HP Mini 311 — Specifications

We begin as usual with a look at the specifications and design of the HP Mini 311. Most of the features found on current netbooks are standardized, but the Mini 311 does bring a few extras to the table. There are also different Mini 311 models, ranging from 1GB of RAM to 3GB RAM, Windows XP or Win7, and HDD size as well as an SSD option. Here's the rundown.

HP Mini 311 Specifications
Processor Intel Atom N270
(1.60GHz, 512KB L2, 45nm, 667FSB)
Intel Atom N280
(1.66GHz, 512KB L2, 45nm, 667FSB)
Memory 1x1024MB DDR3-1066 onboard
1 x SO-DIMM slot supporting up to 2GB RAM
(Max 3GB total)
Graphics Integrated NVIDIA ION LE
(~GeForce 9400M without DX10)
Display 11.6" Glossy LED-Backlit 16:9 WXGA (1366x768)
Hard Drive 2.5" 160GB 5400RPM 8MB
2.5" 250GB 5400RPM 8MB
2.5" 320GB 5400RPM 8MB
2.5" 80GB SSD (Intel)
Networking Wireless 802.11g or
Wireless 802.11n
Bluetooth (Optional)
Audio Realtek 2-Channel HD Audio
(2.0 Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks)
Battery 6-Cell 10.8V, 4910 mAhr, 53.028 Whr
Front Side None
Left Side HDMI
1 x USB 2.0
Heat exhaust
AC Power connection
Kensington Lock
Right Side SD/MMC/MS Pro/xD reader
Microphone/Headphone combo jack
2 x USB 2.0
Back Side None
Operating System Windows XP Home SP3
Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Dimensions 11.4" x 8.03" x 0.78-1.20" (WxDxH)
Weight 3.22 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras Webcam
Optional External USB DVD or Blu-ray drive
Warranty 1-year standard HP warranty
Price Base configuration starting at $399
Test system priced at $635

The mini 311 uses an 11.6" chassis and LCD, similar to the Acer 751h. There are some nice upgrades to your typical netbook, however, like an HDMI output. We've seen HDMI on other netbooks in the past (like the ASUS N10Jc for example); is it a coincidence that both netbooks had graphics from NVIDIA? Nope. Without a faster GPU to help with video decoding tasks, 1080p video output would be difficult at best.

The N10JC is actually an interesting point of reference; it uses the same N270 CPU and it was available for $650 about a year ago. The HP Mini 311 should offer similar performance without the need to switch between discrete and integrated graphics (with a required reboot in between). Pricing has also dropped relative to the N10JC; the base model Mini 311 costs $400, and you also get a 1366x768 LCD and an 11.6" chassis. LCD quality (contrast ratio) is unfortunately not as good as the N10JC, but battery life is similar. If you liked the idea of the ASUS N10JC last year but didn't want to spend $650, $400 today will get you a similar configuration. We mention this because we liked the N10JC so much that it garnered our Gold Editors' Choice award; can the HP Mini 311 do the same?

Going along with the HDMI port and video decode acceleration, HP offers an external USB Blu-ray/DVDR combo drive. The drive is actually quite nice and matches the shiny exterior of the Mini 311 (which means it attracts fingerprints as well as anything). It draws power over the USB cable, so you don't need an external adapter, and what's more it only costs an extra $130. Certainly that isn't cheap, but getting an internal Blu-ray combo drive on most laptops will cost that much if not more.

The remaining features on the Mini 311 are pretty standard: three USB ports, VGA output, and a flash reader. HP also uses a combination headphone/microphone jack, which means you can't connect both at the same time. The base model includes 802.11g networking (802.11n is an upgrade, as is Bluetooth support), and while the NVIDIA ION chipset includes gigabit Ethernet support, HP goes with a 100 Mb PHY. (Boo! Am I the only one that likes gigabit Ethernet even with netbooks?) The battery is a 6-cell 53Wh unit, which should provide decent battery life. HP claims up to six hours, and we were able to match that claim albeit only in the idle battery life test.

NVIDIA was kind enough to provide the Blu-ray drive along with the Mini 311, so we can take a look at performance and battery life with Blu-ray playback later. NVIDIA also provided a few upgrades relative to the base model. Our test system also came with Windows 7 Home Premium and 2GB RAM (1GB onboard and a 1GB SO-DIMM). The minimum cost for the Mini 311 is $400, but our test system comes priced at $630. Along with the extras just mentioned, we got the N270 CPU, 2GB DDR3, 160GB HDD. That price is basically the same as the ASUS N10JC, but the lion's share of the added cost of course goes to the external Blu-ray drive.

