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Asus AT3IONT-I Deluxe review

Seth Barton
16 Jun 2010
Asus AT3IONT-I Deluxe
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
147
inc VAT

Buying a ready-made nettop may work out cheaper, but this board is an excellent basis for those who like to build their own.

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Specifications

PBGA437, Mini-ITX, Nvidia MCP7A chipset, supports: Atom

Nettop PCs are great for undemanding tasks, such as web browsing and media playback. Our current favourite is Asus's Eee Box EB1012. It's smart-looking and uses Nvidia's excellent ION chipset, but if you want more flexibility, then building a nettop using Asus's own AT3IONT-I Deluxe is a logical alternative – as it has the same key specifications.

This mini-ITX board measures just 170mm down each side, and you'll need to buy a suitable case for it – we like Antec's ISK range. Make sure you get one without a PSU though, as a small external supply is already included with the AT3IONT-I Deluxe.

The board is dominated by a massive passive heat sink, which keeps both the processor and graphics chipset cool. Like the EB1012, this board has a 1.6GHz dual-core Atom 330 processor. It doesn't score brilliantly in our benchmarks but there's plenty of power here for day-to-day tasks like web browsing and office work. Its dual-cores make using Windows 7 a far more pleasant experience than on a single-core netbook.

Two slots are provided for adding memory, with support for DDR3 at speeds up to 1066MHz. It's hard to find desktop memory rated at this speed, so instead just buy the cheapest 1333MHz modules you can find. We tested with our usual 4GB kit, but 2GB should be sufficient for the kind of tasks its Atom processor is up to.

There are four SATA ports for adding optical drives or hard disks. Using these you could add a Blu-ray drive for movie playback, or multiple hard disks to store huge numbers of media files. A single PCI-Express x16 slot is provided, which is most likely to be used for a TV tuner, as practically everything you'll need is already on the board.

We're big fans of the Ion chipset. Its 9400M graphics chip is capable of playing back Blu-ray quality HD video while keeping CPU usage to below 25 per cent; plus Flash 10.1 is GPU accelerated – for smooth playback of content such as HD YouTube videos. It's not really suited to gaming, though, scoring only 4.7fps in our Call of Duty 4 test, but it'll play casual games from the likes of PopCap. There are HDMI and VGA outputs for connecting TVs or monitors.

The Ion chipset also provides an impressive number of ports. Six USB ports should be enough for most users, plus there's a PS/2 port for older keyboards. Comunicating with other devices isn't a problem, with a Gigabit Ethernet port, an integrated Bluetooth module and an onboard wireless card with support for Draft-N.

Audio support is a mixed bag. There are the usual three analogue outputs for 5.1 surround sound and an optical S/PDIF, plus dedicated phono outputs for easy hook up to your Hi-Fi. The HDMI output will carry audio, though there's no support for PAP on this chipset, so you won't get full HD quality from Blu-ray movies.

If you're planning on using this board as a media centre then the bundled remote and USB IR receiver look handy. However, the remote doesn't have all the usual Windows Media Center buttons, so if you want to add a tuner and watch TV via your new mini PC we'd suggest investing in an official remote – we've seen wireless ones for as little as £16 inc VAT.

Even once you've bought a case, plus added memory and a hard disk of your choice, then you'll be still saving money compared to buying an EB1012 – plus you'll probably have more storage and you've got the option of an optical drive too. However, factor in the cost of Windows 7 and suddenly it's not such a great deal. Still, it's a great little board and the best we’ve seen if you want to build your own mini nettop.

Basic Specifications

Rating*****
Processor socketPBGA437
Form factorMini-ITX
Size170x170mm
Processor supportAtom
Processor external bus133MHz (533MHz quad-pumped FSB)
Chipset north bridgeNvidia MCP7A
Chipset south bridgeNvidia MCP7A
Passively-cooled north bridgeyes
Integrated graphicsYes
Supported memory typeDDR3 800/1066
Maximum memory speedPC3-8500
Memory slots2
Maximum memory4GB
Dual-channel supportyes

Buying Information

Price£147
Supplierhttp://www.morecomputers.com
Detailswww.asus.com

Internal Ports

Power connectors19V power input
PCI-E x16 slots1
Dual graphics architectureN/A
PCI-E x4 slots0
PCI-E x1 slots0
PCI slots0
Fan headers2
Floppy ports0
IDE ports0
Serial ATA ports4
RAID chipset (max disks)none

Features

Wired network ports10/100/1000
Sound (ports)Realtek ALC662 (3x analogue out, phono out, S/PDIF header)
USB2 ports / headers6/2
Firewire ports / headers0/0
Legacy portsPS/2
Other portsHDMI, VGA, wireless antenna socket
Cables includedN/A
Brackets includednone
Software includedN/A

Setup and Overclocking

Voltage adjustmentnone
CPU clock max adjustmentN/A

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