Cheap netbooks: experience and choice

Jule 4, 2019

A budget netbook means a device with a price of up to 15,000 rubles (~$245) and a screen diagonal of 10"-13.3"

Various models of Irbis, Prestigio, Dexp and Digma are mainly presented in this price segment on the Russian market.

They can be divided into 2 types:

- tablets with plug-in keyboard

- netbooks

Device memory

Memory is represented by a 32 GB eMMC module soldered on the motherboard and in a rare case - 64 GB.

Speed may vary depending on the model from very poor to more or less acceptable. It is a positive thing, the memory of the eMMC higher speed random access to data compared to a HDD, although, in general, eMMC has lower performance then SSD.

Preinstalled Windows 10 (including the paging file) and a set of installed applications will take about 20+ GB, thus leaving very little space for storing files and installing additional software in the process.

But it is much worse that the small free space of the eMMC or NAND drive leads to a much faster memory failure due to the already small overwrite resource of this type of memory, and the less free memory and the more data is written, the faster the drive will fail.

It is worth noting that the rewrite resource (number of cycles) of memory cells can vary significantly depending on the memory production technology and the controller used.

In the process of the work, different applications can write temporary or nontemporary data on the drive, while at the present time everywhere there is the problem of indifference of the developers to the quality and principles of functioning programs. For example, the program can constantly write various data to the disk, which in the future will be overwritten by new ones and will not be useful at all. Moreover, in many cases it is not possible to correct this behavior of programs.

Examples - browsers (usually can be customized, depending on the browser, it may not be easy), Youtube (Android).

At best, the laptop may have an M2 slot to install the SSD drive, but you will have to buy it for your money.

Cooling system

The cooling system in devices of this class is represented by metal plates at best and nothing! - in the worst case. Even thermal paste can not be. As a result , the processor may overheat, especially when the integrated graphics core is actively used with it. The cooler is usually not necessary, holes for air circulation is not provided.

The processor is able to function with high temperature for a long time, however the high temperature of the processor is often accompanied by the high temperature of the north bridge on the motherboard, and this can lead to a faster failure of the device. Also, when the motherboard is close to the processor and the battery, the temperature of the battery may increase, which will accelerate its wear.

When checking the device when buying, you should pay attention to the processor temperature in idle mode, as well as to the maximum allowable temperature for this processor, after which the processor load should be sampled using the benchmark/heavy video in the browser/...

As an example, consider the Intel x5-Z8300:

Base frequency 1440
Turbo frequency 1840
Cores/Threads 4/4
Maximum temperature 90°C
Graphics Intel HD Graphics (Cherry Trail) (200 - 500 MHz)

If in idle state the temperature is about 50-60 degrees, then in the load it can reach 80, which will lead to frequency reset, and in the case of active use of integrated graphics - more than 80 degrees.

Why is it possible to reset frequencies more aggressively with the active use of the integrated video core?

The processor and video core executive blocks are limited to the total TDP value set by the manufacturer, and their total TDP during operation at maximum frequencies can significantly exceed this figure, so in order to keep within the set TDP, the processor and video core frequencies will be reset (in the case of the processor, this can be a reset from boost

You should check the behavior of the netbook processor (temperature and frequency) in those tasks for which you plan to purchase it.

Irbis NB23: operating experience

I have been using this model for About one year. ( mid-2016 to mid - 2017).

Operating tips

First you need to decide - is it worth using Windows 10? If you do not use specific applications for the Windows operating system, the best solution is to install a lightweight Linux distribution, such as Linux Mint - this will significantly reduce the amount of device memory and RAM. However, first you need to find out in the reviews/technical support of the manufacturer, how it can be done. In some cases, this may not be an obvious process.

System optimization - disabling unnecessary functionality, setting different parameters - specific for each system. Optimizing Windows 10

The Main tasks of optimization is to reduce the amount of data written to the drive in the course of daily work, as well as reducing the amount of occupied RAM. Additionally, you can disable the collection of telemetry/other diagnostic data collected by the OS/programs.

The drive must not be filled end-to-end.

If it is possible to take a device with 4 GB of RAM instead of 2, a little extra, definitely worth it, because you can not add a bar of RAM in such devices usually.

Programs that can be used portable or rarely used programs can be put on a flash drive.

If possible, it is better to wait for a discount on a more expensive device, for example, with a Celeron N4000 / N4200 processor - it will provide better performance as well as much better integrated graphics performance.

you Need to know if you can connect M2 SSD.

In conclusion, it should be said that buying a device of this class, you need to clearly understand for what tasks you plan to use it, and carefully compare all the options available on the market.