"Official" ASRock ION 330 nettop thread - AVS Forum
View Poll Results: Are you buying an ION-based nettop?
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post #1 of 247 Old 06-26-2009, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
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I took the plunge and bought the first ION-based nettop I found in Toronto, the ASRock ION 330:

CPU - Intel® Atom™ 330 (Dual-Core CPU)
Chipset - NVIDIA® ION™ graphics processor
Memory - 2GB DDR2 800 MHz memory, support dual channel, maximum memory capacity 4GB

VGA - NVIDIA® ION™ graphics, support DX10 / Full HD 1080p (Blu-ray / HD-DVD)* playback (*Blu-ray/HD-DVD disc is supported by Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive.)

HDD - 2.5” HDD 320GB
DVD - DVD Super Multi (Slim type)(some configs come with Blu ray drive for extra $$)
I/O - 1 x HDMI (with HDMI to DVI adapter), 1 x D-Sub VGA, 6 x USB 2.0, 1 x S/PDIF (Optical)
LAN - Gigabit LAN
Sound - HD Audio 5.1 channel
System Acoustic - Below 26dB
Power Unit - 65W /19V Adapter
Dimension - 195mm (W) x 70mm (H) x 186mm (L)
Volume (liters) - 2.5L
Weight - 1.69Kg

Its a little lacking in styling, but very small, clean, and shiny. In terms of size, its about the size of 2 Wii's stacked. Here's a pretty good review that covers all the basics.

Unpack (2 mins):
It comes in a small box, well packed, with its external power supply (smaller than most laptops), HDMI->DVI adapter, and a non-slip pad, which I recommend using since the unit is so small and light and has no rubber 'feet', its possible that ejecting a disk could cause it to recoil. I hooked up the HDMI to my TV, and powered on. The blue power button is probably bright enough to be seen from the space shuttle, I'll have to hack it a bit.

OS Install (20 mins):
With plans for this to be my Media Center, I installed Windows 7100. Installation went smoothly, except of a rare problem that few others will run into... I have no wired USB keyboards, so I could only start the default OS installation with my USB mouse. NOTE: have a standard, no-drivers-needed-in-DOS USB keyboard handy.

This is the first MB I used with a fully integrated Nvidia chipset (I'm an ATI guy since they were in Toronto), but so far I really like all the built in features. For some reason, when I load up the supplied drivers disk, it doesn't seem to want to install anything, so I went into the drivers folder on the disk, and started the setup from there. Everything then seemed to install correctly (I have to find out if 'FirstGate' on the NIC is worth activating).

Once Windows was installed and stable, I dove into setting up Media Center (7MC). I plugged in my WinTV 950Q USB tuner, and started the 7MC setup, telling it yes I am in USA (not really, ATSC + Canada still not supported in 7MC, WTF?), and here's my zipcode (nearby US town) as per my Vista MC setup. Once the channel scan was done, I was able to receive approx 28 digital stations, half in HD, with my CM4221HD antennae. I made a few quick corrections for the guide listings, and I was back in PVR land.

Observations:
The unit runs a little hot, but it was also very hot in my apartment, so ambient air wasn't helping much. It's very quiet, in a dead quiet room, you might hear it, but most other devices are louder, I think my TV even gives off more noise on mute. The parts inside look to be very standard, and *upgradable* (desktop ram, 2.5" HD, laptop optical drive), so that's nice not being locked into them.

I haven't tried playing back Blu ray yet, but will soon. Playing back 1080i HD looks great so far, no stutters. Navigating the guide listings is a bit slower than my previous media center pc, but barely noticable.

To sum up, "I'm lovin' it".
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post #2 of 247 Old 06-28-2009, 04:25 AM
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Does this machine have any internal serial or usb connectors?
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post #3 of 247 Old 06-29-2009, 09:02 AM - Thread Starter
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No internal serial or USB that I saw, take a look here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPJMArGfMpI


More experiments over the weekend...

I reinstalled Win 7 x64 this time, since the atom 330 supports 64bit, and since Media Center is about the only thing I'll be running on this.

The pc is a little slower navigating/EPG in Media Center than my previous core duo laptop, but still very usable. I haven't tried overclocking yet, but probably will this week.

So far, I like the Asrock alot, quiet, low powered, great media center box so far. I'll try blu ray on it this week. No probs with timeshifting/pausing live tv (1080i). I do miss having an esata port like my last laptop, but I can live with it.

I'm using the MS Media Center keyboard + remote (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...oard,1098.html), and have no problems. It seems that once the pc goes to sleep, I can only wake it using the 'sleep' button on the keyboard, but that might be tweakable in the bios somewhere. I trained my Harmony 880 with the codes for the remote, so no prob there.

I haven't tried the quick boot since I think you have to leave your password blank, but might try it soon. For me, sleep mode is fine for now. FWIW, the instant boot simply reboots the pc at shutdown, and puts it to sleep on reboot, waiting to be awaken.

