Well, this was our first look at contemporary platforms for nettops – small, inexpensive, power-efficient and quiet home systems. We got an idea of new processor microarchitectures and platforms designed for solutions of this type. Overall, we can say that highly integrated solutions from Intel and VIA that never consume over 70W of power and offer pretty sufficient performance for a wide range of tasks a home user would ever need to work with. New generation of low-power platforms not only work with Internet applications in Windows Vista OS, but are also powerful enough for more resource-demanding tasks, such as office applications and HD video playback (with a few limitations). All this indicates that nettops do have a future, especially since computer systems like that attract the users not only due to their power-efficiency, quiet operation and small size, but also due to their very affordable price resulting from low-cost components.
What existing processor would be preferable for a nettop computer? This is a pretty complicated question and the answers to it will be different depending on the criteria priorities. If low cost and low power consumption are most important for you, then Atom 230 will be the best choice. However, if you care more for performance-per-watt, then you should go with a dual-core Atom 330. Even a regular Celeron 420 on Conroe-L core performed quite well. It is not as economical as CPUs on Atom microarchitecture, but it can provide decent performance at reasonable power consumption level.
VIA Nano processor that seems to have yielded to Atom 330 and Celeron 420 processors in many aspects also has its indisputable strengths. VIA’s primary advantage is very smart design of EPIA platforms that offer mush more functionality and integration than Intel solutions. Moreover, new Isaiah microarchitecture performs fast enough, so you shouldn’t really charge it off just yet.
However, Atom and Nano based nettops the way they are today will hardly become sales hits like netbooks, for instance. Unfortunately, they are not powerful enough to become a fully fledged home PC. These CPUs will not be able to playback HD movies at 1080p resolution and it will most likely discourage most potential customers. Nevertheless, new low-power processors will be coming out shortly and then we will certainly be more confident about the future of the new class of computer devices.