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Asus Eee PC X101CH – Performance, Value and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

Thanks to its new ‘Cedar Trail’ 32nm Atom N2600 processor, Asus was able to go for a fanless design on its X101CH. Running at 1.6GHz, this dual-core CPU is the latest iteration of Intel’s low power family. However, in practice there doesn’t appear to be much of a performance jump over current generation Atoms, which is a little disappointing.

Mind you, the power envelope for the chip’s mediocre performance has gone down, which is what has allowed Asus to use passive cooling – a genuine improvement over previous and competing netbooks. Another significant advantage is that Asus’ software-based ‘instant-on’ does actually work, resuming from standby far faster than we’re used to from laptops with non-SSD storage. It’s just a shame to find a laptop in 2012 that still has trouble running anything more intensive than a few spreadsheets and a browser, though the mere 1GB of RAM supporting Windows 7 Starter is also to blame for this.

The one area where welcome improvements to Atom have been made is in HD video playback, thanks to Full HD hardware decoding. With a compatible media player, high-bitrate 1080p is no longer a problem for Atom, resolving one of our most significant bugbears with the architecture. However, 3D gaming is still not on the cards, with frame rates in the single digits for any demanding game even at low detail levels.

Naturally, the Eee PC X101CH runs very quietly, with the only noise factor being the click and hum of its slow, moving-parts hard drive. Unfortunately, this 5,200rpm, 320GB HDD – or any of the other of the X101CH’s internals – aren’t user replaceable (without voiding the warranty), as the chassis is completely sealed.

Thankfully, the battery is user replaceable. Considering it’s so small and thin, it’s no surprise to find a low-capacity 2,200mAh/23Wh/three-cell unit, and even with the X101CH’s low power internals it only just managed to reach four hours. However, this does seem to be the norm for recent netbooks, with six hours being the maximum as thinness and style are prioritised.

Value is the X101CH’s most redeeming feature. At a mere £210, it’s one of the most affordable small laptops around, and you won’t find anything much more powerful for this kind of money. Asus’ latest Eee PC may be a bit more expensive than other netbooks which start at around £170, but its attractive and thin design, relatively good connectivity, larger hard drive, virtually silent running and ‘instant on’ make it well worth the small premium.

Verdict

Netbooks are arguably on the way out, but as one of the last of a dying breed, the Asus Eee PC X101CH makes for a nice finale. Performance from its new Intel ‘Pine Trail’ Atom processor isn’t a huge improvement and you’re still restricted to light workloads, but the ability to finally play Full HD video smoothly makes this netbook a far more attractive proposition than many. Throw in the X101CH’s sleek good looks, quick wake from resume, decent connectivity and virtually silent running, and we can just about forgive its average battery life and low-resolution screen.

Overall Score

7

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 5
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Screen Quality 6
  • Value 8

Michael G

May 1, 2012, 4:15 pm

I'm staggered you have such room for complaint for a laptop that costs £200! What planet are you people on?

This is a Windows laptop for £200. It's sleek and looks good. You can write emails, browse the web, type up documents, pretty much everything an average user does.

For two hundred quid. And you complain about the screen, average battery life (surely a given at this price point?!) and lack of USB3? Who the hell even uses USB3?

Honestly, it's a dirt cheap netbook for quick browsing/emailing on the go. And for the price it is, finding room to complain and nitpick is completely absurd - just take it for what it is, surely?

This site has gone so downhill with a combination of a horrific "redesign", surely the worst I've ever seen, and frankly lazy, crap journalism. It's shocking.

TechVegan

May 1, 2012, 9:32 pm

@Michael G
Thanks for your comment but I must question where you find the justification for it.

"What planet are you people on?"
The one where many netbooks cost £150-£170, the one where you can get a decent 11/13in laptop for under £350, and the one where good reviewers point out the negatives with any product. It's called Earth.

"Honestly, it's a dirt cheap netbook for quick browsing/emailing on the go. And for the price it is, finding room to complain and nitpick is completely absurd - just take it for what it is, surely?"
Errm, if we didn't point out the bad bits, how would it be a good, comprehensive review? And where do I say that this netbook isn't fit for purpose? From the Verdict: "makes this netbook a far more attractive proposition than many"…

"And you complain about the screen"
Really? "as these cheap and cheerful displays go, the X101CH's is actually one of the better examples" [page2]

"And you complain about the […] average battery life (surely a given at this price point?!)"
No it's not, many similarly priced netbooks last 5 or 6 hours.

