Dell Zino HD 410 HTPC Review

by Ganesh T S on 2/19/2011 7:08 AM EST
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  • silverblue - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    ...would having two differently-sized SO-DIMMs have on system performance?

    I'd be tempted to take replace that 4GB module with a 2GB one just to see what happens. 6GB of RAM just doesn't compute. :)

    We seem to be getting a decent number of Dell-AMD systems lately... I only hope they take up Brazos with the same level of enthusiasm, because even if it did result in a small drop in performance, this review would've been largely the same in terms of gaming and video playback/quality, albeit with a much smaller footprint. Also, in that scenario, dual channel wouldn't matter as Fusion doesn't support it.
    Reply
  • fabarati - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    If AMD has anything like Intels asynchronous dual channel, the first 4 GB will perform like dual channel, whilst the remaining 2 GB will perform like single channel. Reply
  • Taft12 - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    Dual-channel memory was a scam from the beginning that has somehow survived to this day to make PC buyers think they needed to buy more memory than needed.

    Have you seen the benchmarks? ~1-2% benefit AT MOST for anything that's not a synthetic memory bandwidth test, regardless of platform.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/PARALLEL-PROCE...
    Reply
  • fabarati - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    Didn't it help back in the P4 and/or P-M days? And how did it do in early Athlon 64 days?

    But yeah, Core Duo and newer doesn't really benefit from Dual channel, one
    Reply
  • silverblue - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    Theoretically, dual channel would help APUs as they're bandwidth-limited.

    I suppose you're right about standard usage though, even raising memory clocks doesn't make for a sizeable performance advantage.
    Reply
  • asmoma - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    Starcraft 2 is not a synthetic memory test, and it does benefit from going from 2 to three channels, just read some performance reviews of Starcraft 2. Reply
  • DanNeely - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    The einstien@home applications benefitted from a 3rd channel on i7 quad cores; and the 2nd channel on C2 quads as well; high performance server farms/clusters/super computers are a significant segment of the market. On the i7-quad, E@H had a 66% speedup from the 2nd channel, and a 5% gain from the 3rd. Sandybridge gave a similar speedup from the 2nd channel. I can't find the thread with the C2Quad results, but IIRC they were a 10-25% speedup.

    http://einstein.phys.uwm.edu/forum_thread.php?id=8...

    I don't have benchmarks handy, but I suspect a heavily loaded DB server would also benefit from the extra memory bandwidth because the queries would result in a psudorandom memory access pattern that would limit the ability of the cache controller to prefetch most of the data being requested.
    Reply
  • jeremyshaw - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    that actually had to do with uncore clocks, not memory channels. Reply
  • vailr - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    How would a Mac Mini compare?
    Could a Mac Mini be retrofitted with a Blu-Ray drive (since Blu-Ray is available factory installed) and then run as a Windows HTPC?
    Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    Why on earth would you buy a Mini to run as a Windows HTPC? You'd pay more for less performance. Reply
  • myangeldust - Saturday, September 10, 2011 - link

    The hardware is nice. It's got a cleaner design and a motorized slot drive. But Apple's version of a media center app is just an extension of the pay-to-play iTunes store. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    A Mac Mini? Are you kidding? You'd be paying a lot more for a lot less. Less of everything. Reply
  • speculatrix - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    but, apple fans, His Lordship said that bluray was a bag of hurt, so I can't believe you'd even consider such blasphemy

    http://www.engadget.com/2008/10/14/steve-jobs-call...

    :-)
    Reply
  • myangeldust - Saturday, September 10, 2011 - link

    Blu-day is DOA tech. Once solid state and flash drives come down, movies could be sold on tiny chips you pop into a read-only reader slot. You'll be able to fit your movie collection in your pocket. Maybe Case Logic can make a leather wallet for 500 movie chips. Dibs on the term "Movie Chip"©. DB will become a replacement to DAT in the data archive market. Reply
  • Taft12 - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    I can't comprehend the need to use a 3.5" hard drive in this unit! Why such a noisy beast in a machine intended to be an HTPC???

