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> Nettop HTPC Comparison
VfWyburn57
Posted: Jul 5 2010, 06:12 AM
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I recently wrote a post about using a Nettop as an HTPC. It talks about what you should consider and the difference between 3 different machines. I felt that the wonderfull people of the HTPC Forums may be interested.

With nettops becoming much more popular and affordable they are becoming a viable option for using as a dedicated HTPC.

A nettop in basic talk is a relatively cheap small PC with a low power consumption, which is perfect for a HTPC. This allow you to hide it away out of sight or place on display under the screen. It also means that you aren't going to run up a large electricity bill by having it on all the time.

In my eyes there are three main lines that fill the gap. Asrock 330, Asus Eee Box and the Acer Aspire Revo.Each have their good and their not so good sides, this is what I want to talk about in this article. It depends what you are after as to which is correct (if any) for you. Before beginning I would like to make it clear that you are not going to be gaming or running hard working servers using this setup but it will make a fantastic solution as a front end for a HTPC.

Considerations
Some of you may be using Network Attached Storage (NAS) to share all you data which will mean that you don't require a large Hard Drive to store all those large HD Movies.

You will need interface ports that work with the rest of your setup, do you require an HDMI output for audio and video or do you wish to use a separate optical cable for audio?

You also need to think about how many USB ports you will use on a daily basis while leaving some free for other devices.

Optical drives vary on these toys and this point alone may make the between the three for you. Some include a Blue ray drive and some don't have any optical drive, after all its all on your hard drive anyway, isn't it? Remember you always add an external drive if you need to.

You may only have a small low resolution screen so you will not require a 1080P output to your TV/Monitor.

If you plan to rip/encode using your HTPC you may want to consider the Processor speed or using a separate computer for the job.

Do you require your box to be small and hidden behind the TV or are you proud of your new toy and want to show it off in all its geeky glory.

While I wouldn't recommend streaming your video using a wireless connection I understand that some people do do this, so this may be a consideration for you.

Acer Aspire Revo
With a maximum RAM capacity of 4GB, an Intel Atom 330 coupled with NVIDIA Ion Graphics and up to a 500GB HDD you shouldn't have any problems with playback of HD content. The revo features a large hard drive which is fantastic for those of us who don't already have a storage area, otherwise it is a little un-needed. The revo is also very small and easily hidden.

Asus Eee PC
With only a maximum of 2GB RAM shipped and an upgradable capacity of 4GB it is dropped on you front door with less RAM than the Revo, but I doubt that you will need 4GB just for a HTPC anyway. Asus have also gone for the NVIDIA Ion Graphics which is perfect for HD playback. The Eee is behind again with a maximum shipped hard drive size of 250GB. The advantage of these machines is the size, of the three talked about in this article it is the smallest.

Asrock 330
Again only ships with 2GB RAM and can be upgraded to 4GB . The Asrock meets in the middle with a 320GB hard drive. Not surprisingly the latest model is also based on the NVIDIA Ion Graphics chipset.There are several different ranges available to you. There is a HT model that includes an infra red remote and also the BD range which includes a blue ray drive for that optical HD goodness, of course you could get the HT-BD model (guess what that means). You can also add an extra hard drive and make use of the on board RAID setup for extra performance or redundancy. Having a built in optical drive does make it slightly larger than the others.

Comparison
This comparison is based on the highest spec machines that you can get at the time of writing, money no object (not they get very pricey).Please note that this information is subject to change.
(IMG:http://www.tomology.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/compare.jpg)
Please note that all specifications stated are based on best spec available without upgrading yourself unless otherwise stated.

Wrap it up
As you can see the cheapest machine is the Aspire Revo and it is also has the best specification. However if you require an Internal drive and don't mind going slightly larger then the Asrock 330 is only roughly £40 more but comes without an operating system which may or may not be an issue for you (Linux is quick and free). In my opinion the Eee Box is overpriced for what you get compared to the other two. Again the Revo is the device to pledge for if you need the HDD space. If you store all your media on the nettop and not on another PC it may be worth considering the Asrock 330 because of the option of adding an extra HDD and configuring up a RAID solution.

