Last days have been fairly busy, as I got to play with the Asus 1015B, the first 10 inch EEE PC to boost AMD’s new Fusion hardware platform. We can say that Asus was a little bit late to the game with this device, as competitors already have AMD powered netbooks on the market, most popular being the Acer Aspire One AO522 and the Toshiba NB550D. But while late, the EEE PC 1015B is definitely here to impress.
You’ll be able to see why I liked the 1015B a lot in the rows below, as I go through all the aspects. There are also a couple of videos and benchmark results, just look for them below.
Still, if you’re not here for the whole story, you should know that the Asus 1015B packs a nice matte body, good matte display as well, solid battery and good performances for a 10 incher. All these for around 330-350 bucks makes it for sure one of your best picks if you’re on the market for a multimedia tiny laptop these days.
I must add that the version i got to test is a sample, but identical on all aspects with the version that’s going to be available in stores soon. And you might say that the 1015B is already available in some countries, which is true. But not this version, which comes with the best configuration you can get on the AMD 10 inch dedicated platform right now. Take a look at specs below for details.
So, before jumping to the actual review, let’s see what we’re dealing with here:
- 10.1 inch LED backlit matte display, 1024 x 600 px resolution
- AMD C-50 Fusion APU with dual-core Ontario processor clocked at 1.0 GHz and integrated AMD Radeon HD 6250 graphics (with DirectX 11 support)
- 2 GB of DDR3 1066 MHz memory (only 1.61 GB usable)
- 320 GB 2.5″ 5400 rpm hard-drive
- webcam, VGA and HDMi output, 2 x USB 2.0 slots and 1 x USb 3.0 slots, card-reader, Fast Ethernet LAN
- Bluetooth and Wireless N
- 6 Cell 5200 mAh 56 Wh battery
- Windows 7 Starter
- measures 10.3 x 7 x 1.4 inch ( 262 x 138 x 36 mm)
- weighs 2.8 lbs (1.27 kgs)
So like I said, that’s the best you can get on an AMD powered 10 incher right now. Will have to add that the final version will only come with 1 GB of memory, as Windows 7 Starter devices cannot be sold with more due to imposed limitations (correct me if I’m wrong). Also, you can upgrade that amount of memory to up to 4 GB on a single module, but you’ll also have to upgrade the OS to at least Home Premium, as Starter can only work with 2 GB of memory.
Everything else should be present on the final version, including the HDMI output, USB 3.0 slot (but might not be available on every market), big HDD and good connectivity options.
Exterior: design and build quality
Not much to say about here, as the 1015B is identical to most 10 inch EEE PCs Asus offers right now. Comes with the plastic finish, smooth and matte on the lid cover, textured on the bottom. Plus the sturdy and good looking ClamShell design they’ve been using on netbooks for many years.
The version i got to test came in black, but you’ll be able to pick a white or blue one instead. And I totally recommend not going for the black finish, as it will catch fingerprints and smudges (and they won’t be as visible as on the white finish I got to test on the Asus 1015PX).
On the bottom you get a bay for easy memory access, however upgrading RAM is more difficult. Plus the battery on the back and some cooling vents.
See the clip below for more details about the exterior.
And these pics should tell you more about port’s placement on the sides.
Opening the lid, you’ll notice that palm rest in covered with the same matte plastic as the one used on the hood, and comes with a matching color as well. Area around the keyboard and display is glossy though and fingerprints or dust can be quite pesky, especially on the black finish.
Keyboard and trackpad
You’ll also notice the chiclet keyboard, with independent and proper sized keys. I for one consider the keyboard on the EEE PCs one of the best you can get on 10 inchers. It comes with a nice finish, almost no flex, is quiet and offers a good layout (different for US and European models – the one here is the US layout). However, some might consider keys a bit small, as they are only 93% Full-size, but few netbooks offer a bigger keyboard on the 10 inch class.
