Giada A51 Mini PC

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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.

Comparatives:

FINAL THOUGHTS

As one would expect, the Giada A51 is best-suited as a media PC thanks to its smooth multimedia playback capabilities and excellent energy efficiency. The G-T56N APU also offers a generally faster experience than anything packing an Intel Atom processor. 802.11n, Bluetooth, and USB 3.0 are also included, rounding out the machine with some good connectivity options. The only thing missing from the package is a VESA mount to tuck the machine behind the monitor, though you can pick one up separately.

The enclosure is slim and takes up minimal space on a desktop when situated vertically. While it's not the quietest system you'll encounter, the fan control system does an admiral job given the hardware inside and size of the chassis. Naturally, many of our thoughts echo those we had regarding the Sapphire Edge HD3 as the two have very similar hardware within their sleek outer casings. In comparison it's clear now that Sapphire sacrificed airflow in favor of a more attractive unibody enclosure design. The thinner profile and impeded side intake vent results in poorer cooling, requiring its fan to spin faster. Giada's thicker boxy case is not nearly as attractive but the more practical approach results in the A51 being both cooler and quieter by a significant margin.

Our only real complaint is the relatively slow hard drive which compounds the generally poor performance of these types of PCs have to begin with. If you're used to the firepower of "proper" desktop hardware, especially if you've had experience with an SSD, you'll be sorely disappointed. It's not particularly snappy and gets bogged down when multitasking. It's a basic machine for basic tasks.

We spotted only one retailer in North America carrying the A51, E-ITX, with a 4GB version with no O/S or remote for US$320. Similar systems such as the Acer Revo RL70, Zotac ZBOX AD04 Plus, and Sapphire Edge HD3 can be attained in the same price range. However, as we mentioned before, the sleeker HD3 isn't as well cooled, while the Acer and Zotac boxes are substantially thicker than the A51.

If size isn't a big issue, the ZBOX AD04 seems to be a more affordable and versatile option. It's an E-450 barebones with a remote and VESA mount included for about US$225. Adding the cost of 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive brings it up to about US$295 but you also have the option of outfitting it with an SSD for presumably, a much better experience. Your media library after all, can and probably should be stored somewhere else on your local network.

Our thanks to Giada for the Giada A51 Mini PC sample.

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