Asrock Ion 330HT-BD Nettop Review

By on December 14, 2009, 5:55 AM
Before we tell you more about Asrock's Ion-based nettop, try to imagine buying a complete desktop PC that costs as little as $350 and is both modern and stylish. Furthermore, this imaginary computer supports many new technologies, runs Windows 7 with ease and provides full HD playback. Additionally it consumes less power than a traditional incandescent light bulb under full load and generates almost no noise.

Our imaginary computer is about the size of a biscuit tin or about 19x19 cm. (7x7 in) with a height of just 7 cm. (<3 in). This computer sounds like the perfect HTPC and truth be told, it is.


No longer a mere a figment of our imagination, let's get this thought out of the way. Despite paying little attention to the hype behind the Nvidia Ion, it turns out we loved Asrock's implementation of the platform. By combining Nvidia's latest chipset with the Intel Atom processor, Asrock has put together an extremely impressive low-profile computer.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 30

Got something to say? Post a comment
Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I want one of those, here in Chile I was looking for a Gear Ion series computer which has the same n330+ion 2gb ram and 320gb hdd, without an optic drive it measures a bit less than that and looks much more stylish too, just waiting for the old computer to sell, has pretty decent gaming hardware, but nowadays I don't even have time to play so... I want one of those =)

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Looks very cool, and could be a great higher end Blue-ray player option or great little computer for non power users. Wouldn't pass mustard for my main pc though. I would love one as a multimedia pc connected to my TV, the only thing to be missing from my wish list is to be able to able to use this as a TV capture device.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I may have to get one of these to replace my larger HTPC that I put together earlier this year, which I may repurpose as a gaming rig for my son

@compdata, there are plenty of USB capture devices that work very well for TV capture. I've personally used one of the Hauppauge models, and for my HTPC that I built, I got an ATi 650 HD which is USB, has digital and analog input, and an integrated MPEG-2 encoder to crunch the video as it comes in, rather than taxing the CPU. Pair 1 (or 2) of those with this little media gem reviewed here, and you'd have a great system.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Very slick. I've forwarded this on to our IT Manager for consideration.

Great review - thanks!

fastvince said:

The only thing missing are USB 3.0 ports. I still don't know why most manufacturers are not including these on stuff they make !?

LightHeart said:

Looks good.

You did a great job on the review!

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The only thing missing are USB 3.0 ports. I still don't know why most manufacturers are not including these on stuff they make !?

Probably because one of very many reasons...

Posible First: Would increase the cheap factor from this to not so cheap and in the end would be much more convenient to buy another thing.

Posible Second: They don't work with any mainboard, they use limited hardware and most of it is notebook oriented, and the mainboard must be very limited as it is.

Posible Third: It just didn't fit into the box.

Posible... I don't know, picture it :P

Puiu Puiu said:

For how small it is it packs quite a punch. I might buy one in a year or so when prices come down a bit. But first, i want a high-end PC.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

For the price it has Puiu, I doubt it will come down a bit at all.

I doubt big time that it could go any lower.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Nice machine and a comprehensive review. One thing I would have liked to be given more attention would be gaming. Even though this HTPC isn't very good at it, it's something I'm still interested in. First of all, I think that such an HTPC would likely be used with an HDTV, so 720p and 1080p are better resolutions to test with than those tested. Secondly, it'd have been nice to see some benchmarks of lower quality settings and games that might run, instead of just commenting about it. Games that appeal to the whole family, like WoW, might be good candidates for a living room HTPC.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

@ET3D I have a comparable zotac ion that I've been playing with over the last few months. Unfortunately nothing in the last 5 years is even remotely playable, even with all the settings turned down.

Timonius Timonius said:

I would like to see what's 'under the hood' here.

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

I think that such an HTPC would likely be used with an HDTV, so 720p and 1080p are better resolutions to test with than those tested. Secondly, it'd have been nice to see some benchmarks of lower quality settings and games that might run, instead of just commenting about it.

Excellent feedback ET3D, I will pass this along to Steve. Admittedly we are more used to review desktop components meant for gaming, so we didn't stop to think about this and include it on this particular review.

In the meantime, tekkaraiden seems to be running a similar Ion box from Zotac (you can find them selling online) and his feedback can serve you for the moment.

@Timonius: Under the hood? Check out page #5 for all kinds of naked screenshots:

[link]

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

@fastvince - It's safe to assume USB 3.0 would come at a great expense with little gain at the moment since there are no devices ready for it just yet.

fastvince said:

Julio said:

@fastvince - It's safe to assume USB 3.0 would come at a great expense with little gain at the moment since there are no devices ready for it just yet.

Yea...that seems right. I personally wont buy anything without them. In six months from now, when 3.0 is the new standard , I would have to buy all new stuff again...Better off waiting..

Staff
Steve Steve said:

I really don't think USB 3.0 is an important consideration right now. It will be some time before devices such as the Asrock Ion 330HT-BD support USB 3.0 and truth be told you are not missing out not having it with such a product. External drives should use the eSATA port while USB will mostly be used for low bandwidth devices anyway.

