The Asus Eee Box requires little space on your desk and, starting at just £199, it's a great value system for anyone needing a basic lifestyle PC. UPDATED 13 AUGUST 2008.

The PC just shrunk further: with a smaller footprint and a slimmer profile than the average notebook, Asus's Eee Box requires little space on your desk. The Box starts at just £199, making it a great value for anyone needing a basic lifestyle PC for managing photos, sending email, surfing the web, and other day-to-day tasks. But this machine isn't for everyone: its modest components - including Intel's new, miniaturized, power-efficient Atom processor - produced a low benchmark score.

The Eee Box is the desktop sibling to Asus's Eee PC notebook and comes equipped with Windows XP Home, a 1.6GHz N270 Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 80GB, 2.5in hard drive. The Eee Box also has an integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics card with shared video memory.

While the Eee Box will do fine for getting online and for word processing, it is not a speed demon by any measure, scoring just 36 on our PC WorldBench 6 tests running on Windows XP Home.

This is not unexpected - the MSI Wind / Advent 4211 mini laptop uses the same chipset and recently acheived 35 points. By comparison, the Dell Studio Hybrid, a compact desktop based on more typical and more powerful notebook components, achieved a WorldBench score of 78, more than double that of the Eee Box. The Box's gaming performance is poor, too: it mustered no more than a paltry 4 frames per second in any of our graphics tests.

In some ways, though, performance is not the point of the Eee Box. The system is clearly designed to be a basic, power-saving network-attached device that is well-suited to staying on around the clock. According to Asus, the Box draws just 15-20 watts of power, which is less than what most notebooks consume. We confirmed this with our sample idling at around 18W, drawing a maximum of 21W when the processor was working hardest.

And the Eee Box can do plenty with what it has. For example, 720p high-definiton video will just about play on the Eee Box albeit with dropped frames.

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The Asus Eee Box requires little space on your desk and, starting at just £199, it's a great value system for anyone needing a basic lifestyle PC. UPDATED 13 AUGUST 2008.

The Eee Box doesn't have an optical drive, but it does have four USB ports, so you can easily add an external drive. Open the front vertical flap and you'll find two USB, a multi-card reader and audio in and out jacks. At the back are the other two USB, gigabit ethernet , DVI video out, and a socket to accept the included antenna for built-in draft-n Wi-Fi networking.

Our test unit came with Windows XP Home; a Linux version should ship later this year. The Eee Box starts up into ExpressGate, a pre-Windows interface that lets you boot into Windows, enter the BIOS, or use a simplified Linux-based environment.

This includes a web browser, instant messaging client, and Skype - all of which make online access quick and easy. The ExpressGate preboot does not support CD or video playback. We found that while the Windows XP system took almost 40 seconds to boot, ExpressGate took less than hald this time at 18 seconds to readiness for use.

With its black, boxy, angular design, the Eee Box recalls Apple's Airport Extreme or Nintendo's Wii. It includes a screw-on stand, as well as a VESA mount for attaching the system to the back of a monitor. And, unlike some ultracompact desktops, the Box includes a user-replaceable hard drive.

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Verdict

The Eee Box is a great value that's geared toward students, as well as home and small-office users. Even with its internal fan it's practically silent and consumes little power, making it easy to recommend as the start of a budget or second PC system.

NEXT PAGE: original review, from August 07 2008

The Asus Eee Box requires little space on your desk and, starting at just £199, it's a great value system for anyone needing a basic lifestyle PC.

First review

The Asus Eee Box is a well-designed, ultrasmall desktop PC that is adequate for basic computing - but don't expect much in the way of performance.

The PC just shrunk further: with a smaller footprint and a slimmer profile than the average notebook's, Asus's Eee Box requires little space on your desk. The Box starts at just £199 (computer only; no monitor included), making it a great value for anyone needing a basic lifestyle PC for managing photos, sending email, surfing the web, and other common tasks.

But the Asus Eee Box isn't for everyone: its modest components - including Intel's new, miniaturised, power-efficient Atom processor - produced a weak performance score.

The Asus Eee Box - the desktop sibling to Asus's Eee PC laptop - comes equipped with Windows XP, a 1.6GHz N270 Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 5400rpm, 80GB, 2.5in SATA-150 hard drive. The Eee Box also has an integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics card with shared video memory.

While the Asus Eee Box will do fine for getting online and for word processing, it is not a robust unit by any measure, scoring just 36 on our PC WorldBench 6 tests. By comparison, the Dell Studio Hybrid, a compact desktop based on more typical and more powerful notebook components, achieved a WorldBench score of 78, more than double that of the Eee Box.

The Asus Eee Box's gaming performance is poor, too: it mustered no more than a paltry 4fps (frames per second) in any of our tests.

In some ways, though, performance is not the point of the Asus Eee Box: the system is clearly designed to be a basic, power-saving network-attached device that is well-suited to staying on around the clock. According to Asus, the Asus Eee Box draws just 15 to 20 watts of power, which is less than what most notebooks consume. And the Eee Box can do plenty with what it has. For example, 720p high-definiton video played smoothly on the Eee Box (although we found 1080p video playback a little choppy).

The Asus Eee Box doesn't have an optical drive, but it does have four USB ports, so you can easily add an external drive. The unit also has gigabit ethernet and built-in draft-n Wi-Fi.

NEXT PAGE: software, hardware and our expert verdict > >

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The Asus Eee Box requires little space on your desk and, starting at just £199, it's a great value system for anyone needing a basic lifestyle PC.

Our test unit came with Windows XP Home; a Linux version should ship later this year. The Asus Eee Box starts up into ExpressGate, a pre-Windows interface that lets you boot into Windows, enter the BIOS, or use a simplified Linux-based environment that comes with a web browser, instant messaging client, and Skype - all of which make online access quick and easy. The ExpressGate preboot does not support CD or video playback.

With its white, boxy, angular design, the Asus Eee Box recalls Apple's Airport Extreme or Nintendo's Wii. It includes a screw-on stand, as well as a VESA mount for attaching the system to the back of a monitor. And, unlike some ultracompact desktops, the Asus Eee Box includes a user-replaceable hard drive. It ships with a basic matching keyboard and mouse, but no display option.

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See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs

Asus Eee Box: Specs

  • Intel Atom N270 (1.6GHz)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home
  • 1GB DDR2 SO-DIMM
  • 80GB
  • SD/SDHC/MS/MS Pro/MMC
  • 802.11n
  • 4x USB
  • ethernet
  • Intel Atom N270 (1.6GHz)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home
  • 1GB DDR2 SO-DIMM
  • 80GB
  • SD/SDHC/MS/MS Pro/MMC
  • 802.11n
  • 4x USB
  • ethernet

OUR VERDICT

The Eee Box is a great value that's geared toward students, as well as home and small-office users. Even with its internal fan it’s practically silent and consumes little power, making it easy to recommend as the start of a budget or second PC system.

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