Evo ECOPC: A Silent Nettop

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Overall the Evo ECOPC is exactly as advertised. It's a basic nettop PC that is small, energy efficient, and effectively silent except for the whirl of the included hard drive. If you prefer absolute silence, Evo offers the option to swap in an Intel SSD. Given its size and mounting options, it can be placed on a wall, behind a monitor, or simply tucked into a corner. With a 12V input it can be easily powered from alternative sources like a car battery or solar array. The system has a small fan included, but for most users, leaving it off is the way to go. Unless you live in both a hot climate and plan on taxing the system heavily, active cooling simply isn't necessary.

The Atom N270 inside, despite being one of the slowest modern processors one can buy today, is enough to get through the daily grind of a large chunk of end-users, that is to say watching standard definition video (and some high definition), word processing, internet use, but little else. To emphasize the Evo's minimalist philosophy, they offer only Linux with the ECOPC (or no O/S all), with our sample shipping with uBuntu pre-installed. uBuntu is a solid choice for a home user with simple needs as its interface is similar to the Windows XP environment, and comes with a fair amount of software to facilitate day-to-day use.

Undoubtedly there will be those who criticize the ECOPC's lack of horsepower, but they must realize that anything substantially faster requires either larger dimensions or a more expensive chassis with a heatpipe cooling system. It's also notable that many people get by with using their smartphone as their main computing device, so an underpowered nettop is sufficient for some. That being said, we would have preferred a more modern energy efficient platform, like one based on Pine Trail or possibly AMD's new Ontario processors. The power supply used in the ECOPC seems to be less efficient than the Seasonic unit included with the similarly sized Morex T1610 case. It would also have been nice if Evo included a WiFi card, or even an option for one as wireless networking is more or less ubiquitous these days.

Perhaps the biggest problem facing the ECOPC is the fact you can build a similar system for much less using a case like the Morex T1610. A T1610 with a 60W power adapter, an Intel D945GSEJT, a 2GB DDR2 SO-DIMM, and a WD Scorpio Blue 640GB can be purchased in parts for a total of about US$265. Our ECOPC sample configuration costs US$346. You don't save on a subsidized OEM Windows license either as Windows is not offered; in fact there's a US$15 charge for installing Linux included in the total. [Editor's Note: The parts prices apply to the US; they may well be higher elsewhere.]

Our thanks to Evo Technologies for the ECOPC N.1A sample.

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