Meet the HP Mini 5103

Netbooks are all so similar in terms of performance that it’s difficult to get excited about reviewing “yet another netbook”. Aesthetics and build quality may change, but outside of features like NG-ION or the use of an SSD, there’s not much new under the sun. However, one Atom variant that we haven’t had a chance to actually test in house is the dual-core Atom N550. With support for DDR3 memory and a second Hyper-Threaded core, can this “high-end” Atom change our feelings? If you read our ASUS 1215N review, you probably already know the answer, but it’s always good to get concrete numbers.

Besides being our first look at a dual-core Atom N550 netbook, HP’s Mini 5103 packs in just about every other extra you can imagine. The test unit includes a multi-touch 1366x768 display, 2GB DDR3, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, and a Broadcom Crystal HD decoder—just in case you want to watch a 1080p H.264 movie on your 10.1” LCD. As with the Mini 5102, the 5103 is also one of the best looking and well-built netbooks to hit our labs. Unfortunately, the pricing puts it into the realm of much faster ultraportables, but if you want the combination of features HP provides—and your company is willing to foot the bill—it’s a decent little machine.

HP Mini 5103 Specifications
Processor Intel Atom N550
(2x1.50GHz + SMT, 45nm, 2x512KB L2, 667FSB, 8.5W)
Chipset Intel NM10
Memory 1x2048MB DDR3-1333 @ DDR3-667 5-5-5-15 Timings
Graphics Integrated Intel GMA 3150
Display 10.1" Multi-touch LED Matte 16:9 768p (1366x768)
Hard Drive 2.5" 160GB 7200RPM 16MB
(Western Digital WD1600BEKT-60V5T1)
Networking Marvel Yukon 88E8059 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Broadcom BCM4313 802.11b/g/n WiFi
Broadcom 2070 Bluetooth 2.1
WWAN (Optional)
Audio IDT 92HD75B2X5 2-Channel HD Audio
(2.0 Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks)
Battery 4-Cell, 14.8V, 1900mAh, 29Wh
Front Side None (Speaker Grille)
Left Side 2 x USB 2.0
Heat Exhaust
AC Power Connection
Right Side SD/MMC reader
Microphone/Headphone Jacks
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x USB 2.0
Kensington Lock
Back Side None
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
Dimensions 10.3" x 7.09" x 0.91" (WxDxH)
Weight 2.64 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras 2.0MP Webcam
82-key keyboard
Broadcom Crystal HD (Optional)
Office 2010 Starter
HP DayStarter
HP QuickSync HP QuickWeb
HP ProtectTools
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
Price Starting at $399
As configured: around $688

Outside of the change to the CPU and memory, about the only other noteworthy update compared to the older 5102 is the move to an espresso (dark brown) finish. HP informs us that this was done in response to customer feedback, and the espresso color doesn’t show fingerprints quite as much as the old black. We do have to point out  a few items on our test system that we could no longer find on the HP site. First, our netbook shipped with Windows 7 Professional as opposed to Starter or Home Premium. Second, it has a 768p multi-touch LCD, while we could only find a 1024x600 multi-touch option online now.

With all the upgrades in place, the final price comes in just under $700. For that much money, you can find a wide variety of netbooks and laptops, but HP includes some other value added items you won’t find in most netbooks. As with the 5102, build quality and the keyboard are substantially better than any other netbook we’ve encountered, which adds to the cost. The basic model at $400 lets you get just the build quality and a typical Atom N455 + 1GB DDR3 setup. If you want more, you have to go to a configurable model and start choosing extras (with prices starting at $522). Unless you get a discount code or other special offer, the configurable models carry a hefty price premium; luckily, such codes are frequently available, and you can always try calling HP direct to see if they can make you a better offer.)