Flash seemed fine, will have to try some HD clips. I didn't try VLC yet. With Media Center running, I was at 1.25GB RAM in use, so upgrading might be necessary if you plan on running a bunch of stuff in the background, otherwise, for Media Center, 2GB is fine, and fast enough.

I have a separate PC for playback of hd dvd/blu ray, but eventually the ASRock might take on those duties as well, and I don't expect any difficulties.
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post #4 of 247 Old 06-30-2009, 06:50 AM
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No point in trying to run 1080p videos with VLC, the dual core atom just doesn't have enough brute power to do it. You really need to use a media player that supports dxva/cuda/vdpau to be able to do HD. Then again that's the whole point of using the ION platform as a HTPC in the first place

I bought one a week ago at a small computer store in town. And instead of using Windows, I went with a mini install of the newest distrib of Ubuntu. I'm using XBMC under linux as we my media player and it supports GPU acceleration of media files via vdpau.

It did take a little work to get audio working through HDMI, but that was caused with my rustiness with using linux in a home environment.

Under XBMC, cpu usage is well under 10% while handling 1080p mkv/m2ts files.

I haven't noticed the box heating up much at all.
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post #5 of 247 Old 06-30-2009, 08:51 AM - Thread Starter
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I would love to run XBMC on my ASRock, used it all the time on my old xbox, but I need the tuner/PVR option in Media Center, until they add one to XBMC (never?)
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post #6 of 247 Old 06-30-2009, 09:11 AM
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Dual boot?
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post #7 of 247 Old 06-30-2009, 09:25 AM
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where did you buy it from? The link to ASRock site does not have any online ordering as far as I could see. Is it available through resellers?
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post #8 of 247 Old 06-30-2009, 11:31 AM
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Here in Canada, there are a number of places to order them from. NCIX, Anitec, CC etc etc. I picked one up from a small computer store here in town, www.thrift-king.com
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post #9 of 247 Old 07-08-2009, 09:43 AM
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hey, is this nettops can pass sound via hdmi 1.3 to LG 6000 or any LG 1.3 comaptible TV?

I have read some articles that on live XBMC it can, but on other distros it cannot...

I am a linux user.

thanks

regards> Boris
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post #10 of 247 Old 07-08-2009, 01:33 PM
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"It did take a little work to get audio working through HDMI, but that was caused with my rustiness with using linux in a home environment."

so it can.. thanks, as Asrock nettop 330 price is going down here, I am buying it very soon..
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post #11 of 247 Old 07-27-2009, 01:54 AM
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All I've seen so far are glowing reports for this product - but I'm beginning to see some serious faults!

Using Windows XP SP3 with latest supplied Nvidia and VIA drivers

1. Distorted audio over HDMI - can play videos with mp2 audio ok - but any audio with mp3, wav and some AAC variants will be badly distorted. Even mp4 videos often have clicks at the start and end. Normal windows sounds are OK

2. I have to physically disconnect and re-connect the ethernet cable to the NetTop PC to get the LAN to work whenever the unit is switched on from cold i.e when the PSU Adapter has been disconnected? If the PSU Adapter is left on, then the LAN continues to function OK irrespective of the state of the NetTop PC - shutdown or booted.

Still awaiting a reply from ASRock/Dealer Support.

Any users out there care to comment?
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post #12 of 247 Old 07-29-2009, 10:37 PM
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Just bought one of these today, installed Vista x86 SP2 on it. Configured media portal with mpc's subtitle engine and it took everything I threw at it.

1080p H264, VC1, MPEG2 with and without subtitles.
flac, dd, dts audio

The mediaportal interface is a little slower in comparison to my big htpc but this is a great little box for mkv ripping streaming crowd.

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post #13 of 247 Old 07-31-2009, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevjames View Post

All I've seen so far are glowing reports for this product - but I'm beginning to see some serious faults!
...

Any users out there care to comment?

Under Win 7100 x64 I don't have any of those issues. I've only unplugged the unit once, and it rebooted fine.

Most media I've played has been from Media Center, 1080i/720p HD from antenna, but I'm going to playback a blu ray iso over the weekend.
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post #14 of 247 Old 07-31-2009, 11:08 AM
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How smooth does the XBMC interface run? You guys bumped up the GPU frame buffer size to 512MB in the BIOS right?

oh hi.
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post #15 of 247 Old 07-31-2009, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lament View Post

How smooth does the XBMC interface run? You guys bumped up the GPU frame buffer size to 512MB in the BIOS right?

I haven't tried that, what does it do, or allow for? gaming?
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post #16 of 247 Old 07-31-2009, 02:25 PM
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This box looks incredibly promising. I'd like to hear more from people using Media Portal (MP) with USB tuners for DVR.

I haven't used MP in a year or two, but does changing the skin help improve responsiveness?
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post #17 of 247 Old 07-31-2009, 03:45 PM
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I overclocked it to 2.0 GHZ which helped responsiveness in MP. I think the HD might be the bottle neck now with the fan art and such, nothing a cheap 32GB ssd wouldn't solve.

