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Toshiba NB510 review

Verdict

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

Review Date: 28 May 2012

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £200 (£240 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
2 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

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.

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User comments

So...

Buy a netbook or

Buy a tablet, then a cover, then another cover to hold the small external keyboard and tablet? (And if you have an ipad probably a cable thingy for usb)

At times technology baffles me or, should I say, the people that buy it baffle me.

P.s. I love the tablet format and have owned a whole load of them but I still don't really see a valid reason to have one.

By rhythm on 28 May 2012

Any better than an AMD C-60 ?

"perfect for watching movies on a commute or long-haul flight"

As you appear to have only tested streaming services even if you are in first class I think you would struggle to get a good enough conection :o)

I have an Acer 522 with AMD C-60 and 2gb RAM

It plays iPlayer SD fine when steaming but when using the DESKTOP player it does drop frames quite frequently on panning shots or scrolling credits

I think the DESKTOP player needs more CPU oomph to handle the DRM stuff

I would be interested to know if an N2800 based netbook plays iPlayer DESKTOP files any more smoothly

By MiniEggs on 28 May 2012

@MiniEggs

The review does answer your question although the phrasing is somewhat cryptic. It plays all of their 1080p test files.

By tirons1 on 28 May 2012

So ..

Compared to the A-Listed ultrabook, this is 1" narrower, less than 1/2" smaller back to front and TWICE the thickness. And just 100gms lighter.

Certainly a good buy for cost saving but really gains you very little in the compact stakes.

By qpw3141 on 29 May 2012

@qpw3141

Bit of a difference in price between netbooks and ultrabooks though...

By valeofyork on 30 May 2012

@valeofyork

Indeed.

That is exactly why I said: "Certainly a good buy for cost saving"

If it does all you want from a portable, then it's probably an excellent choice, but if you wanted something that was less of a hassle to carry around than your usual ultrabook, it's a bit pointless.

I'd still like to see a very small, very thin, very light, 8" netbook.

By qpw3141 on 30 May 2012

Toshibas are always good, for its accessories you can see at http://www.buy-laptopbattery.com/toshiba-battery.h
tm

By AdelaAlan on 31 May 2012

Love it

I have an NB200 from a couple of years ago, and I still love it.

I'd much rather have this than a Chromebook!

By roblightbody on 31 May 2012

Where can I buy one for £240

Any help greatly accepted... Have googled but cheapest I can find 2GB model is £279...

By NIGEJ on 10 Jul 2012

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