CPU: Intel Atom Processor D525 (1MB
Chipset: Intel NM 1 0 Express
GPU: Integrated Intel GMA3150
Hard Drive: User-provided
Memory Slot: 2 x DDR3-800
USB ports: 6 x USB2.0
Output HDMI (720P) + VGA
WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n & Bluetooth
Ethernet: 10/100/1 OOOMbps
SATA eSATA 3.0 Gb/s
Audio: ALC888 on board
Card Reader 6-in-1 Card Reader (SD/SDHC /MS/MSPro/xD/MMC)
- Tiny footprint
- Takedown is a little difficult
- Some installation required
- Not the fastest car in the garage
If you need space and energy-saving more than raw power, this might just be the desktop you are looking for.
Space is a premium on every desk. There really is only so much you can put on a table before it is saturated with the various knickknacks, papers, devices and trash that cause you to have to move to another location. One of the devices that has the largest footprint in any office is the computer. Put these two together, and you have a desk that is small enough as it is, half of whose space is taken up by a clunky machine that you really can’t do without. Manli has the perfect solution to just this problem, with the T2 NetTop. The T2 is basically a desktop CPU built from laptop components, which is a great way to save both space and power, without being constrained to the laptop form factor.
The T2 is tiny. To get the review going, I borrowed some space from one of the desks at home and moved an existing CPU to another area in order to set the T2 up in its place. In the process of moving components and peripherals around, I actually managed to misplace the T2 for a few minutes. As it turned out, I had absent-mindedly set it down behind rny monitor where it quickly disappeared from view and practically dropped out of existence. Depending on the monitor you have, I imagine it is light enough to mount on the back, on a wall, or the underside of your desk, should space be in absolute short supply. Despite being significantly smaller than a phonebook, the T2 is more than capable of handling most of the tasks a general-purpose office computer is designed to do. The unit we received had a dual-core Intel Atom processor running at 1.8GHz. While you won’t be breaking any benchmark records with this, the Atom processor has proven itself in the long, storied time it has been around. The T2 we received was an almost-barebones model, requiring me to install my own RAM and HDD.
The Motherboard on the T2 is identical to many found in netbooks and laptops we have seen in the past, and as such, takes components made for those devices. I fortunately had some RAM and a spare HDD lying around, and plugged those in, which brings me to a little niggle I have with the T2. It isn’t the simplest affair getting the necessary components in. Sure, SATA is SATA and RAM slots are all the same, but getting to them was a bit of a pain. There were screws, to turn and some panels to remove before you can crack this nut open. Let me clarify that a bit: it isn’t hard per se, but there are points during the takedown where I was a little afraid that the case would snap. One must take extra care in attacking the Philips screws keeping the machine shut. It’s made primarily of plastic, and an overzealous pull might cause you to take a break and simmer in your regret while you wait for the superglue to mend your broken nettop shell.
Once the parts are in, and the case is closed back up, you can get it out of the way and stick it anywhere you want, again owing to its superslim form factor and light weight. I managed to store it in a spare drawer in the desk I was using, and although this might not be the best idea in a drawer without ventilation, you get a pretty good sense of where you can hide the device. Apart from the size, using the Atom processor allows the device to run with much less heat than a regular CPU. There is a single fan right by the heart of the motherboard, but that’s it. All the heat can be handled effectively with heatsinks vents. As an added bonus, the whole setup is whisper-quiet.
You aren’t going to be wanting for connectivity options with the T2. It has six USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port and a VGA port for video and audio, an eSATA port, and even a 6-in-1 card reader. Being a laptop in the body of a desktop, the Manli T2 also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability, though if you’d rather plug in, it does have an ethernet port, too.
Using the device was pretty much as expected. The T2 handles about as smoothly as a netbook, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It makes short work of webpages, documents and other things office drone computers are expected to handle. It only has an integrated graphics card, so don’t expect to run Bioshock, or any graphics-intensive software, for that matter. If you really need to, you could possibly install an ungodly amount of RAM in both of the RAM slots available, but given the hardware, there really is a limit to how much performance you can get from the machine.
As with any device, compromise is always in play. You can have a massive hunkin’ mass of steel and plastic that will do everything except give you children and a happy, married life, but will eat up half your basement. The Manli T2 is the opposite end of that spectrum. It is a very capable little device that takes about the same amount of space as some large wireless routers. As long as you get a decent amount of RAM, maybe an SSD, this little magic box should take you just where you need to go. Provided it’s mostly office work.
First published in Gadgets Magazine, July 2013
Words by Ren Alcantara