The latest Asus low-power desktop PC, the Asus Eee Box B204 builds on the success of the original Eee Box, adding in a discrete graphics card.

We looked at the original Asus Eee Box (review here) a few months back, finding it to be a great solution as a cool and quiet low-power desktop PC. While we didn't exactly expect it to be a gamesmeister, its integrated graphics chip nonetheless ruled it out entirely as anything you'd could play 3D games on.

Asus hasn't stood still in the intervening time, introducing the revised Asus Eee Box B204 and Asus Eee Box B206 versions of the Eee Box which now come equipped with a discrete graphics card inside, an ATI HD 3450. The result is a quiet, compact PC which has more promising graphics capability, both for Windows games and potentially playing high-definition video.

In all other aspects, the specs remain the same, although the two new versions differ with the inclusion of a small on-board battery on the the Asus Eee Box B204 model, allowing it to run for around 20 minutes without mains power - more useful in territories that have flakier mains quality than the normally dependable UK.

We found the same result when benchmarking both new Asus Eee Boxes with WorldBench 6, namely 36 points - about average for an Intel Atom PC. Running our usual FEAR graphics test, we noted 10fps was possible at Maximum quality settings, rising to 17fps at High quality. We tried some samples of high-definition video, and found that 720p files could play without too much struggle, although 1080p was still a step too far for the Asus Eee Box B204's CPU/GPU combination.

Asus Eee Box B204: Specs

  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270
  • Windows XP Home
  • 1GB RAM
  • 160GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • ATI HD 3450 with 256MB graphics
  • multi-card reader
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11b/g/draft-n
  • Bluetooth
  • mic-in, headphone out, line-out with S/PDIF digital audio
  • 216x178x25mm
  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270
  • Windows XP Home
  • 1GB RAM
  • 160GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • ATI HD 3450 with 256MB graphics
  • multi-card reader
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11b/g/draft-n
  • Bluetooth
  • mic-in, headphone out, line-out with S/PDIF digital audio
  • 216x178x25mm

OUR VERDICT

If you don’t need the UPS option, look to the all-but-identical B206 version – although this also omits Bluetooth – for £20 less. Either way, the extra graphics power and double-sized 160GB hard drive make the Asus Eee Box B204 a viable alternative to an already classic nettop, and worthy of recommendation.

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