Acer Veriton X270
Acer's Veriton X270 (VX270-ED7400C) does a fine job of combining attributes that rarely work well together: tiny, inexpensive, and fast. This compact (3.9 by 12.4 by 10.4 inches) PC raises the bar for sub-$500 mini-systems, offering impressive functionality and performance despite its minute dimensions.
In performance, the X270--which unites a 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo E7400 and 2GB of DDR2-800 memory--falls well short of the Lenovo ThinkCentre M58p ($1049), with its 3.16GHz Core 2 Duo E8500 processor and 2GB of DDR3-1066 memory. But at a mere $499 (as of August 23, 2009), the X270 also costs less half as much. The M58p does throw in 250GB of storage (versus the X270's 160GB), but both machines offer standard DVD burners that lack Blu-ray support.
The X270 is the fastest sub-$500 PC we've tested, desktop or all-in-one; its WorldBench 6 score of 96 is significantly lower than the mark of 117 earned by the fastest compact desktop we've tested--the Lenovo ThinkCentre M58p. Nevertheless, its general performance is far below that of other, pricier value desktop PCs, and you shouldn't expect to play games on it.
This PC comes with an impressive array of ports. On the rear are four USB, one eSATA, gigabit ethernet, integrated 7.1 surround sound, S/PDIF, VGA, and HDMI connections. And Acer slaps five additional USB ports, one FireWire 400 port, and a multicard reader on the system's front.
You can only replace--not supplement--the X270's optical and hard drives, but surprisingly the machine's motherboard has a free PCI Express x16 slot and a free PCI x1 slot. Just don't expect an nVidia 8800-size graphics card to fit in this little rig.
The unit's all-black case is sleek and stylish. But the matching mouse and keyboard are strictly generic, lacking any extra keys or buttons.
Of course, if that's the X270's biggest flaw, this miniature system clearly has a lot going for it. You can connect a wide range of devices, add components, and accomplish many living-room PC tasks, all while enjoying the fastest performance of any sub-$500 PC. Acer's affordable Veriton X270 is the best compact system that a small amount of money can buy.
Acer Veriton X270