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Appeared on: Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Foxconn nT-i1200 nanoPC review


1. Features

Earlier this year Foxconn introduced the nT-i1200 Nano-PC, a very compact PC system based on the Intel NV10 processors platform. Compared to full-sized PCs, nano-PCs generally include the basic components but you have to add a storage medium and memory. Their small dimensions make them ideal for users who have limited amount of space and are seeking for a completely cable-free system.

Foxconn's lightweight 450-gram nettop model is distinguished by its compact case sized at just 190 x 135 x 25 mm. It is based on the Intel Cedar Trail platform (1,86GHz dual-core Atom D2550) and supports up to DDR3 1066 memory.

Graphics is powered by the Intel GMA 3650/3600 chip, which supports Full HD and H.264 video playback. The device is also equipped with a slot for a 2.5-inch drives, SATAII and HDMI ports, SPDIF output, two USB 3.0 ports, four-USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet adapter , a 802.11 b / g / n WiFi module with two antennas along with a multiformat card reader.

 

 

Foxconn's nano-PC series is available in both Intel/AMD versions. The nT-i1200 model we have in our hands is based on the latest Intel NM10 chipset and it is powered by a 32nm Intel Atom D2500 dual-core processor (1MB Cache, 1.86GHz) with a 10W max TDP. It supports up to 4GB of DDR3 1066 memory. The integrated Intel 3600 graphics chip is clocked at 400MHz and shares memory with the main system. There is no support for visualization technology, meaning that you won't be able to run multiple OS's very fast. Foxconn has also added the USB3.0 connectivity to Intel's basic board.

According to the system's specifications found below, the nT-i1200 Nano-PC supports 2.5" HDDs and has a 1Gbit LAN. I also comes with a Wifi b/g/n module and two USB 3.0 ports, along with HDMI/VGA ports, making it very easy to connect it with external devices. Finally, there are four (4) USB2.0 ports and a card reader.

Series Atom
Dimension 190(W) x 135(D) x 24(H)mm
Processors Supported Intel Cedar View 1.86GHz Dual core
Chipset Intel NM10
Memory Supported 1x SO-DIMM Socket Support DDR3 1066 up to 4GB
VGA Graphics Intel GMA
Storage Interface 1x 2.5" SATA II 3Gb/s
LAN IEEE 802.11b/g/n up to 300Mbps
Front I/O 1x SD/SDHC/MS/MS Pro/MMC 5 in 1 Card Reader 
2x USB 3.0 
1x Mic in (support S/PDIF-IN) 
1x Headphone 
Back I/O 1x RJ-45 (10Base-T/100Base-T/1000Base-T) 
4x USB 2.0 
1x Line-out jack.(support S/PDIF-OUT) 
1x HDMI 
1x VGA 
1x DC in 

2. Package, overview

The compact Foxconn Nano-PC nT-i1200 comes in a small package and retails online for about $160 (newegg) - a reasonable price for barebone mini pcs.

Package contents:

  1. The nano-PC system
  2. 1x power adapter
  3. 1x power cord
  4. 4x magnet rubber foot
  5. 1x VESA mount
  6. 1x Seatbase
  7. 1x Opening tool
  8. 1x mini pcie half card support
  9. 4x screw cover
  10. 4x screw for VESA mounting
  11. 4x screw for HDD support bracket
  12. 1x screw for half mini-PCI card
  13. 1x screw for half miniPCI half card support bracket

As you see in the picture below, the nT-i1200 is very compact in size, measuring at just 19x13.5x24cm (W x D x H). This is almost the size of a 7" tablet. Its plastic case looks and feels durable so no serious complains here.

At the front side of the device there is a headphone jack, a mic input, an SD/SDHC/MS/MS Pro/MMC 5 in 1 Card Reader, two (2) USB 3.0 ports and the power/reset buttons:

The nettop is not completely fanless as there is a small fan inside to cool down the CPU.

At the rear side there are four USB2.0 ports, a VGA port, an HDMI graphics port, a 1Gbit network port, a line-out jack and the power input. 

The package includes a VESA mount in case you need to mount the system at the back of your PC monitor.

Before powering on the system, we opened the case in order to install an SSD. Of course, you can also install any 2.5-inch HDD. We used the plastic opening tool that came in the package. Just start from the hole at the top side of the case and gently open the back cover:

As you see in the picture below, the only components you can add here are the SO-DIMM memory (up to 4GB DDR3 800/1066) and the 2.5" storage device. Our system also came with an Intel Wifi 1000 mini half-sized PCI card pre-installed.

For our tests we installed a Crucial CT2865160 4GB SO-DIMM memory module running at DDR3-8500 (800MHz) and an 2.5" OCZ Synapse Cache Solid State Drive.


3. Installing the OS

- Bios settings

Not much to comment here as Foxconn's (American Megatrends) BIOS includes just the basic stuff. What you need to set is the 'boot device priority' option under the BIOS, in order to install Windows (or any other OS). The system came with Ver. P03 BIOS installed, which we later updated to Ver. P04 using Foxconn's Windows updater tool.

