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I recently purchased an Acer Aspire One. I'll be using it as an ultraportable supplement to my 16" laptop, which I don't like to carry around more than needed. The Aspire is a pretty standard configuration for netbooks, though with a slightly better processor and bigger hard drive. Still just 1GB memory, though.

I know that netbooks make tradeoffs in performance in order to be small and have a long battery life. I'm fine with that, as the device serves the purpose of being a convenient alternative computer. I don't really expect to be able to run Photoshop, or the full Visual Studio (plan to try the Express version though).

Now to my question: how far have you been able to push a netbook's capabilities? How "heavy" an application can you run on such a computer?

Also: will upgrading the memory be likely to make any difference, or will the system still be limited by the processor?

UPDATE

I had the memory upgraded to 2GB. It's noticeably snappier, though not a speedy machine by any means. It is enough to surf the web, use Office, watch videos on Youtube, and even do some light coding. Visual Studio actually works!

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4 Answers

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Upgrading to 2GB should help quite a bit. I have an Asus EeePC 1005HA and I upgraded from the base 1GB to 2 and there was a noticeable jump in performance. Of course, performance is still very much limited by the processor, but it's been able to handle all of my day-to-day applications while still keeping >6 hours of battery life. I haven't tried anything too system-intensive, but I've been using it like I use my main computer (minus games, of course) without a significant performance hit.

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Can you share some of the applications you use on your netbook, and/or activities you perform? Coding? Graphics work? Watching videos? I could use some context! –  Grant Palin Oct 18 '10 at 18:51
    
I've done a bit of both coding and graphics (using Eclipse and GIMP on Ubuntu). Most of my day-to-day work involves word processing, but in my downtime, I watch videos or play some older 3D games (think GTA 3) and the only evidence that the computer is working harder than normal is that the fan turns on. –  clpo13 Oct 18 '10 at 19:16
    
Thanks for the feedback. I had the memory upgraded and the machine is a little more responsive - not necessarily faster but just "feels" snappier - better for multitasking! –  Grant Palin Oct 29 '10 at 0:38
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Well, I have an 'original' 8.9" screen AA1-150 that's been upgraded to 1.5GB RAM and is running Fedora 13. I have to say that for all general apps it is a great, small format unit and I have compiled code on it and it streams video absolutely fine. I use the netbook as a portable diagnostics tool and workstation for connecting to Linux servers via SSH and Windows servers via RDP. I have installed a VoIP softphone and have used its built in camera for video conferencing. It's obviously not a gamers' machine but apart from that it saves lugging round a full laptop when I don't need one.

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The way i have been able to push my netbook (Lenovo S10-1) WAY beyond the power of its self was with the "ONLIVE" service. Playing Games like Unreal3 and JustCause 2

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Windows runs too slow on netbooks. Netbooks generally ship with Windows XP/7 starter versions which are slow compared to Netbook specific GNU/Linux Distributions. I have been using a Samsung N150 Netbook for 4 years now. I used Windows for a year but got irritated with the speed and limitations that the OS had. I replaced the OS with Ubuntu & Now Fedora. They are fast and have no restrictions.

As far as the capabilities are concerned, I even configured a Pentaboot system on it. And it was running just fine. Netbooks are immensely configurable devices in my opinion.

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