Atom 330 Dual Core Netbooks – Are They Worth It?

If you’re at all familiar with netbooks you might have heard that they come with dual core Atom processors now as an option. These computers are faster than their single core counterparts, but should you choose one above smaller, cheaper and more portable variations? This is entirely up to you, but the right decision can only be made if you know what to expect.

The raw performance is obviously better with an Atom 330 Dual core. Not because the cores are any more advanced than in a single core processor, but simply because there are two of them. In normal netbooks the N270 serves as the main processing unit, which is a 1.6GHz processor at 6 to 12 multiplier times 133MHz FSB. It’s rated at 0.9 to 1.1625V power which brings the construction to a rather efficient 2.5W TDP.

The core is not famous for it’s speed, users of netbooks fit with it report that they’re able to browse online content without problems, even with multiple tabs open, but they need to close everything to play a more demanding high resolution movie. HyperThreading technology is accountable for good multi-tasking performance, but the raw horse-power is just not enough to run some programs. The Atom 330 is exactly the same thing, only there are two of the same cores in a single package. Even the TDP is twice as much, Intel didn’t change a thing in the individual cores.

It brings the dual core netbook to two computing cores and four threads at the same time, one would expect it doubles the performance in applications that are able to handle two cores. The reality is far from it unfortunately, independent tests report that in synthetic benchmarks speed is somewhere between 20 to 60% more than that of an N270 instead of the expected 100% increase. It doesn’t make the processor a bad choice on its own, but makes the average user think if it’s bad news for the battery.

The TDP is 5W, so there has to be a bigger battery to bring the same portability as the little one core netbooks. With bigger battery the casing gets a tad bigger and with that there is going to be space for a 12″ screen, everything is proportionate, but one size bigger. A rather common dual core netbook, the 1201N from Asus shows that this is not enough to bring the usual 8-12 hours other models from the band are capable of.

If you think the performance of a 10″ single core netbook is not enough for you, or would like to play 1080p videos, I suggest you consider dual core variations as well, otherwise the smaller option comes with better performance to price ratio.