Index HP Mini 311 — Design
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  • hybrid2d4x4 - Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - link

    Excellent review! Looks like you hit all the important points and I like how the game selection is more relevant to this class of notebook. IMO, this raises the bar for comprehensive notebook reviews. Kudos!
  • OhHenry - Monday, November 23, 2009 - link

    How come they don't give smaller SSD like 32GB or 40GB as an option. I honestly don't need 160GB for a netbook; I do not know what to even put on it. They offered a 80GB but it was quite expensive. On a second note, wouldn't a SSD increase the battery life as well?
  • chrnochime - Monday, November 23, 2009 - link

    Are you sure the samsung nc510 has the DX10 ION? Read elsewhere that the NC510 also has the ION LE, something about keeping the cost down.
  • piroroadkill - Monday, November 23, 2009 - link

    You end up paying more for Ion, getting worse battery life, and still have completely useless gaming performance.

    Seems like a lose-lose to me. I guess it's useful for video acceleration, but that seems like a pretty fringe case for a netbook
  • araczynski - Monday, November 23, 2009 - link

    looks like exactly the kind of junk HP likes to push at a price point that would leave anyone with half a brain scratching their head, wouldn't have expected anything more from them.
  • Jaggins - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    I would like to see if an older game like Eve online or WOW would run on these ION netbooks.
  • Lunyone - Monday, November 23, 2009 - link

    I think they would be fine, just only when you get into RAID situations (or where there are alot of people and things going on). I think normal solo/small group playing should be fine. I haven't experienced it myself, but I used to game on WoW with a P3 800 mHz w/onboard graphics (Intel Extreme II, I think). Now mind you this was before the first expansion and the laptop wasn't all that special either, but the Atom would be about equivalent to a p3 at 1.6 gHz (if my reading is right).
  • therealnickdanger - Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - link

    Great article, I was contemplating buying this, but now I'm not so sure. My ONLY gaming requirement is Halo PC (multiplayer). It's an old game, but has some quirks when it comes to its demands on CPU performance. So I really need to know what the 311 can do with this game. I'll mail you a copy if you'd like.

    The game also has a timedemo mode. Just add


    to the command line. It takes about a minute to rum.
  • Devo2007 - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    A few days ago when ASUS announced their new dual-core Atom-based netbook, I ended up thinking that a CULV-based laptop would be a better idea (especially since that netbook has a 12" display, and only a 5 hour battery life).

    Good to see I'm not alone in this line of thinking. :)
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    Exactly. This isn't really for you, but for anyone else reading that's still wondering I've got numbers. The review is still pending, but just as an example:

    Acer Timeline AS1810T-8679:
    "63Wh" battery (11.1V, 5.27Ah/5600mAh)
    Core 2 Duo SU7300 (1.30GHz)
    4GB DDR2 RAM
    320GB HDD
    Cost: http://www.onsale.com/p/5887001?dpno=7958665">$600

    Battery Life
    Idle: 592 minutes
    Internet: 461 minutes
    x264 720p: 259 minutes
    Internet Minutes/Wh: 7.42
    TMPGEnc MPEG4 CPU Encode: 18.04 FPS

    Compare that with the Mini 311:
    Battery Life
    Idle: 362 minutes
    Internet: 290 minutes
    x264 720p: 225 minutes
    Internet Minutes/Wh: 5.47
    TMPGEnc MPEG4 CUDA Encode: 18.04 FPS
    TMPGEnc MPEG4 CPU Encode: 7.27 FPS

    So here's my point (spoiling my own upcoming article). For $600 you can get a Timeline 1810 that's about 2.5 times as fast in the CPU department, it has twice the RAM, it comes with Win7 64-bit, and battery life is anywhere from 15% to 65% better. Oh yeah, and while the CPU is "10W TDP", you'll note that the HP Mini 311 and the Timeline 1810 both have roughly the same size battery (the Timeline's is about 12% more capacity). For Internet use, the result is 35% better relative battery life.

    Sure, the 1810 I just listed costs $600 and the HP Mini 311 I'm comparing it with goes for about $480. (Unless you really want to save the ~$100 and get XP with only 1GB?) If you get the http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">Acer AS1410 (or Gateway EC1435u), you're closer to $400 and you still get 2GB RAM and Win7 (64-bit no less, though with only 2GB that's not a huge deal). A 1.2GHz SU2300 is still going to be at least 75% faster in CPU tasks than Atom N280.

    You can try to make an argument for GPU performance over CPU performance on other laptops, but with Atom the CPU deficit is just so huge that outside of video decoding (something you get with GMA 4500MHD as well) and perhaps CUDA apps, it just doesn't matter much.

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