TechSpot: Asrock Ion 330HT-BD Nettop Review

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.

View: Asrock Ion 330HT-BD Nettop Review

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This kind of mini HTPC are starting to come up with more features and power, but I'll wait until the prices are right.
As of now, they are too expensive for just HTPC use.

I have WD TV connected through a Yamaha A/V receiver and my 42" LCD TV as my HTPC setup and the WD TV outputs 1080p nicely. And It cost me around $120.

Maybe when the prices are around $350-400 with a blu-ray drive and a Media Center remote, this computers will start to sell really well.

Most of what you can do with a WDTV or a HTPC can also be done with a Playstation 3. With the current price drop, you could buy one with it's Blu-Ray remote for the price range you stated.

Actually, Atom works quite well paired with ION. With 1080p video, the Atom CPU uses less than 30% of its resources, with ION doing most of the work.

Blu-ray and atom in one box that could be a HTPC... no. Even with it being a diamondville with ion... just no :S

If you want a HTPC to do HD and Blu-ray spend the money on a proper system which you won't have to worry about it being capable or not heck even a low end pentium E5200/c2d E7200 with GTS210/220 would make a lot more sense..

carmatic said,
sorry but i dont get it, why not?

Well Atom Z series last i saw couldn't handle youtube HD/fullscreen @ 1366x768 or hulu let alone proper HD or blu-ray. N270/80 only just managed 720 HD but still fair bit of stutter let alone 1080 from a low-medium bitrate encoded movie. Now I don't think you're going to have future proof smooth seamless perfect HD playback from an extra core and a bit better chipset and gpu specially from high bitrate blu-ray movie in 1080p HD + 5/7.1 sound.

Digix, the ASRock uses a dual core Atom 330 (not sure if its Z series or not). i've personally seen one running 1080p video with bitrate around 10mbps and it had no issues at all. of course a lot of it has to do with the Ion as well.. but for decent htpc i dont think you can go wrong.

profets said,
Digix, the ASRock uses a dual core Atom 330 (not sure if its Z series or not). i've personally seen one running 1080p video with bitrate around 10mbps and it had no issues at all. of course a lot of it has to do with the Ion as well.. but for decent htpc i dont think you can go wrong.

I didn't say it contained a Z200 series atom. I was comparing it to my observations of the others.

Digix, read up on GeForce 9400M (aka ION when paired with Atom) and its HD playback capabilities, especially the hardware accelerated playback (CUDA).

This is a perfect little system which supports full HD accelerated playback w/o any issues. Running mine on W7. And I'm sure you also know about Flash 10.1b w/ hardware acceleration.

GT210 (40 nm) = GT100/9400 (55 nm).
GT220 (40 nm) = GT120/9500 (55 nm).

StealMySoda said,
So as a HTPC would it really be a better buy?

why not, it has the power, looks pretty decent. the ipod touch/iphone could be used as a remote.

InsaneNutter said,
The Mac Mini is £500 without a Blu-ray drive, this is £300 with a Blu-ray drive... i know which I would buy ;)

if bluray is the main concern than perhaps its a good buy. personally id just get a ps3 over this

kaffra said,
a mac mini would be a much better buy, only lacking a blu ray disc at the moment.

i'd much rather save $200-300 and purchase this than a mac mini. seriously, why spend more money? unless you specifically want OSX on your tv. we are talking about this as an HTPC anyway no?

profets said,
i'd much rather save $200-300 and purchase this than a mac mini. seriously, why spend more money? unless you specifically want OSX on your tv. we are talking about this as an HTPC anyway no?


Actually, you'd probably only save about $100 (if even that much) buying this over buying a Mac mini and adding a Blu-Ray drive to it. The thing is, though, that you'd have a much more powerful processor with the Mac mini than with this. This computer, as tested, is actually $580 without an OS, only $19 cheaper than a base model Mac mini. Add in the cost of Windows 7 and you are actually much more expensive, although you still would have to add the Blu-Ray drive to the Mac.

I have the original AS Rock Ion 330, its overclocked to 2ghz and use it as my main pc perfectly fine.

Why not with the amount of power it uses? around 40w under full load. I still have my PC for when I want to play games but to be honest most of that happens on the Xbox 360 these days.

I can't recommend it enough

you're right. i've seen these in person (theyve been around for a while no?).. not great looking, but decent size. not close to as small as the Acer Revo which has similar spec (less the optical drive)