Dell Inspiron Mini 12: Peppier with Windows XP

In our review of the Dell Inspiron Mini 12 we concluded that "while we applaud Dell’s efforts to make Vista easier to use with its flashy dock, the Mini 12 doesn’t have the right hardware to handle this OS.... We suggest that buyers hold off until next month when Dell offers the Mini 12 with Windows XP or its customized Ubuntu Linux operating system." Gizmodo closely echoed our conclusion in its review. We have installed Microsoft Windows XP Home on the Mini 12 and as we anticipated the performance of the slimmer, less resource hungry OS is just what the doctor called for. Installing Windows XP to the Mini 12 was a simple process using an external optical drive, but getting the drivers for the system was a bit of a struggle. Since Dell hasn't released the drivers for this OS yet, we used the drivers provided by Dell for the Mini 9 (find those here). All the key drivers worked except for the graphics driver since the Mini 12 uses a different Intel Atom chipset than the Mini 9. So we've been stuck running the system at 1024x768 resolution, using Windows XP default drivers, rather than the full 1280x800 we got under Vista. Hopefully, Dell releases an XP graphics driver soon. Right off the bat, we noticed a difference in performance. Booting the system now takes 43 seconds (see the video below) rather than the 2 minutes plus we experienced in Vista Basic (we were able to get boot time down to about 1:30 by removing preloaded programs) .

Though we haven't run any benchmarks on the XP running Mini 12 (and will hold off on that until we get the correct drivers), there is a noticeable improvement in regular use of the netbook. When we used the netbook running Vista we noticed a lag in the the system while running a Skype video call and FireFox and Microsoft Works in the background. In contrast, things ran smoother in WIndows XP. A video call to a friend over Skype was smooth and he was impressed with the video quality. Simultaneously, we were visiting Web sites in the background with no delay switching back and forth between all open applications. Overall things just feel snappier and there is no wait to open menus in the OS. As we predicted Windows XP will run noticeably better with the Mini 12's processor and 1GB of RAM. We will update our review of the Mini 12 when we get all the official drivers. If you purchased a Mini 12 running Vista, we are interested in your thoughts and if you plan on switching over to Windows XP. If you're patiently waiting for Dell to release an XP version, we think you're making the right move. [flq:d415931d711d4899921ea26548eb1499]