ASRock ION 330HT-BD Net-top ReviewManufacturer: ASRock
UK Price (as reviewed): £349.49 (Inc. VAT)
US Price(as reviewed):
Intel Atom 330 Dual Core 1.6GHz
2GB DDR2 800MHz
Having played with quite a few Intel Atom based net-tops and netbooks over the last year, we think it's fair to say that performance has on the whole been lacking. Throw anything more than word processing at one of these single core Atom (or VIA) CPUs and it struggles, especially with Flash and High Definition video playback.
Are we expecting too much of these supposed laptop and desktop replacements? Are they even wanting to be replacements? If not then why should we replace budget desktop PCs which can cope with HD playback and the like with something that can't? Space is the obvious answer, with net-tops such as the Viewsonic VOT 132
taking up a fraction of the volume a midi tower does.
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While netbooks are often about as fast as an elderly three-legged tortoise with in-growing toenails, net-tops are finally packing a bit more of a punch: where the ASRockION 330HT-BD, like the Viewsonic, sports a dual-core Atom 330 CPU and Nvidia’s Ion
chipset. With the latter offering GPU accelerated flash soon thanks to a new update to Adobe's Flash Player (more on this later) and Windows 7 supporting DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA) to take some of the load off the CPU during video playback, it seems that the latest generation of net-tops are beginning to become much more viable desktop replacements.
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We suspect that if the Net-top market is still going strong this time next year, it will owe a huge debt of gratitude to three products - Windows 7, Nvidia's Ion and Intel's Atom 330. It's become a tripod of success without which the net-top would have been resigned to the same pile of fail as mobile internet devices and virtual reality. Enough speculation though, lets take a look at how this talented trio perform in the real world.