Viako Mini Letter ML-45 LEAP E-350 Barebones Nettop

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Audio Recordings

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

Comparable System sound files:

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Viako Min Letter ML-45 barebones delivers much of what it promises, an attractive but slim box with hardware more than capable of producing a smooth media PC experience. The remote control is quite functional, the software can be customized to the point where you might never feel the need to touch a keyboard or mouse, and the VFD while not really that useful, is a nice addition. The only thing missing is an optical drive bay, something difficult to add to a 1.7" tall enclosure. Sure there are many tech savvy media consumers that source most of their content from the internet and digitized backup archives, but the era of the shiny spinning disc is far from dead. Viako does offer larger Mini Letter cases and barebones with optical drive options but they're twice as thick.

The foundation of the ML-45 is of course AMD's E-350 APU which is a perfect fit for this type of system. It's substantial faster than any Atom and its GPU is fully capable of rendering any video you can throw at it. There are other hardware combinations that are as capable, but AMD's solution is the most balanced solution and very energy efficient. As a result, the ML-45 can be properly cooled, even on heavy load, with a reasonably low noise level. We were delighted to discover that the two tiny fans included were quite smooth sounding at lower speeds and that the fan control system of the included Giada motherboard was surprisingly versatile.

The only thing we didn't like about the ML-45 was the egregious coil whine emitted by the board's VRM circuitry. It was a constant annoyance throughout testing and only fully subsided when the system was powered down or put on heavy load. Due to its high frequency, it's also difficult to drown out but does lessen with distance. If the ML-45 is placed next to a TV 8+ feet away (as it should be in an properly setup home theater room) it won't be a problem, but as a close proximity system we simply can't recommend it unless you've been robbed of your high frequency range by advanced age, head trauma, or genetic defect.

Our thanks to Viako for the Mini Letter ML-45 LEAP E-350 sample.

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