Novatech Ion Fusion review

Price when reviewed

Novatech’s Ion was one of the first in a flurry of nettops that has descended on the PC Pro Labs, and it was also one of the first we were impressed by. It may have had just a low-power Atom processor, but it was a full desktop system with 17in monitor, keyboard and mouse for a mere £234 exc VAT – an excellent first stab.

Novatech Ion Fusion review

The successor to the Ion is the Fusion, and the big difference is that it packs the dual-core variant of the Atom processor – the 330. As with the single-core Atom parts, the 330 runs at 1.6GHz, but it also has an L2 cache of 1MB, which is twice the size of that found in most of the Atom range.

It’s partnered with 1GB of RAM, which helped the Fusion score a respectable 0.48 in our benchmarks. Such diminutive power won’t stretch much beyond gentle multitasking, such as web surfing, word processing and the odd spot of MP3 encoding, but it’s worth noting that the inclusion of a dual-core Atom makes this machine around 20% faster than other nettops. HP’s Compaq CQ2000, Advent’s AIO-100 and the Medion Akoya E2005D all scored less than 0.38 in our benchmarks.

Other components are a sensible mix of desktop and portable parts. The 160GB hard disk is a 3.5in 7,200rpm Western Digital desktop model, ensuring speedy data transfers, and the DVD writer is of the slimline, space-saving laptop kind – a more sensible choice than the bulky desktop drive crammed into the Medion. There’s no wireless included, so you’ll need to rely on the Gigabit Ethernet port to take the Fusion online.

One area where the original Ion disappointed was the chassis, but we’re glad to report that Novatech has made working inside the Fusion marginally easier, with the single DIMM socket no longer hidden beneath the hard disk and optical drive. We’re also pleased to see that the optical drive and hard disk are more accessible – just a few screw removals and some patience away. On the previous machine, they were locked down entirely. It still isn’t quite as impressive as the fold-out design of the HP Compaq CQ2000, though.

The Fusion is easy to live with. The only fan aside from the PSU sits atop the processor, so it’s a quiet machine – unlike the irritatingly intrusive Medion Akoya – and power draw is reasonable too: when in idle the Novatech uses 36W, with this figure rising to 41W with the processor running at maximum.

The chassis looks pleasingly understated, with the two thick bands of silver replaced by thinner, single chrome bands, and there’s a decent amount of connectivity on offer. Two USB ports and a pair of audio jacks on the front of the machine are joined by an eSATA port, while the rear panel hosts four more USB ports, a D-SUB socket and a pair of PS/2s. Even parallel and nine-pin serial ports are provided.

Novatech has upgraded the Fusion’s peripherals as well as the spec. The original Ion came bundled with a 17in Hanns.G monitor, while the Fusion includes a 19in LG Flatron display. Both boast the same resolution at 1,440 x 900, and the LG doesn’t offer a massive improvement in quality either. Colour reproduction is poor, especially with tones at the brighter end of the colour scale, which makes it less than ideal for precise photo editing. On the positive side, there’s little backlight bleed.

Commendably, Novatech has increased the Ion’s processing power and included a 19in monitor without increasing the price to extortionate levels. At £269 exc VAT, it’s £35 more expensive than the original machine, but still cheaper than most of the nettop competition. The Advent AIO-100 costs £374 exc VAT, for instance, and the Eee Top ET1602, with its touchscreen, will set you back £400.


Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 160
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Screen size 19.0in


CPU family Intel Atom
CPU nominal frequency 1.60GHz
CPU overclocked frequency N/A


Conventional PCI slots free 1
Conventional PCI slots total 1
PCI-E x16 slots free 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 0
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 0
Internal SAS connectors 0
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec


Memory type DDR2
Memory sockets free 0
Memory sockets total 1

Graphics card

Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting N/A
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 950
DVI-I outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
DisplayPort outputs 0
Number of graphics cards N/A

Hard disk

Hard disk Western Digital
Capacity 160GB
Internal disk interface SATA
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Hard disk 2 make and model N/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 cache size N/A
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A


Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A


Monitor make and model LG Flatron W1934S
Resolution screen horizontal 1,440
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1440 x 900

Additional Peripherals

Speakers N/A
Speaker type N/A


Dimensions 268 x 318 x 77mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 2

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel eSATA ports 1
Front panel memory card reader no

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Windows XP

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 36W
Peak power consumption 41W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 0.48
Office application benchmark score 0.42
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.48
Encoding application benchmark score 0.45
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.58
3D performance (crysis) low settings Fail
3D performance setting N/A

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