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[转]Asus Nova PC: The Mini Dissected  

2008-02-11 13:18:24|  分类: 电脑硬件 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Small & Metro

Small, is the perennial fashion statement. Apple, Volkswagen, and the multitude of Chinese in-betweens have all rode on the fact that it's cool to be mini. Asus picked up the frenzy and did what an engineering firm in the IT business should: create a mini PC that will rock the world twice over. The machine we recieved came equipped with a Pentium Dual Core E2160, 1GB DDR667 RAM and a 120GB 5400RPM drive. This little machine also comes installed with Microsoft Vista Home Premium. We've heard that this machine will retail for a little over 800 bucks (SGD$1200 for our singapore readers), which is very competitive considering the specifications against the rest of the Small-Form Factor contenders out there.

Asus Nova mini PC - VR-Zone.com

Little holes to the right are rather dubious, but we've heard that they are for holding pens. Front I/O ports are left out to keep the clean look.

Asus Nova mini PC - VR-Zone.com

I/O and power. A 4.77A, 19V adapter supplies power. That gives you about 90watts of manipulative power.

Asus Nova mini PC - VR-Zone.com

A slot-in DVD-RAM drive is internal. The mesh below hides some puny internal speakers, which isn't too bad considering their size.

Asus Nova mini PC - VR-Zone.com

Soft touch panel controls operate by capacitative effects of the fingers. There's an IR reciever beside the power button for the remote control.

Asus Nova mini PC - VR-Zone.com

DVI, DTS surround outputs, 10/100/1000 LAN and 4x USB 2.0. The green and blue jack double up as a SPDIF Out/In with the aid of a TOSLink adaptor.

Asus Nova mini PC - VR-Zone.com

Heat vents. The Pen holders are actually there to prevent users from fatally blocking the exhaust vents.

Pop the Top

Nothing a bit of screwing can't resolve.

Mini PCIe for Atheros Wireless G. The lone connector there provides an interface for the storage devices, a SATA hard drive and the optical drive.

Heatpipes are a godsend when you try to cramp a desktop into a tissue box.

The motherboard. Intel's 946GZ chipset is used.

3 phase CPU power regulation. We've done a little testing and this board will boot most, if not all 4x266MHz FSB Intel CPUs.

The flipside. That's the Southbridge, ICH7 under that heatsink.

1GB RAM module. We tried a 2GB SODIMM and it worked fine.

Looking Inside

Intel Gigabit LOM, VIIV ftw!

ALC888 Realtek Audio Codec. The 'DD' Acronym means that the Codec onboard is Dolby Digital Certified..

Daughterboard for sound and USB outputs, alongside the USB based Bluetooth module and capacitative IR module.. **UPDATED, apologies for the misight.**

The thermal solution, reportedly necessitated 90 engineers and four month's work.

Low noise, low power Maglev fans. These things are so quiet they're practically inaudible. Thoughtfully selected by Asus engineers.

Matsushita DVD-RAM drive with the 5400RPM 120GB Seagate Momentus 5400.3. The 2.5" 5400RPM drive help keep noise levels within the Nova at its minimum.

Everything being put it back for some more testing to come. SFF redefined? You bet!

Calling it a day

Sitting on top a Shuttle G5

Side by Side Comparison.

After tearing it apart, the Nova was meticulously assembled again, and we tested the Nova with an E4500, E6420 and a E6850. The 946GZ chipset handles the 800/1066FSB Core 2 well, but sadly, the E6850 refused to work on the Nova. The elaborate heatpipe cooling handled the higher-end CPU without any problems at all, and the noise level is maintained at a virtually silent level throughout our tests.

We also popped in a stick of Aeneon 2GB RAM stick and it worked like a charm. We recieved the bare unit from Asus in our labs, but it will ship with a full set of accessories including a remote control, the TOSlink adaptors, a stand and a whole load of stuff along with this little monster. We will update this article upon recieval of  the rest of the stuff.

There isn't quite a point running the usual 3DMark mambo jumbo on this machine, as this is built purely for home entertainment purposes from the feature set that we've looked at previously in this article. We tried running some High-Definition Content on the machine, and H.264 encoded 1080P movie trailers ran choppily on the default configuration of the E2160 chip, and it is still slightly laggy on the E4500 chip. Things were ironed out when the E6420 was popped in, and movies begun playing like a charm. The P23 variant of the Nova will be equipped with a E6300/E6320 CPU which should handle High-Definition Content well.

Sadly, it might prove too costly for Asus to equip the Nova PC with a High Definition ODD at the moment, and HD Content on Bluray & HD-DVD is something that enthusiast might love to have on this little machine, and it is virtually impossible for the end-user to obtain a slim blu-ray/hd-dvd drive in the market now. Lack of front I/O ports has proven to be a gripe in terms of accessibility, and additional I/O options like E-SATA will be highly appreciated because the ease of upgrading isn't high, and 2.5" hard drives is still cost a fair bit more than their 3.5" counterparts. All in all, Asus has gotten themselves a winner in the Small-Form Factor market with a superior cooling solution that's virtually silent, classy touch-sensitive buttons and a nice Slot ODD.

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