Nettop and Mini-ITX Buyer’s Guideby Zach Throckmorton on April 22, 2011 2:00 PM EST
AMD Upgraded HTPC Nettop
|AMD Upgraded HTPC Nettop|
|CPU + Mobo||ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe (AMD E-350)||$204|
|Memory||Patriot 4GB (2x2GB) PSD34G1333K||$40|
|Case + PSU||Lian Li PC-Q09B + 110W PSU||$150|
|Storage||Samsung SpinPoint MT2 HM100UI 1TB 5400RPM||$94|
|Optical Drive||Sony Optiarc BC-5500H-01 BR-ROM/DVD-ROM||$90|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit||$100|
|Extra Software||CyberLink PowerDVD 11 Ultra||$100|
Our final nettop build is the AMD HTPC setup, which adds quite a few extra features into the mix. We’ve also upgraded the case to a more expensive option, so you can easily skip that if you prefer to keep costs down. Starting with the motherboard and APU, once again we’re using the AMD E-350, but this time we’ve selected the ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe. This is the most feature-rich Zacate mini-ITX board currently available. It features USB3 ports, an eSATA port, onboard wireless-N networking, DVI and HDMI ports, and an S/PDIF out jack. It’s also passively cooled by a massive heatsink, so it generates no fan noise. Unfortunately, all those extra features bump the price of the motherboard + APU up to $204, nearly $100 more than the ASRock E-350 board! We’ve used the same 4GB memory kit as the Intel system on the previous page, though E-350 is fast enough that the extra memory might prove more useful.
The case is another area where we’ve spent a large chunk of the budget. Lian Li builds beautiful cases, and the PC-Q09B is no exception. It’s well built and durable, but it’s also quite expensive. This specific case is attractive because it includes an external power brick, excellent ventilation, an anti-vibration kit for the hard drive, and comes with a slim optical drive adapter if you want to include a slim optical drive. We’ll be using a Blu-ray drive, so that’s a nice extra. Unlike the Antec cases, the Lian Li only supports a single 2.5” storage drive.
Since we’re building an HTPC, capacity wins out over performance this time, and we’ve selected the Samsung SpinPoint MT2 1TB drive. You can rip and save hundreds of hours of video to the drive, and this AMD solution has more than sufficient muscle to play all of your HD videos smoothly, so why not? Note that this is a non-standard 2.5” disk that’s 12.5mm thick, so it won’t fit in many laptops, but it works fine in mini-ITX cases. It was on sale at Newegg for just $80 a couple weeks ago, but now the cheapest price we can find is $94. If you’re willing to sacrifice capacity for speed, the largest 7200RPM 2.5” hard drives weigh in at 750GB, and you can currently find the Seagate ST9750420AS on sale for $90. Rounding out the package, we’ve again got the Sony BD-ROM and CyberLink PowerDVD Ultra adding $190 to the total cost.
This is obviously not a nettop designed around keeping costs down, but it’s more a statement of style and added features. At a total price of $778, many of you are probably already laughing, but keep in mind all the features you’re getting. This system provides plenty of storage and near-silent operation, two key elements of a good HTPC. If you want to go with the same case and components as the ION setup, you can get the cost down to $674, or you can skip WiFi and USB3 and just use the ASRock E-350 board. Then you’re looking at $580, or $390 without Blu-ray support—except we’ve already covered that option.
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obarthel - Sunday, April 24, 2011 - linkThe Zotac Zbox AD02 (AMD E-350) is 7.4 x 7.4 x 1.73". No mSATA though, and only 1x2.5" internal slot.
The M-350 mini-itx chassis is 7.56 x 8.27 x 2.44, so a wee bit bigger a noticeably thicker, but it does allow you to build your dream PC (1155 mini-ITX MB, your choice of core i3/5/7 CPU, no PCIE card allowed except for one specific and outdated Intel board), and with the right CPU cooler allows you to stick in 2 x 2.5" HD/SSD, all the while modestly behind your screen. That case + doodads will set you back $130, though, since everything is extra (PSU, picoPSU, VESA mount, 2nd HDD mount).
