Dell has really come into its own in the past few years. Shedding the image (and fur?) of yet another cheap PC OEM, Dell has tried to make design a more important part of its manufacturing as of late. Not every design is a win, but the zino HD appears to be the first nettop styled to have mass market appeal:

Dell's Inspiron zino HD, available in more than just pink

As soon as Dell announced the zino HD I was bombarded with emails. Not for a review of the system, but for a review of the processors inside the machine. A quick look at Dell’s tech specs for the zino HD list the following processor options:

They sound fast. But in practice, many of these chips are actually Atom competitors. I asked AMD for two of the CPUs on this list - the Athlon 2650e and the Athlon X2 3250e.

The 2650e is a single-core K8 based Socket-AM2/AM2+ processor that runs at 1.6GHz. It’s got 512KB of L2 cache and the rest of the feature set of the older K8 AM2 processors. As an AM2 chip it’s DDR2 only and physically won’t fit or work in an AM3 motherboard. Keep that in mind before you go sticking one of these where it doesn’t belong.

Based on its specs, the Athlon 2650e is a near perfect competitor for Intel’s Atom. The newly announced D510 runs at 1.66GHz (close enough), but is an in-order architecture with Hyper Threading. Bottom line? The Athlon 2650e should be faster in single threaded apps, but slower in multitasking/multithreaded applications. Great. Atom boasts a lower total TDP as well.

The Athlon X2 3250e fixes the 2650e’s biggest shortcoming by adding a second core. The clock speed drops a bit to 1.5GHz, but the rest of the specs stay the same. TDP goes up from 15W on the 2650e to 22W for the 3250e.

Dell charges an extra $65 for the 3250e upgrade. Just to put things in perspective - $10 more and you could have yourself a complete Pine Trail platform.

Performance: As Expected


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  • Alouette Radeon - Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - link

    The Athlon 64 2650e is the CPU in my Acer Aspire 5515. It's by no means a scorcher but I often have 10-15 Firefox tabs open with no noticeable decrease in speed. I think RAM might be the difference here. As for power use, keep in mind that you're comparing the latest Atoms to an Athlon 64 that's about 2 years old. There's not much really to expect there. Remember just how low these numbers really are. Those performance bars look big but the scale must be taken into account. We're splitting hairs. I doubt we'd really notice from one to the next except in very isolated circumstances. Reply
  • FlyTexas - Monday, January 4, 2010 - link

    Dell wants $65 to upgrade to the dual core CPU, right?

    NewEgg sells an Intel dual core CPU at 2.4ghz for $52 that will run rings around any of these CPUs... It is almost as fast as the one in the review.">

    So, what am I missing? This is an overpriced computer from Dell in a fancy mini case. Maybe that makes it expensive, but lets be honest, you're paying for the small pretty case, not the weak computer inside.

    Just buy a Dell Inspiron 537s slim desktop, it even comes with the rubber mounts to put it flat with the rest of your components, looks good (in the right color of course) with your XBox/PS3/DVD Player/Whatever...

    How much? About the same $450 this thing costs, and it comes with a 2.6Ghz Pentium Dual Core. It just lacks the super small case.

    Just my opinion... :)
  • bearshat - Tuesday, January 5, 2010 - link

    Small form factor and attractiveness is definitely a feature you have to pay a premium for but that doesn't make it overpriced. I can think of a few other things in this world that small and pretty is better than fast and powerful. :)

    I bought the Zino with Neo X2 6850e and Radeon 4330. I wish I could see the test benchmarks with that configuration.
  • orionmgomg - Sunday, January 3, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the great article and info on these AMD CPUs.

    Been building AND selling performance systems for years using only intel until just a few months ago, when I had a client insist on an AMD Quad Core CPU for his gaming system.

    I was SHOCKED to see that for less than 200$ dollars (Phenom II X4 965) I could get a Quad Core CPU with 8MB cache and clocked at 3.4 factory, using a sub 100$ASUS AM3 EVO mobo and Radeon 5870 GPU all for the price of a single Intel QX9650! (999$)

    Umm, lets just say I have been using AMD ever since - in these touch economic times, and out here in the mid west of the US in the middle of winter - people need the very best bang for their buck, dual cores are even "enough" for most people and at the higher end price points - Intel products just become un-necessary... (for the average consumer who cares about base performance and not how much cache or microseconds his latencies run at)

    Of course for me…

    PS: My current system is:
    Core i7 920 @ 3.3
    Cooler Master V8
    ASUS P6T Deluxe V2
    6GBs DDR3 OCZ Gold
    Samsung DVD & 3x1TB HDDs
    Corsiar TX850W PSU
    No case - spagetios!

    Dream Build:
    Intel i7 980XT (or just a i7 920 with D0 stepping:)
    Cooler Master V8
    ASUS P6X58D Premium
    6 GBs DDR3 OCZ Gold
    ASUS Radeon HD 5970
    Samsung DVD & 4x1TB HDDs - or the new OCZ SDD you just reviewed!
    Corsiar PSU 850
    Cooler Master CosmosS 1100

  • marraco - Sunday, January 3, 2010 - link

    A bit late, but:

    Thanks for a great work in 2009.

    Have an excelent 2010, Anand!!
  • jaydee - Saturday, January 2, 2010 - link

    Wonder how the Neo x2 stacks up... Reply
  • Cogman - Saturday, January 2, 2010 - link

    Come-on, from a tech site I would expect a little more :P.

    x264 is an H.264 encoder (or MPEG-4 AVC if you prefer). There is no such thing as x264 video format as it adheres very strictly to the H.264 standard.

    You meant to say H.264 acceleration, not x264 acceleration.
  • Cogman - Saturday, January 2, 2010 - link

    The exact line is on page two, "The first test is H.264 decode acceleration. I fired up the latest version of Media Player Classic and tested x264 acceleration."

    You got the first right, the second slipped in as an x264.
  • Penti - Sunday, January 3, 2010 - link

    Actually it's right as that's the solution for accelerated bitstream decoding(-only) x264. They didn't test acceleration for H264 blu-rays for example. Then it also does motion compensation and IDCT on the GPU-hardware. So the description is correct in that he tested x264 acceleration. As in x264 encoded videos in MKV format not (fully) supported by standard commercial codecs. And not as in commercially encoded downloaded H264 or H264 BD. Formats matter even if it's details especially when the decoding is done with different decoders and software. The test and x264 reference is valid. Reply
  • Cogman - Monday, January 4, 2010 - link

    x264 follows the H.264 standard. Any optimizations for "x264" apply to all H.264 film, that is the standard.

    There is NOTHING that says that an x264 output stream has to be shoved into an MKV. It can be put into an MP4, AVI, whatever. It is a H.264 video stream, so it can go anywhere that the H.264 video streams go.

    x264 acceleration would be a test to see how long it takes to encode a video.

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