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Modding the Acer Revo

Modding the Acer Revo

The Acer Revo - tiny, low power, pretty cheap and still can play full HD video.

At a recent press launch in London we confirmed that Acer's upcoming Revo, which is based on Nvidia's Ion platform, should be easily upgradable. How did we confirm this exactly? By taking it apart, naturally.

The Revo "Nettop" is based on Intel Atom technology, but combines it with an Nvidia 9400M MCP instead of the usual, more limited Intel 945GC and ICH7 chipset. As we previously discovered, Acer is launching three models - the first just £180 and which runs Linux, but only comes with a very basic 1GB of memory and 8GB SSD, but does manage to cram in 802.11g Wireless, and hard wired connectivity like eSATA, HDMI, VGA and plenty of USB 2.0 ports.

While a little short changed, we expect this inexpensive model will be the perfect base for a media centre - drop on the latest XBMC with Nvidia' most recent 182.xx linux drivers and you should get GPU acceleration to take advantage of the more powerful 9400M GPU for all HD media. Acer demonstrated a Blu-ray disk being played back over USB 2.0 at an impressive 40MBit/s and, while we respect this is just one example, the playback software and OS are two other limiting factors worth keeping in mind. The example set-up we saw was using Vista and Cyberlink PowerDVD 9, so hardly a "slim client" though.

The two other models come with 2GB of memory and a much larger 160GB hard drive, as well as the option for a Wiimote-like wireless gaming "mouse". Acer are promoting the Revo as a nettop-meets-games-console, however while the media playback potential, sleek looks and HDMI are suitable for sitting by the TV, we doubt very much whether you'll play Peggle or World of Warcraft on it. The Wii exclusively dominates it's own hand-wavey-mote niche.

What is neat is that Acer ships the VESA mount in the box too so you can easily strap it to the back of your TFT. The mount bracket allows the Revo to clip in and out too, so it can be moved around easily and Acer cleverly even puts a couple of USB 2.0 ports in the top by the power button, so they're easy to access.

Now - upgradability. Getting into it is easy - one screw in the side, then a flat head screwdriver to carefully jimmy off the sides. Inside, the SO-DIMM DDR2 memory is upgradable to 4GB max, and the 2.5" hard drive whatever you want to fill the single slot. If you don't need WiFi or want 802.11n, the mini PCI-Express slot is ultimately upgradable too. Don't worry about power use - it ships with a 65W power brick that makes this Energy Star 5.0 compliant.

Interested in a Revo? Let us know in the forums.

Modding the Acer Revo Inside the Acer Revo (Nvidia Ion) Modding the Acer Revo Inside the Acer Revo (Nvidia Ion)
Click to enlarge
Modding the Acer Revo Inside the Acer Revo (Nvidia Ion) Modding the Acer Revo Inside the Acer Revo (Nvidia Ion)
Click to enlarge
Modding the Acer Revo Inside the Acer Revo (Nvidia Ion) Modding the Acer Revo Inside the Acer Revo (Nvidia Ion)
Click to enlarge
Modding the Acer Revo Inside the Acer Revo (Nvidia Ion)
Click to enlarge

34 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Denis_iii 27th April 2009, 11:17 Quote
sweeeet, perfect lil home pc stuck on back of a monitor
mum's xmas present sorted
p3n 27th April 2009, 11:26 Quote
The back of my TV gets really hot, not sure i'd stick more heat sources on!
Burnout21 27th April 2009, 11:41 Quote
ooooooo there is more room in there than i thought, pleant of room for modding some items in there.

Is it possible to hook up a Blue ray SATA drive to the e-sata port? i have only just had the thought, so forgive me if its a simple question.

If its possible then a little modding could see an internal BD slimline drive installed!

Acer stand to make alot of money on this, especially if the retail on the motherboards is going to be very high. The revo is extremely good valve for money.
perplekks45 27th April 2009, 11:43 Quote
Prices for the bigger ones? £250 would be more than acceptable, I'd say.
If nicely priced this'd come very handy for Christmas indeed.
Turbotab 27th April 2009, 11:55 Quote
How noisy is the fan at load? It looks perfect for a whats supp dawg car build!
Bindibadgi 27th April 2009, 12:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbotab
How noisy is the fan at load? It looks perfect for a whats supp dawg car build!

