Asus Eee Box B202 Desktop System Evaluation

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HD Video Tests

We're sure many of you are wondering just how well the Asus Eee Box might be able to double as an HTPC (Home Theater PC).  After all, it does have HD Audio output with an available S/PDIF port, an 80GB internal hard drive with the ability to expand via USB 2.0 connections and DVI output, which can utilized as a source for many HD TVs as well as computer monitors.  So we fired up some HD digital video content to see how the Eee Box might handle the load.

HD Video Playback Tests
720p and 1080p WMV HD Performance

The first clip we played was Fighter Pilot - Operation Red Flag, from the Microsoft WMV HD showcase site.  This clip is rendered in full 720p resolution and is fairly hearty workload for any integrated graphics-based system.

Fighter Pilot - Operation Red Flag - 720p WMV HD - Courtesy Microsoft

37% CPU utilization, playable

The Eee Box had no problem with playback of this clip and actually gave smooth, repeatable results in full screen mode as well.  We were seeing an average CPU utilization of about 35 - 50% with some higher spikes occasionally.

Next we took things up a notch and pulled up Journey Into Amazing Caves, an IMAX targeted film in full 1080p HD resolution.  This test would place significantly more workload on the system's CPU and graphics pipeline.

Journey Into Amazing Caves - 1080p WMV HD - Courtesy Microsoft

60%+ CPU utilization, not playable

Unfortunately, though the Eee Box was only oscillating with a CPU utilization of 60 - 70%, the playback experience of Amazing Caves was not up to par.  We witnessed many dropped frames and lots of stopping and starting.  Intel's GMA950 graphics core just isn't equipped to handle full 1080p HD content without a strong processor backing it up, since it offloads most of the processing to the CPU.

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