    IIRC, the 2.5" 7200RPM WD Black 500GB performs as well (or better) than any 3.5" 7200RPM rotational HDs on the market today (I'll be dipped if I can find the review that showed that result at the moment unfortunately... anyone?)
    Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    On Newegg:

    3.5" 750GB Caviar Black: $69.99
    2.5" 750GB Scorpio Black $119.99
    2.5" 500GB Scorpio Black $69.99

    So, if you stick with 750GB and drop from 3.5 to 2.5 you add $50 to the price. Or if you want to keep the price the same you lose $250 GB. You make your choice and live with whichever compromise seems better to you.
    Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    The review unit used in the article seems to be behind the times. If you go to the Dell web site, now instead of 750GB it's 1TB. If you want 1TB in a 2.5 new egg has one for $119 but it is a 5400 RPM not 7200.

    So its a trade off between capacity, physical size, and price. Pick any two. Actually more complicated than that since performance is involved too. But you get the idea. Trade offs have to be made and the choice Dell made is a valid one - though no choice could please everyone.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    This review was delayed for a while as Ganesh and Dell tried to troubleshoot video decode problems. Reply
  • DanNeely - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    The Zino scales down to a $300 unit, a which point the capacity/price penalty for a 2.5" drive becomes significant. After that it's just a case of simplifying the design by only using 3.5" drives. What I don't get is why Dell didn't follow through on the high end and take advantage of the form factor by offering a 2GB model for the people who don't want to access their giant collection over the lan. Reply
  • taltamir - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    I can't comprehend the complaint about 3.5" drives. They are much bigger, significantly faster, much cheaper, and only take slightly more power (5 watts total power consumption on load, 2watts idle). Reply
  • plewis00 - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    I agree with you and was about to post this myself.

    If someone really wants a 2.5" hard disk why can't they use an adapter and remove the existing 3.5" unit. I bought a 2TB hard disk the other day for £60 (I'm in the UK), but that same amount of money would buy you a 500 or 640GB 2.5" model so I know what I'd rather have.

    I'd actually say rather than a complaint, Dell should actually be praised for fitting a 3.5" drive in there.
    Reply
  • JNo - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    Absolutely agree. I think you're analysis that 2.5" would be better is disappointing Ganesh. And I highly doubt that an SSD boot drive option would be beneficial to many people. This is an HTPC after all and affordability is key for what is a secondary PC.

    I have an Xtreamer (google it) and it cost only £99 and plays every hi def file(s) I've chucked at it including mkv, ts, blu-ray file structures and much more and supports hi def sound outputting as well. It is fanless too. In fact unless you want PVR functionality / internet too, it makes more expensive HTPCs redundant.

    Only disappointment is that it only fits a 2.5" drive and the largest (at the time) 500Gb drive I put in was as much as a 1.5TB drive eco/green drive. And the new 3.5" eco/green drives are just as quiet as their 2.5" brethren. I think most people savvy enough to know they need an HTPC tend to have very large music / video collections so size is a big deal.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    The Caviar Black 750 GB is specified to have a power consumption at full load of 8.4W [ http://www.wdc.com/en/library/sata/2879-701276.pdf ].

    The Scorpio Black 750 GB (2.5", 7200rpm) is specified to have a power consumption of 1.75W when active [ http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=13... ]

    My belief is that the extra ~7W could have been devoted to a better discrete GPU rather than having a 3.5" hard drive.

    Our well reviewed ASRock Vision 3D and Core 100 both have 2.5" hard drives, and I have hardly seen any reader / reviewers on other sites complain.

    Also, people savvy enough to think they need a HTPC also have an external storage solution (storage array or NAS), and the hard disk on the HTPC is just a temporary 'staging' ground.

    I still stand by my suggestion to Dell to move to a 2.5" hard drive for the next generation Zino.
    Reply
  • Zoomer - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    I agree with taltamir on this. There is simply no reason to use 2.5" drives when there is space for 3.5". Some may buy this and use local storage. Even if they don't it's still cheaper to put a 3.5" in.

    Noise, most if not all HDDs can be set to reduce noise. Acoustic Managemet or something like that.

    The 2TB WD caviar green only requires 4.5 W when reading/writing. That's just 2.75 W, and barely worth considering.

    Maybe you can push dell to give people a choice. WD Green, Caviar black, or the 2.5" black. Why not the momentus XT?
    Reply
  • JWade - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    I got the 410 to upgrade from the 400hd, i like it alot better. i got the dual core one not the quad core. it does everything i need it to and then some.

