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Asus EeeBox PC EB1501P Review
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Date: Dec 27, 2010
Section:Systems
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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Introduction and Specifications

Asus is out to prove that big things really do come in small packages with its EeeBox PC EB1501P. This nettop offers an array of I/O ports as well as a slot-load optical disc drive and the ability to play content from your own media library in Full HD. Thanks to USB 3.0, the EeeBox PC EB1501P also supports fast transfers of high definition content as well as other large files from external storage.

Powered by Intel's energy efficient Atom processor, the EeeBox PC EB1501P uses up to 70 percent less energy than a traditional desktop PC. To ensure you're not trading too much performance for power savings though, Asus' Super Hybrid Engine enhances the system's performance and also tailors the nettop's power consumption to suit your performance demands.

For a full HD 1080p home entertainment experience with 5.1 channel surround sound, you can connect the EeeBox PC EB1501P via HDMI and S/PDIF output ports. The nettop's 802.11n WLAN and Ethernet LAN port will keep you connected to your home network.

Nettops are definitely gaining some traction in the market, especially now that the dual core Intel Atom D525 processor is available. NVIDIA's next generation Ion is also key factor in today's nettops, providing users with 1080p playback as well as some light-duty gaming capabilities. Given their compact size, affordability, and capabilities, nettops are looking to make their way into more and more homes.

Although the price for the EeeBox PC EB1501P is a bit higher than the Zotac HD-ID34 Nettop we reviewed earlier this year, keep in mind that Asus' model is a complete package—system, operating system, remote, etc. The Zotac unit lacked an operating system, which, in turn, also gives it a lower price on the surface.

The EeeBox PC EB1501P's thin design makes it ideal for apartments, college dorm rooms, or even your home theater setup. For desktop use, the EeeBox comes with a stand. Alternatively, you can also attach the EeeBox to the back of an LCD monitor using the included mount. 

Asus EeeBox PC EB1501P
Specifications & Features

OS
Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
CPU
Intel Atom Processor D525 Dual Core, 1.8GHz
Memory
DDR3 SO-DIMM 2GB (up to 4GB)
Storage
SATA 2.5'' 250GB/320GB HDD + ASUS WebStorage Trial
Optical Drive
Slim Slot-in Super Multi DVD-RW
Chipset
Intel NM10
Graphics
Next-Generation NVIDIA ION(GT218-ION)
LAN
10/100/1000 Mbps
Wireless
WLAN 802.11b/g/n @2.4GHz
Front I/O port
Card Reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC)
two USB3.0
Headphone-out jack
MIC
Rear I/O port
Built-in Wi-Fi antenna
four USB 2.0
HDMI out
eSATA
Audio jack (S/PDIF out)
Lan RJ-45
Power Supply
19Vdc, 3.42A, 65W Power adapter
Dimension
193mm(W)x193mm(H)x39mm(D)
Weight
1.2kg (2.64 lb)
Accessories
Quick Start Guide
Power adapter& Power Cord
Stand
VESA Mount Kit
S/PDIF adapter
Warranty Card
Remote Control (Option)
Wired/ Wireless Keyboard+Mouse(Option)
Color
Black, White
Price
Street price around $519.00

 

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Design and Build Quality

When attached to the included stand, the EeeBox PC EB1501P has what Asus calls a "standing diamond" form factor. Really, it's an attractive, yet basic design that most will be happy displaying on their desk. When not mounted to the stand, the EeeBox is thin enough to easily fit with your home theater setup or attach to the back of a monitor to save space. The EeeBox PC EB1501P is available with either a black or a white case.

Considering that Asus really touts the multimedia capabilities and HDMI-output of the EeeBox PC EB1501P, we were a little disappointed to learn that our test model didn't come with a Blu-ray drive. Although the system will support full 1080p playback, you'll only be able to fully take advantage of the system's high def capabilities using local files. The EeeBox PC EB1501P may claim to be the world’s smallest PC to have a slot-in ODD, but without a Blu-ray drive, it's not the most home theater-friendly nettop out there.

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Thanks to the Intel Atom D525 Dual Core Processor and next-generation NVIDIA ION, this machine is definitely better equipped for multimedia than the lower performance nettops of yesterday. The system is still somewhat limited by the included 2GB of DDR3 SO-DIMM memory, but you have the option of increasing the memory capacity to 4GB if you choose.

The included 320GB HDD in our test model provides enough storage for everyday files, but if you find yourself viewing and storing a lot of high-def content, you'll find yourself filling the hard drive quickly. Of course, you can always connect additional storage via the eSATA or USB 3.0 ports.

On the front of the EeeBox PC EB1501P, you'll find a 4-in-1 card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, headphone-out jack, mic jack, power button, and the slot-load DVD player. The back of the device houses the Wi-Fi antenna, four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI out, VGA connector, eSATA, audio jack (S/PDIF out), a RJ-45 jack, and the power connector.