Breaking down the upgrades: $40 moves you up to Win7 Home Premium (and Professional would cost even more!), and you also need $25 for the 2GB RAM upgrade (not available with Win7 Starter); add $25 for a 768p LCD, and an additional $25 to go to 600p with capacitive multi-touch; the CrystalHD decoder is a big add-on at $45, and Bluetooth is another $18; finally, the N550 model costs $20 more than the N455 version. Put it all together and you basically get what you pay for—provided you think the starting price is acceptable. As a point of reference, the ASUS Eee 1015PEM-MU17 starts at around $340 online, with an Atom N550 and 1GB, but it lacks Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, and several other features on the HP. Barring any other discounts, you’re looking at a nearly $200 premium to move to the 5103.

As a parting shot on pricing, you can also find pre-configured HP Mini 5103 netbooks from a variety of resellers; the cheapest starts at $384, and it looks like Atom N550 would only bump the price up around $40. Unfortunately, no one appears to offer any pre-configured N550 models, so you have to go straight to the source. We’ve heard comments in the past that suggest you can get substantially better pricing on the configurable models if you call HP (one reader claimed a 28% discount on an EliteBook), so if you’re in the market for this type of netbook it can’t hurt to call; $500 would be far more impressive than the current $700 price tag.

HP Mini 5103 Subjective Evaluation
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  • JarredWalton - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    CPU Bench is for desktop because those are able to run on a consistent platform. To do a mobile bench, we'd need all of the various mobile CPUs, and several laptops that allow us to switch out CPUs. Basically, comparing desktop and mobile CPUs is apples to oranges; both are fruit, but they're not in the same family. We don't have server chips in bench either, for the same reasons.

    Of course, we would like to put together a mobile version of bench, but we haven't yet hashed out how to best accomplish that task.
  • rundll - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    "we also expect to see them jump on the Brazos bandwagon next year. That could mean improved performance in every area relative to Atom, hopefully without sacrificing battery life."

    Your hope won't be fulfilled. And the reason is very very simple.

    The faster Brazos, Zacate (1,6GHz), has a TDP of 18 W. This model beats by 10-20 % the double-core N550 and 8,5 W TDP Atom. Of course, the graphics performance is in a class of its own. But the key words here are 18W vs 8,5W.

    The slower Brazos, Ontario (1,0GHz), has a TDP of 9 W. But this chip should end up being slower than aforementioned Atom.
  • nafhan - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    Well, there's more to battery life than the TDP of processor/chipset combo, and there's more to a computer than it's battery life. A good computer is all about balance, and AMD is betting that Brazos based netbooks will be more balanced than Atom ones. That said, if battery life is bad enough, it will be a problem. We'll find out soon.
  • duploxxx - Saturday, December 18, 2010 - link

    very very soon, since HP will anounce mini notebook within a few days with brazos at CES.

    Indeed TDP doesn't mean anything at all. Preview of anandtech already showed that together with other review sites. Single threaded perf will be much better on brazos then this one, multi not. GPU is a no brainer and not even to be mentioned for comparisson :)
  • DanNeely - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    Assuming linear scaling and looking at the cinebench numbers (the only bench that was obviously single threaded) the 1.2ghz, 9W brazos will be 20-25% faster than an atom. The atoms will still have an edge in multi-threaded apps; but where windows netbooks hurt the worst is in single threaded UIs, so AMD could have a winner here in general usability even if Intel managed to win more total benchmarks.
  • Roland00Address - Saturday, December 18, 2010 - link

    Thus you can't compare the tdps and find out battery life. First tdp is worst case scenario, for the worst chips at the hottest time, it isn't the the average full load power consumption. Furthermore you can't establish the average power consumption of an item just by knowing the maximum power consumption, you need to know the idle power consumption and how long the item is in the different power consumptions states.

    For example see below link

    The SU2300 has a tdp of 10w, the Ion Chipset (first gen) has a tdp of 12w or so. So total tdp is about 22 watts. If we compare it to the Zacate/Brazos which has a tdp of 18w, using your logic we assume the tdp should only be about 4 watts apart. But what is obtained in reality is a difference of 9 to 12 watts depending on whether the system is on idle, load (cinemark), or load (gaming).

