Asus Transformer Book T100HA review: Small and imperfectly formed
Asus Transformer Book T100HA: Performance and gaming
Given the occasional performance hiccups, it’d be natural to point the finger of blame at the Atom processor. This would be unfair, though, as the slow 64GB of eMMC storage also plays its part. It’s not much faster, if at all, than a mechanical hard disk, and I suspect that this is where many of the stutters and pauses originate.
In terms of raw performance, the quad-core Atom x5-z8500 is actually pretty decent – not blazingly quick, but fast enough. In Geekbench 3’s single- and multi-core tests, it racked up quite respectable scores of 1,011 and 3,382 – only a touch behind the faster Atom x7-z8700 in the Microsoft Surface 3. Compared to Apple’s tablets, it’s a touch behind the triple-core Apple A8 in last year’s iPad Air for single-core performance, while its extra core gives it the lead for multi-core numbers. For a £230 device, that’s not to be sniffed at.
Gaming performance is roughly double the previous generation. You still won’t get away with playing demanding first person shooters such as Bioshock Infinite, but there’s enough power to take on more sedate strategy games and older titles. In GFXBench 3’s tests, the Asus took full advantage of its relatively low screen resolution by racking up a reasonably smooth average of 25fps in the Manhattan 3 benchmark. The offscreen Full HD tests reveal that the Atom’s GPU still isn’t up to the job at higher resolutions – an average frame rate of 16fps reveals that Intel are still off the pace of Nvidia’s mobile chip, the Tegra K1.
Battery life is healthy, too. With the screen brightness cranked up to a fairly bright 170cd/m2, the T100HA lasted for 11 hours before running out of steam. Turn on the Wi-Fi and the battery life drops markedly – I got around nine hours of everyday use out of it – but that’s enough to last most of the working day before needing a top up.
Asus Transformer Book T100HA: Verdict
Asus should be kicking itself. The Transformer Book T100HA is a lesson in how to ruin a promising, affordable Windows device with one terrible flaw. In case you hadn’t already guessed, I’m referring to the keyboard – it is, by any measure, unutterably awful. If it weren’t for the full-sized USB 2 port, I’d be tempted to throw it in the bin.
This is a crying shame, because there really is a lot to like elsewhere. This is a nicely executed budget Windows tablet with 64GB of storage; it’s long-lasting; and it’s not much slower than Microsoft’s Surface 3 – that’s not to be sniffed at for £230. And if you desperately want a 10in Windows 2-in-1 for under £250, then you may possibly be able to find it in your heart to make peace with the Asus’ keyboard. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
If, however, you simply want something light, portable and usable, and you’re really not bothered about the whole 2-in-1 schtick, then the solution is simple – save some cash and go and spend £175 on the 11.6in HP Stream 11 instead. It’s not quick, or exceptional in any way, but it’s a much better all-rounder, and, crucially, it has a keyboard that won’t make you want to eject it through the nearest window. That’s always a plus point, in my book.
Looking for a low-cost laptop or tablet that really does get it right? We’ve collected some keenly priced alternatives on the next page.