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post #18 of 247 Old 07-31-2009, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by protovision View Post

I haven't tried that, what does it do, or allow for? gaming?

It's supposed to help with XBMC skins that are more graphic intensive, and I guess it might help with gaming.

oh hi.
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post #19 of 247 Old 08-02-2009, 08:43 AM
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Whats the model name of the version that comes with a blu-ray drive? im SUPER interested in that one

It only comes with just an hdmi port? What do i do if i want to plug in a 7.1 home theater? not possible? will it decode DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD? and of course 5.1?
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post #20 of 247 Old 08-02-2009, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tijs_Verwest View Post

Whats the model name of the version that comes with a blu-ray drive? im SUPER interested in that one

It only comes with just an hdmi port? What do i do if i want to plug in a 7.1 home theater? not possible? will it decode DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD? and of course 5.1?

You can get 5.1 analog out of it I believe, not 7.1 though.

Decoding of audio is a software thing. It supports 7.1 LPCM out via HDMI, so you'll have to let the software of your choice convert to such.

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post #21 of 247 Old 08-03-2009, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Flowerday View Post

You can get 5.1 analog out of it I believe, not 7.1 though.

Decoding of audio is a software thing. It supports 7.1 LPCM out via HDMI, so you'll have to let the software of your choice convert to such.

I want digital 7.1, what do i need to do? let the software convert to what?
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post #22 of 247 Old 08-04-2009, 07:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tijs_verwest View Post

i want digital 7.1, what do i need to do? Let the software convert to what?

lpcm 7.1

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post #23 of 247 Old 08-06-2009, 11:39 AM
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I was thinking about picking up one of these bad boys, assuming I can find one but had a few quick questions:
  1. I know most use this as a HTPC but would it fail horribly as a desktop pc? No gaming, just day to day pc use?
  2. Does anyone know if this is VESA mount capable?
  3. I am a poor judge of size, anyone willing to post a picture for comparisons sake?

Thanks!
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post #24 of 247 Old 08-06-2009, 01:59 PM
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It's available from a more mainstream retailer now:

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=MB-ION330B&c=CJ

Price is very good too, all it needs is a bump to 4GB which you can buy cheaply at newegg.


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post #25 of 247 Old 08-06-2009, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Flowerday View Post

lpcm 7.1

Im confused, the ideal thing would BE that the htpc includes 2 hdmi ports, one to plug it to the tv and another one to plug it to the home theather? lpcm is analog , but arent digital things better?
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post #26 of 247 Old 08-06-2009, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tijs_Verwest View Post

Im confused, the ideal thing would BE that the htpc includes 2 hdmi ports, one to plug it to the tv and another one to plug it to the home theather?

Nah, you're supposed to run the HDMI from the receiver.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tijs_Verwest View Post

lpcm is analog , but arent digital things better?

LPCM is digital. Just already uncompressed. Think audio CD.
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post #27 of 247 Old 08-08-2009, 11:22 AM
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According to Guru3D.com, NVIDIA does not support mkv x264 and the processing of these video files cannot be accelerated in hardware. Therefore, my questions for the owners of the Asrock Ion 330 are: do you get smooth playback of 720p and 1080p mkv x264 movies? If so, what specific OS, codecs and players are you using?

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post #28 of 247 Old 08-08-2009, 11:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike50 View Post

According to 3DGuru.com, NVIDIA does not support mkv x264 and the processing of these video files cannot be accelerated in hardware. Therefore, my questions for the owners of the Asrock Ion 330 are: do you get smooth playback of 720p and 1080p mkv x264 movies? If so, what specific OS, codecs and players are you using?

Meh, don't believe what you read there. Most gaming sites barely devote any attention to HTPC-related tasks so they're not familiar with all the little hacks and tricks involved with getting hardware acceleration working. They can't make it work in one go, they stop and declare it's not doable.

Assuming you're using a DXVA-capable player/codec and the x264 MKV files are also DXVA-compatible (I have yet to encounter an anime fansub that isn't - those are the only stuff I download), an ION-based system should be able to play it. So far, I've only tested Windows XP + MPC HomeCinema 1.2.908 on my ZOTAC IONITX-D-E build but that seems to work well enough. Forgot what version drivers I had installed, though.
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post #29 of 247 Old 08-08-2009, 01:35 PM
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I've had mine for about a week now but seem to be having some problems with it.

1. When connected via HDMI I have no display everytime I turn it on, then I have to plug in the VGA cable & then switch back over to HDMI & I have a display again.

2. I shut it down say in the evening then the next day I go into the living room & its back on again.

Anyone have any ideas whats going on with it?

I'm running Windows 7 64 bit & have it connected up to my Samsung LCD TV.
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post #30 of 247 Old 08-08-2009, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Nah, you're supposed to run the HDMI from the receiver.


LPCM is digital. Just already uncompressed. Think audio CD.

and how do i plug the receiver to the asrock ion? the hdmi port is taken by the tv input =/
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