As for the trackpad, this one is decently sized, nicely separated from the palm rest around by two silver plastic bands and is pretty accurate and reliable (matte plastic finish feels OK also). Only objection comes towards the click button, which is nice and easy to use, but I for one am a big fan of trackpads with separated buttons for Right and Left click.
There’s a standard 10.1 inch screen on the Asus EEE PC 1015B, similar to the one you’ll find on the 1015PEM or 1015PX models. Comes with a matte finish (so you can use it outside and reflections are not a problem, like on glossy displays), which is great, good brightness and decent color reproduction abilities.
However, straight out of the box, contrast and brightness were awful (way too powerful, most gray shades were displayed as white and colors were messed up), at least on this unit I got to play with. Can tweak them out easily though, by accessing the Catalyst Center (right click on desktop and it’s one of the options) and adjusting gamma, brightness and contrast levels.
Too bad the screen doesn’t lean that much back, that can be uncomfortable when trying to use the laptop in bed or on your sofa. Plus, given the HD abilities, an HD screen as well might have been a nice addition…
Hardware and performances
Like I already said above, this 1015B version I got to test comes with the most powerful platform AMD offers for netbooks these days. Plus, has 2 GB of RAM. And while in stores it will only ship with 1 GB of memory, i do advise you to upgrade that to 2 GB (can get up to 4 inside this one, but that would require upgrading the OS to at least Windows 7 Home Premium). Every DDR3 1066 MHz module should work and upgrading the memory is not at all complicated, as you can see in the clip below.
Still, benchmark results are influenced by the extra amount of memory and you should be aware of that.
Now, speaking about performances, have a look at the clip below, where i take you through several aspects, including hardware specs and multimedia abilities.
I also ran a couple of synthetic benchmarks on this one and results are available below.
As for games, I tried playing Counter Strike 1.6 and it was playable with details set towards low. Of course, this is not a device that can handle modern games, but older 3-5 years titles like Word of Warcraft, Warcraft 3, Age of Empires or Half Life will be playable.
Bottoms up, the Asus 1015B is versatile. In terms of raw CPU power is not as powerful as an Intel Atom N550 or N570 equiped device, like the 1015PX for instance, and this can be visible while multitasking between many apps, loading apps, editing video (as long as you don’t find a piece of software that can use the AMD graphic chip to speed up video rendering – I could not) or archiving files.
But it can handle multimedia content and games way better than those netbooks. 1080P streaming from Youtube worked fine and I could also play many kinds of 1080p self-stored content as well, like .mov, .mts or .mp4 files.
However, couldn’t make 1080p .mkv files work properly and the same thing happened when I tested the NB550D a while ago. So i reckon the platform can’t handle them, but maybe I’m not using the right software or codecs (so please correct me if I’m wrong)…
Update: You can play the .mkvs on this one, this other post will explain what you need to install and configure for that. Thanks EEE Fan (sry i don’t know your real name) for pointing out the problem and part of the solution via e-mail. Great to have you as reader.
You get Windows 7 Starter on the 1015B and the standard set of apps Asus pre-installs on their EEE PCs. While some of those apps can be useful, I usually get rid of most of them so I can speed up the little laptop. See this other post on how you can speed up your out-of-the-box Asus EEE PC, there’s a video walktrough in there that should help you.
You get Wireless N, Bluetooth 3.0 and Fast Ethernet Lan on the 1015B (I was actually hoping for Gigabit Lan, but I double checked and it’s just the Fast 100Mbps version – still, I doubt many of you will use LAN on netbooks anyway…). Behind the battery there’s a place for a SIM card, so we might see 3G enabled 1015Bs in the future as well.
There’s also an USB 3.0 slot which is in my eyes a must have on a 2011 laptop right now, as it can really speed up data transfer . Still, I’ve seen test models with USB 3.0 on board before and by the time they reached the stores, it was gone or was only available in some specific countries (mainly in Europe). So don’t get your hopes to high, the US version of this 1015B might lack this features unfortunately.
