Computer you won't dream about

eeebox_icon During last few years my opinion about PC hardware slowly changed from this is awesome to why pay more and recently to why pay. I stopped playing games and turning of my PC - and that drastically changed my needs. I switched to passive cooling - and cat fur stopped killing components. :)

So I was following Asus Eee Box evolution while other people were following Asus Lamborghini.

Quick summary

Eee Box is small form factor (SFF) PC based on new generation of Intel processors and few more compact and budget components.

eeebox_looks
Link to product page

It's good…

  • tiny, silent, energy efficient and can be screwed to LCD display;
  • no need to hunt for separate rare and expensive small/silent components;
  • it's cheap for a SFF one.

But!

  • performance sucks;
  • single DVI output (I am spoiled by twin-monitor setup);
  • barely handles 720p (deal-breaker for anime fan);
  • with $350 and dealer prices I can put together way faster low-budget desktop.

Silent PC review posted extensive article on Eee Box today, read it for plenty of details and noise measurements.

Eee Box is certainly not an awesome thing people crave for. But may it actually become ideal PC for non-demanding user? I'd say not yet… But it's very probable in a year or two with later models.

You may not dream about it but you may end up buying one (or more) some day.

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13 Comments

  • MK #

    I do dream about it. Small, silent, cool, and cheap (but no, not laptop please. Hate the touchpad). And can still be used for the next five years. I stopped playing games too, and eventually stopped having any desire for hardware luxury. Internet is everything. God bless the Internet. So I guess you are using (or wanted to switch to) Linux?
  • Rarst #

    >So I guess you are using (or wanted to switch to) Linux? Huh? I am kinda writing blog about Windows software here. :) I am spending way too much time interacting with Windows PCs (work and more work). I can easily switch, but why should if I have to spend ton of time with Windows anyway? My general opinion is that I won't switch to Linux (or whatever) just because I can. I swtich to things because they offer me somethings. Switching to Linux won't benefit me in any way. I am not anti-Linux, I simply have no use for it.
  • Jim Sefton #

    Nice post. I have been interested in silent PC's for years. I built a top spec one but it cost a fortune and took ages to get the bits. By the time it was complete I lost interest and had moved to laptops. I still have an EPIA system as an ubuntu server, for backups, but day to day I am on a Macbook Pro. I agree, one more generation and you will see these with 2xHDMI/DVI outputs, better processors and still silent. Quiet PC's enable you to think a lot clearer (IMHO). @MK: It sounds like the ideal system for you WOULD be a laptop, get good performance and just plug in a mouse instead of the trackpad. Portability, power, and a mouse, et voila!
  • Talk Binary #

    I use Linux for programming reasons. Other than that? Not really. I use Windows because I've established myself on it. Either way, Linux is a virtual machine away or even as a dual boot on my laptop. At school Linux is all I use. So so far, I've been using both. =)
  • MK #

    >I can easily switch, but why should if I have to spend ton of time with Windows anyway? Well, because it is cheap? But it won't be an issue anymore if you already acquired a legal copy of Windows.. Mine's pirated. I thought of ditching Windows for Linux because it's free. But then I changed my mind. Because, like you, I will write a lot about Windows later on. Talk Binary, as a programmer, does Linux makes you more productive? I'm a beginner programmer.
  • Rarst #

    @Jim Sefton > I have been interested in silent PC’s for years. I built a top spec one but it cost a fortune and took ages to get the bits. You tell me. :) Hunting for those optimal silent parts cooosts. I am brooding over notebook for a long time but never bought one. At home I still want dual-monitor setup and good keyboard. At work I have my work PC. I have no huge need for mobility so why pay extra for it? Maybe if those netbooks fall to around $250-300 I'll buy one just because it's cheap. :) Thanks for visiting and commenting by the way, Jim. :) @Talk Binary Yep, VM nowadays are so easy to set up. I have post on VirtualBox queued. @MK >Well, because it is cheap? But it won’t be an issue anymore if you already acquired a legal copy of Windows.. Mine’s pirated. I thought of ditching Windows for Linux because it’s free. Yep, price is factor. But I always consider prices together with time of use. Like I use mobile phone daily and often - makes sense to buy a good one. For Windows it costs but it is used all the time for long years.
  • Are you prepared for computer meltdown? | www.Rarst.net #

    [...] small form factors PCs may seem underpowered but usual desktop is pain to transport; [...]
  • The DataRat #

    Over a year later we see how this played out: Asus has pretty much given up on Linux as an OS. ~All~ of their announced new models (including netbooks) will be Windows machines. Linux simply didn't resonate with the buying public. ( Asus says they have no plans for further Linux machines. And ~they~ are the ones who originally popularized netbooks, and those were Linux netbooks ! ) Beyond the hardcore zealots of the open source clique, typical users just aren't interested in a Linux operating system ! Most of the other major OEM's of netbook and small form factor computers are (again) following Asus' lead on this. [ Thinking about it, Asus is sort of the Opera of computer OEM's. ] Last that I've heard: Linux has a 1.7% penetration of the consumer desktop market. ( Which is probably the sum total of the world's open source zealots ! ) It hasn't been able to break into the mainstream. Maybe because of Microsoft Office. Perhaps because people are put off by Linux fanboy fanatical bigotry. Hard to tell. Every time I start to consider building a Linux machine just to try it out, I read some article which makes Linux sound as esoteric and unintuitive as MS-DOS. I ~don't~ want to go back to the days when I spent more time getting my computer functional than I spent actually doing something on my computer ! No thank you. Then there's Linux Politics. Really, more like Cold War Politics. Or, more accurate still: medieval religion ! Being a Linux user seems too much like joining a religious cult. The DataRat .
  • Rarst #

    @DataRat I like Aspire Revo nettop a lot, but thought of Atom stops me from buying one. It won't be enough to replace current desktop and I objectively don't need one more computer. :) I still like the trend with SFF, but not that it will take quite a few years to penetrate market properly.
  • Rarst #

    @Roger
    Your mini-ITX sounds sweet though. Shame about the limit to 2Gb RAM though.
    I had upped to 4GB later (well, to 3+ cause I am still on WinXP). Worked just find with two memory modules, it's single 4GB module that motherboard seems to mind.
  • Roger #

    @Rarst Thanks for the detailed response Rarst. I was planning on just making some simple steps to my current system that would reduce overheating (if any at all) so I guess passive cooling isn't the way to go just yet or may be worth exploring this when I start a new build. Your mini-ITX sounds sweet though. Shame about the limit to 2Gb RAM though. I'm not happy with my 4Gb but I'm thinking RAM probably isn't the issue in my case. Heh.
  • Rarst #

    @Roger
    Is passive cooling a potential resolution to this issue?
    Well, it's not exactly win-win. :) The more air is sucked into computer the more dust and fur goes in with it. Passive cooling moves drastically less air, but it is also more complex, requires more casing space and comes with overheating risks of its own. It also mostly needs to be built from scratch or takes replacing multiple components... While active cooling dust-sucking potential can be often reduced with couple of simple filters. My current PC is self-built mini-ITX and there is simply no space for passive cooling inside of such. So I'd say the best time to try passive cooling is if you are planning to put together new PC (or a massive upgrade) and you are willing to burn extra money on it for silence and less air movement.
  • Roger #

    "I switched to passive cooling – and cat fur stopped killing components" I often find that cat fur and a worryingly extensive amount of dust in my fans keeps causing my system to overheat and power off. Is passive cooling a potential resolution to this issue? It's something I'm guessing I would need to seriously look into if that's the case.