capsule review

Giada Ultra Mini PC i50: Slim and Speedy

At a Glance
  • Giada Ultra Mini PC i50

    PCWorld Rating

    This svelte PC is pretty fast for a compact desktop.

Giada Ultra Mini PC i50 compact desktop PC
The Giada Ultra Mini PC i50 is a slim, lightweight compact PC with a relatively fast processor. At $660 (as of June 15, 2011), this little machine is an excellent choice if you're looking for something so small that you'll barely notice it.

The Giada i50 ships with a 1.2GHz Intel Core i5-U430 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. Our review model has the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium installed--in other words, only 3GB of the 4GB of RAM is usable. The Giada i50 also has Bluetooth connectivity, along with 802.11n Wi-Fi and gigabit ethernet.

Our review model, measuring just 7.5 inches tall by 6 inches wide and less than 1 inch thick, was housed in a slim, shiny black plastic case with silver trim. You can also order the Giada i50 in white.

The front of the Giada i50 is simple, offering a square power button and a rectangular light. The sides of the chassis feature a silver design of multiple overlapping rectangles, along with miniature brick-shaped vents and the Giada logo (on the right). Overall, the plastic design looks and feels a little cheap--though it is slim, which is nice.

Connectivity ports--including a multiformat card reader, a USB 3.0 connection, and headphone/microphone jacks--are located in a covered dock on the top of the machine. The majority of the connections are on the back of the Giada i50, where you'll find a Kensington lock port, an HDMI-out port, four USB ports, a VGA port, and the aforementioned gigabit ethernet port.

The Giada i50 comes with a clear oval plastic stand so that it can sit upright or lie on its side (though there are no "feet" on either side of the machine). You can order an optional VESA mounting kit (our review model didn't come with one) for positioning the Giada i50 on the back of a monitor.

Don't let the Giada i50's small shape fool you, though--this little PC packs a decent punch. In PCWorld's WorldBench 6 benchmark tests, the Giada Ultra Mini PC i50 earned a performance score of 74. By contrast, the Dell Inspiron Zino HD 410, which is currently the number one compact PC on PCWorld's list of top compact PCs, achieved a score just four points higher, a mark of 78. An old favorite--the Viewsonic VOT 530 PC Mini--reached a WorldBench 6 score of 90, while the Asus EeeBox 1501 produced a score of 38. It's safe to say that the Giada i50 ranks pretty solidly among the top five compact PCs--at least when it comes to speed.

Multimedia is an entirely different experience, however. The Giada i50 doesn't have a discrete graphics card (it's pretty small, after all), so instead it relies on Intel integrated graphics. Unfortunately, the Giada i50 ships with a Core i5 processor--not a Sandy Bridge CPU--and the integrated graphics are not exactly excellent.

In our Unreal Tournament 3 tests, the Giada i50 managed a pathetic 5.8 frames per second, and that was with medium-quality settings at a 1024-by-768-pixel resolution. Needless to say, at high-quality settings and a higher resolution, it spit out frame rates that were even less playable (as though that were even possible). Compare that with the Dell Inspiron Zino HD 410, which generated a decent (but still not excellent) 51.2 fps on the same settings (medium quality, 1024 by 768 pixels). So, yeah, the Giada i50 isn't ready for even casual gaming.

The Giada i50's biggest strength is its tiny size. That said, its a shame that the case looks and feels a little cheap. Still, for a PC with such a small footprint, the specs aren't too bad--the hard drive, which is upgradable to 1TB, is enormous for a compact PC, and the Giada's i5 processor comes through in general-purpose computing. The multiformat card reader is an expected complement, but the USB 3.0 port and the Bluetooth connectivity are excellent touches. A gaming powerhouse the Giada Ultra Mini PC i50 is definitely not--but it is a pretty capable mini machine in every other respect.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This svelte PC is pretty fast for a compact desktop.

    Pros

    • Spacious hard drive
    • Speedy for its size
    • Slim case

    Cons

    • Plastic case looks and feels cheap
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