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Thread: Recommendations for a netbook with 3D accelerator?

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  1. #1
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    Question Recommendations for a netbook with 3D accelerator?

    I'm looking for a netbook with real 3D. AMD drivers being what they are-- I intend to use Linux --and "Intel" (PowerVR) hardware being what it is, I think my options may be limited to ION, ION, and possibly ION 2 if that's available before the sun goes cold.

    (If there's such a thing as a netbook with a low-draw NVIDIA GPU but Intel or even AMD chipset, that would be fine.)

    I'm completely ignoring:


    And, that said, it would be really awesome if I could get a CPU in amd64, multicore optional. I have one machine left running WinXP-- everything else is running some kind of amd64 OS. I plan to keep it that way.

    I'd love things like reliability, good support, nice keyboard, big batteries, and so forth, but I think I've already severely limited my options.

    For that reason, I'd also ask if there's anything nice available in "SFF" notebook. I just need something with amd64, real 3D, decent drivers, and good-to-astounding runtime in a relatively small case. I wouldn't mind at all having an integral ODD and being able to use a 2.5in SSD...

  2. #2
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    ASUS 1015T or similar with AMD V105 CPU and Radeon 4200 GPU.

    Note: I'm not sure if it is even available yet.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmenessec View Post
    I'm looking for a netbook with real 3D. AMD drivers being what they are-- I intend to use Linux --and "Intel" (PowerVR) hardware being what it is, I think my options may be limited to ION, ION, and possibly ION 2 if that's available before the sun goes cold.

    (If there's such a thing as a netbook with a low-draw NVIDIA GPU but Intel or even AMD chipset, that would be fine.)

    I'm completely ignoring:


    And, that said, it would be really awesome if I could get a CPU in amd64, multicore optional. I have one machine left running WinXP-- everything else is running some kind of amd64 OS. I plan to keep it that way.

    I'd love things like reliability, good support, nice keyboard, big batteries, and so forth, but I think I've already severely limited my options.

    For that reason, I'd also ask if there's anything nice available in "SFF" notebook. I just need something with amd64, real 3D, decent drivers, and good-to-astounding runtime in a relatively small case. I wouldn't mind at all having an integral ODD and being able to use a 2.5in SSD...
    Just about any laptop with either a K125 or K325 CPU and the Radeon HD 4225 would suit your needs. They come in 10" or 11" for the most part and are pretty inexpensive (with the more basic models starting at $330.)

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    The "ThinkPad lock-in" which you complain about is actually rather common and not restricted to Lenovo. If you really want replaceable mini-PCIe then you will have to shop around a lot.

    NVidia ION you will find in HP Mini 311c, some Lenovo IdeaPad S12 (eg. M19KT model), Samsung N510 and ASUS Eee 1201N.
    Last edited by chithanh; 07-28-2010 at 11:08 AM. Reason: fix typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by chithanh View Post
    The "ThinkPad lock-in" which you complain about is actually rather common and not restricted to Lenovo. If you really want replaceable mini-PCIe then you will have to shop around a lot.

    NVidia ION you will find in HP Mini 311c, some Lenovo IdeaPad S12 (eg. M19KT model), Samsung N510 and ASUS Eee 1201N.
    Lovely. Well, that was sort of the tip of the iceberg. They've refused repair under warranty, tried to wiggle out of having to live up to onsite repair, and sold me an "UltraNav keyboard" in the US, off the US sub-site, that turned out to be a "Japan-only" model when I tried to get it repaired under (3-year) warranty, then claimed I'd have to provide proof of purchase (On a year-old SKU?) before they could do anything (Why?).

    And every ThinkPad T-series I've been forced to buy or use in the last two years or so has shipped with a terrible Hitachi ODD (various models) that roars, rattles, and shakes the entire notebook past about 16x CD speed-- reading or writing. And they refuse to do anything but sub an identical FRU with the exact same problems.

    I just don't trust them at all any more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LinuxID10T View Post
    Just about any laptop with either a K125 or K325 CPU and the Radeon HD 4225 would suit your needs. They come in 10" or 11" for the most part and are pretty inexpensive (with the more basic models starting at $330.)
    That would leave me with no working GPU driver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rmenessec View Post
    That would leave me with no working GPU driver.
    How exactly do you figure? BOTH the blob as well as the open source radeon drivers support the 4200 series.

