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Test Hardware And Notes

Windows 7 Versus XP: Which Belongs On Your Netbook?

We wanted to use a current netbook as our test platform for this review and settled on Acer’s Aspire One D150. Although it is still built around Intel’s aging 945GME chipset, it does use a slightly faster version of the Atom processor, namely the N280 running at 1.66 GHz.

Beyond that, the Aspire One D150 is a pretty standard netbook. It features a 10” display, integrated Intel GMA 950 chipset graphics, 160 GB of hard drive space, 1 GB of RAM, LAN, WiFi, Bluetooth, and the usual complement of USB ports. It comes with Windows XP Home Edition SP3 pre-installed. During testing, any tools and utilities installed by Acer were disabled or uninstalled. After ensuring the drivers were up to date, we put the little Acer through its paces in a number of benchmarks.

System Properties a la 2001…System Properties a la 2001…

Next, we performed a clean install of the 32-bit version of Windows 7 RC1 from an external optical drive and repeated the benchmarkds. Since Microsoft provides a wide variety of drivers right on the installation disc and via Windows Update, we originally intended to perform testing using those versions. However, it turned out that some of these drivers were badly out of date and were holding back performance. Installing the most recent Vista drivers greatly improved the situation, which is why they were used for testing instead.

                …and 2009, compared …and 2009, compared

There is one drawback to this approach, though. With Windows 7, Microsoft has continued tweaking its Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) originally introduced with Windows Vista. Compatible drivers enable certain desktop effects and acceleration features, even providing the basis for GPGPU computing (assuming the GPU features such functionality). Windows 7 uses the most recent version of this driver model, WDDM 1.1. The latest graphics driver available on Intel’s support and drivers page during testing only supports WDDM 1.0.

From a performance standpoint, we therefore recommend installing platform and graphics drivers manually and not relying on the versions provided by Microsoft. As newer performance-optimized releases become available for Windows 7, you can always switch to that version. 

Windows 7 Performance Check
Aspire One D150
Display Size (Resolution)
10.2" glossy (1024 x 600), LED backlight
Hard Drive ( Capacity, Manufacturer, Model)

160 GB, Western Digital WDC1600BEVT-22ZCT0, 5,400 rpm

Battery Capacity
59 Wh / 5,800 mAh
CPU (Code Name)
Intel Atom N280 (Diamondville), 1.66 GHz (HT)
Intel 945GME
Memory (Number of Modules)
1024 MB DDR2-533 (1 x 1024 MB)
Intel GMA 950 integrated
Realtek ALC272X
Webcam (Resolution)
1.3 Mpixel
USB 2.0 (Number and Location)
3 (2 right, 1 left)
Display Connectors (VGA/DVI/HDMI/S-Video)
Atheros AR8121/AR8113/AR8114 10/100 PCI-E
Atheros AR5007EG 802.11 a/b/g
Card Reader (Formats)
SD, xD, MMC, MS, MS Pro
Bluetooth (Generation)
Operating System And Drivers
Operating System
Windows XP Home (SP3)
Windows 7 RC 1 (Build 7100)
Platform Driver
Graphics Driver
Windows XP: Package 14.32.4
Windows 7: Package
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