I recently bought a veryPC AT20 as a more powerful replacement for an aging Debian-hacked NSLU2 that I had serving up files, doing backups, and other such tasks. I thought I’d do a quick review in case it’s of value to anyone considering a machine from veryPC (at the time of writing, it seems to be no longer for sale, although the veryPC AT10 looks similar).
I particularly wanted something more meaty than my NSLU2 so I could do full-disk encryption, fully-encrypted offsite backups, so it seemed ideal. The variation I ordered has:
Dual-Core Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU 330 (1.6GHz)
1TB Western Digital “GreenPower” Hard Drive
Intel 82945G/GZ Integrated Graphics
Onboard audio, 6 USB 2.0 ports, a serial port, a parallel port
Integrated 100MB Ethernet
RaLink RT2561/RT61 802.11g PCI Wireless Card
(total approximately £370)
Very PC seem fairly reputable, and their customer service was adequate, if not outstanding (they didn’t keep me up-to-date on my order until I emailed them, at which point they interrupted me by calling, they didn’t always respond to sales enquiry emails, and were coy about their returns policy). Nevertheless, they do offer a 3-year warranty as standard, which shows confidence in their products.
Nevertheless, the PC arrived fairly promptly (~5 days), and appears to be robustly built: whilst compact, the case is very solid and feels strong. The whole machine exudes a feeling of high build quality, and is mostly constructed from metal rather than cheap plastic. Here’s what it looks like from the outside:
The machine came shipped with Ubuntu (Desktop) pre-installed, although I rapidly reinstalled it with the Ubuntu Server (a wise decision anyway, since VeryPC forgot to include information on the default username and password!). As such, every piece of hardware works well with the exception of the wi-fi card, which, using the default driver, suffered from frequent drop-outs (a problem I’ve had before with the RaLink cards under Linux). Replacing the standard driver with a ndiswrapper verison (more information here and here) resolved this. Channels 12 and 13 also don’t seem to work correctly with this driver, so the wi-fi network has to run on another channel.
The main disappointment was the noise generated by the machine. To be fair, VeryPC described it as ‘ultra quiet’, and with other noisy items on (e.g. a modern laptop with the fan spinning), you won’t hear it. However, in an otherwise silent room, you definitely will - and you don’t have to get close to it either. I haven’t done any formal tests, but if you want a completely silent machine, this is not the one for you. If you can tolerate a small amount of fan noise in very quiet environments, it should be OK.
Another minor point: the machine has an external power supply brick (like a laptop). VeryPC didn’t make this clear, but you should factor it in if you’re considering buying one.
Otherwise, though, I’m fairly satisfied. It does what it says on the tin, I’ve had no reliability problems whatsoever (save for the wi-fi card issues mentioned above), and the machine is running 24h a day and doing a solid job. So kudos to veryPC for putting together a good bit of kit.