The HTPC is growing increasingly popular as people discover the endless possibilities of the multimedia side of the PC. Yeah, I know, we enthusiasts have realized this for a long time, but keep in mind that the average PC user still primarily uses his/her rig for email and surfing the net. Well, add loading music into their iPOD, hanging out with their Facebook friends, and watching YouTube videos to that list. Most still haven’t realized how versatile that intimidating box they know as simply “my computer” can be.
What they don’t realize is how many typical home theater components can be eliminated by the addition of an HTPC. A well setup HTPC rig can replace the DVD/BluRay player and the DVR. An elaborate surround sound component can replaced by a much more simple 6.1 or 8.1 speaker system. With internet and digital radio along with CD playback, an audio sound system really isn’t needed, merely an audio amplifier or stereo deck with Aux inputs. If you don’t use surround sound, all you really need is an HDTV, an HTPC, a decent stereo amp, and some nice speakers. And you’ve added internet capability to your home theater’s list of possibilities.
Probably the biggest problem with the idea of the HTPC is the size of the PC. Though the latest “off the shelf” PCs by HP/Compaq/Gateway/Dell/etc have decreased in size, it is still hard for many to imagine working in that box with all of the wires running out of the back into their home theater setup.
Our friends at Asus have been working hard to create the ideal HTPC setup in their new AT3IONT-I Deluxe Mini-ITX board. Powered by a passively cooled Intel Atom 330 processor and nVidia ION chipset and sporting onboard WiFi among other features, their MiniMax Home Entertainment Center may just be what you need to build that home theater around. Read on to check out the Asus AT3IONT-I Deluxe!
Special thanks to ASUS for providing us with the AT3IONT-I Deluxe Atom 330/nVidia ION Motherboard to review.
The AT3IONT-I’s box color scheme definitely isn’t Asus’ typical motherboard style, and it probably shouldn’t be. The packaging is much more conservative being marketed towards the HTPC purchaser rather than the more extreme enthusiast.
But inside things are more typical. The board is protected in Asus’ static free bag, and protected from the accessories by a cardboard divider. There are actually a few compartments under the board.