    I cant hear it make any noise at all, even when playing games with it. I use it with my 42" tv.

    something of note, Dell did make an atom version of the Zino too.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    Yes, I remember the Atom Zino.. But it wasn't called the Zino HD. Thanfully they moved away from the anaemic Atom for their first Zino HD.

    The first Zino HD was the Zino 400 and this is the second generation.

    Glad to hear you like the Zino 410. It is a pretty good system for the price, and depending on your usage scenario you probably won't even notice the shortcomings!
    Reply
  • Bignate603 - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    I see a huge amount of HTPCs without the option for a TV tuner. For something that claims to be a HTPC it seems like a pretty blatant omission. It should at least be an upgrade you could order with it. Reply
  • Taft12 - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82... Reply
  • hvakrg - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    Well, if you use a good HTPC program like Mediaportal you don't need tuner in all your HTPCs, all you need is a TVserver. That can then feed TV to all your HTPC clients around the house. It's a great way to do it because you won't have to pull coax to all your rooms. Reply
  • myangeldust - Saturday, September 10, 2011 - link

    HDHomeRun dual tuners. Placed near your TV antenna or in your coaxial closet and connected to your home network. Any TV in the house could become an HTPC by simply installing the tuner's device driver. Fully compatible with Windows Media Center. Reply
  • myangeldust - Saturday, September 10, 2011 - link

    An internal tuner would up the heat generated and require a larger case. But Dell should have offered the option for a tuner.

    A great HTPC would have a SSD and a NTSC/ATSC/radio dual tuner with a motorized slot drive for DVD/BD. The case could act as an antenna for TV/radio reception and made laptop thin to fit on the back of your HDTV. Though it would be a separate model for a more expensive niche market. Still cheaper than most Macs though.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    I've been waiting for an AT review of the Zino HD, thanks! I wonder if AMD's Brazos chips will make their way into this? Looks like it can handle much higher watt parts (ie the x4), but as a base config that would be nice. Reply
  • Trefugl - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    I was going to make the same comment about Brazos.

    I've had my eye on the Dell Zino 410 for a long time, but now that Brazos is around I am thinking of either building something of my own or waiting until someone like Dell produces a system.

    Ganesh, do you know (or suspect) if Dell has a Brazos update to the Zino planned? I think a small system like that would be nearly perfect for an HTPC.
    Reply
  • Edgar_Wibeau - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    My guess is, AMDs 2nd APU, Llano, will find its way into this Box. It will also solve the graphics-being-too-slow-issue if it is an issue for some. Llano is supposed to hit the market in summer. Llano will be based on 32nm tech and feature a GPU that is at least twice as powerful as the one in Zacate. The CPU part will also be significantly faster than Zacate as it will be the successor to the current Athlons/Turions/Phenoms in notebooks. On the down-side, it'll also be more expensive than Zacate of course. Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    My educated guess is that the next generation Zino HD's base configs will be based on Zacate.

    Our initial look at Brazos indicates that it is as weak as the Mobility 5450. I wouldn't expect great things in the $300 - $500 configs.

    As you also mention, I am looking forward to the Llano to make an appearance in the high end configs. I expect none of the configs would need a discrete GPU making it easier for Dell ( but, first, Llano needs to come to the market ! )
    Reply
  • Spacecomber - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    Would it have made any sense (and been practical) to get some numbers on the integrated 4250 graphics solution? I found myself wondering how much the advantage was with the upgrade to the discrete 5450.

    At some point, it would be helpful to get a sound-level meter, given how important (and subjective) judgements of what is quiet can be when talking about home theatre and audio PCs.

    Nevertheless, enjoyed the read; thanks for the review.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    80SP @ 675 vs 40SP @ 500 is a 2.7x factor; and while a crude comparison is sufficient to show the 4250 would be crushed on light gaming benchmarks.

    The closest I could find in the first few pages of reviews here was a laptop with the 4225 (40SP @ 380) which is crushed by about 3x in FPS vs the 5450; I didn't see anything comparing their abilities in video decoding.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3862/toshiba-t235d-a...
    Reply
  • DNW - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    I am looking for a computer for my home theater. I never play games. I do watch a lot of television and movies. Blu ray performance would be important to me. I also have a large collection of 40 years of home movies originally shot on everything from beta to vhs to digital, all of which I have digitized and would like to watch.