There’s a pretty big 6 Cell 5200 mAh 56 Wh battery on the Asus 1015B and that’s identical to the one you get on the Asus 1215B. So I was expecting quite good results in terms of battery life from this one. And the little 1015B did not disappoint.
Asus rates battery life at 8.5 hours, but in practice, here’s what i got:
- around 7 hours on SHE Power Saving, Screen at 50%, Wireless OFF, while editing a text (writing this review) – estimated based on the fact that it drained nearly 40% in 3 hours
- around 5 hours 40 minutes on everyday use, with SHE Auto Mode selected, Wireless ON, screen at 70%, while web-surfing, watching some video content, writing some texts, listening to some music, etc
- around 4 hours and 20 minutes on SHE Performance Mode while looping a 720p .mkv file with Wireless OFF, Screen and Speakers at 70%
- 4 hours 46 minutes in Battery Eater Pro 05 Open GL render test
Not bad at all, considering the multimedia abilities of this one, ay?
Speakers, heat, noise, webcam and others
Not much to say about the speakers on the 1015B. They are good, with enough power and good quality. Just not impressive as the ones you get on the Toshiba NB550D.
On top of the screen there’s a webcam, and average one as well, that can handle video calling and chatting as long as there’s proper light in the room.
As for heat and noise, I was expecting the Asus EEE PC 1015B to get hot, but it didn’t, not even after watching 720p movies for hours. Bottom gets warm in its middle part, just underneath the N & M keys, but that won’t bother you much. Upper side of the device gets warm a little bit as well, also on the area around those keys.
However, in order to keep the mini laptop that cool, CPU’s fan is active pretty much all of the time, even when the computer is idle. And can become a little noisy when running resources hungry apps, but you won’t notice that unless you’re in an completely silent room, in the middle of the night, like I am right now as I’m writing this review.
Pricing and availability
The Asus 1015B is already available in some parts of the world, like in the US for instance. However, that’s the EEE PC 1015B-M model (or 1015B-MU17), which comes with the C-30 AMD APU (single core processor, same graphics), smaller 250 GB hard-drive, no Bluetooth and no USB 3.0 slot. Plus, I’m not 100% sure there’s the same battery on that one. It goes for $289 in the States.
I couldn’t find this particular AMD C-50 equipped versions anywhere yet, but should be available in the next couple of weeks. Will probably be sold as EEE PC 1015B-P (or 1015B-PU17) and I reckon it will cost around 330, maybe 350 bucks and that’s a pretty fair price for all the goodies you can get. Will update this part with extra details once we find anything new.
Final words and conclusions
We’ve reached the end of our post here and if you had the patience to bare with me through all the details, you’ll for sure agree with my conclusion: the Asus EEE PC 1015B is a remarkable netbook. It manages to merge good design, solid built quality, ergonomics, performance and good battery life in a final product that costs less than 350 bucks, so actually less than the other popular 10 inch netbooks on the market, like the Asus 1015PEM or the Samsung NF310.
Of course, the Asus EEE PC 1015B is not the fastest, the slimmest or the cheapest 10 inch mini laptop. It’s not the one that can provide the mot battery life either. But overall, it is one of the few devices that can combine these little aspects best.
- screen only leans back to around 130 degrees and the bezel around it is made from glossy plastic
- can be noisy sometimes
- screen brightness and contrast were really messed up out of the box
- feels a little bit slower than dual-core Atom netbooks in everyday use
I for one call the 1015B a multimedia netbook, one that can handle your basic daily tasks you run on a 10 incher, last for 6+ hours and also play movies or games if needed. And this is what I would want from a netbook and I believe many of you feel the same, right?
That’s why I’m confident the Asus EEE PC 1015B is a device you should consider if on a market for such a compact notebook right now and I’m sure it will become quite popular among netbook users.
Of course, your feedback and opinions are much appreciated, so let me know if you have any questions or things you need to know about the 1015B EEE PC, as I’ll still have it around for a couple of extra days before I’ll have to return it.