Acer Aspire Revo R3600
Nvidia's Ion gives Atom the boost it needs
Review The Aspire Revo is Acer’s take on Nvidia’s Ion platform so that’s a good place to start with this review.
Acer's Aspire Revo: Atom and Ion on board
Ion started life as the GeForce 9300, which is a chipset that connects Intel's Core 2 processors to decent integrated graphics. In our comparison of desktop chipsets with integrated graphics we were quite clear that the GeForce 9300 was better than Intel's G45, specifically in the area of HD movie decoding. If you’re building a Core 2-based PC with integrated graphics, we strongly recommend you choose GeForce 9300.
When Intel launched the desktop Atom processor, it made the questionable decision to ally the 4W TDP CPU with the ancient D945G chipset, which has weak graphics and a TDP of 15W.
The combination of Atom and D945G has been responsible for the creation of the market for 'nettop' desktop PCs that offer basic services such as e-mail and browsing the web at a low price. There's no expectation that Atom and D945G can be used for gaming or to watch HD movies, and the graphics are so weak that it's unable to run Windows Vista properly.
Intel could have chosen to support Atom with the G45 chipset, which is a capable piece of silicon, but it didn’t go down that route, undoubtedly to protect its higher-value desktop offerings. So Nvidia has leapt in to fill what it perceives as a gap in the market.
Designed for edge-on operation
The Ion chipset is a rebranding exercise for the GeForce 9300, this time offered with support for Atom rather than Core 2. Nvidia is keen to show that you get better value for money by spending your cash on the GPU rather than the CPU, so it's cockahoop that a manufacturer as big as Acer has rolled out the Aspire Revo.
Re: And how much pre-installed garbage was on the review unit?
A fair bit sadly...
About 15-20 random demo games from Oberon Media, gave one a go just to see how the box handled the game. Started by saying I had an hour of playtime of the demo to go and then promptly kicked me out after 5 minutes anyway. Box played it game very well tho even if it was just a top down shooter (Alien Shooter I think it was called) Infuriatingly you have to uninstall each of the games separately - each one taking 30 seconds or so, no global "destroy all this crap uninstall"
McAffee came preinstalled. I thought it wouldn't as the Vista setup said it was an optional install as a gift/trial from Acer or wording to that effect when you first boot it up. I chose "no thank you" and found it installed the damn thing anyway. Promptly got rid of the garbage but at least it wasn't Nortons...
Office 2007 trial, various other little bits n pieces... nothing too major. I think there was only one bit of rubbish actually from Acer themselves.
Oh and the drive is partitioned into two - split 50/50. Annoying!
Fantastic piece of kit...
I've had one of these for a few weeks now, same £250 model as reviewed.
Quiet is an understatement - you only hear it when you turn it on and it spins the fan at full blast for a second. Then you forget it even exists. When I first got it I kept having to go and put my hand over the exhaust to check to see if the fan was still working!
Its now hidden behind my stack of DVD's, no-one knows its there and nor will my leccy bill. The two 500Gb external drives I have plugged into it draw more power than this beauty - 25W compared to the 20W the Revo draws.
Yes the mouse is dinky (its actually made by Logitech, their logo is on the bottom anyway) but it and the keyboard (probably Logitech as well I guess but not checked) work nicely and do not feel cheap and nasty as you might have expected. Who cares though as they are hidden away behind the DVD's like the unit - probably never to be used again after the initial setup...
Excellent piece of kit overall.
ok, but for that verdict..
"but Atom, at least the single-core version, has no obvious place in a mains-powered nettop PC"
There certainly are applications where the atom is fully adequate on a netbook and i don't see why it should not be the same on a box.
You are probably right in pointing out what will be the most obvious limitation of the device (apart from the vista preinstalled, i assume..), but could have worded it differently.
All that verdict is doing is inviting manufacturers to repeat the feature creep that killed the "netbook"/portable SCC.
Missing the point?
Single core Intel chipsetted version running in the car with XP and Centrafuse and it screams along.
Single Core Ion running XP MCE in the shop window, likewise, it tears along even on USB DVB tuners.
Now install vista and uh-oh....
I think the reveiw misses the point a little, granted the Atom isnt quick, but it does the job, well until you let vista on. What it doesnt do is spend your hard earned monety by turning all the electricity into heat and blowing it out the back. Its a full PC in pretty much every way but uses less power than most TVs do. When you have a PC sat around half asleep waiting to do recordings or as a media server this really really matters.
And how much pre-installed garbage was on the review unit?
Really thinking of ordering a few of these in
Same experience as the posters above - ordered the 8GB SSD, got the 160GB hard (wasn't complaining) but nothing except the RevoBoot crap on it. Once I'd figured out that you had to disable RevoBoot to let anything else boot, sticking Ubuntu Netbook Remix on it was trivial - no config except installing the Nvidia drivers.
Now happily using as a virtually silent MythTV and movie playback device in my bedroom (plus occasional browsing and games) - stops the GF moaning about noisy PCs, and it saves space and power.
It runs like a dream and was a steal at £150. There is literally NO reason I can imagine to buy the Vista version, can't see what it would add, unless you're really addicted to the Sims or other such rubbish. And it'll definitely slow your Revo down. If you're not comfortable installing Ubuntu, get a friend to do it. It'll take them 15 minutes, tops.