|Introduction & Specifications|
|Don't let the doomsayers sell you on the idea that the desktop PC is dead. Far from it, desktops are just now entering their heyday with blazing fast multi-core processors, gobs of RAM, high definition output, SuperSpeed USB 3.0, HDMI connectivity, wireless input devices, and everything else you might find on a modern day system. No, desktops aren't dying; if anything, they're finding new ways of securing a permanent spot in your living room, your office, your dorm room, and even places like your kitchen counter or man cave. All of these areas are places all-in-one (AIO) PCs have been known to dwell.
The AIO form factor isn't new by any means, but it's only recently begun to make a broad market appearance across a number of manufacturers beyond Apple or HP, who were among the first to pioneer the form factor. Better touchscreen technology combined with lower prices have made AIO PCs both practical and affordable. The ET2410 from Asus attempts to be both of these things. It's an $850 system built around Intel's Sandy Bridge platform and packaged in an ultra-slim body that looks fashionable and takes up very little space, despite bringing a sizable 23.6-inch touchscreen to the AIO party.
Asus envisions the ET2410 taking its place as the centerpiece of your domain, as long as you don't fancy yourself a gamer, overclocker or workstation power user. The ET2410 is built to handle everyday tasks and multimedia projects. You can watch movies on the ET2410, burn DVDs, rock out to your favorite band, backup files to the web, and of course keep up with all your favorite social networks, all without ever having to use your mouse (if you don't want to). We'll cover more of what the ET2410 can and can't do on the following pages, but in the meantime, let's get acquainted with the system specs.
Pulling down the ET2410's spec sheet and glancing at its package of parts, our first impression is that this is an average PC. It has an Intel Core i3 2100 processor that's in also in charge of graphics (Intel HD Graphics 2000), 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 memory, and a 500GB hard drive that together form the system's foundation. Not exactly jaw dropping, but as we like to believe, it's not always the size of the parts, but how you use them. Let's take a look at how the ET2410 shakes what Asus gave it.
|Software, Accessories, & First Boot|
Part of the appeal of an all-in-one system is that everything is bundled together, as least far as the core components go. Depending on which specific model you buy, however, there are some extras to be had, like a remote control to use with the built-in TV tuner and an external subwoofer. None of these were included with the ET2410IUTS-B019C package that we tested, though we did get a few add-ons.
What you do get with this specific model is a wireless keyboard and mouse combo that sync up with the system via a USB dongle. Setup is super easy if you know how to push a button (and if you don't, you're not likely to get much enjoyment out of a mouse and keyboard anyway) and can install a set of AAA batteries. The keyboard is comfortable and sturdier than it perhaps looks, so you don't need to fret about dropping it on the floor. We're not saying we tested this out, and we're certainly not suggesting we threw it across it a 10-foot room -- we're not saying or suggesting these things because we know Asus is reading this. But, we did, and the keyboard never flinched.
Other accessories include a power cord, quick start guide, and various other scraps of paper you'll likely never look at.
We never know what to expect when we fire up a system for the first time. Will we be greeted to a sterile desktop unsoiled by trialware, or will it be bogged down with bloat and polluted with icons? The ET2410 lands somewhere in between. Other than Trend Micro, you won't find much in the way of third-party add-ons, but Asus did load it up with a generous amount of proprietary software and utilities, as well as a pull-down dock parked in the top center of the screen.
One of these utilities is called Eee Paint, which you can think of as MSPaint for kids. If you have young children at home, this is a good way to introduce them to touchscreens, assuming your toddler isn't already rocking an iPad fresh out of the crib. In the screenshot above, it took us about 30 seconds to paint a picture of a pirate wielding a bloody knife in front of Little Snowflake, the same blade he stuck Snowflake's brother with for not revealing where the buried treasure is located. Speak up Little Snowflake, or you're next. Bawk! Anyway, moving on...
When you're not
Perhaps of a bit more utility in today's connected lifestyles, the ET2410 includes a 3GB account with the Asus WebStorage cloud backup service. That's an extra gigabyte compared to what you'd get if you signed up for a free account without purchasing an ET2410. At no extra charge, here is a bit of broken English:
"Your Asus WebStorage is now ready, which you can enjoy the great services from productivities to entertainments that include Backup, Sync, and more. To ensure you will always have the ultimate Cloud experience, we will release new cool features on a continuously basis!"
We're not picking on Asus, but when you're trusting a company to maintain safe backups of your files, proper grammar goes a long way. Asus certainly has the resources to translate text, and it's an issue that's been brought up in their support forums, so it's not just us that noticed.
|Overall Design & Layout|
|The majority of all-in-one machines tend to look either really sexy or really awful. There doesn't appear to be a whole lot of middle ground, perhaps because it's a growing segment that isn't yet saturated with models to the same extent as desktop towers and notebooks. Regardless, the ET2410 is a head turner (in a good way).
