10.2-inch, LED-backlit, anti-glare monitor; a 1.3MP integrated webcam; 1GB DDR2/667 RAM; a 160GB hard drive; and a 6-cell battery—basically, nothing we haven’t seen before. But while it’s not the newest kid on the block, the NC10 is still more than capable.
Samsung's NC10 netbook offers great battery life, solid construction, and good performance. And it's not a fingerprint magnet.
Thanks to the 6-cell battery, the NC10 pulls down more than five hours on our full-screen DVD-video playback test, better than all netbooks we’ve tested, save two Eee PCs, which lasted five-and-a-half hours each. It chugged through our Photoshop benchmarks in 708 seconds, a mere 2.5 percent slower than our champion, the 1.66GHz-equipped Asus Eee PC 1000HE, but faster than all previous N270-based netbooks we’ve tested, with the exception of the Eee PC 1002HA and Lenovo S10.
Starting with the NC10, we are replacing our Quake Live pass/fail test with frame rates for Quake III Arena. Released in 1999, this is an old game, to say the least, but it’s a realistic indicator of the caliber of gaming you can expect to get from a machine of this size. (Quake 4, released in 2005, for example, looked like a slide show on the NC10). The NC10 turned out 58fps when playing Quake III on High Quality—virtually the same frame rate achieved by the Asus 1000HE. Netbooks will never be gaming notebooks, but they are a perfect way to enjoy old classics on the go.
The NC10’s build quality is strong and the unit includes most of the important things on our checklist—three USB ports instead of just two, a multicard reader, easily upgradable RAM, and long battery life. The NC10’s anti-microbial keyboard is comfortable to type on; its track pad is responsive but a bit small.
The NC10 is a strong leader of the last generation of netbooks, but with newer models like the Asus Eee 1000HE including 802.11n wireless, Gigabit Ethernet, and slightly better performance for a lower price, the NC10 is starting to show its age. Watch for its price to drop as newer models come out; it’s a solid netbook and will remain so, and you could scoop up a bargain. With the NC10 holding up after months on the market, we can’t wait to see what the NC20 offers.
One of the best N270 Atom netbooks; great battery life and performance.
Small touch pad; no wireless-N or Gigabit Ethernet.