Package and the System
Now we can move onto the exciting part of the review where we get an unboxing of the product and then a look around the system and inside this tiny little computer. Hit play on the video below and then continue reading on below.
Impressed? As you can tell from the video, I certainly was.
The Giada Slim-N10 dimensions are 190mm (L) x 150mm (H) x 25mm (W). This thing is the slimmest and smallest computer I have ever seen. I mean, it's only 25mm thick! That is 1mm thinner than the ASUS EeeBox, but it is also shorter and not as high. And as you saw in the video above, when we sat it next to a Nintendo Wii, it is literally half the size of this already compact gaming console. Amazing! It is all made possible by the use of a custom made dual-sided motherboard. That means it's been specially designed for this product and has components and connectors on both sides of the board. There are air event holes on both sides of the system, but the system does run rather warm. We were a bit concerned by the heat it was generating, but did not notice any system stability issues during testing.
As for the package, it's rather basic. You get all the stuff required such as a user manual and plastic molded stand for the unit to sit in vertically or horizontally, but that's about it. There is no HDMI to DVI adapter if you are using a monitor or TV that doesn't have HDMI. There is no remote control. You just get the basics.
As for the system, we've already mentioned how stunned we were by the size. The build quality seems to be quite good with a majority plastic finish, but it is also light and relatively strong. I've got short pants where this system would easily and comfortably fit in the side pocket. The system we were sent is white, but you can also pick from blue, black and pink depending on your taste. The blue floral design on both sides of the system looks modern, stylish and attractive, fitting the "fashion PC" user needs that Giada reckons their Slim-N10 matches.
As for the specifications of the system, though, we do have several issues we need to discuss. It is great to see that it makes use of the popular NVIDIA Ion chipset - that takes a lot of pressure off of the Intel Atom processor and means you can easily playback 1080p movies and Blu-ray's (although this nettop doesn't come with any sort of optical drive) and you can even get some basic gaming in with new titles, just with the graphics quality settings turned down. On the negative side, though, we have to comment - what were Giada thinking when they only created the motherboard with a single SO-DIMM DDR2 memory slot? This limits us to single-channel memory and we see a reduction in performance because of it. In future revisions of Giada systems, we must see dual-channel support.
Next up we come to the decision on which hard drive to use. First of all, it's a 2.5-inch laptop drive and that's perfectly understandable due to the size constraints of the system. But Giada decided to use a slow Samsung 5,400 RPM drive and sadly it doesn't perform that well at all. Giada should have gone with a 7,200 RPM drive or better yet, added in an SSD drive. The Intel Atom + NVIDIA Ion platform is not a performance beast at the best of times and installing a 5,400 RPM hard drive is just a mistake in my opinion. If an SSD were installed, it would have effectively disguised a lot of the slowness of the system by highly improving responsiveness thanks to fast flash memory technology. If you really like this system, the good news is that you can replace the installed hard drive with an SSD, but we think there should really be an option for an SSD model.
The next issue we have with the system concerns networking. The system only comes with 10/100 LAN, not Gigabit ethernet as we have come to expect as the standard these days. While 10/100 is fast enough to stream movies and music, as soon as you want to do some file copying or the like, you really see how much of a disappointment it is only being able to copy at around 12MB/s. And the model we were sent only came with 802.11g wireless networking. In this day and age, I'm not sure why they even have the option - it should just be 802.11n all the way.
The other important thing to remember is that because of such small size of this system, there is no optical drive. Nowadays we can survive without external storage such as floppy drives and even optical, but keep in mind this system doesn't come with an operating system, so you'll need to hook up a USB 2.0 optical drive or install from a USB pen drive, or you could install a flash card into the included card reader on the system. Also of note is that the only digital audio output from the system is via HDMI and if you aren't using a device that supports it, you only have analog audio output. Even though it only supports up to 1.5Mbit (Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS), where is the optical audio output?
Let's move onto the testing and benchmarks now!
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