Netbooks vs Ultraportables in 3D Gaming

What kind of gaming can you expect from a netbook?  Many people talk about playing older games at low settings but what does that mean?  And how does it compare to similarly priced older ultraportable notebooks?

For our testing we chose the mainstream game Unreal Tournament 2004 as I played UR quite a bit back in the day.  We originally thought older… but URT03 didn’t list XP and it’s demo wasn’t readily available.  A demo is nice for anyone wanting to compare their own ‘puter to these performance marks. Also you can easily slap these onto a test computer from a flash drive.  We like things simple here. (Side Note: other older greats like Starcraft or Diablo II are playable on netbooks because they only fake a 3D perspective without using actual 3D acceleration)

If you don’t already have them snag the Free FPS utility Fraps and the URT04 Demo from CNET:

We tested the ASUS 1000HA & Sony SR240 a typical netbook and an aging ultraportable from 2006.  The test was simple play DeathMatch at 800×600 with all the settings on “low” (no shadows and checkboxes left alone).  Use Fraps to give us a real world estimate of the performance you could expect playing an older 3D Game on low settings.

Asus 1000HA (10″ Netbook)
1.6ghz N270 Atom
1 Gig RAM
Intel Integrated GMA950
Win XP

Range: 10-30 FPS
Normal: 12-15 FPS if a bot was visible

Tweaks: Reducing settings to “lowest” when available and using the asus overclock utility raised the FPS to high teens but the game would still sometimes dip to 10 FPS.

Sony SZ240 (13″ Notebook)
2.0ghz T2500 Core Duo (not C2D)
1 Gig RAM
GeForce 7400M
Win 7

Range: 55-110 FPS
Normal: 60-85 FPS if a bot was visible

Tweaks: Increasing the resolution to the native 1280×800 and raising the settings to “Normal” still maintained a very playable 45-65 FPS.

Sony SZ240 (13″ Notebook)
2.0ghz T2500 Core Duo (not C2D)
1 Gig RAM
Intel Integrated 945 (hybrid discrete graphics off)
Win 7

Range: 30-55 FPS
Normal: 32-45 FPS if a bot was visible

So we see that a netbook could really use about twice the oomph in CPU or GPU to make 3D gaming reasonable.  Meanwhile an older ultraportable with integrated graphics is already at that level thanks to a more powerful CPU.  Grab an ultraportable with discrete graphics – even an older one – and you are at another level of gaming.  No Crysis here, but the list of titles you can’t play drops considerably.

How To Make Firefox Faster

Type “about:config” into the address bar and hit return. Type “network.http…” into the search bar and look for the following entries:


Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading. Alter the entries as follows:

  • Set “network.http.pipelining” & “network.http.proxy.pipelining” to “true” by double-clicking it.
  • Set “network.http.pipelining.maxrequests” to “8” by double-clicking it. This means it will make 8 requests at once. There is no point setting it higher then 8 as it is capped at 8 max. [The default value for this setting is 4]
  • Lastly right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it “nglayout.initialpaint.delay” and set its value to “50”. This value is the amount of milliseconds the browser waits before it acts on information it receives. [The default value for this setting is 250]

If you’re using a broadband connection you’ll load pages MUCH faster now!

Save Everyone Time: Disable Your Voicemail Instructions

Tired of hearing instructions on how to use voicemail? Do the world a favor and turn that “feature” off on your phone…

1. Call your voicemail
2. At the menu, press 3 for personal options
3. Press 2 for greeting
4. Press 1 to change the greeting
5. To enable / disable the instructions, press 3

1. Call your voicemail
2. Go to personal options
3. Go to administrative options
4. Select “cut through paging”
5. Select off

1. Personal options
2. Administrative options
3. General options
4. Then you will have these three options:
* Auto Play On or Off
* Call Back Number Prompt On or Off
* Rapid Prompt or Standard Prompt

Thanks Engaget

Which Netbook Should I Buy

asus-1005ha.jpgHere is some current info I put together for a few friends looking to buy a Netbook.  There are MANY choices out there but this should simplify things for those not wanting to spend hours pouring over the minute differences between models. And the differences are small as most Netbooks have the same 10″ screen, 1.6Ghz CPU, 1GB RAM, 160GB Hard Drive, available ports & Windows XP.

Subsidized Netbooks:

The problem with the netbooks being offered by the cel companies for $200 is that they want you to sign up for a cel-modem contract ($40-60/month) for two years just to save $150-200. Not the best deal.

Best Netbooks:

ASUS Eee PC 1005HA 10″ – Best battery life netbook out there. $350-$390 depending on if you get the 8 or 10 hr battery (this may be at Bestbuy now)

Acer Aspire One 10″ – available at Walmart for $300 w/ 2.5 hr battery or online for $330 with the 6.5 hr battery

Close 2nds:

ASUS Eee PC 1008HA 10″ – slightly slimmer lighter version of the 1005HA but only 6 hr battery life for $415

Acer Aspire One 11.6″ – slightly larger screen and keyboard than the 10″ models but only slightly bigger overall size due to a smaller bezzel around the screen (you can compare them at Walmart). the down side is that it uses a noticeably slower 1.33Ghz CPU (instead of 1.6Ghz) to offset the power drain of the larger screen $380-400.

Dell Mini 10″ – comes in a variety of options that include higher rez screen, GPS, TV tuner, and the faster or slower CPU. $300 and up.


  • Remember that Netbooks don’t include optical drives so if you want to install something from a CD you will need to get a separate USB DVD/CD drive for around $50. (With everything going online these days and flash drives to move files around many people find they don’t need the drive)
  • More powerful netbooks (Ion powered) in both the 10″ & 11″ sizes are due out in the fall and will probably run closer to $500.
  • Netbooks can be deceptively sized in pictures online.  Some of the smaller 7″ & 9″ screen versions look like a real computer in pictures but when you see it person it looks like it should “Ages 4 and Up” sticker on it.  I have also seen 10″ & 11″ versions set next to large 17″ laptops to make them seem extra portable.

Jailbreaking Your iPhone 3.0

Apple’s latest software for the iPhone (3.0) adds many nice and a few needed features to the iPhone.  Many of the sorely missing features addressed by Jailbreaking your phone are now in the core Apple source.  So is JB still worth it?  I say yes.  JB for 3.0 still offers:

  • Tethering (without additional monthly fees)
  • Categories (organize your apps into folders like games)
  • Free turn by turn GPS (still coming soon from Apple)
  • Cut & Paste w/ save feature (ie never type your email out again)
  • Video recording for non-S iPhones
  • Additional customization options (lots)

I Smash Phone has a nice guide for Jailbreaking but I would make one change that will save you some time:  Don’t download the Apple 3.0 firmware from his site. Instead, let iTunes do it’s thing and update your phone to 3.0.  Then when asked for the *.ipsw file find the Apple one on your computer.  See below for locations:

Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates

Vista or Windows 7: C:\Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates

redsn0w-browse.pngNote: replace [user] with your username on the computer.

For Mac users, the file will be here: ~/Library/iTunes/iPhone Software Updates/

If multiple *ipsw files are listed, make sure you grab the one with the most recent timestamp. How To Jailbreak iPhone OS 3.0 On Windows and Mac Using redsn0w