Gadling gear review – Windows 7 on the Gateway L3103 Netbook

Yesterday, I wrote about the new Gateway L3103u Netbook. This 11.6″ machine just hit the shelves of your local Bestbuy, and offers a 1.2GHz processor, 2GB of memory and a 250GB hard drive in its $399 package.

One of the first things I did on the machine was dump Windows Vista Basic and install Windows 7 (release candidate). In my experience, Windows 7 runs smoother on most computers than Vista ever managed to.

The installation of Windows 7 went fairly smooth, and ran off a USB drive. Once fully installed, there were only 2 things that needed a manual update. For anyone considering purchasing the L3103, you’ll want to do 2 things after installing Windows 7:

  1. Use Windows Update to install the latest Radeon X1200 series video driver – no standalone driver package will install, and the only way to get a working video driver is through Windows Update (trust me, I tried everything AMD had to offer).
  2. Install the WiFi driver – the WiFi card has an Atheros AR5B95 chipset, I tried multiple driver packages, but none of them worked. I finally found a working version though this obscure site.

Once installed, the Windows 7 performance index is 2.3 (CPU:2.3, Memory:4.4, Graphics:2.5, Gaming graphics:3.0, Primary hard drive: 5.7).