Toshiba NB510 review

28 May 2012

Intel’s new Atom finally adds smooth HD video playback to what was already a solid all-round netbook

Price when reviewed: 
240(£240 inc VAT)
5

The netbook fad may have died down, but Toshiba is one of several manufacturers keen to prove there’s life in the form-factor yet. Its little NB510 looks strikingly similar to last year’s model from the outside, but it’s the first to sport Intel’s Cedar Trail update to the Atom platform.

Cedar Trail isn’t a huge update, but it does bring some improvements. It brings a die-shrink to a 32nm fabrication process, a change that promises lower power consumption and less heat output. It now has support for faster DDR3-800 and DDR3-1066 RAM (the previous models topped out at DDR3-667), and although the CPU architecture remains relatively unchanged from the previous Pineview platform, the integrated GPU gets a big boost.

Cedar Trail waves goodbye to the old GMA 3150 and ushers in the all-new GMA 3600 and 3650 cores – tweaked versions of PowerVR’s SGX 545 chipset. Where their predecessor struggled even with standard-definition video streaming, the new generation introduces Full HD hardware decoding. It’s a change that means you can expect to see HDMI ports appearing as standard on Cedar Trail netbooks.

Toshiba NB510

The Toshiba NB510 uses the slower of the two Cedar Trail processors, the 1.6GHz Atom N2600, and after just a few minutes it’s clear CPU performance is as modest as ever. Put to the test with our Real World Benchmarks, the new Atom delivered an overall score of 0.21 – exactly on a par with the previous generation.

But the GMA 3600 GPU is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Testing Crysis on a netbook is faintly ludicrous, but where it wouldn’t even run on last year’s models, the Toshiba NB510 limped through our 1,366 x 768 Low detail test with an average of 6fps. It’s not enough to turn the Atom into a gamer, but the extra power may just about be enough for basic titles.

It’s video playback that sees the biggest improvement, however. All of our local Full HD test clips played smoothly, and although YouTube HD content was choppy at 1080p, dropping the resolution to 720p delivered a much smoother frame rate. Equally, HD content from BBC’s iPlayer didn’t fare too well in our initial tests, but a Flash update buoyed the frame rate to a watchable standard. Video playback still isn’t perfect – there’s the odd dropped frame here and there and the scaling leaves HD images looking a bit rough around the edges – but it’s a huge step up from the last generation.

Details

Price ex VAT £200
Price inc VAT £240
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 6
Performance 2

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 262 x 187 x 35mm (WDH)
Weight 1.180kg
Travelling weight 1.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Atom N2600
Motherboard chipset Intel NM10
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 1

Screen and video

Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 600
Resolution 1024 x 600
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 3600
Graphics card RAM N/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive none
Battery capacity 4,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 8hr 46min
Battery life, heavy use 5hr 45min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 6fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.21
Responsiveness score 0.39
Media score 0.15
Multitasking score 0.09

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Starter 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition