Nettops!

Discussion in 'Computer and Technology Discussion' started by Trebor, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. Trebor

    Trebor Dolphin Fan

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    I'm thinking of getting a nettop PC for the living room and was wondering if anyone had any advice on what to buy, whether I should build one myself, what to look out for when making a decision on purchasing one? The requrements are, it has DVI-out and HDMI and is capable of playing HD content (Blu-ray drive) and able to record TV (preferrably digital).
     
  2. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    I did a lot of research in to Nettops before I purchased one in July, it’s possible to build your own however its honestly better value just to buy a pre built one. I know this is not usually the case when building your own PC however there’s limited hardware combinations you can put in a Nettop and your end result would be the same as buying a pre made one anyway, just more expensive.

    To play 1080p you want something based on the Nvidia Ion chipset, With the Nvidia Ion chipset (basically a low powered Geforce 9400) you can offload all the hard video decoding from the processor which makes it possible to play Blu-ray or MKV encoded video files with less than 50% cpu usage on the Intel Atom.

    I would recommend you buy the Asrock Ion 330

    You can get a version with a Blu-ray drive which will suit you perfectly, you would need to buy a USB TV tuner as there is no space to add additional hardware such as a TV tuner (you can upgrade the ram and hard drive with ease though)

    Software wise for TV recording Windows Media Centre really is the best out there, for Blu-ray playback ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre integrates with Windows Media Centre so you can do everything with a remote control from one application (Media centre doesn’t natively support Blu-ray without 3rd party programs installed)

    The Ion 330 will use 30w of power when idle and only 40w under full load... less than having one light on, can’t be bad can it? ;)

    Photo from the what did you buy today topic:
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Nimrod

    Nimrod Exotic Vendor

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    Where does one buy a ASRock? ;)
     
  4. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    Lambda Tek

    If it’s your first order with them they will need to call you on a land line number to make sure you actually live there, you will get next day delivery if you order before 3pm.

    The price has gone up a bit since I ordered but they still look to be the cheapest around by at least £30-40.
     
  5. Nimrod

    Nimrod Exotic Vendor

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    Erm, any more mainstream places? lol
     
  6. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    Scan - £240

    Overclockers - £240 this week, normally £260

    Lambda Tek are not the biggest internet retailer but there's nothing wrong with them.
     
  7. Trebor

    Trebor Dolphin Fan

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    Anyway to hook up a USB TV tuner to the roof ariel at all? Recommend any that do that? If not it doesn't matter. I'm sure my parents will still use the HDD recorder they've already got. I shall be looking at more Ion nettops cloesly, thanks for the advice.
     
  8. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    Yes just plug the roof ariel in to it like you would do with your TV, the only difference between a usb tuner and a pci tuner is how it connects to your pc.

    Have a look at this usb tuner, it has dual tuners so you can record and watch at the same time or just record 2 programs.
     
  9. KillerWhiteMan

    KillerWhiteMan Burnout Racer

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    I was thinking of getting a desktop computer and it sounds like nettops are the best bet. I have a laptop, but wanted something to put in my room. Nettops seem like a good idea for that yes?
     
  10. CurlySteve

    CurlySteve Elite Member

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    My opinion differs compared to Insanenutters. I believe that you would be better of by building your own nettop as you can have a computer which is almost as customisable as any full sized computer. Also you can have whatever shape and size that you see fit to have. I would personally look at building one at least before considering a prebuilt one as it may not be better value depending on what you buy.

    A website to look at when building your own:

    mini-itx.com - news

    and their store:

    mini-itx.com - store - home
     
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  11. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    If you want something small, quiet with low power usage yes.

    The ones with the ion chipset will even handle some games such as Half Life 2, Age of Empires 3 and so on quite well, however some other games released around the same time run horrible on it (UT 2004 for example) don’t buy one and expect it to be a gaming pc but if the game is optimised it should play some quite well!

    I did actually look at that website you link to when researching Nettops, for a Nettop the same spec as the Asrock Ion 330 with the addition of Wifi your still looking at well over £100 more for the same hardware.

    [​IMG]

    Its not really any more customizable then a normal pc as you can’t add any pci / pci express devices to it, the only advantage I see is you could put it in a full size pc case and add 3 hard drives to it and make a storage server, but then its not a nettop if you do that.
     
  12. Titcher

    Titcher Addict

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    I have a nettop myself, built by myself back before you could get them prebuilt, wound up costing a bit, roughly £150. CurlySteve is right on the build your own being customisable. As an example, you could get a board like this:
    Inno3D ION Motherboard with Intel Atom N330 Dual Core DVI VGA HDMI Out Onboard WIFI 6 Channel Audio Mini ITX Motherboard With 80W PSU - Ebuyer

    And use whatever case/drive combination you wanted, this CAN cost quite a bit as mini-itx cases are harshly overpriced. There is the prebuilt option where you can get something like this:
    Acer Aspire Revo Desktop PC - Desktops at Ebuyer

    You're getting pretty good value on something like that, and if it's for playing off of the hard drive or over the network, then it's ideal. If you wanted bluray playback or TV tuning then you'd an external tuner and an external blu-ray drive, which I can't find on ebuyer right now, but you could easily use an internal drive with an enclosure, adapter or with eSata and a power adapter.

    But essentially, it's prebuilt to save (some) money but have very limited customisation. For complete customisation, build yourself, considering there are mini-itx boards with sockets on and PCI-E, you can have a full powered PC at tiny sizes.

    mini-itx.com used to be the only place to get mini-itx hardware, but ebuyer do it now, generally for better prices, if you're considering building your own, check out this section:
    Motherboards Intel - mini-ITX - Ebuyer

    When considering cases, check out what you can get cheap elsewhere and use mini-itx.com to get the in-depth specifications, as mini-itx.com do the research into what boards fit in the various cases and things like that.

