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Asrock Ion 330HT-BD review

Seth Barton
21 Jan 2010
Asrock Ion 330HT-BD
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
314
inc VAT

This compact nettop looks smart, but you'll need to supply your own operating system and Blu-ray playback software.

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Specifications

1.6GHz Intel Atom 330, 2.000000 RAM, N/A display

Nvidia's Ion chipset and a dual core Intel Atom 330 processor has proved a winning combination in recent months, a good example being Asus's Eee Box EB1012. Asrock's new nettop has the same core hardware, but it’s the inclusion of a Blu-ray drive that really had us excited.

The Ion 330HT-BD is the first nettop we've seen that can play Blu-ray movies. The Ion chipset is capable of smoothly playback of 1080p video, and there's a HDMI output for connection to an HD TV, but there's no software provided for Blu-ray playback.

In fact, it goes a little further than that, as there's no operating system supplied either – with its sizable 320GB hard disk being supplied blank. How much it costs to get the 330HT-BD up and running largely depends on what software you've got to hand. If you have a spare retail copy of XP, then you'll only have to pay the £65 upgrade price for Windows 7.

Blu-ray playback software isn't free either, though, with most packages (like PowerDVD 9 Ultra) costing around £50. If you don't have either of these available to you then you'll have to pay out around £180 before you can even watch a Blu-ray movie.

On the plus side, it's a smartly designed device. The case is compact and the shiny black finish is unlikely to upset anyone. There's built-in wireless 802.11n, with no unsightly antennas to be seen, plus a built-in IR receiver, so you don't have to use a USB one. The included Media Center remote control has the standard button layout and the same gloss finish as the nettop.

On the back is the usual wide range of ports we'd come to expect from an Ion-based device. There are six USB ports, eSATA, minijacks supporting 5.1 surround sound audio and an optical S/PDIF. VGA and HDMI ports complete the set, and there's a bundled DVI adaptor too. No keyboard or mouse is supplied.

It's not quite as compact as our favourite nettop, the EB1012, but then that doesn't have a built-in optical drive. The laptop-style pop out Blu-ray drive doesn’t feel very sturdy or look very classy – a slot loading drive would have been a far better choice. The small fan is a touch whiny, but you won't notice if it's tucked under your TV on the opposite side of the living room. The Atom 330 processor is fine for day-to-day web browsing and office tasks, but isn't up to tougher tests like video editing.

We really like the 330HT-BD from a hardware perspective, but the lack of Windows and Blu-ray playback software makes it more expensive than it first appears. Then again there aren't any other Blu-ray equipped nettops on the market and you'd be hard pushed to build your own at this price.

If size isn't a big issue, however, then Mesh's Cute Inspire, plus its optional Blu-ray drive, is a better bet at £380. It comes with Windows 7 and Blu-ray playback software plus it's far faster in applications – head over to Mesh's website for more details.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Atom 330
Processor external bus133MHz (533MHz quad-pumped FSB)
Processor multiplierx12
Processor clock speed1.6GHz
Processor socketSocket 479
Level 1 cache2x 56KB
Level 2 cache2x 512KB
Memory2.000000
Memory typePC2-6400
Maximum memory4GB
MotherboardAsrock AMCP7AION-HT
Motherboard chipsetNvidia MCP7A Ion
Power consumption standby3W
Power consumption idle24W
Power consumption active29W

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)0/6
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/1
Wired network ports10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n
Other portsVGA, HDMI

Internal Expansion

Casemini-ITX
PCI slots (free)0
PCI-E x1 slots (free)0 (0)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)0 (0)
Free Serial ATA ports1
Free memory slots0
Free 3.5in drive bays0

Hard Disk

InterfaceUltraDMA 133
Total storage capacity320GB
Spindle speed5,400rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s)Nvidia Geforce 9400M
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI

Sound

SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Sound outputs7.1 line out, optical S/PDIF out
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy driveno
Supported memory cardsnone
Optical drive modelOptiarc BC-5500S
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL BD-ROM

Display

Screen modelN/A
Native resolutionN/A
Response timeN/A
Screen inputsN/A

Other Hardware

ModemNo
Keyboardnone
Mousenone

Software

Software includednone
Operating systemnone
Operating system restore optionN/A

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£314
Supplierhttp://www.scan.co.uk
Detailswww.asrock.com

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