    I need a computer and not a Google TV or WD Live box because these and similar solutions will not play all my videos, all of which play just great on a computer. My monitor is an Olevia 65" LCD TV. Is the size/type of TV a factor, or not factor?

    Will the Zino HD410 suffice for my purposes (if so, what configuration), or do I need to get something more powerful? Naturally, I would like to keep costs to a minimum, but not to the extent that my objectives are not met.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    If it is just Blu-Ray you are interested in, and not any recorded TV content / content from friends, then the Zino 410 as reviewed is good enough. I can't vouch for the capabilities of the other configs.

    The TV to which it is connected is not an issue 99% of the time. (Sometimes, there could be problems with HDMI handshake, but a quick Google search of 5450 + Olevia model number would reveal that)
    Reply
  • capeconsultant - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    The 3.5 inch drive is hotter, uses more power, and takes up more space that could be used for thermal and/or design purposes. Desktop or NAS ONLY for 3.5 please. Reply
  • funtasticguy - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    Great and thorough review as always. I just purchased one of the these just yesterday when I noticed their new upgraded chips (P960 & P360). Anyway, does anyone know how easy is it to upgrade the hard drive? Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    Hard drive upgrading should be pretty straightforward. Just make sure the drive you put in doesn't dissipate more than 8.4 W under full load (just to ensure you don't run into issues with overheating of the unit) Reply
  • tkpmep - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    I bought a Zino 410 a few months ago that was configured almost exactly the same way as is the review unit, and found that it came without an IR receiver for a Windows Media Center Remote. It appears that you have to purchase Dell's own Media Center remote when ordering the unit in order for them to install the IR receiver. I now have to use a USB receiver to control WMC. This is disappointing. Also, the USB receiver for the wireless keyboard works a lot better when plugged into a port in front of the unit than into the rear. Apart from this, its a very nice machine. Reply
  • pirspilane - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    just get a USB extension cable from monoprice.com Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    It seems a little funny at the top of the unboxing page.

    The paragraph that starts... Of all the SFF HTPCs I have seen, the Dell Zino 410 HD HTPC has the best industrial design....
    seems like it should be the first paragraph.

    because as it is now, the first paragraph ends with... Apart from the main Zino 410 unit, the package also contains:

    but then it starts another paragraph.

    seems like they got reversed.
    Reply
  • hvakrg - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    Ok, so one could buy this and then upgrade the graphics by purchasing a new graphics card on ebay?

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ATI-Mobility-Radeon-HD-5650-DD...
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    Need to handle the TDP properly. I think the 5650 is rated for 15-19W, while the 5450 is 11W max. If you don't game at all, it should be pretty OK to get past the video decoder limitations. Reply
  • leftyleno - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    $90 SilverStone Aluminum/Steel Micro ATX HTPC Computer Case GD05B
    $80 AMD Athlon II X3 450 Rana 3.2GHz
    $88 Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
    $60 SAMSUNG Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model SH-B123L LightScribe Support
    $50 4 gig g skill ram
    $55 Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000 Keyboard and Mouse Set - Black
    $80 Radeon hd 5670
    $54 SeaSonic S12II 380B 380W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
    $100 ASUS M4A88TD-M/ USB3 SATA 3 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
    $100 Windows
    $20 Intel 622AN.HMWWB Mini PCI Express 6200 Centrino Advanced-N Wireless Adapter

    =$ 780

    Beat that Dell!
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    SilverStone GD05B Dimensions:
    5.91"x17.32"x12.79", 1300 cubic inches
    Del Zino 410 Dimensions:
    3.4"x7.8"x7.8", 200 cubic inches

    The Dell is well over six times smaller.

    Radeon 5670 Power Consumption ~ 60W
    Zino 410 Power Consumption ~ ~60W

    The entire Dell system consumes as much power as one component.

    Not only did Dell already "beat that", they did so by a very large margin.
    Reply
  • geok1ng - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    "$80 AMD Athlon II X3 450 Rana 3.2GHz"

    If you wanna do this, do it the right way; use an e series CPU from AMD for better thermals, or simply go the i3 way.

    "$54 SeaSonic S12II 380B 380W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply"

    That is A LOT of unused power, simply go the picoPSU way. Better thermals and small form factory. A well built sistem would use a notebook power brick to save space and move heat generation away from the SFF case.