Super quiet from what I could tell. Much quieter than the Asus EeeBox
TTmodder 27th April 2009, 12:06 Quote
how big is the motherboard in that thing?
Turbotab 27th April 2009, 12:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Burnout21
ooooooo there is more room in there than i thought, pleant of room for modding some items in there.

Is it possible to hook up a Blue ray SATA drive to the e-sata port? i have only just had the thought, so forgive me if its a simple question.

If its possible then a little modding could see an internal BD slimline drive installed!

Acer stand to make alot of money on this, especially if the retail on the motherboards is going to be very high. The revo is extremely good valve for money.

E-sata BD yes, but mucho money

http://www.kikatek.com/product_info.php?products_id=86986&source=froogle
Burnout21 27th April 2009, 12:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbotab
E-sata BD yes, but mucho money

http://www.kikatek.com/product_info.php?products_id=86986&source=froogle

i think i could do it cheaper than that. even if it means using a convential BD-ROM drive and a modded 3.5in caddy. As i dont think e-sata has come to 5.25in caddies yet.
Turbotab 27th April 2009, 12:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Burnout21
i think i could do it cheaper than that. even if it means using a convential BD-ROM drive and a modded 3.5in caddy. As i dont think e-sata has come to 5.25in caddies yet.

Do it, sounds like a good mod:)
Yemerich 27th April 2009, 13:44 Quote
Interesting piece of tech, but...
It's just me or this thing is ugly as hell??
Whalemeister 27th April 2009, 13:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yemerich
Interesting piece of tech, but...
It's just me or this thing is ugly as hell??

It is but who's going to notice when it's stuck to the back of a TV / monitor...
Paradigm Shifter 27th April 2009, 14:20 Quote
I look at the standalone pics and it looks huge... then hands appear in the picture and it looks tiny. :)
Stelph 27th April 2009, 17:23 Quote
Trustedreview have revealed the price:

http://www.trustedreviews.com/pcs/news/2009/04/27/Acer-Confirms-Aspire-Revo-Price---Release-Date/p1

Personally im eyeballing the £149 version with the £50 remote as an extra and Windows 7 beta, would make an awesome HTPC with my external HD and also using a DVB-S USB hub for Freesat TV. Only issue I can see is that the atom cpu is supposed to be useless at Flash ect, so iPlayer and the other catch-up channels online wouldnt work properly, hoopefully nvidiea can fix this issue by letting the 9400 GPU step in...
TTmodder 27th April 2009, 21:47 Quote
Why did they choose the puny intel atom 230, instead of the awesome intel atom 330??

EDIT:
Quote:
Originally Posted by www.pcgameshardware.com
Acer told us that a Revo version with the dual-core Atom 330 (1.6 GHz, eight watt TDP) will be available in June at the latest
quote from http://www.pcgameshardware.com/aid,682684/Nvidia-Ion-hands-on-test-What-is-the-Ion-nettop-Acer-Aspire-Revo-capable-of/Reviews/
awwright
proxess 27th April 2009, 23:28 Quote
Mod it into my EeePC 901! That would be truly awesome!
Anakha 28th April 2009, 01:46 Quote
As mentioned, throw an XBMC live distro onto this thing, couple it with an NAS/DVR (MythTV anyone?) in the cupboard/loft/cellar, and you've got yourself one truly awesome HDTV setup. In fact, 802.11n is (just about) enough to stream HDTV over, so you'd only need 2 cables (Power + HDMI). Replace the HDD with a CF-SATA adaptor and a 4GB CF card (Or a small, cheap SSD), and you've got a virtually silent HD box that can play your (ripped to HDD) Blue-Ray and HDTV without issue, using a tiny amount of power.

