AMD Zacate Budget Nettop

AMD Budget Nettop
Component Product Name Price
CPU + Mobo ASRock E350M1 (AMD E-350) $110
Memory Patriot 2GB DDR3 1333 PSD32G13332 $22
Case + PSU Antec ISK 100 + 90W PSU $73
Storage Seagate Momentus 500GB 7200RPM 16MB $60
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit $100
Total Price $365

Next up is our AMD variant of the budget nettop. We’ll start with the motherboard and CPU (APU) choice, the ASRock E350M1. AMD’s new Fusion APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) combine a dual-core CPU and DX11 graphics onto a single die. AMD refers to this as the E-350 for the dual-core model, and they call the GPU the HD 6310. We’ve already provided ample coverage of AMD’s new platform, and overall Brazos/Zacate is a much more pleasing solution than Intel’s Atom—or even NVIDIA’s ION. Really, there’s not much reason to go with the Intel Atom/ION systems in this guide over this budget AMD nettop unless you can find an Atom board on clearance somewhere. This ASRock board features an eSATA port, as well as VGA, DVI, and HDMI ports. It also uses regular desktop memory so make sure you get the correct type of RAM. We’ve selected a Patriot 2GB DDR3-1333 module, as 2GB is sufficient to run Aero and moderately multitask.

You could easily keep the same case, HDD, and DVDRW as the Intel system, but we’ve mixed things up a bit to provide some other options. This time, we’re going with the Antec ISK 100, which is my favorite mini-ITX enclosure. It includes a silent, high-efficiency 90W external power brick, a quiet but effective 100mm fan, four front USB2 ports, and space for two 2.5” hard drives mounted below the motherboard. Assembly is time-consuming, but the finished product is worth the effort in my opinion. Note that it does not have space for an optical drive, though you can always go the external drive route.

For storage, we’ve selected a Seagate Momentus 500GB 7200RPM drive. This is a drive that we’ve seen in dozens of laptops over the past year, and while performance is nothing like an SSD it will still get the job done. Unlike 3.5” drives, pricing is quite a bit higher, and the minimum ~$40 drives are usually 160GB 5400RPM models (or $45 for a 250GB drive). The choice of case thus ends up increasing the cost of storage, but we’re willing to make the trade in the name of style. You can choose a less expensive drive if you’re looking to cut costs, or perhaps if you want an optimal configuration you could buy a 60GB SSD for the OS and apps and add in a larger 5400RPM drive for mass storage, but that definitely wouldn’t be “budget” by any stretch.

With the selected components, the total system cost comes to $365, so for the added performance and flexibility over the Atom configuration you’re paying $37. If you use the same case and storage options as the Atom setup, the total drops to $355, making the difference just $27. This particular system is also slightly cheaper than the base mobo + CPU we’ll use in the higher-end Intel Atom + ION system, though the other component choices will bump the upgraded system cost up quite a bit. Considering that E-350 is a superior platform overall, the added price relative to stock Atom is worthwhile unless you’re sure you don’t care about Flash video support and other graphically intensive content. We’d prefer to give up hard drive space to afford the extra $27 relative to the base Intel setup, though.

The Budget Intel Atom Nettop Intel Upgraded HTPC Nettop
POST A COMMENT

101 Comments

View All Comments

  • ArnisR - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    Antec ISK 300(310)-150 series have internal PSU.
    External PSU is for earlier sibling - ISK 300-65.
    Reply
  • uncola - Sunday, April 24, 2011 - link

    this is correct, I noticed this mistake in the article too Reply
  • -BubbaJoe- - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    The M4A88T-I DELUXE motherboard is extremely capable.You can fit a 6-core AMD processor into it, and its currently the only AM3 ITX motherboard that has a full x16 pci-e slot. Add in eSATA, USB3, and built-in WiFi you got yourself a powerful little box.

    I have mine paired with a 5770, 8gb of ddr3, and a Athlon x3 445 all in a Sugo SG-05 Able to play games such as BC:2 just fine. Very awesome little computer.
    Reply
  • shamans33 - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    Just an FYI, M4A88T-I DELUXE onboard video does not do dual display because of limitations of 880g chipset on dual digital display output.. Reply
  • Andrew Rockefeller - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    "...check email, browse and shop on the web, occasionally remove red eyes from family photos, and type the occasional letter. From that perspective..."

    Were you to build a cheap PC with that critera, I'd seriously concider Linux. You can then take $100 off the total for each build which is not an insignificant percentage especially when you talk about options to save $30 here and there. As much as I love and recommend Win 7, I'd expect Linux to provide a better user experience with the limited resources of these systems (the Atom and Brazos builds in particular, the i3 build may be OK on 7).

    Although my computing/software needs exceed that which I can comfortably achieve with Linux, for the average Joe It's capabilities are well in excess of what they'll ever need. Unfortunately I wouldn't expect average Joe to be in here reading this.. but people who build systems for their less tech savvy loved ones are.
    Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    Hi Andrew - I couldn't agree more that a Linux variant is an excellent alternative to Windows 7 for basic computing needs, and I have built nettops with Ubuntu for friends. However, it's also been my experience that for less tech-savvy folks, Linux is simply not an option because they're not willing to learn a new OS. While you and I think the learning curve is shallow and no real obstacle, that simply is not true for many people (at least in my experience). FWIW older people who have little to no computer experience often learn it the fastest - a friend's 92 year old grandfather loves Ubuntu, possibly because he's never known anything else.

    That said, Windows 7, like most other OS's, isn't particularly CPU intensive; it's much more dependent upon RAM. An E-350 with 4GB of RAM or even 2GB RAM works just fine, whereas my Phenom II X4 945 with 1GB of RAM installed struggles with Windows 7 (this is not its usual configuration - obviously the Phenom II with 8GB RAM runs W7 much better than an E-350 with 2GB RAM, ha).
    Reply
  • lowimpact - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    I got really excited when I saw this article since I've been putting together my own mini-ITX build, but am puzzled that you haven't included a gamer box (or workstation buidl) in your lineup.

    Here's a good start:

    $120 Silverstone SG05BB w/450w psu
    $100 Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3 Intel H67
    $125 Intel e3-2100
    $200 560 ti (5950's are too long)
    $40 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws 1333
    $40 500GB Hard Disk
    $25 DVD Burner
    $100 Windows 7 x64
    ----------------------------
    $750

    Any reason you left something major like this out??
    Reply
  • Andrew Rockefeller - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    I think the intention was to design systems to cover the needs of a typical user. The system you describe is somewhat niche. Although in your world a moderately powered gaming PC may be a high priority, it simply is not for the masses.

    Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate your enthusiasm for your particular design. My taste is for the highest compute power whilst remaining passively cooled (Power/efficiency). I however recognise that my ideal results in a computer more powerful/expensive than the average person needs, but less powerful than what a power-user would want and can easily achieve by sacrificing form factor... niche.
    Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    Yep, the goal of this article was to cover nettop options. Jarred suggested adding a higher-end Intel mini-ITX system based on the i3-2100T CPU so we tossed that in there. I hope to have a mini-ITX gaming guide up soon as those are very popular with my younger undergraduate friends who live in dorms and small apartments. Reply
  • lowimpact - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    You also remember that intel graphics are bugged when it comes to playing back 24fps content right? What's the point of putting a blu-ray player in any of the intel builds if you can't watch movies without judder from adding a frame every 40 seconds? You wrote about this on your own site:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridg...
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now