a chance to spend a few hours with Acer's Aspire Revo,
Nvidia’s first Ion platform design win and we can share a few first impressions with
you. Of course, we are doing an in depth test as we speak, but this might take a
while until its ready.
Acer Aspire Revo is a very small Nintendo Wii shaped machine
and it is powered by Nvidia’s Ion. We won’t get into much detail, but we will tell
you that Ion means that you have an Atom CPU, in this case Atom 230 at 1.6GHz, and
Nvidia’s MCP79 chipset, the similar graphic core that you also know as Geforce 9400 to take care of graphics and
multimedia. Nvidia came up with an idea that putting its own integrated
GPU/ chipset will get Atom to the next level and we have to agree with it. Intel's nettop
platform powered by the 945GSE chipset cannot play HD video or BluRay, while
we can confirm that the Ion platform can do it with ease.
The rest of the specification includes 2GB of memory, Windows Vista
Home Premium that needs 600 to 700MB just to boot, MCP79/Geforce 9400
chipset aka Ion, and a 250GB hard drive. The whole system is as big as
an external DVD drive and in such a small form factor Acer managed to
pack HDMI, VGA, LAN port, Kensington lock, four USB on the back side,
and two on the top, eSATA for external hard drive, memory card reader
and the most disappointing only microphone and sound analogue outs. We
expected at least one digital out to be able to really connect such a
system to 5.1 digital speakers that most people have in their living
rooms. The lack of DVD / BluRay doesn’t help either, but you have to
settle for downloaded videos, or content from your other machine that
has Blu-ray or DVD.
We tried to play a few video files, all HD in 1080 P, and for example
with the Vegas 1080P video we got very smooth playback with 10 to 30
percent CPU occupancy, with some 20 percent on average. On The Dark
Knight MOV 1080 clip we were getting an average 20 percent CPU
occupancy. With an external Blu-ray that connects on one of many USB
2.0 ports, we played Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee Blu-ray and we can
tell that Ion can take care of it. The average CPU utilization while
playing Blu-ray was about 40 percent while it would tend to jump to
much higher values if you would do any multitasking.
Since this is a single core Atom 230 that supports
Hyperthreading, you cannot really expect smooth multitasking with many
applications and therefore we would like to see similar system with an Atom 330. We
are quite sure that this is one of the most requested features and by Computex
time, some of Nvidia partners will make a Nettop platform with Ion and dual-core
The GPU itself works at 450MHz and it heats up all the way to 67
degrees Celsius. GPUZ claims that the memory works at 1600MHz. The bad thing is that the fan, that is usually very quiet,
has two levels and once its gets hot, it speeds up. We don’t like that but we
guess that there is nothing you can do about it.
Overall, the machine looks promising, its a good start, but
as we said we would be happier to see an Atom 330, digital out and integrated
Blu-ray drive, as this would truly get Ion to the next level. You can play some basic
games, but we didn’t bother with this just yet, we will bring this with a
Acer's Revo Ion based platform definitely has a bit more to offer
in comparison to nettop Atom desktop platforms suggested by Intel and powered by
the miserable 945GSE chipset. It's a good step forward, stay tuned for the full review soon.