The very first thing that strikes us about the ET2410 is the glossy finish, and unless you intend to plop the machine on your front porch, as we obviously did, that won't be an issue. Asus traded in the boxy base look that's so prominent on many all-in-one machines and gave the ET2410 a bit of modern flair with an angled base and a two-tone finish that looks elegant, just as advertised.
We should also mention that this thing is heavy, or at least heavy enough to where you won't have to worry about knocking it over when playing Nerf football in the house or dorm room. It tips the scale at nearly 24 pounds, or about a pound per inch of screen real estate.
The power button sits flush with the speaker bar on the bottom right and illuminates when you turn it on. Above it are volume up/down buttons that double as on-screen controls for the 23.6-inch display. You're afforded some basic calibration for things like brightness, contrast, and color temperature, but not much else. We didn't run the ET2410 through an exhaustive display test with DisplayMate and other tools we use when formally evaluating monitors, but the screen was bright and crisp overall, and plenty sufficient for day-to-day computing and multimedia tasks.
As for the speaker bar and the pair of 3W drivers nestled inside, the ET2410 pumps out some impressive sound. Crank it up and you can fill a room with your Beastie Boys collection or whatever old school tunes you're kicking it too. There's even a bit of bass response to do your 80s rap collection justice, even without the optional bass module. We're not talking window rattling, couch shaking, cops arrive at your door because the neighbors complained bass, but some mild thump nonetheless.
Around the back are a series of connectivity ports, including:
You can also yank the stand off of the ET2410 and mount the system to your wall via VESA mounts and/or an optional Asus certified wall mount. We don't imagine many people will to do that with this particular model, as it lacks an optional TV tuner. The stand itself supports a bit of tilt adjustment, but no pivot or height alterations.
On the right side of the ET2410 is the DVD burner (or Blu-ray drive, another optional accessory that isn't included on this particular model). Over on the left are more connectivity ports, including a pair of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, eSATA port, memory card reader, and headphone/microphone inputs. We like that Asus decided to put the faster USB ports on the side of the system where they're more conveniently accessed instead of around back where those lazy USB 2.0 ports are situated.
|PCMark & 3DMark Tests|
To kick things off we fired up Futuremark's system performance benchmark, PCMark Vantage. This synthetic benchmark suite simulates a range of real-world scenarios and workloads, stressing various system subsets in the process. Everything you'd want to do with your PC -- watching HD movies, music compression, image editing, gaming, and so forth -- is represented here. Also, most of the tests are multi-threaded, making this a good indicator of all-around performance.
The ET2410 isn't going to knock your socks off with raw computing power, or even untie your shoes, for that matter. But it will post respectable benchmarks for this class of system, based in large part on the Sandy Bridge foundation, fast RAM, and 7200 RPM hard drive running the show. In terms of real-world performance, it will post to Facebook and fire up your playlist as well as any mid-range system.
We're currently building a repository of scores for Futuremark's PCMark 7 suite, and while we don't have a huge database to compare the ET2410 with, we can say a score of 2631 is perfectly acceptable for a family machine.
The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark Vantage, is specifically bound to Windows Vista-based systems because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10, which isn't available on previous versions of Windows. 3DMark Vantage isn't simply a port of 3DMark06 to DirectX 10 though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware. We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark Vantage's Performance preset option, which uses a resolution of 1280x1024
Our library of 3DMark Vantage scores in the all-in-one category isn't as fleshed out as we'd like it to be, in part because AIO systems have only recently started to become popular in the mainstream. But with or without a ton of comparison figures, it's clear that the integrated Intel HD Graphics 2000 doesn't have the graphics muscle to knock out 3D chores that go beyond basic tasks. It should also be noted that it also doesn't support DirectX 11 eye candy as well.
|SiSoft Sandra & CineBench|
|We continued our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Memory Bandwidth, Physical Disks).
Intel's Core i3 2100 processor isn't a barn burner by any means, and that's highlighted in our Sandra benchmarks. This is a dual-core chip stuck at 3.1GHz (no Turbo support) with just 3MB of cache. That's perfectly fine for day-to-day tasks and some multimedia chores, but short of the kind of performance we'd expect from an $850 machine.
The ET2410 fared a bit better in Sandra's memory and physical disk benchmarks. With 4GB of DDR3-1333 RAM in a dual-channel configuration, the test system pulled down 15.64GB/s in aggregate memory performance, which is right on par with where it should be. The 7200 RPM hard drive performed as expected too.