In short: WANT!!!
Stelph 28th April 2009, 12:33 Quote
F.Y.I. The basic one for £149 does come with an 8GB SSD HDD
Bindibadgi 28th April 2009, 12:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stelph
F.Y.I. The basic one for £149 does come with an 8GB SSD HDD

It'll easily fit a nix distro and XBMC - then just pull the media from the network or use the eSATA port. :)
flatulatorx 28th April 2009, 14:52 Quote
Anyone know what power input is? Would be really nice if this thing can be powered directly from a 12V car battery.
steveo_mcg 28th April 2009, 15:03 Quote
Its likely a 12v power brick, but a car battery doesn't give a constant enough voltage to run computer. Well not without venturing into wide input psu's but then you'd have to transplant it into the revo.
flatulatorx 28th April 2009, 16:58 Quote
Horror upon horrors! Does the Revo not have S/PDIF???
TTmodder 28th April 2009, 19:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by flatulatorx
Horror upon horrors! Does the Revo not have S/PDIF???

nope, but what did you expect from a cheap atom/nvidia based system?
flatulatorx 28th April 2009, 19:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TTmodder
nope, but what did you expect from a cheap atom/nvidia based system?

Uhhm, dunno...didn't think something so basic was too much to ask. Based on the 1080p hype I didn't think they could/would miss the other half of the HTPC equation (ie, sound).

You can always use a USB sound device like the cool little Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro to output to S/PDIF, but these types of USB devices by nature use CPU resources which the Atom has little to spare.
TTmodder 29th April 2009, 11:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by flatulatorx
Uhhm, dunno...didn't think something so basic was too much to ask. Based on the 1080p hype I didn't think they could/would miss the other half of the HTPC equation (ie, sound).

You can always use a USB sound device like the cool little Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro to output to S/PDIF, but these types of USB devices by nature use CPU resources which the Atom has little to spare.

True.

I bet they make a revision of the revo after 6 months or so, adding more features.
Rexxie 10th May 2009, 15:25 Quote
Sorry to dig this up. Was wondering if there were any "void warranty if seal removed" stickers on it? Would I void the warranty if I replaced the RAM?
kaex88 10th May 2009, 20:28 Quote
Newbie question: how portable are nettops?
perplekks45 10th May 2009, 22:42 Quote
Nettops themselves are very portable. The problem might be the monitor, keyboard and mouse you need. ;)
kinnth 17th May 2009, 15:56 Quote
What would people recommend as the best remote to couple with this box?

I dont want a mouse or a keyboard and im thinking of doing the xbmc jobby connecting to my nas?
dazza76 7th October 2009, 06:09 Quote
I have to ask a dumb question so here it goes.
is it possible to change the cpu or are they integrated

appoligize for noob question

Cheers D
Anakha 7th October 2009, 18:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dazza76
I have to ask a dumb question so here it goes.
is it possible to change the cpu or are they integrated

IIRC, Atom CPUs are only available as BGA components, which means they have to be soldered onto the motherboard.

"Integrated" would be the best answer.
cheaptalk 22nd October 2009, 21:03 Quote
2 things: First, I got the atom 230 w/ 1gb ram, and I want to replace my windows XP with W7 32 bit....good idea or not??? Second, I want to add another gb of ram but is there a slot for that??? Just wanna be sure before I tear it apart, thanks so much!
tiffinjoe 27th March 2010, 12:41 Quote
Do you think this setup will work for the revo, with the xbmc bd hack.
http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=67420
esata casing
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/198213
liteon bd player
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Liteon-IHOS104-37-Internal-Blu-ray-Software/dp/B002BAT1GQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
and an esata->esata cable
http://www.amazon.co.uk/1m-eSATA-to-Cable/dp/B000SKN8VK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1269689983&sr=1-1
£70 ish
any one had luck with any bd setup like this.

I will probably get this in a paydays worth of time and feedback, much cheaper than the other options.
tukom 21st May 2010, 21:04 Quote
While Acer Revo is an ok choice, it is facing increasing competition by other nettops and mini PCs: http://mymediaexperience.com/next-generation-of-mini-desktop-computers/

However, what I really like about Revo is that it produces extremely good price per performance ratio. Unfortunately, I am still missing the IR receiver which I would really need as a built in feature.
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