The new Ion 330 is the latest Nettop released by ASRock, who have shown with previous models that they know how to offer affordable solutions for both home and business users.
The slim-looking and compact machine impresses, particularly when video-rendering and playing the latest gaming titles, and the step from single to dual core (as seen in the 230) is certainly noticeable. The fact that its quite and low on power-consumption makes this PC interesting, at least when considering an upgrade from your noise-churning, power-consuming old rig.
However, for its price is it worth investing in such a machine as a replacement for your standard PC? Or perhaps it is better buying a laptop which already has peripherals included in the package, not to mention its better portability and practicality for everyday use?
Read onwards to find out what this Nettop offers in detail and decide whether the unit is for you.
Look and Feel (4 out of 5)
The unit comes in a small package and is wrapped in plastic. The compact box has a black glossy finish and looks quite elegant, but I would be wary of getting your hands on it after having greasy chips. Overall it will occupy little space, measuring only about 20cm by 20 in Width x Length.
At the back the connections are clear, offering the usual USB/audio connections and also connections for HDMI/DVI. If opened (not recommended) the unit uses a Seagate drive and it is easy to disassemble and reassemble in case you want to change/update something.
Features (4 out of 5)
The 330 packs quite an amount of power for a unit so compact. A 1.6 GHz dual-core processor is installed that supports HyperThreading technology, which effectively allows four simultaneous threads. This is ideal for processor intensive application and you should have fun with video/audio applications should you wish to use it for that. It will also run something like the latest ‘Call of Duty’ without problems.
It also comes with 2GB of memory (800Mhz DDR2) and the Nforce 740i SLI for graphic applications, featuring the same Processing Unit as the GeForce 9400M. All this is rather impressive when put to the test, but is it still worth it instead of a laptop?
Performance (4 out of 5)
The unit shows good performance particularly when playing back HD video. It runs everything stutter free and without problems. The installed Graphic Processing Unit is especially powerful and applications/games making full use should provide a good experience for the user.
It also runs new games such as Call of Duty 4; although the fps drops considerably it will run the game in medium detail at medium res without any problems. Considering its cost it packs quite a punch and is very good to use as an entertainment centre to play your movies, music or for encoding purposes.
Particularly welcome is the low-power consumption and this should make it an ideal replacement for a big, power-hungry machine. The unit also overclocks nicely, remaining stable even at speeds of 2.1 Ghz, although 1.8 is ideal. At the highest speed, although logically putting more strain on CPU usage, the video applications still run flawlessly.
Overall (4 out of 5)
The ASRock performs well in most aspects as seen above. However the fact that it lacks any peripherals, particularly for essential I/O, does not make it more worth it than buying a good quality laptop for a bit more money.
However, if you wish for something more novel and need to save on space, it is definitely worth investing in a unit like this.