Never heard of a “nettop” before? Well, it’s the same concept as a netbook, but for a desktop. It’s a ligthweight, affordable, low power consuming computer designed primarly for accessing web content. So, why would you want a nettop? For one, they cost less than $200 for a barebones package. Plus, they make great web servers for back ups, multimedia or anything else you might need in a low-cost computer.
Case in point: the MSI 6676-003BUS Nettop. It’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. The box comes with an Intel Atom D510 dual-core processor--the same that yoiu might find in a notebook--plus an ATI Radeon HD 4330 video card, a Realtek ALC888S 8-channel sound card and a 10/100/1000Mbps ethernet card. On the back, you’ve got an HDMI out, a VGA out and four USB ports. It also comes with an external 65W power adapter. You’ve got 2 mini PCI express slots, slots for 2 SATA hard drives, a 6-in-1card reader and six audio jacks, too. There’s also a WiFi antenna included, which works wonders for picking up a little extra reception.
As you can see from the specs, it’s built with the guts of a laptop but it’s setup for use as a desktop or headless server. The benefit is that, like a laptop, it takes up barely any space and consumes very little electricity, making it green(er) to run 24/7. This particular model is “less than 5 liters in volume,” which, for you U.S.-based readers, comes out to 11.81" x 10.28" x 2.56".
Oh, and did I mention it only costs $189.99 on Newegg.com? See here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856167042
What you will need to buy for this is some RAM and a hard disk drive. Hopefully, you have a few spare units of DDR 2 800/667 RAM laying around as well as a SATA drive or two. That way, it’ll cost you no extra. But if not, then you’ll only be investing about $100 to $200 extra.
This is a great computer to run Linux on, such as Ubuntu Server. Reviews from people who bought this computer are largely positive. It’s compact design gets it high marks, and it even does admirably well on video playback. The machine also received praise for its quietness--especially when paired with an SSD. One user commented that the machine was “eerily quiet.” This machine is perfect as an HTPC, and it can run HD YouTube and Netflix just fine. Its small form factor helps it fit into tight spots in your entertainment center. You could even buy a Blu-ray drive for this to make it even more inclusive. It’s not quite enough machine for gaming, however.
Overall, as a barebones PC, the MSI Nettop reviewed here is what you make of it. If you are reasonably tech-savvy and don’t mind installing some of your own hardware, this can be an excellent value for a spare PC, a server or home theater PC. If there any cons for this barebones nettop, it's that it's not powerful enough for high end tasks, like video editing and gaming. But if you're looking for a gaming PC, then you should know what you want anyway and see right off the bat that the specs don't meet your needs.