Pros: Powerful nettop for home entertainment and client testing, has HDMI port, runs games and movies well, and all at a low cost
Cons: Our only real complaint is the lightweight and low-quality mouse included with the system, and the rather chintzy keyboard
The Acer AspireRevo nettop is a new hybrid of an old concept. Thin computing is older than the hills, an idea Sun tried ages ago. The computer itself is underpowered and ‘light’ for mass deployment, the assumption being that it will be used primarily for web and network access. Yet, the AspireRevo has integrated Nvidia Ion graphics, an HDMI port and an optical stereo out port, 802.11n wireless, and other perks that are rarely found in the world of thin computing. It’s an ideal system for client testing, home use for entertainment, or even as a primary desktop.
The key to the performance gains, even with the Intel Atom 330 processor running at just 1.6GHz (and meant more for spreadsheets than anything), is the ION chipset, which provides a graphics boost and fast movie playback – and also those HDMI and optical audio ports. The system normally ships with Windows 7, but the first two steps after obtaining this nettop will be to load Linux and then, as quickly as possible, to load the Nvidia driver for the Ion chipset, which is readily available either as a download you compile or through a package installer. We tested the Revo with both Novell SUSE 11 and with Ubuntu 9 and, once the Nvidia driver was running, the Revo sprang to life. We tested several 3D games, including the first-person shooter Doom, and the Revo ran smooth and sprightly.
Amazingly, this nettop also supports 802.11n wireless. Ubuntu found the wireless chipset and we were able to attach to a D-Link DIR-855 router in seconds. Most netbooks from HP and Asus do not support the fast N standard yet, running at over 100Mbps, so this was a welcome surprise, especially for a system that could work as a prime media server (with 160GB of storage) for streaming movies from a NAS.