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Good Things In Small Packages: Seven Nettop Platforms, Tested

Cinebench, File Compression, And PDF Creation

Cinebench R10

Maxon’s Cinebench could be described as a semi-synthetic benchmark, making it a good transition from the synthetics to the real-world portion of our suite. Not a productive application itself, Cinebench is at least based on the rendering suite Cinema 4D. Although R11.5 is the current release, R10 is better suited to lightweight systems like these.

Knowing the tech specs of the chips powering these systems, our results could have probably been predicted. The Sandy Bridge-based CPUs dominate the field, including the OpenGL test. This graphics-oriented subtest seems to benefit from the additional CPU horsepower in no small measure, too.

With only one CPU core working, AMD's APUs slot into third and fourth place, followed by VIA’s Nano X2. The aging design is able to outpace both Atom CPUs by a wide margin.

Exploiting all available compute resources, though, threaded version of the test presents us a different ranking. Once more, the Core i3-2330M leads the pack, pulling ahead of its Celeron sibling. Third place goes to the most recent Atom CPU, which helps offset its IPC deficiency with four logical cores. The two AMD APUs end up within striking distance of each other. Meanwhile, four threads aren't enough to help the Atom D525 against the Brazos-based chips. VIA’s Nano X2 brings up the rear.

Once more, a look at the OpenGL test shows what 100 MHz of GPU speed can do for performance, as the E-450 takes a clear win over the E-350. The rest of the field finishes where we'd expect, as the newer Atom beats the older one, while VIA's Chrome9 engine pushes the Nano X2 to the bottom of the chart.

File Compression: 7-Zip, WinRAR, and WinZip

Even on low-end systems like these, file compression is a pretty standard workload. How do IPC, frequency, and threading factor into our results? This is the first of our timed benchmarks, so shorter bars denote better performance.

You’d think that, in a well-threaded benchmark like 7-Zip, the results would be easy to predict. And you’d be right, mostly. Still, there are some surprises. That the two more desktop-oriented Intel chips lead the pack is not one of them. Neither is the dominance of the Atom processors compared to the other nettop-specific chips.

That VIA outpaces both AMD APUs is definitely unexpected, however.

WinRAR tells a slightly different story, with Intel taking first, second, fourth, and last place. AMD’s E-450 grabs the bronze medal just a hair’s breadth ahead of the Atom D2700. We see another close race for fifth place, with AMD pulling ahead of VIA by a similarly slim margin. Finally, Intel’s old Atom D525 does not seem to do especially well in WinRAR, for some reason.

WinZip 14 is a decidedly single-threaded application. Interestingly, though, the rankings don't really change much, aside from AMD’s E-350 and VIA’s Nano X2 trading places. 

PDF Creation

Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional employs only one thread to print our 100+ page PowerPoint presentation to PDF format. The two Sandy Bridge-based models lead the pack once more, with the APUs trailing a ways behind. Next up are the newer Atom D2700 and VIA Nano X2. The Atom D525 finds itself in last place yet again.

  • JOSHSKORN
    In all honesty, when it can run Crysis...I'll be impressed. Until then...alrighty.
    Reply
  • falchard
    I think this review is bias. Its missing the AMD small form factor benchmark. Any game.
    Reply
  • A Bad Day
    JOSHSKORNIn all honesty, when it can run Crysis...I'll be impressed. Until then...alrighty.
    Well, if you run it in:

    -320p resolution
    -Directx 8
    -All eyecandy off

    You'll get around 5-10 FPS.
    Reply
  • bavman
    These things suck. Why would you dish out the $300-400 theyre asking for them? I recently built a file server that was basically a dumbed down tower with an g620 cpu, 4 gigs of ram for under $200 (excluding all the hdds). Throw in a $50 graphics card and it would dominate any of these nettops.
    Reply
  • we_san
    Just curious. Are these in the same price segment ?
    Reply
  • friskiest
    bavmanThese things suck. Why would you dish out the $300-400 theyre asking for them? I recently built a file server that was basically a dumbed down tower with an g620 cpu, 4 gigs of ram for under $200 (excluding all the hdds). Throw in a $50 graphics card and it would dominate any of these nettops.
    You pay for the size, power and niche factor in here,.. these are Nettops,.. you're not supposed to play AA or AAA games in here,. just browse the net,. watch movies and listen to music- as implied
    Reply
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    What I really want to see is a nettop using AMD's 17w A6-4455M. Being a Trinity APU, it actually WOULD have enough grunt to run Crysis, and without it looking like crap to boot!
    Reply
  • molo9000
    Shame these still aren't good at H.264 decoding. They would make great HTPCs.

    The hardware decoding of the VIA chipset would be a killer feature, if there actually was some software that supported it. Seems like XBMC doesn't support it either.
    Reply
  • hmp_goose
    The point of the Nano was power consumption, right? Didn't we just debunk that?
    Reply
  • daglesj
    I rolled out a load of Ion 330 Asrock boxes a couple of years ago for business use. Customers still love their little black boxes. These were the early 1.6Ghz dual core Atoms.

    For work use (basically 95% of what 95% of the worlds computers users actually do in the REAL world) they work great.

    There is more to life than endless benchmarking and Crysis.
    Reply