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User Experience, Software and Accessories

The EeeBox PC EB1501P’s standard specs (an Intel Atom D525, 2GB of DDR3 memory, and NVIDIA Next-Generation ION graphics) provide enough power for basic tasks as well as watching high-definition video files. The system was virtually quiet when running – we hardly noticed any noise coming from the EeeBox PC EB1501P. Heat output was minimal as well. 

Both the included chiclet keyboard and compact wireless mouse were comfortable to use. If you’re going to put this system in your kitchen, on a small desk, or with your home theater system, you probably don’t have a lot of extra space, so we appreciate that Asus made both the mouse and keyboard compact.

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When loading multiple applications at once, we noticed a lag in system performance, though that’s to be expected for a nettop such as the EeeBox PC EB1501P. During basic use, the system performed smoothly. Although some heavy applications took a bit to load, once they were running performance was acceptable.

The system scored 3.6 on the Windows Experience rating, which is decent for this type of system. Our test system came with 2GB of DDR3 memory installed; the system can accept up to 4GB of memory.

Although this is a nettop, Asus didn't completely scrimp on accessories or applications. Asus includes a wireless chiclet keyboard and a wireless mouse with the EeeBox PC EB1501P. We also appreciated that the EeeBox PC EB1501P came with a Windows Media Center remote. It's a small thing, but a nice accessory nonetheless.  This remote makes it especially easy to access and play content using Windows Media Center when the system is connected to your home theater equipment.

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Compared to other nettops such as the Zotac model, the extras that come with the EeeBox also help justify the added cost of the machine. In addition to the stand, mount, remote, keyboard, and mouse, you'll also find a quick start guide, power adapter and power cord, S/PDIF adapter, and a warranty card in the box.

Our test model EeeBox PC EB1501P came with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit preinstalled. In terms of software, Asus preloaded the system with ArcSoft TotalMedia Center, various ASUS tools, Microsoft Office Starter 2010, Trend Micro Internet Security, and a few other various programs and tools. We could have done without some of these programs, but of course, you're always welcome to uninstall them after you boot the system.

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Futuremark 3DMark 06 & PCMark Vantage

To assess the performance of the Asus EeeBox PC EB1501P, we pitted it against a number of netbook systems based on Intel Atom processor designs, including the first generation of NVIDIA's Ion platform, as well as standard Atom solutions.  We also included numbers from the Zotac ZBox HD-ID34 and ZBox HD-ID11. Still, the performance figures we've provided are presented for a frame of reference more than anything else.  As such these test metrics should not be considered "apples to apples" comparisons, but rather a general correlation of how the next-gen Ion-based EeeBox PC EB1501P will perform versus similar, low power platforms in its peer group.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Covering the bases

Asus EeeBox PC EB1501P
Intel Atom D525 (Dual Core)
(1.8GHz)
2GB DDR3
NVIDIA Next Gen Ion GPU
(GeForce GT218 Ion)
On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio
1x320GB 2.5" Hard Drive
5400 RPM SATA
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Zotac ZBox HD-ID34
Intel Atom D525 (Dual Core)
(1.8ThinkGHz)
2GB DDR2-800
NVIDIA Next Gen Ion GPU
(GeForce GT218 Ion)
On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio
1x500GB 2.5" Hard Drive          
5400 RPM SATA
Windows 7 Ultimate (32-bit)

Zotac ZBox HD-ID11
Intel Atom D510 (Dual Core)
(1.66GHz)
2GB DDR2-800
NVIDIA Next Gen Ion GPU
(GeForce GT218 Ion)
On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio
1x500GB 2.5" Hard Drive          
5400 RPM SATA
Windows 7 Home
Premium SP1 (32-bit)

Lenovo ThinkPad X100e
AMD Athlon Neo (MV-40)
(1.66GHz)
2GB DDR2-800
Radeon HD 3200 IGP
On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio
1x250GB 2.5" Hard Drive          
5400 RPM SATA
Windows 7
Professional (32-bit)

Asus Eee PC 1215N
Intel Atom D525 (Dual Core)
(1.8GHz)
2GB DDR2-800
NVIDIA Next Gen Ion GPU
(GeForce GT218 Ion)
On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio
1x250GB 2.5" Hard Drive          
5400 RPM SATA
Windows 7 Home
Premium SP1 (64-bit)

 

Futuremark 3DMark06
Synthetic DirectX Gaming

 

The Futuremark 3DMark06 CPU benchmark consists of tests that use the CPU to render 3D scenes, rather than the GPU. It runs several threads simultaneously and is designed to utilize multiple processor cores.

