Evo ECOPC: A Silent Nettop

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Subjective Experience

The system shipped with a pre-installed copy of uBuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx), a form of Linux that has a look and feel resembling that of Windows. Its advantages include low cost (free), resistance to viruses (there are none in the wild) and a centralized library for software downloads and updates. uBuntu is pre-loaded with Firefox, Open Office, and clients for IM, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter among other things, making it suitable for most basic tasks right out of the box, at least the tasks one would undertake with just a single-core Atom processor. If you're interested in the ECOPC but are not familiar with Linux, we suggest downloading a LiveCD and trying it out to see if it suits your needs. We installed XP on our ECOPC to directly compare it other machines we've tested in the past, but for personal use it we would probably stick with uBuntu unless we had a particular reason not to.

Both operating system ran fairly snappy during testing, though it did slow down quite a bit when multitasking. The noise level and power consumption were also similar. Like previous single-core Atom systems with GMA 950 graphics, the ECOPC is not great at playing video, handling most H.264 720p content well, but struggling with anything higher. HD Flash video rendering was particularly bad, unwatchable in most cases.

As a basic Intel boards the D945GSEJT has almost nothing of note in the BIOS. There is only one nonessential setting, the minimum fan speed, which can be set to "low" or "off." The setting is bit of a misnomer — "off" turns the fan off completely; it will not turn on at all no matter how hot things get.

System Power Draw

Test Results: System Power Consumption (AC)
Test State
D945GSEJT + T1610
Lenovo Q100*
Eee Box B202
H.264 Playback
CPU Load
CPU + GPU Load
*Atom 230 + SIS 307DV, all other systems use Atom N270 + Intel 945GSE.

Despite sporting very similar to hardware to our D945GSEJT/Morex T1610 build from last year, the ECOPC used about 2W more on average. This could be due to a less efficient power supply... [Editor's Note: Or it could just be a sample variance issue. The board, CPU, chipset and PSU are all subject to some variance in power consumption.] The T1610 shipped with a Seasonic DC brick. The ECOPC also used 1W more than the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q100. The Q100 is also a fanless system but it has a slightly slower processor and uses an SIS chipset rather than Intel.

System State
System Noise
@0.6m (VESA)
14~15 dBA
16 dBA
18 dBA
15~16 dBA
17 dBA
19 dBA
22~23 dBA
24 dBA
26 dBA
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

Though equipped with a small, high speed fan, it had a surprisingly soft benevolent sound devoid of the nasty tonal tendencies of most other fans its size. Idling at one meter's distance, the machine measured just 17 dBA. Turning the fan completely off resulted in just a 1 dB decrease, with the hard drive being the only noise producer. On load, the SPL increased to 24 dBA@1m, which wile loud, retained its soft, smooth character. Mounted behind a monitor 0.6m away, the ECOPC is barely audible during normal activity.

It should also be noted that the hard drive continually spun down after ~15 seconds of idle activity and there was nothing we could find in the BIOS to disable this. With the fan off in this state, the system was completely silent, but only for short stretches of time when we paused active use.

The ECOPC idled at 17 dBA@1m with the fan on.

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