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Giada's Slim-N20

Three Slim Atom/Ion 2-Based Nettop PCs Compared
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We put Giada’s Slim-N20, Jetway’s Mini-TOP, and Zotac’s ZBOX to the test. Does Intel's Atom D500-series offer smooth performance in these nettops when it's paired with Nvidia’s ION 2 graphics, or does the platform fall short of entertainment excellence?

Giada’s Slim-N20 is available for $449 on Amazon.com. It comes with 2 GB of RAM, a 320 GB hard disk, and the Windows 7 Home Premium operating system. Our white plastic test unit has an elegant Apple-ish look to it, with a brushed metal accent around its edge.

The Slim-N20 is by far the smallest nettop PC that we look at today. The case dimensions are a svelte 7” x 6.5” x 7/8”. Below is what it looks next to Nintendo’s Wii:

It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come. According to PassMark, the Atom D510 inside the Giada N20 is roughly equivalent to a 3.73 GHz Pentium 4. While this is the only 1.66 GHz Atom D510 CPU in our test group—the other models use the slightly faster 1.8 GHz D525 model—Nvidia's Ion 2 graphics chipset runs at the same 533 MHz core/1230 MHz shader/790 MHz RAM speed across all three of these PCs.

On the back of the N20, we see HDMI and VGA video outputs, an optical S/PDIF audio output, two USB ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, and the power supply input.

You can't see it, of course, but the Giada Slim-N20 is the only nettop in our roundup that offers Bluetooth wireless connectivity in addition to WiFi.

On the top of the unit, a small door conceals a memory card reader, an eSATA port, and the requisite speaker and microphone jacks. Note that the eSATA port also doubles as a USB port.

The Giada N20 comes with a metal base, an external 19 V/3.42 A DC power supply, an HDMI cable, a driver CD, a manual, a warranty card, and a remote with two AAA batteries.

The remote is a fairly standard media center-oriented piece of hardware, with requisite directional keys and playback controls. The large music button launches Windows Media Center. Of all three of the nettops we test, the Giada’s remote boasts the farthest range (at 8.5’) and the widest cone of responsiveness, with over 180 degrees of coverage. 

The Giada Slim-N20 doesn't include instructions on how to disassemble it. Presumably, the company prefers that customers don’t tackle this on their own. Having said that, it’s not overly difficult to figure out how to open it, and the bulk of the work involves simply prying the unit apart after carefully removing the two screws at the bottom.

It is impressive that the manufacturer manages squish the Giada Slim-N20’s hardware into its tiny case. The internals are impressive in that the hard disk and memory are accessible, with the DDR2 SODIMM slot on the back of the motherboard. You can see the leads for the wireless antenna attach to the sides of the case—there are no external antennas to affix.

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  • 2 Hide
    DjEaZy , December 10, 2010 5:42 AM
    ... it may be a good mac mini hackentosch...
  • 0 Hide
    hmp_goose , December 10, 2010 6:10 AM
    Retest the N20's playback with a RAM drive for the temp files; I suspect the drive system is the issue . . .
  • 1 Hide
    dEAne , December 10, 2010 8:00 AM
    Overall it is good. The benchmark is fair enough - And it is presentable too.
  • 1 Hide
    cushgod , December 10, 2010 12:10 PM
    SHould test results with a SSD complared to a "mechanical" HDD to see how much that can help an Atom move along :) 
  • 4 Hide
    fullcircle_bflo , December 10, 2010 12:37 PM
    So if I wanted a computer simply to stream internet videos to a television via HDMI(such as Hulu or CBS website), would any of these be a good candidate?
  • 1 Hide
    kriminal , December 10, 2010 1:18 PM
    ^^ guess so.. fullcircle
  • -2 Hide
    mchuf , December 10, 2010 1:51 PM
    For $150 - $200, you can buy a used Pentium D or C2D pc off of craigslist. Add a $50 HD5450 gpu and a $40 wireless KB/M combo and your all set. That would be a more capable box than one of these things and at a lower price (even if you upgrade to Win 7 HP). Hell, even a used Mac Mini (old model) might be a more cost effective solution. Unless you're extremely tight for space, I don't see the appeal for an overpriced "net" device.
  • 3 Hide
    nonameworks , December 10, 2010 2:30 PM
    ^^ Only if you ignore the cost of electricity
  • 1 Hide
    tipoo , December 10, 2010 3:02 PM
    Zino HD review, please! At close to the cost of many of these nettops, it blows them away in performance and is almost as small and consumes almost as little power.
  • 1 Hide
    azcoyote , December 10, 2010 3:40 PM
    I would love one of these for only one reason. To get rid of the clunky box I let my kids play noggin.com games on. Not sure they have enough guts for the pig that is Flash though.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 10, 2010 6:13 PM
    The last page seems to imply that the Zotac box is the only one of the group lacking TrueHD. Is that correct?
  • 0 Hide
    gs92110 , December 10, 2010 8:05 PM
    Recently connected my Gateway 17" laptop to TV by HDMI, it works fine, but a large footprint, might be interested in one of these little Nettops, "IF" they would let me surf/email/streaming videos to TV[without pixelation messing up the videos]...I don't expect much, but need these features...
  • 2 Hide
    ethaniel , December 10, 2010 9:59 PM
    Good read, and a good thing that you opened all of them.
  • -1 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , December 10, 2010 10:46 PM
    I'll pass on Nettops until they can easily handle games like Metro 2033 and Crysis with the highest settings.
  • 0 Hide
    ProDigit10 , December 11, 2010 2:24 AM
    Jetway mini has slower readings because it's harddrive is massively slower!
    I'd replace it with an SSD, and do the tests again, and see how it'll outperform the other nettop platforms..
  • 0 Hide
    Sandburner20 , December 11, 2010 12:05 PM
    Interesting that the D510 system can't play Flash video fullscreen. I have run into the exact same problem with the Shuttle D510 system. Even more interesting that the D525 can. Could this be a timing issue with the D510 since the FSB is apparently different?
  • -1 Hide
    JohnMD1022 , December 11, 2010 12:05 PM
    We can scratch the Giada immediately.

    Why you ask?

    A Seagate drive.

    Can anyone remember the Yugo? That's Seagate.
  • 1 Hide
    naturalandtech , December 11, 2010 4:12 PM
    ASRock always rock! especially Vision 3D Series coming with:
    # Intel® Core™ i7 / i5 / i3 Mobile Processor Family
    # 2 x 2GB DDR3-1066MHz
    # NVIDIA® GeForce GT425M Graphics, NVIDIA® 3D Vision, 3DTV Play Capable
    # 2T2R WiFi 802.11b/g/n
    # 3 x USB 3.0
    # 7.1 CH HD Audio with THX TruStudio Pro™
    soon it will be on my hand,,, muhaha
  • 0 Hide
    teeth_03 , December 11, 2010 4:54 PM
    Your USB port totals are a bit off when you are forgetting the eSATA combo ports. So the Giada actually has 3, not 2, and so fourth.
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