    "$100 ASUS M4A88TD-M/ USB3 SATA 3 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard""

    With AMD integrated graphics, i would rather use a custom cooling solution and overclock the hell out of the IGP. 900Mhz core is not an impossible goal for 785G and better IGPs. AND there are smaller ITX MOBOs for this plataform.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    The largest PicoPSU I see advertised is a 150W model, which claims 8A/96W of 12V power available. Trying to run a ~60W TDP video card and a 95W TDP processor off that sounds like a bad idea Reply
  • pirspilane - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    Did HDMI handshake problem occur in your testing of the ASRock Core100 HT? If so, how can it be fixed?

    I have a Core100, and have experienced loss of HDMI audio whenever the connection with my Denon AVR is interrupted. Example, I switch the AVR to a different input, when I switch back to the Core100 input, audio is gone, but video is still there.

    My PS3 has no problems with this, although there is a several second period before audio is re-established. Anyone else had a problem with a Denon/Core100 setup?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    No handshake issue with an Onkyo 606. I don't have a Denon myself.. hopefully some other reader can chime in.

    By the way, you have a higher probability of finding someone with your setup on AVSForums (There is a dedicated thread for Core100 IIRC) :)
    Reply
  • Ganesh_balan - Sunday, February 20, 2011 - link

    "A press switch to displace the lid is provided at the top and a Kensington lock slot is at the bottom."

    Doesn't look like the Kensington lock to me but the hard drive activity indicator. :)

    Please re-check! :D
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    Thanks! Fixed ( was writing another review concurrently and this got mixed up :| ) Reply
  • brucek2 - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    What types of content are typically 1080p60? I had thought most movies were 24fps and most tv shows were 30fps. I'm trying to understand how big a limitation the lack of 1080p60 is likely to be? Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    Camcorders are one of the main sources of 1080p60 content.

    Some camcorders which record at 1080p60 are: Sanyo HD2000 and Panasonic TM700. There are some other models from the 2 companies which are also 1080p60, but I don't remember offhand.

    In addition, user created videos can also be encoded on a PC at 1080p60.
    Reply
  • sicofante - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    Industrial designers must be really expensive to be out of reach for Dell...

    Why is it that only Apple takes care of the looks of their hardware? It really puzzles me.

    This thing is so ugly only true geeks would have it in their living rooms.
    Reply
  • myangeldust - Saturday, September 10, 2011 - link

    I push mine further back in the TV cabinet. It's all black so it dissappears in the shadows. Like that R2 unit with poorly matched color panels it knows it's ugly so stays in the background and doesn't complaints. Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    I agree with the comment about looks. Apple designs things that look pretty, the Dell looks like cheap plastic.

    Despite this why are getting close to an ideal HTPC. I know this is subjective but the ideal HTPC should be:

    1. Silent (or as close as possible, I do not want to hear it in a quiet bit of a movie)
    2. Audio should be capable of being sent through HDMI in all formats my AV receiver can cope with, but with option to use other connectors (some people prefer)
    3. Plays all mainstream formats.
    4. Has a TV receiver card (here in UK would be nice if it could replace my cable box but I doubt supplier will ever agree)
    5. IR receiver

    We are very close to ticking all the boxes. Still think it should have an SSD and a 2,5" HD (maybe SSD could replace the wireless card in the mini-PCI slot as my house is fully wired)

    Only one issue for me on the thermals of this box, and maybe I missing something but...

    The Dell Zino is obviously designed for sitting horizontally on something (why else have the feet on the bottom). Heat rises. To make ideal use of convection therefore the top should be perforated (a mesh would be ideal) to let heat escape and the sides perforated to allow cooler air to replace the hot air leaving the top. (this is not exactly rocket science is it!) So why on earth do designers place the optical drive at the top blocking a large amount of area where the heat would escape. Surely it is more sensible to have the optical drive (and 2.5" HD or SDD) underneath the motherboard.

    What am I missing - someone please explain
    Reply
  • aylafan - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    Wouldn't the motherboard have to be grounded to the case? I don't think many manufactuers has designed the motherboard to be hanging in the middle of the case. If you flipped the motherboard upside down; it would be practically the same thing, but less efficient. Now, you can put the motherboard on the side of the case, but then it would be a normal size desktop PC and wouldn't be a HTPC anymore. I'm just visualizing this in my head. I could be wrong. Futhermore, they would need to redesign the heatsink with less space they have to work with. We're talking about a compact HTPC here and not one of those no cover, Antec custom cases.

