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Wednesday, 29 April 2009 19:40

Acer Aspire Revo Ion first impression

Written by Fuad Abazovic


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Preview:
A good start


We had
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Atom.

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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.

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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 complete review.

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.
Last modified on Wednesday, 29 April 2009 20:55
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