    Or put another way the d510 has a tdp of 13w the chipsett has a tdp of 2w thus total tdp is 15w. It should have a lower power consumption than the zacate system if you were just looking at tdp. Yet the Zacate/Brazos system beats it at idle power consumption, load power consumption on cinemark but the Zacate/Brazos system uses more power when load gaming.
  • Taft12 - Monday, December 20, 2010 - link

    Wow, properly owned several times. I guess you'll never mistake TDP for actual system power consumption again.
  • rundll - Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - link

    Owned? My ass.

    You guys try despirately convince that 18W TDP Zacate has lower power consumption than 8,5W TDP Atom. Good luck with that, I don't buy it.

    AMD does partially very sloppy work here 'cause even the single core Zacate has 18W TDP.

    Surely one can argue around the subject but me being owned? My ass.

    When comparing double core 9W TDP Ontario at 1 GHz and double core 8,5W TDP Atom at 1,5 GHz the winner in power consumpion can actually go either way. I don't actually make any statement in my first post concerning power consumption but simple make an edjucated guess that Atom might end up being faster. Surely one can argue here what ever he wants but me owned here? My ass.

    Here again AMD does partially sloppy work with this new chip 'cause even the single core Ontario has TDP of 9W. Single core Atom has 6,5W TDP. The difference in TDPs is so significant that real life power consumption win can easely go to Atom.
    Again this surely can be debated over but me being owned? My ass.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - link

    So going off of this:

    Comparing the Atom D510 to the Brazos E-350, AMD wins pretty much every meaningful test on the CPU side. That's a dual-core 1.6GHz beating the dual-core + Hyper-Threading 1.66GHz. The best result is in the single-threaded Cinebench test, where E-350 wins by 65%. Cut the clock speed down to 1.0GHz (or 1.2GHz single-core) and it should still be able to compete. I suppose the N550 looked at in this article will come out ahead on quite a few benchmarks relative to the netbook AMD parts, but only on the CPU side.

    The other factor is the GPU, which is the wild card. These are still not gaming systems, but Brazos ought to be able to do HD Flash (and other HD content) where Atom on its own cannot. Unless there's a huge performance deficit (i.e. more than 30%), we'll be looking at really slow Atom vs. slightly slower Brazos on the CPU side. We'll also have okay Brazos vs. completely pathetic GMA 3150 on the GPU side. The question will then become pricing as well, because if Brazos netbooks end up at $450, you can simply get Atom + NG-ION to effectively get around the GPU argument.

    I do have to admit that my "hopefully" is probably optimistic, but until I have final hardware I won't call the battle won or lost by AMD. I do think that the Bobcat architecture has some potential to win the netbook/nettop contest with some tweaks, but at the current specs it doesn't look like it will happen. Instead of getting the equivalent of CULV + decent IGP at netbook pricing, we'll get Atom + decent IGP at higher than basic netbook pricing.
  • rundll - Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - link

    I'd like to emphasize here that I took stand to the battery life in the first place. Just like the headline above tells.

    1. Zacate, the 18W TDP part of Brazos, won't beat 8,5W TDP Atom in battery life. This is my original statement and what I really wanted to point out. Obviously I don't have hard evidence on that but I absolutely stick to my statement anyway.

    2. Ontario, the 9W TDP part of Brazos, will or will not beat the aforementioned Atom in battery life. I simply didn't take any stand here either way. Instead I pointed out that here Atom will probably win the speed contest.
    All the time I referred to the double core models since that's what was tested in the article. And yes, I was talking about the CPUs. And just because of that I also stated that Brazos' graphics are superior. But this is just some sort of a foot note 'cause my point being the battery life (and also the performance aspect couldn't been totally overlooked since you said this: <em>"That could mean improved performance in every area relative to Atom, hopefully without sacrificing battery life"</em>.

    Further more, one can raise doubts that even in single core models Atom will win the battery life contest over Brazos. Zacate will lose, that's for sure. Ontario has a good chance to lose but this remains to be seen.

    I also think like you that AMD can and will win some design wins here, the graphic performance being that good. And especially when the price plays in. But that's another story.

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