1.6GHz Intel Atom 230, 1.000000 RAM, 17in 1,440×900 display, Windows XP Home Edition
Novatech’s Ion Home PC Bundle is one of the cheapest computers here.
It’s also one of the few to come with a monitor: a modest 17in widescreen HannsG HB175A. Although small, it’s a decent monitor with accurate colours. The PC has only a single VGA port, though, which is disappointing in a group where most others provide DVI or HDMI outputs.
Like the other two sub-£500 PCs here, the Ion uses Intel’s low-power 1.6GHz Atom 230 processor (the desktop version of the N270 Atom in most netbooks). The Ion’s mini-ITX case isn’t as small or attractive as the Eee Box, but it has more room for expansion. It has a PCI slot, so you can install desktop components such as sound cards, TV tuners and network cards without using up your USB ports.
The Ion comes with 1GB of RAM in its single DDR2 slot which can handle up to 2GB. We were surprised by the legacy ports on the motherboard, which include both serial and parallel ports. These might be useful if you own some antique storage or printing hardware, but they’re redundant for most users.
Like the Eee Box and Top, the Ion comes with Windows XP, which suits the low-power Atom processor better than Vista. It did everything we asked of it, from playing DVDs and web browsing to printing graphs from a spreadsheet. It uses slightly more power than the Asus PCs, but the active and idle power-consumption figures of 42W and 37W respectively make this PC a lot cheaper to run than a standard desktop.
With a 160GB hard disk and a DVD-RW, the Ion has more storage than the Eee Box, and you won’t need to buy an optical drive. Unlike the Box, the Ion lacks a built-in WiFi adaptor.
This is a great budget PC for simple home computing tasks. The monitor is worth £69 and you can buy the PC without it for £205. The Ion Home PC Bundle isn’t as compact, efficient or attractive as the Eee Box, but it’s better value and comes with a monitor and an optical drive.
|Processor||Intel Atom 230|
|Processor external bus||133MHz (533MHz quad-pumped FSB)|
|Processor clock speed||1.6GHz|
|Processor socket||Socket 437|
|Level 1 cache||32KB|
|Level 2 cache||512KB|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel 945GC + ICH7|
|Power consumption standby||4W|
|Power consumption idle||37W|
|Power consumption active||42W|
|USB2 ports (front/rear)||2/4|
|Firewire ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|eSATA ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100|
|Wireless networking support||none|
|PCI-E x1 slots (free)||0 (0)|
|PCI-E x16 slots (free)||0 (0)|
|Free Serial ATA ports||0|
|Free memory slots||0|
|Free 3.5in drive bays||0|
|Hard disk model(s)||Hitachi DeskStar 7K160 (HDS721616PLA380)|
|Total storage capacity||160GB|
|Graphics card(s)||Intel GMA 950|
|Sound||Realtek High Definition Audio|
|Sound outputs||stereo line out, mic in, line in|
|3.5in floppy drive||no|
|Supported memory cards||none|
|Optical drive model||Optiarc AD-7200S|
|Optical drive type(s)||DVD+/-RW +/-DL|
|Viewable size||17 in|
|Screen model||Hanns.G HB175A|
|Screen inputs||VGA, line in|
|Keyboard||Octigen Multimedia Keyboard|
|Mouse||Logitech RX 300|
|Operating system||Windows XP Home Edition|
|Operating system restore option||none|
|Warranty||one year RTB|