Maxon's Cinebench R11.5 benchmark is based on Maxon's Cinema 4D software used for 3D content creation chores and tests both the CPU and GPU in separate benchmark runs. On the CPU side, Cinebench renders a photorealistic 3D scene by tapping into up to 64 processing threads (CPU) to process more than 300,000 total polygons, while the GPU benchmark measures graphics performance by manipulating nearly 1 million polygons and huge amounts of textures.
As is the case time after time, Cinebench makes a mockery out of our test system, indicating that this isn't a workstation class machine (in case there was any doubt). So why do we keep running it? Well, we're looking forward to the day when a consumer system slaps Cinebench silly; we've even been practicing our Nelson (from the Simpsons) laugh. Today is not that day.
The lesson here is that if you're thinking about buying this system for gaming, don't. Asus clearly didn't have any kind of serious gaming in mind when it put together this particular model, which relies solely on the Core i3 2100's integrated Intel HD Graphics 2000 to push pixels around the screen (or, more often than not, get pushed around by pixels). Lost Planet 2 isn't an easy benchmark anyway, but we turned all the settings to Low (or Off, when possible), disabled anti-aliasing, and ran it in DirectX 9 mode. Despite all this, it couldn't manage anything close to playable framerates, even at 1280x600. Our experience was similar in both Dirt 2 and Far Cry 2.
If your system can't run Left 4 Dead 2, you're in serious need of an upgrade. It's one of the few games that would probably run on a calculator, and it does just fine on the ET2410, albeit after you drop the screen resolution below its native 1920x1080. Starting at 1366x768, game play smooths itself out.
We used SeaSonic's Power Angel Power Meter to measure the amount of power our test system pulled from the wall. You'll find three figures below: power supply's maximum rated wattage, peak power consumption under a full CPU/GPU load, and how much the system pulled from the wall when idle, following a fresh system boot.
Without a dedicated graphics card, multiple hard drives, a heaping pile of RAM, or a quad-core CPU, there isn't much here to tax the power supply, which is only 150W to begin with. Even still, there was plenty of headroom to spare under load. Fully loaded with Prime95 and Furmark, the ET2410 only pulled 91W from the wall. When idle, it consumed less than half of that, drawing 42W from the outlet.
|Performance Summary & Conclusion|
Performance Summary: We weren't blown away by the benchmark numbers the ET2410IUTS-B019C turned out, nor did we expect to be when we glanced the spec sheet. There's just 4GB of RAM, a mechanical hard drive, and a lower end Core i3 2100 processor that Asus tasked with both computing and graphics chores, an awful big workload for a basic chip, even one built on Intel Sandy Bridge technology. So you're not going to win any benchmark bragging rights, and you can forget about lugging this puppy to LAN parties. Even if it wasn't heavy, the integrated graphics are ill-suited for most modern titles, and completely incapable of DirectX 11 visuals.Touchscreen computing is finally within reach, and the sub-$1,000 ET2410IUTS-B019C from Asus proves this. At $850, we hesitate to call this a budget machine, but it's at least affordable. It's also very attractive and will give the impression perhaps that you spent a bit more than you actually did, especially when you fire it up for visitors and start tapping at the screen to load up your playlist, filling your living room with sound from the surprisingly capable integrated speakers.
However, as a family machine, this all-in-one does a better job of making a case for itself, at least for basic computing tasks. You know the ones: Email, Facebook, puttering around cyberspace, watching high-definition video clips, and anything else that isn't real demanding. We wish it came with more storage space, and Asus didn't do the Full HD display any favors by omitting a Blu-ray drive on this particular model, but if you're fine with the system specs, the ET2410 makes good use of what it does come with.
At the same time, we can't help but feel underwhelmed by the overall package. Touch computing is neat, but until Windows 8 arrives, it's still easier to navigate with a mouse and keyboard in Windows 7. But it's the hardware that has us scratching our heads. It feels like Asus made concessions at almost every turn, from only outfitting the ET2410 with 4GB of RAM at a time with system memory is dirt cheap, to only providing 500GB of storage space -- these are yesteryear specs. And then there's the dual-core Core i3 2100 processor, which is fine for basic tasks, but lacks the muscle for any kind of heavy duty computing or gaming. On top of it all, where's the Blu-ray drive to take advantage of that 1920x1080 display? It's on the ET2410IUTS-B018C model, and so is the faster processor (quad-core Core i5 2310), more RAM (6GB), and twice the storage space (1TB), though it still lacks a dedicated GPU. Still, it's a much more powerful machine with several improvements, and it's only about $100 more, which is well worth it for the upgrade if you're interested in an all-in-one like the ET2410.