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Novatech Ion Fusion review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £300
inc VAT and delivery

Novatech’s Ion Fusion is the successor to the company’s award-winning Ion nettop.

It’s also the first PC we’ve seen to come fitted with Intel’s Atom 330 processor. This is essentially a dual-core version of the Atom 230 processor commonly found in other nettops.

In our benchmarks, the Ion Fusion was on average 23 per cent quicker than other nettops across a wide variety of tasks. The two cores do make Windows more responsive, but you’ll only appreciate the full benefit when running multiple applications. Applications that have been optimised for dual-core processors, such as most video-encoding software, saw a 40 per cent performance increase. Despite the increased performance, however, it’s just as power-efficient as its predecessor.

Multitasking often benefits from plenty of RAM, and the Ion Fusion has only 1GB of memory fitted. This can be upgraded to 2GB, but as there’s only one memory slot you’ll have to replace the existing chip.

Amazingly, the Ion Fusion’s price includes a 19in widescreen LG monitor; the original Ion has only a 17in model. It has a resolution of 1,440×900 pixels, which feels far more spacious than the cramped, low-resolution displays on most netbooks. Its viewing angles aren’t very wide and whites can look a little greyish. It is bright, however, and the anti-glare finish means there’s no distracting glare from overhead lighting.

Unlike some nettops, such as the Eee Box B204, the Fusion comes fitted with a DVD writer, so you can install software from disc, watch DVD movies or back up your files. Its 160GB desktop hard disk will provide sufficient space for office documents along with quite a lot of photos and albums. If you want to replace it with a larger model, the Fusion’s case is easy to open, although the assembly holding the optical drive and hard disk is a little tricky to remove.

The Fusion has a good range of ports for a nettop. There are six USB ports, although two of these will be taken up by the bundled Logitech keyboard and mouse set. It has Gigabit Ethernet but no wireless networking. Inside, the motherboard has a PCI slot, but you can’t use it since the case has no bracket at the rear to match the slot. It’s a little disappointing, as the original Ion could be fitted with a PCI card. It’s also a shame there’s no memory card reader or room to fit one.

Novatech’s Ion Fusion is a compact, power-efficient and inexpensive nettop. The performance improvements from its dual-core Atom processor aren’t incredible for most tasks, but are certainly worth having. It costs just £20 more than the original Ion and also includes a larger monitor, making it a Best Buy.

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