Windows-Based “Nettop” PCs: An Overview from a Mac Guy

    Okay, I’m a Mac guy. That should be fairly obvious, but my family is strictly Windows-only. My father is a network administrator, so he is very comfortable with that world. Despite my protestations, I doubt he will ever buy a Mac. He wanted to put a computer in his kitchen, so he bought a “Nettop” PC. Let me break down the specs for a second:

    • Intel Atom 1.6 Ghz Dual Core Processor
    • 2 GB of RAM
    • Windows 7 Ultimate
    • Intel Integrated Graphics
    • 64 GB solid-state harddrive
    • DVI, VGA, USB, and FireWire ports

    The processor seems to be fine. I keep my eye on the system monitor, and the Atom is rarely a bottle neck. Lag is usually due to displaying video.

    Two gigs of RAM really is plenty for light users. It flies in the face of the tech community and marketeers who are constantly forcing the top of the line onto non-nerds. Checking your Gmail account and creeping about Facebook DOES NOT require eight gigabytes of RAM. Let’s relax a little bit, fellow nerds.

    Windows 7 is not vomit-inducing. It is perfectly acceptable. However, there are small things that will trip up Mac users. Most glaringly, you cannot scroll in background windows. If you want to scroll, you have to have that window in focus. Small things like that make me twitch whenever I use Windows.

    This is a black box approximately the size of a Mac Mini. It won’t be running Photoshop or 3D video games, but it is decent for browsing the web and watching DVDs. It is able to run Aero and drive a 23″ monitor at 1920×1080 despite the lackluster graphics chip.

    I really don’t notice any speed difference with the solid state drive. I use 7200 RPM SATA drives in my Mac, so I use that as a comparison. I’m sure there is a difference if you look at the benchmarks, but it is not really noticeable to your average user.

    Surprisingly, it has a ton of USB ports. I counted at least five visible ports, but there are hidden flaps all over the place. Who knows if there are any more skulking about?

    In sum, “Nettop” PCs are perfectly acceptable computers for light users. You probably aren’t going to get the best performance for your dollar, but the total cost will be less than your standard desktop computer.

    Photo Credit: DRB62

    Grant is a writer from Delaware. In his spare time, Grant maintains a personal blog, hosts The Weekly Roar, hosts Quadcast, and writes for video games.