Asus EeeBox EB1501 ION Mini-PC

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TEST RESULTS

System Power Draw

Test Results: System Power
Test State
Asus EB1501
Lenovo Q110
Idle
20W
17W
CPU Load
27W
20W
CPU + GPU
Load
39W
31W

The EB1501 uses only 3W more power when idle than the Lenovo Q110, but 7W more on full CPU load, and 8W more when the GPU is added to the mix. This is not surprising given the Eee Box has to power a second Atom processor core, an extra stick of memory, WiFi adapter and optical drive. Still, its energy demands are far lower than even a low-end mainstream desktop, which would be lucky to idle at below 40W.

Video Playback - CPU vs. GPU

To see how much difference video hardware acceleration makes, we played our test suite with hardware acceleration both on and off. Our H.264 and WMV-HD clips were played in PowerDVD, so we simply ticked and unticked the video acceleration option in the configuration menu. Our x264 clips were tested using CoreAVC to decode them using CPU power alone, and then we configured it to use Nvidia's CUDA technology to utilize the GPU. Our Flash test clip was played with Flash 10.0 which does not support GPU acceleration, and then with the 10.1 Beta version which does.

Test Results: Video Playback
Test State
GPU Accel.
No GPU Accel.
Avg.
CPU
System Power
Avg. CPU
System Power
Rush Hour
(1080p H.264)
13%
25W
60%
27W
Coral Reef
(WMV-HD)
29%
27W
33%
27W
Undead Battle
(720p x264)
18%
26W
49%
26W
Spaceship
(1080p x264)
18%
28W
65%
28W
Iron Man
(720p Flash)
26%
24W
60%
26W
Grey boxes indicate test failure.

Most of the clips, except for the WMV-HD video played smoothly using CPU power alone, though with high CPU usage — above 60% in most cases. However, with the GPU assisting, CPU utilization dipped below 30%, and H.264 and Flash playback used slightly less power. Ultimately, GPU acceleration really wasn't needed to play through most of our video test suite as a dual core Atom at 1.6GHz is powerful enough on its own. However, taking advantage of ION's decoding capabilities frees CPU resources for other tasks and ION gives you that all important HDMI port, which Atom systems with Intel's antiquated GMA 950 graphics lack.

We should also note that according to Cyberlink's Blu-ray Advisor, the system is fully capable of Blu-ray disc playback, only lacking an optical drive with Blu-ray support.

Subjective Experience

The biggest peeve we have with complete systems is the amount of pre-installed software. The EB1501 was not horrific bad in this regard, but they did take a good chunk of time to uninstall due to the relatively slow processor and hard drive. There are some useful but essential things (especially for entry level users) like Flash Player, Adobe Reader, ArcSoft TotalMedia Theater, and Microsoft Works. However, also present were some applications we could definitely live without like Asus' WebStorage, Update, and Eee Manager applications, as well as Adobe Air and trial versions of Microsoft Office and worst of all, Trend Micro Internet Security. Like most security software, Trend Micro gets in the way than it helps. For example it warned us of "suspicious activity" when we tried to connect to a password-protected router. If you follow all its advice, the only safe activity is playing Solitaire.

In general use, the system is reasonably snappy and we'd have no problem using on a day-to-day basis. About the only complaint we had was the boot-up time, even after we stripped most of the software off. It took about 63 seconds from the time we pushed the power button to when the desktop appeared and the system was responsive to our commands. By comparison, the mCubed HFX Micro S13, which also sports a dual core Atom CPU and notebook hard drive, booted into XP (albeit a lighter OS) in about 40 seconds.

The included keyboard, mouse and remote had pretty good range — we tested them at 6 meters (20 feet) away and all three functioned without any problems from that distance. The remote was directional, so it would only work if pointed it within 30° to either side of the receiver. It was a relatively simple, Media Center remote without any fancy bells and whistles. The mouse had a comfortable, rounded shape, but if you have large hands, it is a bit small. The keyboard had a nice feel and good, responsive keys, but it was a little cramped and we had to arch our fingers more than usual to type with speed. All three accessories use a pair of AA batteries, which are supplied.



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