Also ET3D mentioned that we should have tested more games ... I do not feel that it was necessary. The Ion 330HT-BD is not suitable for gaming and should not be purchased with the intention of doing any kind of 3D gaming. Basically we showed what we did only to prove that statement.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I second ET3D to test drive this sort of machines for casual gaming.

I for one would love to see how WoW or DDO would run on it, I know I ran DDO on a GMA945 with a bit of lag normal gameplay, and a lot of it in big areas. On the other hand, how the n330 works on java games, like facebook games, with an N270 some games lagged hard, even on an a64 5000+ have seen them lag when too many objects are on screen.

The idea ET3D gave was not for hard gamers, but the casual you can play on the net maybe.

@Fastvince: I doubt we will have USB 3.0 as new standard in 6 months, maybe a little more time to come.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Steve, I did a little googling, and looks like Tom's Hardware did a little gaming test on a similar platform earlier this year (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/zotac-ion-atom,2300-5.h
ml). WoW actually ran pretty decently at 720p. So don't discount it so easily.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

My first thought on seeing this was 'But I can get a PS3 for $300, and even with all the cables, I can get it for under $350 - and it plays PS3 games also'. I know the PS3 is rather picky about the formats it will take for video, but from the guides I have come across online and playing with my friends PS3, its not all that hard to get it to play movies on his HDTV, and it has a Blu-Ray player.

By no means am I saying this isn't a beautiful little HTPC - I would rather own a PS3 personally.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I would rather have a computer than a PS3, much much more versatile and could have more than a couple uses.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Kibaruk said:

I would rather have a computer than a PS3, much much more versatile and could have more than a couple uses.

Yah but I already own 2 computers and a laptop. Main purpose of this device seems to be to play video and movies on your TV. I would rather get the PS3 to do that, and be able to play PS3 games.

Im not saying its useless, just I don't need another computer.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

I would rather have a computer than a PS3, much much more versatile and could have more than a couple uses.

I agree with you Kibaruk it is much better for playing HD content than a PS3 and it provides much more functionality.

Still if all you want to do is game then yes the PS3 is a better solution. Though having said that if you want to game, better yet build a gaming PC, that's way better than a PS3! That's right I went there :P

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

There is just something about consoles not filling that "something" when you play games, I don't know what it might be.

Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I was just wondering, how well did the Media Center remote work? Is it set up straight out of the box, like a TV/Blu Ray player remote would be? Also, can it be used for anything other than windows Media Center. For example, can you program it to open a browser or other application?

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Yes it works right away like a TV/Blu Ray player remote would. It could be used in other programs as well once setup.

lachmi said:

i am from dubai, uae. i am interested to buy this product. please advice where i can avail one. thank you.

Guest said:

Nice review. It surprised me how badly it compared to other processors as it feels fairly nippy in windows 7. You do need to get a few extras though such as an operating system and bluray playback software which pushes the price up. overall i am very happy with mine as htpc with a dvb usb card.

Guest said:

I bought one of these for use with XBMC and it's been fantastic. Still a bit sluggish with Flash video over the web but with that gaining hardware acceleration that will improve. One comment to add to the review; why budget for Windows 7? Just install Ubuntu!

Guest said:

Obviously a bit late to the party, but here's a few thoughts...

RE Gaming: by all means try something like this for casual gaming, but it's first and foremost a HTPC rig.

RE vs PS3: Sure, you could get movie playback over a PS3, but picture this...

- You've got all your movies stored on a central hard drive

- You've got a server running, say, My Movies

- That server might be a Windows Home Server, also running DVB link, and have a pile of TV tuner cards in

- That server might also have all of your pictures and music on

Now. Ad some of these bad boys to the equation (the ASRock machines) at every TV in your house, and you've got...

- All of your movies available on all machines via a cool jukebox interface

- The same TV channels available throughout the house

- Potentially the same recorded TV available throughout the house

- All of your music available in each room. Same for pictures

I'm not saying don't get a PS3 - by all means do, but this HTPC route over networking opens up whole new avenues. Personally I'd get both, but stick to the PS3 for gaming.

I'm currently running some of the above configuration, but with HTPCs that I've built myself. Now, these ASRock boxes have started to come down in price a little (it's a year on, after all), and they still fit the purpose. They're now cheaper than building your own.

RE Windows 7 choice: See above. I'm sure you can do most of what I'm doing for free, but that's the route I've chosen.

Just a few thoughts, and thanks for the review - it's made my mind up.

Cheers, Simon

Guest said:

bought it and straight away after i turned it on i got it hitting 2.3 ghz with my custom heatsink which uses a small external attachment..(like 2cm by 2.5cm) so that really got it going. i then installed 8gb ram which i got for $56.95. next up was the hdd which was replaced by an 64gb ssd i got off ebay at a cheap $96. installed fresh copy of windows, drivers,codec pack and media portal, hooked up my external NAS and i have the ultimate htpc. it can play back bluray iso perfectly with bd-live working and no stuttering. next im going to do is build another heatsink for the gpu and oc it for better performance and if all goes well build a small box with fans for both external untis.

i will not post a guide for the heatsinks as they are my own design and require very complicated soldering and know-how, but let me tell you, with everything under $650, im truly happy

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.