"And you complain about the […] lack of USB3"
Actually, I DON'T… where did you read this? I merely say "The X101CH suffers from many of the classic limitations we've come to associate with a netbook. Advanced connectivity like USB 3.0 is not available" [page1]
How is this TRUE statement a complaint? I even say "Connectivity on the Asus Eee PC X101CH is an improvement over most previous-generation netbooks." [page2]

"and frankly lazy, crap journalism"
Given the above I hope you'll agree that doesn't hold true for this review at least.

Carnex

May 2, 2012, 6:01 am

To be honest i understand where Michael is coming from.

It's not the facts, it's the way you presented them. Upon reading one remains with a feeling that complaints far overwhelm positives. And, as you know, feeling of a review caries as much weight as facts if not more.

For example, you don't complain about stuff that are not meant to be seen there in any reasonable iteration. If you do, you create feeling that those features are norm and that product is lacking. If you do that it's either biased and mean spirited or ignorant and just plain bad writing. In the same spirit, you don't say that something is bad, but then explain that it's due to the price. You first state the limits then what is the result.

This is meant just as a constructive observation. Not an argument.

Fafhrd

May 7, 2012, 6:16 pm

One thing I always find a failure of Netbook reviews is their difficulty in acknowledging the target form factor and tendency to make comparisons outside of the class.

Yes, Netbooks are slower than my desktop, worse connected than my smartphone, and doesn't make toast as well as my toaster.

May only be my opinion, but I feel that small size is half the point of a Netbook. Complaining a Netbook doesn't have a physically larger display, and down rating it against a laptops LCD is missing the point. Are there any new "Netbooks" without 1024 x 600 10.1" LCD's?

Frankly, I give most current generation netbooks a slight minus for not having a 8 or 9 inch display like the early Asus 701/901 generation, but that is slightly unfair as actually what I care about is the overall physical size not screen size.

Looking at my (too big) ASUS 1000HE, you could fit a larger LCD in the same case .. and then we come up against the Microsoft imposed limit on screen rez. Can't complain entirely though, while that Microsoft limit is slowly killing the Netbooks, their slow death is making life easier for Tablets.

TechVegan

May 9, 2012, 4:16 pm

@Carnex
Thanks for the observation.
I apologise if the tone of the review gives the wrong impression. 7/10 is not a bad score and it's not a bad netbook, however it doesn't quite match the battery life of some cheaper models, and netbooks overall are very limited machines, which is what I was trying to get across to readers who might be unfamiliar with the category.

However, I feel the overall tone of the review paints this netbook quite positively, for example:
"At a mere £210, it's one of the most affordable small laptops around, and you won't find anything much more powerful for this kind of money. Asus' latest Eee PC may be a bit more expensive than other netbooks which start at around £170, but its attractive and thin design, relatively good connectivity, larger hard drive, virtually silent running and 'instant on' make it well worth the small premium. "

@Fafhrd:
I think you may have misunderstood. I in no way compare this netbook to larger laptops directly, except to say that more affordable 13inchers are eating away its potential market share. I also don't ask for a larger screen, just a higher resolution - which some 'netbooks' did provide (Dell had a 1366 x 768 screen option on its 10in netbooks when it still did them).

With convertible tablets on the rise offering 1280 x 800 IPS displays at the same size for under £400 (see the http://www.trustedreviews.com/... ), 1024 x 600 feels more restrictive than ever.

ecuyetx

September 27, 2012, 6:25 pm

I know this is a bit of an old thread now, but I guess I would like to know where I can get a cheaper, better netbook.
I looked at this one as it is being sold for £180 in Argos, which I thought would be great for families to potentially buy for their kids at Christmas etc. So I guess I'd just like an example of a cheaper better quality laptop / netbook that I could recommend to people.
In my view all the tabs and pads are just way over priced. The alternative to this cited on one website was the Asus Transformer. Hang on that's £400, how is that an alternative to a £180 netbook?

TechVegan

September 27, 2012, 7:06 pm

No worries, thanks for your comment. As mentioned in the review, it's one of the better netbooks around if you don't mind its short battery life. However, I would definitely wait until Windows 8 and its accompanying devices launch next month before suggesting any alternatives.

lols

December 7, 2013, 11:40 am

Michael G "who even uses USB3". Do you even know what USB 3.0 is? In my opinion, a pretty fine review. Looked at the negatives and positives rather equally. Sounds like someone is raging a bit out of jealousy? Awh.

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