Asus Eee Box EB1012 review
On the outside, Asus's new Eee Box looks very similar to previous models, the most recent being the B204.
It has been thoroughly overhauled inside, though, with a dual-core Atom processor and Nvidia's much-hyped Ion chipset - which is capable of playing HD video and provides plenty of outputs.
The EB1012's Ion chipset has no problems playing Blu-ray quality HD video. Still, it's no gaming PC, getting only 14.6fps in Call of Duty 4 even at 1,024x768 with no anti-aliasing, but it will handle older, more sedate titles like strategy games or a round of PGA golf.
Six USB ports, and an eSATA port are provided for adding peripherals and storage devices. The two USB ports on the rear are ideal for a mouse and keyboard, and there's 802.11n for fast wireless networking. As well as a VGA output, there's an HDMI port for connecting up your HD TV or AV receiver. There's even a coaxial S/PDIF output on the rear that doubles as a second headphone socket. To round things off, there's a handy memory card reader with support for SDHC and Memory Stick formats.
About the size of a hardback novel, the EB1012 comes with a VESA mount and so can be attached to the back of a monitor, creating a compact all-in-one PC, or you could use the stylish metal stand to prop it up vertically. Thankfully, it's incredibly quiet too, making it ideal as a media centre in the living room.
The EB1012 will be shipping with Windows 7, though older stock may come with Vista and a free upgrade instead. We tested it running the newer operating system. Both the dual-core Atom 330 and 2GB of RAM really makes a difference. Nettops with single-core Atoms usually come with only 1GB of RAM and Windows XP; comparatively Windows 7 is a much slicker and more sophisticated operating system.
The last nettop we reviewed with a dual-core Atom 330 was Novatech's Ion Fusion bundle. The EB1012 is more comparable to Acer's Ion-based Aspire Revo R3600. The Revo only has a single-core Atom processor, as well as a smaller hard disk, but costs just £244.
Both nettops give you the freedom to choose your own peripherals. There's little to separate the two as media centres. The EB1012 is capable of far snappier Windows performance - it scored 50 per cent higher in our benchmarks.
It's worth pointing out the EB1012's low power consumption, which will save you money compared to a desktop PC, and its generous two-year warranty. But it's the combination of smart hardware design and a dual-core processor that really edges it ahead of the competition.
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