When it comes to internals, HP has gone the AMD route with its latest dm1. Specifically, you’ll find a netbook-class, dual-core E350 CPU which runs at 1.6GHz and will outperform a similarly-specified Intel Atom (even if it doesn’t come close to its rival’s Core i3).
On the graphics front there’s an even larger difference between Intel and AMD, with the integrated Radeon HD 6310 being a more accomplished contender than Atom’s solution. This means that if you keep detail settings and resolutions (very) low, quite a few games will be just about playable. In the undemanding and older TrackMania Nations Forever, for example, the E350/6310 combo managed a smooth 29.9 average. At the same time, even casual gamers may still be frustrated by the lack of performance here.
The CPU and GPU are backed by a slightly unusual 3GB of RAM, with a 5,200rpm, 320GB hard drive taking care of storage. General productivity runs fairly well, as long as you don’t multi-task too much.
Considering you can get plenty of better-looking 11in AMD Fusion-based ultraportables for the same money as this HP, we’re hoping the dm1-3200sa’s battery life is where it will prove itself worthy. Though it doesn’t live up to HP’s nine-hour claims, it fares well against the competition, managing six hours and ten minutes on 40 percent screen brightness and with wireless radios disabled.
Still, we can’t help but feel that being able to stay away from a socket just a little longer than most isn’t enough to save it from being outclassed and outgunned by newer alternatives, especially if you’re happy to move up to 13.3in. Even if 11 inches is what you’re after, the Lenovo X121e is vastly superior in most respects, making it well worth the extra pounds (you can currently get a Core i3 version with 4GB of RAM and a six-cell battery for just £420).
[Note: we're aware this model dm1 is reaching the end of its lifetime and is no longer sold by HP directly, but it can still be found from third party retailers and pre-owned, and we also wanted to review it in preparation for its successor which should be with us soon.]
HP’s dm1-3200sa is a decent enough ultraportable or high-end netbook let down by its somewhat discordant design and screen’s poor viewing angles. At its current price point of around £375, it’s worth spending a little more to get far superior alternatives.