- Installing Windows

In order to install Windows 7 you can either use a USB stick or a USB optical disc with an ISO image of the OS. For our tests we used the Windows 7 32-bit Ultimate Edition OS with SP1. It is not advised to install the x64 version of Windows 7 since Intel hasn't released any compatible graphics drivers yet, although the Intel Atom 2500 processor supports x64 instructions. Of course this raises another issue; 32bit OS can only use 3GB of DDR3 memory.

After having formatted the SSD drive and finishing the tons of updates, you will eventually have your system ready. Well, not exactly.. In order to enjoy maximum performance, you'll have to install the latest drivers from Intel.

After rebooting the system you may see your desktop responding slowly. As a simple solution, disable AERO by selecting the 'basic' Windows 7 theme. It is also advised to keep choose the 'best performance' setting under the 'Visual Effects' options.

Once again we made these changes to the settings and rebooted the system. Now although the system is very responsive, you'll have to make a final change. Go to the 'Power options' and select the "High Performance".

You can also further tweak the system following the numerous guides found on Google - 'how to tweak an Intel Atom based system'.

Below you see the basic information about the system and the Intel NM10 chipset. Our memory is running at 7-7-7-20-4T :

The CPI-Z utility provides more information:

Some details on the Intel 3600 IGP are provided by the GPU-Z utility:


4. Basic benchmarks

Let's move on to some benchmarks.

Firstly, the device scored just 3.2 points at the Windows Index Score. This score was determined by the low subscore of the CPU. The gaming graphics score was also low at 3.3 points. The HDD score was high boosted by the performance of the installed SSD:

The system features a SATA II port, so unless you already have an SATA III SSD, it would make sense to buy a cheaper SATA II SSD to save some money.

The ATTO Disk Benchmark showed that our OCZ Sata III SSD fully took advantage of the provided SATA II bandwidth:

The Sisoft Sandra software gave a 3.7GB/s at the memory performance test:

While the CPU scores were somewhat higher than those of an Intel Celeron CPU running at 2.80GHz:

The PCMark 7 score was also low due to the weak graphics performance of the Intel GMA 3600 chip:

Continuing the graphics benchmarks with the Intel 3600 GMA, we logged very low 3DMark 05/05/11 scores. Real gaming action with many games/demos showed that setting the lowest possible resolution (640x480) will get you around 10-15FPS, provided that you are playing under the lowest possible visual details. In addition, there is support for DirectX9 so you won't be able to run the latest DX10/DX11 games.

We also checked the ability to playback 1080p videos from both the Internet (YoutubeHD) or from files stored in our HDD. We installed the latest Flash 11.3 player, the K-Lite Codec Mega Pack 8.8.5, PowerDVD 12 and the latest Intel Graphics driver. The results were very encouraging so we can easily say that the Foxconn nT-i1200 nanoPC will playback your1080p videos without any serious issues.

For example, with the IE9, the Youtube experience was good with a smooth playback although the system was responding slowly.

Using Media Player Classic we successfully playbacked most of our media test files. We only saw some choppy playback with DTS audio clips (DTS_MA.m2ts) but we assume that the majority of the clips have DD+ sound. For example, the District.9.2009.1080p.BluRay.DTS.x264.mkv was reproduced without any problems.

With Cyberlink's PowerDVD12 software we saw a slightly better behavior with the same demanding DTS Audio clips. Of course, displaying subtitles is not a problem here, since most video players support them.


5. Final words

To sum up, the Foxconn nT-i1200 nano-PC is based at the Intel Atom 2500 series and packs enough processing power in a compact size. The product is sold as barebone ( without memory/HDD) so you'll have to spend some more on buying HDD/SSD and memory. In our opinion, 4GB DDR3 RAM and an SSD is a must for this product. Hopefully, the device is properly priced at $160.

 

The system retails in a complete package and can be conveniently mounted at the back of your PC monitor and be operated through wireless keyboard/mouse as a totally cable-free system.

Foxconn promises a noiseless system although the nano-PC has a CPU fan inside. Hopefully it was very quiet- we forgot it was there as we never heard it coming alive although it was spinning under heavy playback.

The Foxconn nT-i1200 nano-PC is aimed at users who need an small and quiet PC system for everyday basic use. It will not let you down during your everyday tasks (internet, music, video, office) but have in mind that its gaming capabilities are limited as it has been designed only for basic gaming. If you can't do without gaming you should possibly choose the AMD version (APU) of the nano-PC.

 

Positive
+ Full retail package
+ Properly priced
+ 2x USB3.0 & 4x USB2.0 ports
+ 1Gbit LAN Port, Wifi b/g/n included
+ HDMI and VGA outputs
+ Enough process power for most everyday needs,
playback of 1080p video/Youtube content
+ Includes on-board speaker
+ Attractive and very compact design
+ Very low power consumption

Negative
- No Graphics driver for the Windows 7 x64 operating system
- Not recommended for serious gaming
- Some small issues with very high-bit rate audio/video files

- Additional cost for memory, HDD/SSD, OS



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