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    Quote Originally Posted by droidhacker View Post
    How exactly do you figure? BOTH the blob as well as the open source radeon drivers support the 4200 series.
    I mentioned ION / ION2 for a reason. I have a GTX card in my workstation now, and it works well. Amazingly well, compared to the AMD junk I'm ripping out. It even has basic reclocking support, and it's only a desktop part. (Although I do expect this by now.) After five years of buying nothing but AMD/ATi GPUs in the interests of supporting companies who support open source:
    • R3x0-R5x0 performance with OSS drivers is pretty miserable compared to the last (ancient) blob, which is now unusable with vaguely modern X.Org
    • R3x0-R5x0 power saving does not exist in a readily usable state, nor video decode in any state (that I'm aware of)
    • The OSS driver does not support post-R5x0 GPUs. I have no use for a 2D-only-accelerator that doesn't even really accelerate 2D. I don't really care that the not-in-kernel, not-in-XOrg-release-branch R6x0 code "just got texture support".
    • The blob is completely unsupportable. Horrible 2D performance, no coherence with kernel or X.Org releases, no video decode. I'm aware libxvba exists. I'm discounting it until it does something.

    Of course, a (small) part of my problem is that I've mostly bought Sapphire, which started as the poster child for good AMD reference boards, and is now apparently a poster child for crap product of any kind. My mislabled X800GTO (label: PRO) causes no-boot beep codes in any motherboard I plug it into now. Actually, make that two X800GTOs and three X1550s. And my two working X1550s are made by HIS-- who set the video-outs to PAL on boards destined for North America. Colour me unimpressed.

    Now that the last, best-supported AMD GPU (X1950PRO) is completely unavailable and oudated by three generations, AMD on Linux is dead. I'm finished with them.

    (Oh, and the Windows Cat drivers are terrible, too. But at least they mostly work.)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmenessec View Post
    [*]R3x0-R5x0 performance with OSS drivers is pretty miserable compared to the last (ancient) blob, which is now unusable with vaguely modern X.Org
    The "last ancient blob" had years of performance optimization work on top of a major rewrite of the OpenGL stack, so it sets a higher performance bar than you might think. 2D performance on the OSS drivers is probably still as good as or better than the 9.3 fglrx driver, however the 3D focus right now has been on features & architectural improvements, not performance tuning. I think you'll see performance work start to ramp up over the next year. Are you running the Gallium3D driver or classic mesa HW driver right now ?

    Quote Originally Posted by rmenessec View Post
    [*]R3x0-R5x0 power saving does not exist in a readily usable state, nor video decode in any state (that I'm aware of)
    Power management was just implemented, so you either need to pull very recent kernel code or wait until your favorite distro picks it up. There is no useful video decode hardware in 3xx-5xx GPUs (the old IDCT block is MPEG-2 only and we stopped using it in the proprietary drivers because decoding on the CPU was faster and more efficient) so not sure what you are looking for in terms of driver support.

    Quote Originally Posted by rmenessec View Post
    [*]The OSS driver does not support post-R5x0 GPUs. I have no use for a 2D-only-accelerator that doesn't even really accelerate 2D. I don't really care that the not-in-kernel, not-in-XOrg-release-branch R6x0 code "just got texture support".
    Huh ? The articles are about the new Gallium3D driver that Jerome is working on, not the "classic" Mesa 3D driver which has been available on 6xx/7xx for over a year.

    Quote Originally Posted by rmenessec View Post
    [*]The blob is completely unsupportable. Horrible 2D performance, no coherence with kernel or X.Org releases, no video decode. I'm aware libxvba exists. I'm discounting it until it does something.
    Are you sure about "horrible 2D performance" ? It was always OK until distros stopped shipping the Fedora "no backfill" patch, and one of our devs provided a "backclear" patch which provided the same performance without the side effects that "no backfill" caused on Intel hardware. The new 2D acceleration (turned on for the first time in 10.6 IIRC) gives you good 2D performance without requiring the backclear patch, although there are still some app compatibility issues being worked through.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmenessec View Post
    I'm looking for a netbook with real 3D. AMD drivers being what they are-- I intend to use Linux --and "Intel" (PowerVR) hardware being what it is, I think my options may be limited to ION, ION, and possibly ION 2 if that's available before the sun goes cold.
    There are some interesting notebooks ahead for back-to-school (with 11.6" display). They are based on Core i3 ULV processors. The Ironlake IGP performance is on par with ION or ION2 systems on Linux. You just won't get CUDA or GPGPU-like toolkit though, if that matters to you.

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