Entertainment, Hardware, Reviews

Review: Giada Mini-PC A51

Today we are taking a look at the Giada Mini-PC A51. The A51 is marketed as a quiet (less than 26 db), low-power, space-saving HTPC. The A51 consumes just 30W, and comes in at a measurement of 192 x 155 x 26 mm (~7.5 x 6.1 x 1 inches) proving those claims too. We will be subjectively testing user experience in order to determine its viability as an HTPC.

Here is the full set of specifications:

  • CPU – AMD T56N (AMD E-450 1.65 GHz Dual Core)
  • Chipset – AMD A50M FCH
  • GPU – CPU embedded graphics (AMD HD 6320)
  • System Memory – 4 GB DDR3-800/1066 (2 GB Default)
  • Storage – 320 GB 2.5? HDD
  • I/O – 1 x USB3.0, 4 x USB2.0, 1 x Card reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO) 1 x HDMI, 1 x VGA, 1 x S/PDIF-out
  • LAN – Gigabit LAN + Wi-Fi 802.11n + Bluetooth
  • Audio – AUDIO-out/MIC-in
  • Power Consumption – 30W
  • Size – 192 x 155 x 26 mm
  • Color – Black & White
  • OS – (Optional) Windows 7 Home Premium

Our review unit came without an OS preinstalled, so we went ahead installed Windows 7 Ultimate x64 to take advantage of the 4 GB of RAM. The A51 came with a CD for drivers, however, it does not have an optical drive, meaning if you do not have an external USB optical drive, the CD is worthless. We downloaded the drivers on Giada?s website, though it would have been nice of them to include a small USB drive that had the drivers included rather than a CD.

Once we got the OS and drivers installed, the Giada ran beautifully. It promises smooth 1080p playback and it delivers it. We tested it with a number of 1080p videos on Youtube, and have been using it daily for P90X workouts (which are admittedly not in 1080p), and have had excellent performance. For the casual user, the computer is quite responsive, opening up programs like Songbird and the Microsoft Office rather quickly. While we have become accustomed to SSD speeds for opening applications that have to read from the hard drive, the Giada is on average, only a few seconds slower than our Alienware M14X (R1).

Just for fun, we decided to install Starcraft II to see how it ran. At a resolution of 1280×1024 at the lowest possible graphical settings, we were averaging approximately 24 FPS thanks to the AMD APU (HD 6320). For the vast majority of our gameplay, it was quite playable, only slowing down noticeably during large engagements, though at no point was the gameplay incredibly smooth. However, as the Giada was designed as an HTPC and not meant for gaming, this is impressive. For those that want to do a bit of gaming on this setup, it is certainly playable if you are willing to compromise on graphical settings.

Overall, as an HTPC, the Giada A51 is a great device. It is very small, has minimal power consumption, is almost completely silent, and provides a decent amount of hard drive space for storing music and video. While it is no powerhouse, it is effective at performing the tasks it was designed to do, and can even go a bit beyond them when used for light gaming. It provides a smooth and responsive experience in Windows 7 and while browsing the internet. At a price of $320 USD, we highly recommend the Giada Mini-PC A51 for anyone looking to purchase an HTPC and for that reason, we are awarding it our Editor?s Choice Award for Home Entertainment (HTPC).