For long I was in the opinion that iBall is a leader/pioneer in IT products. My last encounter with its NetTop 009 (for my Intel D410PT board) proved that false in many ways, most important ones among them are: shoddy product quality and dumb customer support.
Here are the specs:
- 5.25 Inch Bays : 1 x 5.25 Inch Normal DVD Writer / ODD Bay
- 3.5 Inch Bays : 1 x 3.5 Inch Normal Hard Disk Drive Bay
- Motherboard Form Factors : ATOM based Mini-ITX Motherboards
- Front USB Ports : 2 x USB 2.0 Ports
- Front Audio Ports : HD Audio MIC and Speaker Out
- Cooling Fans : 1 x 4cm Rear Cooling Fan
- Extra Cooling Fan Provision : 1 x 4cm Front Cooling Fan Provision
- Power Supply : iBall STX 180-153 (24pin-150W) SMPS
- Chassis Type : Mini-ITX Chassis
- Available Colours : Black Piano Finish
- Dimensions : 102 x 316 x 278mm (HxWxD)
The company has launched first ever (in India) mini-ITX cabinet specifically for mini-ITX motherboards with integrated atom processors. This tiny cabinet was a godsend for the first generation of Intel essential boards (D945GCLF and D945GCLF2) with Atom Diamondville processors – Atom 230 (uni-core) and Atom 330 (dual-core). The marriage of those Intel essential boards with iBall nettop 009 is blissful because both were noisy. Intel was just making into low-power internet-oriented chips keeping price its major USP. The result was a combo of low on power-n-performance cpu (atom 230 and 330), high on power D945GC chipset and high on noise board fan. Then came this cabinet iBall NetTop 009.
Competition became fierce with VIA's venture with its nano series processors. Intel made head-on innovation on its atom platform. The result was the second generation (Pine View series) of atom processors (D410 and D510) and essential boards (D410PT and D510MU). This time the focus was for a cool-n-quieter experience (fanless and passive cooling support) and less power-usage (NM10 chipset). But iBall still kept on pushing its NetTop 009 cabinet with a noisy rear fan. This cabinet kills the Intel touted experience of quieter performance and low power consumption. Its rear and SMPS fans are enough to kill the show of quietness and power consumption. I doubt the rear fan and SMPS must be generating more power overhead than the board and processor. The company could have come up with a fanless PSU (something like picoPSU) and/or a quieter and better-quality rear fan.
Tragedy in Design:
- SMPS makes the overall environment hotter than it would be with a fanless PSU.
- Rear fan and SMPS fan create noise in the otherwise completely silent board and cpu.
- While atom platform tries to save power watt by watt, the extra fan and traditional SMPS kill the attempt by actually consuming more power. Again, a fanless PSU and cabinet would have resulted in much lesser power consumption.
- The SMPS draws cooler air from outside and throws hot air inside. The rear fan frantically likes to keep things cool and cries.
Dumb Service Center:
I don't want the Intel D410PT board inside iBall NetTop 009 to do any herculean task. Most probably it will lie on a rack as a headless file server powered by CentOS or Debian. However, in a full AC environment it would have been great if it created no noise. After doing some benchmarks on the board I wanted to make this Cabinet silent and drove to iBall service center at Ashok Bhavan, Nehru Place. But lo! They pretended to be dumb. All of them said that a cabinet can't be quieter. I told that there is a lot of difference in purpose between traditional fully-powered desktops and fanless low-powered nettops. They did not move either. Some at the center frowned to my question regarding a fanless PSU solution; according to them there is no such thing.
Wake up iBall, lest others will move their eye balls away from you.