The Asus Vivobook E200HA is a new budget-friendly Windows laptop, replacing the the aging X205TA in the Asus lineup. That device was one of the better sub-$200 Windows 8 laptops when it came out, and featured Windows 8.1, an Intel Atom 3735F processor, 32 GB of eMMC storage, 2 GB RAM, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and a 1366×768 display.
The new Vivobook E200HA ships with Windows 10 installed, and features an upgraded processor: the new Cherry Trail generation x5-Z8300. This is the same processor from the Intel Compute Stick 2016, and is in the same chip generation – but a slower version – as the processor in the Microsoft Surface 3.
Taking the best parts of the X205TA and upgrading the OS, keyboard, trackpad, and graphics processing capability, the new Vivobook E200HA is a compelling budget device from Asus.
Read on for more details about this devices strengths and weaknesses.
Windows 10 and Cherry Trail
Let’s start with Windows 10, which is in my opinion a significantly better OS than Windows 8.1, and an OS that runs well on lower-end hardware. The x5 processor is snappy and responsive in core OS functions like booting up, shutting down, opening Windows Explorer and Control Panel, and managing settings.
Set-up on this device is extremely easy, especially if you already have a Microsoft account. There aren’t many Windows 10 updates needed, making the initial setup process is smooth and simple. It took less than than fifteen minutes to complete. If you log into your existing Microsoft account, your theme and settings will sync over to this device as well.
The Intel x5-Z8300 processor has a base speed of 1.44 GHz with turbo to 1.84 GHz, and is a quad-core processor. It has performance that is mostly in-line with the outgoing Bay Trail processors, but it has improved graphics processing performance, with more Execution Units : 12 in Cherry Trail, vs. 4 on Bay Trail. Octane 2.0 and Geekbench benchmarks will show similar performance to Bay Trail in most respects, so don’t expect a leap in performance; that said, Bay Trail was itself a reasonably good performer for the price.
Specs, Build Quality and Connectivity
There are many similarities between the Intel Compute Stick 2016 and the E200HA, so much so that you might consider this the laptop version of Intel’s stick PC. Here’s a summary of its specs:
- Intel Atom x5-Z8300 quad-core processor at 1.44 GHz with burst to 1.84 GHz
- 2 GB of DDR3 RAM
- 32 GB of eMMC flash memory for local storage
- 2x USB Ports – one 3.0, one 2.0
- Micro-HDMI Out
- Micro-SD card slot
- 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Windows 10 Operating System
The Vivobook E200HA is also exceptionally light, at only 2.16 pounds; this laptop has the same body as the X205TA, which isn’t a bad thing, as it fits in with both casual and professional environments. It is a budget device, so it is entirely plastic, but it has a nicely textured plastic lid and frame without much flex in the keyboard or display. The keyboard feels less “sharp” to type on than that of the X205TA, but it is still a relatively small keyboard, rather than a full-size.
The screen is quite good for a budget device. It is a glossy display, so it is rather reflective, but the tradeoff is that it is bright and vibrant compared to the HP Stream 11 or Acer Cloudbook 11. The trackpad is also improved from the X205TA, which is a trend in Windows 10 laptops. That device’s trackpad had constant driver crashes, whereas this one’s has worked consistently during two weeks of use. It obviously isn’t a MacBook-quality trackpad, but Windows trackpads are much better than they used to be: this one is responsive, and works with gesture controls, unlike the Lenovo IdeaPad 100S.
Battery life was exceptional on the X205TA and that trend continues here. This laptop can run for 8-10 hours in mixed use with 70% brightness, including video streaming, word processing, and web browsing. It is an all-day device; the only issue is that Asus claims 12-14 hours of battery life, which I don’t find to be accurate.
For connectivity this device has two USB ports, one 3.0 and one 2.0, and the wireless is 802.11ac WiFi, providing a fast and stable connection. It has a micro-SD card slot for additional file or application storage, and a micro-HDMI for external display; the latter will require you to have an adapter or an HDMI-to Micro-HDMI cable on-hand, which isn’t ideal.
Unfortunately the installed RAM, which cannot be upgraded, is only 2 GB and the eMMC flash storage is still 32GB and likewise cannot be upgraded. Both of these specs are the absolute minimum one should include in a modern Windows computer. I am hoping that Asus will release a version with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of eMMC flash storage, as that would be much more comfortable and provide better longevity for this laptop.
That said, you can get by with 2 GB of RAM as long as your multitasking expectations are reasonable, and users will have about 15 GB of useable space for local installation after accounting for Windows 10 and the immediate updates the OS requires.
MS Office, Web Browsing, and Gaming
MS Office runs quite well on x5-Z8300 systems, provided you’re staying with more basic functions; advanced macros, templates, and complex presentations will bog down badly due to the processor and RAM limitations.
The web browsing experience in the Edge browser is good, considering the price point of the hardware. Pages render reasonably quickly, only lagging if a site has multiple embedded videos or a significant amount of ad content. Chrome, being more of a RAM hog, does slow down after opening more than a few tabs, so multi-tab browsing is easier in Edge on this laptop. Both Chrome and Edge respond far better on this device than those powered by the N3050 Celeron.
Gaming is possible on the E200HA as long as you check your expectations. I was able to run many newer Indie titles on Steam without any slowdown, like Nuclear Throne and Axiom Verge, as well as Hearthstone on “low” settings and Halo: Spartan Strike through the Windows store. Note that gaming does drain the battery much faster than you would see otherwise, and this is a passively cooled laptop, meaning it has no cooling fan; in general use it stays cool, but it does warm to the touch during extended gaming.
Newer games and AAA titles like Rocket League will most not run in a playable form… but you can access them using Steam Streaming, using this device to receive content from a more powerful gaming PC. This worked very well on the E200HA, thanks to its 802.11ac WiFi. You can also stream Xbox One games to any Windows 10 laptop, and here again this allows for more powerful gaming on this laptop.
Moving on to Minecraft, version 1.8 ran well using Optifine; you’ll average around 30 FPS at 1366×768. The Windows 10 beta edition runs much better, as it is based on the Pocket edition. I wouldn’t recommend this device specifically for Minecraft, but it does run the Windows 10 edition – including controller support – very well, and would serve for short periods of play for the full PC version.
While it isn’t a perfect device, as of this writing, the Asus E200HA is my pick for the best sub-$200 Windows 10 laptop currently available. It has decent performance, maintains the quality lightweight build of its predecessor, and has long battery life. I would take its quad-core x5 processor over the dual-core N3050 Celeron any day, as this laptop is far less sluggish than the Acer Cloudbook 11 or HP Stream 11 2015 in basic tasks like web browsing. Finally, for a smaller laptop, it has a reasonably comfortable keyboard and an excellent trackpad.
Asus did a great job preserving the best parts of the X205TA and improving the weak points. Keep your expectations in check of course, as this is still a $200 plastic laptop, but I definitely recommend this laptop for anyone looking for a budget-friendly Windows 10 device.
Buy the Asus E200HA from Amazon.com:
- Windows 10 Budget Laptop Battle
- Intel Compute Stick 2016 Review
- Lenovo IdeaPad 100s Review
- HP Stream 11 2015 Review
- Acer Cloudbook 11 Review