Of course, no review of a netbook platform is complete without a look at battery life, especially if we’re interested in the differences between OS versions. However, we shouldn’t forget that we’re still dealing with a release candidate of Windows 7, which means that both the operating system itself and its drivers are still very much works in progress. As previously mentioned, we decided to run our tests using the latest Intel drivers for Windows Vista. It is possible and even likely that native Windows 7 drivers will allow for longer battery life. We certainly hope so, since Windows 7 looks decidedly bad in this discipline. Idle runtime, simulated with Battery Eater’s Reader test, is shortened by 2.5 hours by moving to the newer OS. That’s unacceptable for a mobile platform.
We begin our benchmark analysis with Cinebench. Its CPU test determines the processing power of the CPU and puts as many cores to work in the x-Core run as are available. In the case of Intel’s Atom processor, that means that it uses the two threads provided by Hyper-Threading. Scores are nearly identical across the two OS versions.
As the name implies, the OpenGL test focuses on graphics performance. This is where we initially stumbled across the lackluster performance resulting from Microsoft’s drivers, which lagged behind with a two-digit score. Switching to Intel’s latest Vista driver boosted performance almost tenfold, but Win 7 still couldn’t catch up with XP.
PCMark 2005 clearly favors Windows XP. The more modern operating system is unable to best its eight year old predecessor in even a single subtest, although results are sometimes quite close. Graphics and hard drive performance show the largest performance deltas. Again, all we can say is that more optimized drivers should improve performance to some extent, providing Intel invests the time and actually releases them.