ViewSonic VOT530 PC Mini
If you can’t stand the thought of a PC that’s larger than a one-volume encyclopedia, ViewSonic’s $750 (as of February 1, 2010) VOT530 is one of the speedier compact alternatives.
The system runs on an Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 CPU clocked at a frequency of 2.2GHz. Only 2GB of DDR2-800 memory sit in the VOT530’s miniature frame, a somewhat subpar amount given what you’ll find in comparable systems at a similar cost. And the VOT530’s WorldBench 6 score of 90 is excellent for its price and form--but there’s a specific reason I’m phrasing it like that.
If you don’t mind the extra size of a minitower PC, Micro Express’s MicroFlex 75B delivers stronger performance (132) for a lesser price ($700). And an only slightly larger system, HP’s Compaq 6005 Pro Small Form Factor PC ($900), beats the VOT530’s performance by a score of 128 to 90--a 42 percent increase in general performance for a 20 percent increase in cost.
The VOT530 roughly matches HP’s Compaq 6005 in its external connectivity, but that’s not a flattering comparison. Both machines deliver a slightly less-than-stellar variety of support for external devices compared with rival mini-PCs like Dell's $557 Inspiron Zino HD. Case in point: The VOT530 gives you six USB slots, plus a single gigabit ethernet port, an eSATA port, and a DVI connector. The Zino HD cuts its USB slots to two, but supplements them with two eSATA connectors and an HDMI output. The Zino HD also gets extra points for having a multiformat card reader. Both the Dell and ViewSonic mini-PCs include a built-in DVD writer (slot-loading in the VOT530's case) and a 320GB hard disk.
You can’t upgrade any part of the VOT530, as is the case with most systems of such compact size. Additionally, no mouse or keyboard is included--not uncommon with compact PCs, but it seems strange given that less expensive mini-PCs like the $500 Asus EeeBox PC EB1501 throw them in. The VOT530 does come with wireless 802.11 b/g/n networking built in, and two included antennas let you maximize your connection quality and range over competing antenna-in-the-chassis systems.
And that’s the tale of the tape. ViewSonic’s VOT530 is a Windows 7 Home Premium system that gives you excellent performance for its miniature size. But if you don't mind stepping up in size to a small tower desktop, you can get a lot more bang for you buck elsewhere.
ViewSonic VOT530 PC Mini
If your budget is as locked-in as your space is limited, you’ll enjoy what the VOT530 has to offer.
- 802.11n Wi-Fi
- Very strong performance for its size
- Competing systems deliver more for less
- Keyboard and mouse not included