Friday, August 7, 2009

FFXI and Netbooks

Hi guys, today's post will be a bit different than my usual ones.



Earlier this week I finally decided to order a Netbook for my university work. I already have a Dell XPS M1530 15-inch notebook that I love to death, but it just isn't the type of notebook you wanna take with you to university every day since it's heavy (although it's pretty light-weight in its 15-inch class) and the battery power just doesn't last long enough (2.5hours max). It's a brilliant laptop for multimedia and gaming, but not good for portable stuff.

So two friends of mine have that ultra-sexy new seashell Asus EeePC 1008HA netbook and I seriously considered getting one. I just didn't like that the battery is not removable on that model. Then a few weeks ago the Asus 1005HA was released. Same seashell design, a bit thicker but still very light-weight and a removable battery with up to 10.5hours of battery life! Of course my decision was made. So off I go to amazon and see that in Europe you actually have 2 configurations. The Asus 1005HA-M and the 1005HA-H.

Asus 1005HA-M: matte display, 8.5hours max battery life, Intel Atom N270 (1.6Ghz),Intel GMA 950, 1Gig Ram, 160GB HDD, no Bluetooth, 0.3MP Webcam. 299 Euros on Amazon Germany.

1005HA-H

Asus 1005HA-H: glossy display, 10.5hours max battery life, Intel Atom N280 (1.66Ghz), 1Gig Ram, Intel GMA 950, 160GB HDD, Bluetooth, 1.3MP Webcam. 349 Euros on Amazon Germany. (also includes a handy slipcover which the -M model does not.)

1005HA-M

Both netbooks are available in black and white in Europe and in the States there is also a navy blue and pink model. As far as I know these netbooks don't have the -H and -M tags to distinguish them, they have -P and -V tags with -P being the premium model if I remember correctly.

I decided to buy the more expensive model for a few reason. For 50 Euros more you get a newer processor, better battery life, better webcam (don't really use it though), glossy display (The one topic no one can ever have one opinion on) and a free slipcover. I know why some people despise glossy displays but I prefer them, colours look way more vibrant and I enjoy that way more than on a matte display). I chose to go with the white model since it really looks brilliant. A friend of mine has the 1008HA in black and its as much of a fingerprint-magnet as my PSP. No thanks. :P

So my netbook arrived 2 days after I ordered it, thanks amazon <3. I installed the basics first, Firefox with security plugins, Antivir, Ad-Aware, Winamp and a few more other things. It will take me a few more days until I have everything on there I want, still need to install office and photoshop as well.

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One thing I knew from the getgo is that 1Gig of ram would not be enough. In contrast to the Asus 1008HA the 1005HA has a little door that lets you easily get at the ram. So I ordered a 2Gig Ram module on amazon along with my netbook, was only around 20 Euros. Installing it was a piece of cake, I quickly watched a video on youtube to know what to do lol. Pull out a screw, open up the flap, click out the old Ram, click in the new one, close it up. Restart the PC and go into the BIOS and exit again. All done.

The extra Ram is very noticeable and I am glad I upgraded.

So while this is actually my work PC for assignments and surfing while in town...but I couldn't help but wonder about the possibility of FFXI on a netbook.

I know that the very first butt-ugly 7- and 8-inch EeePCs couldn't run anything, they didn't even have proper hardrives and only 512MB ram. But the newer netbooks are getting better and better, heck this netbook has higher specs than my ooold desktop PC on which I always play FFXI, only thing it doesn't have is a GFX Card, only an integrated chip.

I thought what the heck, let me try it anyway.

Installing wasn't really a problem since my dad has a portable DVD drive for his Lenovo mini-laptop. Updating took a few hours but we're all used to that. I purposely did not tune the background resolution, I just wanted to see if it works....

And the results....

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As I had thought, it works! :D I tried various locations and it ran so smoothly I was amazed. As many know, FFXI hates newer Geforce GFX cards so my fancy laptop was always a bit choppy playing FFXi, even with custom drivers. Now my little netbook actually runs the game smoother.....

Framerate in FFXI is always under 30fps anway, we're used to it. On the screenshot above it says 10fps but in Windurst I generally had 13-20 fps and no noticeable lag. In Whitegate you could notice the amount of people, was a bit laggier with 9-11fps but still playable and it really didn't bother me to be honest.

Settings arent that high. As mentioned, nothing changed in the background resolution yet, normal 1024x600 foreground resolution in windowed mode, mitmapping off for now and weather and shadows as well. With a 10-inch screen you don't even notice that the fancy stuff is turned off anyway. If i wanted even more fps I would just plug in the netbook and use the integrated tool and change from normal to super performance mode (You have auto mode, power saving mode, high performance mode, super performance mode) plus there are still ingame settings I can lower such as the background resolution.

Here are a few screenshots I took ingame on my netbook:

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Netbooks have small keyboards and the most noticeable thing for me was the tiny arrow keys and the enter key I kept missing. xD It's not bad though, just takes some getting used to. I won't always play FFXI on my netbook, I also don't think the framerate would be that good in campaign, besieged or god forbid dynamis. But if I am on the road and wanna chat with the LS, go fishing or crafting, check the AH or some low level soloing or even a few parties, the netbook will be more than good enough.

The battery life was the main reason I bought this netbook and I thought: "10 hours? No way in hell!" I was wrong LOL! On energy-saving mode, with medium screen-brightness doing normal surfing via W-Lan the battery held for around 9hours and 45minutes. I am positive it would last longer if I lower the screen-brightness a few more notches. I am just amazed by this little cheap netbook and am more than satisfied.

If anyone is thinking about buying a netbook in the future I can only recommend the Asus 1005HA-H. Thanks for reading guys.

And for those who were thinking, ZOMG Buttons is a Ninja in that one screenshot...yes I have unlocked Ninja and am currently levelling it as a subjob. Screenshots will follow in the next screenshot-dump. :D See you guys then. Have a nice weekend. :)

4 comments:

elpharawrkat said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I'm in the market for the 1005HA as well and was wondering how FFXI would run on it. The screenshots look great for being on a netbook.

You also have me legitimately considering the white 1005HA!

Tony said...

Thanks for posting this Buttonstaru!
I'm buying a netbook as well, the samsung NC10 which has the non-glossy screen etc, but has the same specs! I'll try and see if FFXI runs smoothly on it as well!

mikan said...

Thanks a lot for this information! This is very much appreciated!

mikan said...

By the way, would you take a FFXI Vanadiel Bench and post the score if you don't mind taking the time? I'm curious as to how different netbooks would score. You'll want to set the bench to "loop" if you want to keep the score displayed after it ends. I recently bought a 1005PE which I'm currently reinstalling/downgrading to XP. Early tests gave me a 1500+- score on Low graphics, although I haven't tried the game itself yet.