    Also, I don't see the point of having a hard drive underneath the motherboard because the motherboard would practically cut the HTPC in half; trapping all the heat coming from the hard drive on the bottom half of the HTPC. They could reengineere the entire thermal design, but this would mean starting from scratch again. Like adding a bottom fan to pull out hot air and making holes on the sides of the cases, etc. There are just too many variables to this.

    Just my opinion. Don't take it too seriously.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    The reason I ask is that I have a Morena case that works as I have described.

    Now the Morena case has a number of flaws (cheap plastic being the least of the problems) which with a bit of "apple" design could be seriously improved but it runs 24/7 as my atom server without any problems and you can feel the convection working.

    Neither HD or optical drive get that hot - at least not compared to the CPU!

    It is not as though you need to cut the case in half because the height of a slim line optical and a 2.5" HD is something like 15mm max - it also allows for better cable management.

    It is just I have this nagging feeling that the designs are based on "this is how we have always done it" rather than looking at it logically - or maybe because the designers expected all cases to be placed vertically rather than horizontally

    Maybe it is also because I am looking to build an HTPC and keep wanting to put a slow running fan in the top to keep memory and CPU cool - with a case that is barely 100 mm tall
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    Technically you could build something mostly like this with off the shelf components, though it might well be more expensive.

    http://www.logicsupply.com/products/nf98_lf
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    The mobile processors are not cheap at all, and trying to find them on sale at Newegg or one of the top e-tailers is a tall task.. Reply
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    $775 for this? I don't see what HTPCs are more expensive than laptops and desktops. Reply
  • lenkiatleong - Monday, March 07, 2011 - link

    Hi Ganesh,
    1) Thanks for your excellent review on this Dino and ASRock Vision.
    2) The points that i missed from your review are:
    a) Using BluRay disc, are they able to stream Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master codec from HTPC (Dell/ASRock) to your Onkyo TX-SR606 via HDMI? You should be able to see the codec being display on your Onkyo set.
    b) Are they able to stream blu ray and dvd iso files from NAS or HDD?

    Regards
    Len
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, May 15, 2011 - link

    Sorry for the late reply, but the answers to your questions are:

    1. Yes, but don't expect the bundled PDVD to play nice with your requirements. You are better off investing in a full featured BR software player than what Dell bundles. Otherwise, make a backup of your BR with MakeMKV and play with open source players. Bitstreaming works fully well.

    2. Yes, it can easily stream from NAS or external HDDs provided you have the appropriate software players. [ PowerDVD / TMT / WinDVD ]
    Reply
  • alexn - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    I purchased this unit in January 2011,received in February. For two months I was fighting on my own with:
    1.Dropping WiFi signal 5 feet away from 802.11 N router;
    2.Extremely poor HDMI video.

    Then I decided take it to Dell tech support. After many hours wasted on phone they decided to replace motherboard, sent tech to my house, who replaced motherboard and sent back my motherboard with external video card. Neither the person who sent m/b for replacement, nor tech himself did not know, that there is external video card, which went away. No surprises, there was no video after this 'repair". They sent another tech with another m/b, replaced it... no video. Only the third tech with the third m/b asked me, where is you video card??? Afetr long fighting they sent me refurbished system, which is working, but the HDMI output is as awful, as it was, so I connected it via VGA output and sound cable and it works.
    By the way, wireless card replacement fixed connectivity problem.
    So my moral: Dell's service in India and techs in the USA usually don't know anything, HDMI output in this system is really bad.
    Reply
  • myangeldust - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    I used this as a home theater PC and it works great. It records four shows simultaneously via a couple of HDHomeRun external dual tuners. I can even watch a TV show as this is happening with no issues. And thanks to gigabit networking I can listen to music streamed from a media server. It includes PowerDVD integrated with Windows Media Center to play Blu-rays and [upscaled] DVDs.

    Changing the optical drive from a nonmotorized tray model to a slot-load model. The current tray only extends part way and requires a bit more effort to load/unload than a user would expect. One can easily move the HTPC while doing this and even damage the tray.
    Reply

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