Nettop Round-Up: Four Tiny PCs, Benchmarked And Reviewed

Test Systems And Benchmarks

These are very different systems with varying target markets. We need to compare performance though, so we’re putting them through a battery of tests that allow us to compare their strengths and weaknesses. We’re even benchmarking a bit of light gaming.

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Header Cell - Column 0 ASRock Core100HT-BDGiada i50 B5541Arctic MC001-BDZotac ZBOX AD03BR-Plus
CPUIntel Core i5-2520M (Sandy Bridge), Dual-Core, Hyper-Threaded 2.5 GHz (3.1 Turbo), 3 MB L3 CacheIntel Core i3-430UM (Arrandale), Dual-Core, Hyper-Threaded 1.2 GHz (1.73 Turbo), 3 MB L3 CacheIntel Atom D525(Pineview-D) Dual-Core, Hyper-Threaded 1.8 GHz, 1 MB L2 CacheAMD E-350(Zacate) Dual-Core, 1.6 GHz, 1 MB L2 Cache
NetworkingRealtek RTL8111E Gigabit Network Adapter (LAN)Atheros AR9287 2T2R wireless card (Wi-Fi)Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit Network Adapter (LAN)Azurewave AW-NB037H(Wi-Fi, Bluetooth)Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit Network Adapter (LAN)Ralink RT3070L 802.11 b/g/n PCIe card (Wi-Fi)Realtek RTL8111DL Gigabit Network Adapter (LAN)Atheros AR9287 2T2R wireless card (Wi-Fi)
MemoryAsint PC3-10700, 2 x 2 GB, 665 MHz, CL 9-9-9-24-1T(dual-channel)Kingston PC3-107001 x 4 GB, 400 MHz, CL 6-6-6-15-1T(single-channel)Nanya PC3-10700, 2 x 2 GB, 399 MHz, CL 6-6-6-15-2T(single-channel)Samsung PC3-107001 x 2 GB, 533 MHz, CL 9-9-9-24-1T (single-channel)
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 3000 (Integrated, shared RAM)Intel HD Graphics (Integrated, shared RAM)Mobility Radeon HD 5430 (512 MB dedicated RAM)Radeon HD 6310 (Integrated, shared RAM)
SoundAnalog & Optical:Realtek ALC892HDMI:Intel Display AudioAnalog & Optical:Realtek ALC662 HDMI:Intel Display AudioAnalog & Optical:Realtek ALC892 HDMI:AMD HD AudioAnalog & Optical:Realtek ALC888 HDMI:AMD HD Audio
Hard DriveWestern Digital Scorpio Black500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB cache, SATA 3Gb/sSeagate Momentus 7200.4500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB cache, SATA 3Gb/sHitachi Travelstar 7K500 500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB cache, SATA 3Gb/sSamsung Spinpoint 250 GB, 5400 RPM, 8 MB cache, SATA 3Gb/s
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics DriversIntel HD Graphics 15221, AMD Catalyst Control Center 11.7
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Benchmark Configuration
PCMark 7Total System Score, Memories, TV And Movies, Gaming, Music, Communications, Productivity, Hard Disk
SiSoft Sandra 2011CPU Arithmetic, CPU Multi-Media, Memory Bandwidth, Network Bandwidth, and Network Latency benchmarks
HD HQV BenchmarkBlu-ray, Version 2.0
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Game Configuration
StarCraft IIVersion 1.4.0, Low Settings, Medium Textures, Tom's Hardware Guide Benchmark v2
Left 4 Dead 2Version: 20.8.7, Lowest settings, model/texture level to medium, multicore rendering enabled
World of WarCraftVersion, Fair graphics setting, FRAPS runs
  • jdwii

    But at $504 with no operating system (and $399 for a version without an operating system, hard drive, or memory),
  • Pyree
    IDK, $800 for the ASRock CoreHT 252B. A laptop cost less, has better performance for that price range, better mobility and space saving plus you have everything (screen, speaker etc). I rather get a laptop for a small office.
  • chumly
    These all seem expensive to me, considering you could probably build a better mini itx slim form factor system from scratch for about half the price.
  • AMD X6850
    As mentioned, no remove comes bundled with the Zbox.

  • cleeve
    AMD X6850Remote?
    Thx, fixed!
  • molo9000
    Nettops? These things are far too expensive to be nettops.
    They are small form factor PCs or home theatre PCs, but they are not nettops.

    btw: Mac mini should be in this lineup.
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    Very nice article. I was about to request something like it :)

    Mac Mini should be in this lineup? Actually, a good idea. I'd love to see how it compares to similar Wintel boxes.

    I'm through with these small boxes because they're a pain in the a$$ to service and the hardware isn't good for the price ($800?! gimme a break!), but I see value in them for people who are ready to pay more for the small size.

    If I would build a small form-factor box myself, I'd use something like this new Lian Li case which was in Tom's news recently - it can fit proper PCI/PCI-E cards.

    Again, lovely article. Keep it up.

    P.S. The ASRock box is great.
  • compton
    I second the sentiment that these aren't really nettops. Luckily, the next iteration of Llano should rectify that, creating the golden triangle of CPU , GPU, and low cost. At least that's what I expect anyway. These reviewed units are more HTPC solutions than low cost nettop. Intel has a new half height miniITX initiative with a rare and relatively expensive 1155 mini ITX to match. However, once Intel's iGPU gets a serving of HTPC friendly features, you could build your own full featured, passively cooled system to take these units on performance and price as well. The move to 22nm should make low powered passively cooled CPUs easy to get right. As it stands, each of the solutions tested are pretty good, but I'm not sure that any of them are worth the asking price. In particular, I've always avoided Atom like the plague, and I don't think they're appropriate in small form factor systems that cost more than about $200.
  • ruban71
    Can we now have a comparison against a couple of ITX builds? Choose an nice looking case and show us what can be put together for similar money.
  • I've owned an E350 - struggles with HD playback in a linux system, there doesn't appear to be any support for the amd hardware decoding. So if you were thinking of making a linux htpc out of it, go for something more powerful... It will perform better though as in the article above if using Windows (Using I think - Media Player classic which allows hardware h.264 decode.)