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I have used a Netbook with the Intel Atom N270 1.6 Ghz extensively for almost a year and feel I can now write a comprehensive review of its relative performance and durability.
When I first got my notebook, the processor was somewhat of a surprise. I always associated the Intel Atom with very low-power computing and wasn't sure as to how it would perform in the long run in my most frequently used computer. The early days were very positive. The processor was very quiet and did what it needed to do very well. During this time, I primarily used the notebook for working with various documents and Microsoft Office applications as well as browsing the web.
At a later date, I decided to expand and tried installing and playing some very basic and not very processor-heavy games. This straight-away showed that this processor is designed only for browsing & document processing. Anything with demands above that of Minesweeper will not run other than at an injured blind turtle pace. There is a very good reason other than space-saving why these notebooks do not have an in-built CD drive.
Aside from playing any kind of games, I invested in an external CD/DVD drive to watch films. I assumed that given that the hardware is more than capable, watching films with the Atom processor should be easy enough despite the small screen. This also proved not to be the case. You can watch films for a while and if you shut down as many other background applications as you can, watching can be smooth and uninterrupted, but the processor begins getting loud and overly warm indicating that it is not particularly happy with the set up.
In terms of durability, a year on the processor still works very well, although I have noticed marginal deterioration in speed when running the same kind of application. It has also gotten louder and is now audible in a quiet room which wasn't the case before.