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Asus Eee Box EB1012 review

Verdict:

Small, quiet and powerful enough for HD movies and Windows 7, with fast wireless networking.

Review Date: 20 Oct 2009

Price when reviewed: £280

Supplier: http://www.oyyy.co.uk

Reviewed By: Barry de la Rosa

Our Rating 5 stars out of 5

ExpertReviews Award

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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