Zap - Sunday, April 24, 2011 - linkThermaltake Element Q for the high performance? Seriously? It would have been better off with the ISK300/310 from earlier. That Element Q is a rebrand of the Apex MI008 case, which is popular because it is cheap, not because it is good.
Also, doesn't Zacate make Atom/ION redundant?
uncola - Sunday, April 24, 2011 - linkI thought that case looked familiar.. I'm about to upgrade from an old school avsforum recommended apex mi-008 intel e5200/zotac geforce 9300itxwifi mobo build to a new school antec isk 310/intel core 2100/asrock h67n mobo build
ProDigit - Sunday, April 24, 2011 - linkWhere are the N550 processors in this test?
Gigantopithecus - Sunday, April 24, 2011 - linkThe N550 is available almost exclusively in nettops AFAIK. I've never seen it available in a mini-ITX board aside from a few bizarrely expensive Jetway products.
7Enigma - Monday, April 25, 2011 - linkFunny this article comes out as I just had this conversation with my dad. Their current system (used only for email/internet access/Skype) is over 6 years old and definitely feeling its age. Even with a fresh OS install it just has passed it's point of usefulness due to the P4 using a lot of watts with very low performance.
My mom has a 3yr old Lenovo dual-core that other than the pathetic 5400rpm drive is significantly more computer at 1/3-1/5 the power consumption of the old P4 Dell system. My plan is to rip out the junk HDD and replace with an 80-160GB drive (likely an Intel G2 since ANY SSD upgrade will be like a new computer), slap on Win7 to replace the current XP on the Dell and Vista on the laptop, and have a desktop replacement that is really a notebook.
I'll still use external keyboard/mouse/display, but essentially for under $200 (Win7 copy and SSD) the computer will be like new.
Now I need to find out if there is a bios setting/hack for defaulting the display to the external VGA port instead of having to Function + F7 every time they boot the system.
Thanks again for the article.
vailr - Monday, April 25, 2011 - linkYour hi-end system uses the Lian Li PC-Q09B.
However, the included PSU seems (per comments on Newegg) to have the older 20-pin connector, not the current standard 24-pin connector. Although: Newegg's documentation & photos don't really show which version is included.
Side note: Newegg also offers this same case in a red color, for $50 cheaper.
twinclouds - Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - linkI apologize if the same idea has been posted by someone else. It is impossible to read all 10 pages.
I put together with i3-2100t in a small package. The case is an old Shuttle X70 case. I used a 80W pico-ATX power supply with a 60W brick adapter. The motherboard is an GA-H67N. The smart fan controls the fan speed well without much noise. Every thing works pretty well with no overheating problem. It is amazing that it is possible to put a full power (non-gaming) system together in such a small package.
P.S. I don't know what happened to Gigabyte motherboards nowadays, though. They have two power off modes, one at <1W and the other at ~3W. The low power mode does not support WOL, which I want. Only the 3W mode does. It is a waste for the power off mode that consumes 3W. Not sure why Gigabyte cannot do better.
Schafdog - Thursday, April 28, 2011 - linkI am happy that AT is taking this subjject up and hope it will be followed up on.
I am wondering why no one, to my knowledge, can delivery a system with idle power of 10 watt while not limit to less powerful CPU, when apple can do it with the Mac mini. Since I am aiming for a NAS it needs more SATA ports than the Mac Mini, which will draw some more power.
I know that apple uses laptop part, so is there any boards that I dont know about?
The only I know, is fit-pc2i with a 5-10 watt usage, but this is only a Atom CPU. and doesn't solve the port issue
djfourmoney - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link1) Silverlight 5 will support the AMD APU with Hardware Acceleration, this is important to those that use Netflix streaming.
The beta is out and works....
2) Some of these are completely new builds, others are using parts laying around. This is especially the case for those that work in the industry somewhere.
No reason to spend $390 unless your adding TV Tuners...
3) The USB 3.0 version of the AsRock is out and only $10 more.
4) There are at least 5 quality cases for under $50 available
If I wasn't beyond broke I would have bought one already. Maybe by mid-summer.