The Asus EeeBox PC EB1501P has very similar specs as the Zotac ZBox HD-IS34 and the Asus Eee PC 1215N. Not surprisingly, all three systems scored very similarly on all of the 3DMark06 tests, proving that although we have two nettops and one netbook in the mix, the Atom D525 processor and Ion 2 graphics perform the same regardless of form factor.

Performance Comparisons with Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Details: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmarkvantage/introduction/

We ran the system through Futuremark’s latest system performance metric, PCMark Vantage. This benchmark suite creates a host of different usage scenarios to simulate different types of workloads including High Definition video and movie playback and manipulation, gaming, image editing and manipulation, music compression, communications, and productivity. We like the fact that most of the tests are multi-threaded as well, in order to exploit the additional resources offered by multi-core processors.

In this test, the EeeBox PC EB1501P also produced similar numbers to the similarly configured Zotac ZBox HD-IS34 and the Asus Eee PC 1215N. You can also see the difference between the new Atom D525 and a couple of the older Atom processors.

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Gaming Benchmarks

Performance with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Gaming Performance

 

To get a feel for gaming performance, we ran Enemy Territory: Quake Wars with a pre-recorded demo at a resolution of 1280x720. The resulting performance achieved is indicated in frames per second in the graph below.

 

The EeeBox PC EB1501P came in just behind the similarly-equipped ZBox and just ahead of the Asus Eee PC 1215N. It’s likely the difference in the scores is due to different software configurations with the OS and drivers as well as differing types and amounts of memory.

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SiSoftware Sandra & Multimedia Benchmarks

We continued our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA 2009, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant.  We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia Memory Bandwidth, and Physical Disks).

CPU Arithmetic Test; Click to Enlarge

CPU Multimedia Test; Click to Enlarge

Memory Bandwidth Test; Click to Enlarge

Physical Disks Test; Click to Enlarge

 

The SiSoftware SANDRA tests show that the Atom D525 really is more powerful than previous Atom processors. The EeeBox PC EB1501P didn’t fare quite as well in the Memory Bandwidth and Physical Disks tests, though it’s important to keep in mind that different comparison systems may show the EeeBox PC EB1501P in a more positive light.

To test the multimedia capabilities of the EeeBox PC EB1501P, we loaded up a 1080p WMV-HD (Windows Media) clip and a 1080p QuickTime, H.264 encoded clip.  In the foreground of these shots you can see Windows Task Manager Performance Monitor graphing CPU utilization, giving you an idea of how taxed the system is during this test.

HD Digital Video Playback Tests
CPU Utilization and System Resources Required For HD Video Playback

 

Iron Man 2 Trailer - 1080p, H.264 QuickTime Video

 

 Speed Demo, 1080p Windows Media HD Video

The EeeBox PC EB1501P handled our high-definition video clips with ease. We didn’t notice any dropped frames or hiccups when the system was outputting to our monitor or our HDTV.

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Performance Analysis and Conclusion

Asus set out to prove that you can get impressive performance from a small nettop such as the EeeBox PC EB1501P, particularly in the form of high-definition video output. Thanks to NVIDIA’s next generation Ion graphics and dual-core processor, the system is quite capable of offering 1080p playback as well as a 5.1 channel surround sound experience via HDMI and S/PDIF outputs. With its handful of I/O ports, the system also offers plenty of other connectivity options as well.

Intel’s dual core Atom D525 processor certainly gives this nettop a boost in performance over previous generation Atom systems. Although the system sometimes took a few seconds to load a heavy application, it handled basic tasks such as word processing and surfing the Web with ease. Gaming on this system wasn’t quite as impressive as on the ZBox units we looked at earlier this year, though the EeeBox PC EB1501P did manage 25.4 fps in Enemy Territory Quake Wars. Keep in mind, this isn’t a gaming system, but it can handle some light-duty gaming thanks to its Ion GPU.

The EeeBox PC EB1501P’s price of approximately $519 may seem high at first, particularly if you’re comparing to the Zotac ID34 we took a look at earlier this year, but it’s important to keep in mind that this is a whole system (minus a monitor); You’ll find the EB1501P loaded with an OS and a keyboard and mouse in the box. The Zotac unit was more of a bare-bones system that lacked an OS, keyboard, or mouse. By the time you add the price of these additional components to the Zotac unit, pricing is more competitive.

All in all, Intel's Atom D525 combined with NVIDIA’s next-gen Ion GPU provides for decent performance at an affordable price. You’ll be able to enjoy local high-definition video clips, web browsing, and other everyday tasks just fine. Since the system doesn’t have a Blu-ray drive, we especially appreciate the two USB 3.0 ports for faster transfer of high-definition videos and other large files.

 

     
  • Thin design
  • Stays cool
  • Two USB 3.0 Ports
  • No Blu-ray drive
  • Lackluster gaming performance

 



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