Author: Frank Stroupe
- A Closer Look
- The BIOS
- Operation / Initial Testing
- Testing - Benchmarks
Like most guys, I like automobiles and electronics. My preference is old stuff, call it retro, vintage, classic, antique, or whatever. Though unlike many…being born in the late 1950s and growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I remember when most of it was new. I recall a video in the 90s when the rapper Coolio was riding in a 1964 Chevy convertible. I rode in one when it still had the driveout tags and price sticker on it, and owned a hardtop model myself more than a decade before it was eligible for antique tags. As far as electronics, I like vacuum tube stereo and guitar amps, again I remember when that was the only choice, and when solid state transistor amps first started becoming available. My workstation speakers are over 2’ tall with 12” woofers in them, I bought them new in 1979.
The main reason I like older stuff is that they are big, easy to work on, and most of the parts were designed with overkill in mind. Plastic was at a minimum, everything that could be made of steel was. A minor “fender-bender” was just that…minor, and as often as not everything could be repaired instead of replaced, if you had it repaired at all. Drop an amp and other than skinning up the outside, it probably wasn’t damaged in the least.
This mindset has followed me in my tastes in computers. I like full towers, ATX motherboards, 120mm CPU coolers, big power supplies, etc. I never really considered miniATX stuff, much less rigs smaller than that. Until now anyway. For the past several months I have had the urge for a small rig, at least mATX mostly for HTPC.
Recently, Bob asked me if I would be interested in reviewing a Mini-ITX motherboard. Since I’ve been interested in a small footprint HTPC rig, so I said yes. Today I will be looking at the ASRock A330ION Mini-ITX motherboard, based on the nVidia MCP7A-ION chipset and complete with an Intel Atom 330 dual core processor. It has onboard nVidia geForce 9 Series graphics, and supports dual channel DDR3 memory. This thing is so small I have to put on my glasses just to see it. Is it true that dynamite comes in small packages? Read on to see!
The motherboard comes in fairly typical ASRock packaging, though much smaller than an ATX box. Of course, features and specs are displayed on the outside of the box, but not quite as many as we are accustomed to.
Inside, the accessories are separated from the board by a cardboard divider. When I removed the divider, I was somewhat surprised, I really didn’t expect the motherboard to be that small.