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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  • JarredWalton - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    I have a Timeline 1810 for review, so I actually have practical hands-on experience. Plus, when you consider the RAM upgrade on the 311, and a few other sundry extras, you quickly get a more realistic base price of $450 to $500.

    At that point, comparisons with anything from the 1410 (and the Gateway EC 1435u I mentioned) through the $650 Timeline/EC models are all valid. Unfortunately, I don't have the $400 laptops in for review. I can come up with a fairly reasonable idea of how they'll perform, however, and the Celeron SU2300 is by far the best option for a small netbook right now.
  • QChronoD - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    Do you guys run a default calibration on all of the displays before you test them or are those numbers OOTB?
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    Those numbers are using ColorEyes Display Pro to calibrate the LCDs. I have tried in the past to come up with an "out of box" result, and either the LCDs are all horrific (typically Delta E will average around 12 to 15), or I'm not doing the test properly. Without a way to be 100% sure what was going on, I decided to just stop doing those tests.

    Ultimately, I think most users will adapt to however a display looks, unless they're really serious about color quality. When we're looking at netbooks, I think the vast majority of users never really pay attention to the LCDs. Obviously, I do pay some attention, but unless a display is really good I'm not going to spend much time on that area. Right now, most of the laptop LCDs are junk.
  • hyc - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    Amen to that. I find it incredible that vendors are selling 15" displays with only 1366x768 resolution. (While these 11" netbooks have the same resolution.) When I buy a 50% larger screen, I expect 50% more workspace, not 50% larger pixels. WTF...
  • Lord 666 - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    I own two HP 311 Mini's (one custom built and other 1037NR from VZW)and one HP 1151NR from VZW and can say the keyboard and touchpad placement were compromised on the 311s from older versions. The smooth keys and angle due to 6 cell make it challenging to type on than the 1151's matte finish and flat bottom. Plus, the left/right mouse buttons on the bottom make it tough to click compared to 1151.

    However, compared to the older 1151 there are many advantages (screen size, larger stock battery and RAM, easy access to internals) and the reason why I picked up a second HP 311. The HP 1151 is being traded in tomorrow.
  • fokka - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    jarred, you act like an atom limits the performance/experience even in simple day to day applications. i have to admit, i had similar gripes before my gf got her asus 1005hah, but now i learned, that this standard atom-netbook is delivering quite well in everyday tasks.

    (of course) i had the pleasure to set this thing up installing software etc and i also did a lot of web-browsing and not even in this new youtube 1080p video-sample (fullscreen) i had slow-downs while bettery life was exceptional (8-10h) because i could use the super-power-save mode.

    boot and hibernate etc also were much faster than on our standard notebooks (dell vostro c2d).

    so while atom is extremely slow in raw numbers compared to other cpus, the everyday tasks of the average user dont suffer from this limitation.

    just want to make things clear ;) otherwise excellent review, thanks!
  • Mint - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    Not to mention that for more compute intensive operations (other than games and multimedia authoring) there's always VNC or remote desktop. Works well for a bunch of engineering and scientific software.

    Netbook+desktop is a very good alternative to a single power notebook, and often comes in cheaper and more portable to boot.
  • ssj4Gogeta - Monday, November 23, 2009 - link

    I bought this dv6-1154tx for INR 67,000 (approx. US $1400) when I joined uni this year. Should have got a $1000 desktop and a $400 netbook instead. Now I'm stuck with this notebook for another couple years or so at least.
  • Lonyo - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    I got an Asus 751h with the slower 1.33GHz processor, and apart from being sluggish on Youtube and some other unnecessarily intensive sites, for what I actually use it for, writing papers in the library, it's perfectly functional.
    Most of the time is spent checking websites for resources, looking at pdfs and using Word 07, and for all those tasks it's fine.

    Sure I can't encode stuff, but who would dream of doing that?
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    But have either of you tried something like a Timeline 1810? I have, and I can tell you that the experience is better than Atom -- quite a bit better in many instances. It's not just about raw, CPU intensive performance; the 1810 boots faster (marginally) and loads applications faster. Trying to open a dialog while a video is decoding as one example is horrible on Atom -- better to pause the video first.

    Basically, Atom *can* do what you need, but so can just about any other CPU currently out there.

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