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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  • yyrkoon - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    I would have to agree.

    I picked up a Toshiba Satellite L305-S5921 for $399 free shipping. It only had 2 GB of RAM, and came with Vista home premium, so of course I purchased a 4GB kit at the same time ( both from the egg ).

    I have not personally owned a netbook, but a friend of mine bought one for his wife, and I have to say it was dog slow. Boot times ranged around one minute, and the initial XP Home bootup was more like 3 minutes. I literally booted it up, walked away, did a few things, came back and it was still booting . . . Price at the time was slightly less than the notebook I purchased.

    I have since retrograded to XP pro because the system was not directx 10 capable anyhow, and for me this would be the only reason to use Vista. Anyways, I do play games, and it will play games like GTA San Andreas maxed settings ( except 16 bit color ), at the native resolution, with no AA. It hardly ever stutters, usually only when I have background tasks running. What it will not do however, is play the most recent game titles well. I am fairly certain it would handle WoW just fine ( although I do not play it personally ).

    As for non gaming tasks, it is hard to know you're using a laptop ( performance wise of course ). That is every day productive applications like Office 2007, or web browsing etc. It also has no problems playing movies, even HD content from YouTube. Used as a development machine, or the like, of course it would do things like compile applications slower. This is to be expected. Encoding movies would likely suffer as well.

    Anyways, my point is; I can not see spending the same, or more money on a netbook , when you can purchase a laptop that will run circles around it. That is; Unless you think you're cool because you have an uber small PC. Or perhaps you have a legitimate reason such as being away from an electrical outlet for long periods of time. Or the power available to you is very minimal ( read: limited solar/wind power, or like the poster above who spends lots of time in the library researching and writing papers ).
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    Sorry, I meant if this system were used to encode video, or compile application that it would be slower than most current desktops . . .
  • fokka - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    no, i havent tried a timeline and -of course- the experience is better than the atom. the experience on my 2ghz c2d 2gb ddr2 5400rpm hdd dell should be even faster, at least in cpu-intensive apps, but the main advantage of the atom aint processing power, its a tdp of 2,5w and the low price, while delivering _enough_ power for most browsing, office and media-scenarios.

    i have nothing against ion, culv or c2d, im just saying atom is good enough, at least for a secondairy computer.

    what we also have to consider is, that we, writing and reading a tech-site, are power users, we can overstress even the fastest desktops. average joe would a little bit less demanding, i think.

    thanks for the answer, anyway ;)
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    The thing is, CULV are 10W TDP and will typically use less than that, so if you can get that for the same price why not? Atom needs to be cheaper, like around the $300 mark, and in many cases it is. The HP Mini 311 isn't one of those designs, unfortunately. Also, even with Atom I'd like 2GB RAM, and the 2GB netbooks are all pushing into CULV pricing territory.
  • fokka - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    so 10w are 4 times 2,5w and since both these numbers mean the tdp, i think atom lies beneath 2,5w most of the time.

    also, i spoke about atom in general, not in an ion netbook for 400$+, maybe i would get culv for that price, too.

    i think we can settle this one down and resume that atom just aint powerful enough for _you_ ;) for me, my gf and millions of others it is.

    in the end its about what you wanna do whith your machine and what you wanna pay for it.

    and the 2gb you want to see in netbooks can easily be upgraded in most models

    peace, it was a pleasure discussing with you :)
  • voltronn - Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - link

    I recently got a little samsung NC10, and strangely, its taken over from my main powerhouse PC. Its just so handy, I can read the morning news while I eat breakfast at the table like a civilised human being. When I come home in the evening I just carry it down and plug it into a 22 inch monitor and watch tv/films. I press the ON button and within 7 or 8 seconds I can browse. Also, the battery life is key, because I don't have to keep the damn thing plugged in all the time.

    Of course its fiddly and a little slow, but its just so handy, and it isn't some giant hulk or eyesore that takes up half my room.

    If they can make them a little more powerful without upping the weight or loosing battery power then these little netbooks will be indespensible.
  • gaidin123 - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    I read this article on an Acer 1810T. It's a great notebook and the $400 1410 with the su2300 is an even better value. If you are in the market for a net/notebook you owe it to yourself to compare this line with whatever else you're looking at.

    One great surprise was that the thing supports simultaneous extended desktop on both the hdmi and vga ports (disabling the notebook screen) for multimonitor setups. The 1810T at least does 1080p x264 content using dxva in mpc-hc just fine.
  • ET - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    The comparison to the 1810 Timeline is a good one, and I'd love to see a review comparing performance of that notebook. Looks like we're at a point where netbooks have grown big enough and notebooks have grown small light and inexpensive enough that the distinction is blurring. Which I think is how things should be. Making a point to benchmark netbooks/notebooks of similar dimensions together might help sort out this market.
  • ET - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    Hopefully you'll have an ASUS Eee PC 1201N for review. The dual core Atom might make a difference when it comes to gaming.

    For games, I think that it'd be nice of you could try out WoW. Playing MMO's is an obvious "net" activity. When I was playing City of Heroes, I used to want to play it while on the road, on my Fujitsu P1510D. Horrible experience, I can tell you, although it at least worked.
  • StevoLincolnite - Sunday, November 22, 2009 - link

    Might I add that it is possible to enable Direct X 10 on the ION LE? Just by forcing the drivers to think it's a regular ION will make that happen, it also comes with a small performance boost.

    Might be worth checking out.

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