I hope that this post has been informative and helpfull towards you purchasing decision.

Post taken from Tomology.co.uk/Compare HTPC Nettops
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jp2code
Posted: Jul 8 2010, 10:22 AM
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Don't forget these!

An ASUS Netbook with Dual Core and NVIDIA ION driver (carry it with you when you leave!):
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002ZLOR56

ASUS EEE Box with DVD player:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002VKBKD8

Dell has one with an AMD Athelon processor, 640 HDD, DVD+RW, & ATI Radeon Graphics:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0030T17IC

This one by Compu Fit is super small, but no built in drives:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002ULGRLS

And finally, my personal "Top of the List" item at the moment has a dual core Atom with integrated GeForce 9400M graphics:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003MBZLBC

Forgive my Amazon references, but that makes them easy for me to save.
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VfWyburn57
Posted: Jul 8 2010, 02:19 PM
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Wow all these devices I didnt know about, do you think it would be of interest to anyone if I added these machines to the post? I would do short write up of each and add them to the comparison.

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VfWyburn57
Posted: Jul 9 2010, 05:30 AM
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I also just found this that a few people seem to be using for an HTPC:

http://www.play.com/PC/PCs/4-/13027582/Zot...7Ccat:Computers


Nice and small again, no optical drive isnt an issue for me, I have a Blue Ray player (HTPC Blue Ray isnt really there yet) and DVD's get copied onto HDD's.

Have you/Do you know of anyone who has used any of these machines as an HTPC?
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jp2code
Posted: Jul 12 2010, 09:09 AM
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I'd *love* to see some comparisons on these machines! I really want to jump into the HTPC market with one of these units, but since I've never done it, I don't personally know what to say is good or bad about any one of them other than what I've read in other reviews.

One of the things I'd like to see is how someone would best go about getting dual tuners on these devices. A HTPC should be required to include a tuner just like every television should be required to include a tuner. Further, if media recording is desired, dual tuner would seem to be mandatory; after all, who wants to sit and watch the show they are recording?

The only dual tuner HD cards I have found are for full sized PCs - meaning, they require a full-size (sometimes oversized) PCI x16 slot. There are several single tuner USB sticks, but that would be unsightly sticking out the back a tiny (5 to 7 inch) HTPC. Also, USB connections can not be fastened, so the coax input cable could be bumped by the cat and fall out.

The best dual tuner option I have come across to date is the HDHomeRun TECH. It can be mounted anywhere (i.e. next to the antenna for strongest signal strength), and sends the data over a CAT5 network cable. That idea is appealing to me quite a bit, and there are no complaints that I have found.

Sorry about not replying sooner. I didn't originally setup my profile for automatic email notices.
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VfWyburn57
Posted: Jul 12 2010, 10:19 AM
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I couldn't give you any advice about Dual tuners for a HTPC as I am based in the UK and as far as I am aware we work off of a very different system.

At the moment I am using a dual USB Tuner. For me having a block sticking out of the back of my Nettops is not a problem as I plan to mount/sit it on the back of my TV so it is hidden anyway.

To me the HDHomerun looks a little pricey but I guess if it does what you need then it is worth the money (Too much money for my wallet).

Just out of interest what do you plan to run on the nettop? (OS,Software etc.)

I haven't actually got one of these little machines yet but when I do pull the cash together then I will write up a review of the item and the software that I have running on there.

The only issue that I can see that the moment is that I do not have a NAS, everything is just stored locally on my PC, buying a nettop right now is slightly wasted if I have to turn on my main machine to stream my media anyway.

What other bits of information would you like to see in a review for these mini/mighty boxs?
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VfWyburn57
Posted: Jul 14 2010, 04:08 PM
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OK, so I have finally managed to do a bit more of a write up about nettop HTPC hardware.

It can be found on my website www.tomology.co.uk in roughly 15 hours. (15:00 GMT)

If you find it interesting please help me to help you by passing the site around. I am currently only just starting the site and would love to finally get some traffic :-)

HTPC Nettop - All In One Place
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