    One final thing, you CAN get mini-itx parts cheap on ebay, it's just not very common. But I've seen a case with fully power supply go for £20, so it might be worth checking out.
     
  13. CurlySteve

    CurlySteve Elite Member

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    That may be in your case insane nutter but not in others. Plus you cannot customise as much when buying a prebuilt one.
     
  14. Titcher

    Titcher Addict

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    Oh and to prove CurlySteve's point on price, check out this combination at ebuyer that totals out less than £250, with bluray:
    Piano Black Mini ITX Cube Case - With 300W PSU - Ebuyer
    ASUS AT3N7A-I NVIDIA ION with Intel Atom N330 Dual Core Processor HDMI VGA Out 8 Channel Audio Mini ITX Motherboard - Ebuyer
    EXTRA VALUE 2GB DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 MEMORY - Ebuyer
    Western Digital WD3200AAJS 320GB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 8MB Cache - OEM Caviar Blue - Ebuyer
    LiteOn iHOS104 Blu-Ray Reader & DVD-Rom Serial ATA Internal Black - OEM - Ebuyer

    That particular case doesn't seem to have a free PCI slot, but the gallery pictures aren't very detailed. But the motherboard does have a PCI slot, allowing for plugin of whatever you want in there, maybe a WiFi card or TV tuner.
     
  15. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    Yes you can take a Nettop motherboard, add standard pc hardware to it and put it in a small form factor case but at the end of the day I wouldn’t call it a Nettop.

    From Wikipedia:
    The size of the thing you quoted is a breeze block :S

    Width 22 cm
    Height 18.2cm
    Length 33.6cm

    Compared to an Asrock Ion 330 which is:

    Width 19.5cm
    Height 6.5cm
    Length 18.6cm

    If you take the Bluray drive out and add a normal DVD drive I still stand by my argument you have spent more than I did for something of exactly the same spec that is going to take up more room than 3x Asrock Nettops do.... I would also question how power efficient that is with a generic 300w PSU running standard 3.5” drives.
     
  16. CurlySteve

    CurlySteve Elite Member

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    simple solution to the size problem you get a smaller case like this: mini-itx.com - store - mini-itx cases The reason why I mentioned a custom built is because I wanted to show everyone that there is another way of getting a nettop and it was dismissed quite quickly.
     
  17. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    Yes and looking at the dimensions it’s still significantly bigger, Then you are back to my original argument of it been more expensive as your spending £56 on a case and going to have to drop your hard drive / optical drives and get a 2.5” hard drive and slim line DVD drive or have one and not the other.

    I dismissed it as its not better value for money and you’re not really gaining the ability to customize anything more worthwhile than a pre made one whall keeping a small case / low power usage which is what Nettops are all about.

    We’re not going to agree on this but at least anyone reading this topic can see two different arguments and make their own minds up.
     
  18. Titcher

    Titcher Addict

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    See that's the thing, "If you take the bluray drive out", the person specifically asked for bluray, and they got it at a good price point. The case I quoted doesn't have to be the one used. And of course you get more customisation, you try and buy an Asrock 330 and tell them you don't want to pay for their drives you want to put your own in, see how that goes, tell them you don't want to pay for their RAM, you want to put top-spec RAM in, oh, not an option? That's what I thought.

    And the argument of power usage, it's a 300W PSU, but that's the max it can output, the system I picked out won't use anything near that, with a probably max of 50W, the average optical drive uses a max of 13W.

    And you talk about price point, look at this Asrock 330 with bluray drive:
    Net Top ION BluRay - ASRock NetTop ION 330 with BluRay Reader, Intel Atom 330, 2GB DDR2 800MHz, 320GB HDD, Black - Scan.co.uk
    Just under £310, a £60 difference of what I quoted. So for a taller case with more room for hardware, and front USB and audio ports and also better cooling, you save £60. It costs less, and has the same hardware.

    Now I can understand you'll do anything to justify your purchase, but you shouldn't let it taint some other persons purchase just because you refuse to believe what you bought wasn't the best option.
     
  19. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    Trebor also asked for a Nettop, you haven’t shown me anything that’s going to fit in a case anywhere near the size that Nettops come in, yes you could change the case for a smaller one but to get it anywhere near the size of a Nettop then you need to actually buy the same parts as are in a Nettops such as slim line optical drives and 2.5” hard drives which is where it becomes a lot more expensive for you to build it yourself.

    Your trying to pass a small form factor pc off as a Nettop.

    If you look at the size of a standard pc optical drive and hard drive you want to use in your nettop there almost as big as my Nettop...

    [​IMG]

    I could maybe see you getting the parts you want in a case like shuttle use for there small form factor pc’s but thats still over twice the size of most Nettops out there.

    I don’t really need to justify my purchase as you can’t show me anything close to the size of it you could build yourself and get a better deal on.
     
  20. Titcher

    Titcher Addict

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    The system I'm suggesting is certainly bigger, but it's certainly not big, smaller than a Xbox 1 so very usable. Now, in regards to this small PC rather than a nettop thing, maybe I used the incorrect wording, but I dislike the massive amount of words they throw out there for the various form factors.

    A small size increase is surely worth the money saved. The whole point of this debacle was to reveal that there are options however, I'm not trying to invalidate pre-built systems. Most of the functions people want in these things could be gotten out of a used xbox after all.
     

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