The Asus EeeBox PC EB1501 is a compact PC that would work well anywhere that space is at a premium. And unlike most mini PCs its size, it has an optical drive.
The ION graphics don't help much with gaming, but it will help with smooth HD flash video playback. The Asus EeeBox PC EB1501 also features the fairly standard 1.6GHz Intel Atom N330 dual-core processor. This chip is the fastest of the low-power Atom CPUs we typically see in systems caught up in the shrinking-PC race, but it's a weaker match for comparably small AMD-based machines.
The Asus EeeBox PC EB1501 scored 38 points in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test, putting it on a par with other nettop PCs. For top-of-the-line performance in a mini-PC, you'll need to spend a little more on rivals such as the £450 ViewSonic VOT530, which scored 90.
Of course, smaller PCs aren't competing only on performance - the specs and features you get on board are a critical part of deciding between mini-PCs - but the types of upgrades you can perform are usually extremely limited. The Asus EeeBox PC EB1501 is a bit pricey for what it offers, but it still offers a lot. The included slot-loading DVD writer does much to trim down the EB1501's height versus competing systems, although a switch to a Blu-ray drive would have been a killer (albeit costly) upgrade. Gigabit ethernet joins full wireless support for 802.11b/g/n connectivity, further adding to the Asus' portability.
The rear of the system packs four USB slots, one eSATA port, a gigabit ethernet port and an HDMI output into quite a small area. The Asus EeeBox PC EB1501 also comes with a separate connector for a VGA display, although DVI would have been preferable. On the front of the system, the Asus carries two more USB ports and a multicard reader.
The Asus EeeBox PC EB1501's bundled keyboard and mouse don't offer anything beyond what you'd find in bargain-bin offerings, but at least they're wireless. Again, portability over performance seems to be the name of Asus's game here.
Budgets being what they are, Asus' EeeBox PC EB1501 will be a good choice if you really do need all the extra features that come with the price tag. Even though performance is a little weaker than other compact machines, you simply aren't going to find such a varied load-out in most systems of this size.