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  • gochichi - Tuesday, June 02, 2009 - link

    The board is cool as could be. And also, the external power brick is precisely what is needed to make this thing relevant.

    I've always had a dream to build my old computer case, to build a computer that was unique in its size and look. I'm a pretty good wood worker, and I can cast simple aluminum shapes... you get where I'm going with this.

    So this obviously is the dream motherboard for that application. Making some awesome looking little computer out maple or something.

    It also hits the mark with the silent or near silent design. You add a laptop hard drive for its quiet operation and you're in business.

    I am impressed, and as an enthusiast it hits the marks. The problem is that I'm more of an enthusiast in my mind than in my purchases. I snap out of the trance and realize that for the price of the motherboard you can have a complete computer w/ a case and a warranty with a 2.2ghz core-based single core Celeron which would just about trounce this little fellow. It's not quiet and it's not tiny but I'm a looser like that. I just can't do it.

    Then again, I don't have a ton of extra cash. I can think of a million things I'd rather do with $400.00 than build a swanky looking (and silent) PC with this platform.

    This platform is ripe for the picking. It's cheap to make, and it fills a need. We need to start seeing these out in the stores in volume. Because at the end of the day, these computers could be small enough that you don't even see them. Ubuntu is also ripe for the picking (Microsoft is fine, just too expensive for these little machines IMHO).

    It is absolutely possible, to make a desirable machine out of this with 2GB of RAM and an 80+ GB hard drive for the sub $200 range. I can find some pictures of Acer's computer, but I haven't seen it at Walmart... so really, it hasn't been released yet. These products are profitable and cheap, why aren't companies making them?
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - link

    Seems to me this article shows you wasted money, and could have easily gotten away with putting an E5300 in your HTPC, or similar, and saved what? 300 dollars. Yeah, Q9650 still costs WAY too much to be a viable option, and for most uses is overkill anyway, especially for an HTPC. Reply
  • piasabird - Sunday, May 24, 2009 - link

    How would this compare to an Intel 1.4 Gig Celeron? I have an Intel 1.2 gig Celeron and it still runs and it runs fairly cool with a lower end power supply. This is the Celeron based on the PIII. Is the Atom processor more advanced that that? Reply
  • ozonarium - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    Why these things do not have a video input for video recording? Or I'm missing something. Thanks. Reply
  • Guspaz - Sunday, May 17, 2009 - link

    You'll probably get better results from CoreAVC for h.264 playback (compared to MPC-HC's DXVA codec) for at least two reasons:

    1) CoreAVC is far better multithreaded than libavcodec, which MPC-HC's decoder ultimately relies on. It makes 720p h.264 generally playable on an Atom 230 even without any acceleration, and the 330 should have no issues

    2) CoreAVC recently added CUDA support, which includes the 9300 used in the Ion.

    I also recommend combining it with Haali's Renderer (comes with Haali's Splitter) and giving it a chunk of RAM for the buffer. It will buffer uncompressed frames/audio and help smooth over any spikes in CPU usage.
    Reply
  • mode101wpb - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    I have been eyeing this one up since I knew about it. I recently built the MSI Wind PC barebones nettop single core 230 Atom. It handles 720p fine if it's not streaming, albeit the processor is loaded 90%, 1080p is not possible on the 945GC.

    The Ion will smooth over some of the issues nicely, as well the Zotac board supports up to 4GB of ram, the MSI Wind PC nettop maxes out at 2GB, though it supports x64 there isn't enough Ram available to make good use of it. The Zotac has the same processor (230) so x64 is not an issue either. DVI is nice as is the power brick.

    Newegg has two 230 mobos in stock, $149 w/o the 90w brick, and $169 with it. Not cheap, figure in $50 for 4GB of Ram, optical drive (blue ray $$$ or dvd), hdd and a case it's easily a $300-600 build for the single core 230. No pricing on the 330 yet, but I suspect it will be over $200.

    I would opt for the dual core for better performance, albeit heat and energy savings will be sacrificed. Still have to wonder justification on this, the Atom has limitations and there will be a bottleneck for sure.
    Reply
  • nubie - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    It's only $139 for a socket 775 version.

    The Celeron 420/430/440 are much more powerful than an Atom. Even if you underclock them a little.

    If you need "power brick" power investigate the PicoPSU: http://www.mini-box.com/DC-DC">http://www.mini-box.com/DC-DC

    I am sure if you want a proper mini PC you could build one on 775 (don't forget that there are 45nm processors and you can use a copper core heatsink, even a $10 OEM one from the older 65nm Quad cores will keep it running very cool).

    I would love to see the power usage back-to-back with a PicoPSU between the "Ion" and the LGA 775 platform (please choose a low-end proc like Cel 1400/1500 or e5200, and throw in a Celeron 420-440 as well). I would expect it to be 10-15 watts more, but with much more processing power.
    Reply
  • monomer - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    A few weeks ago, Anand posted an article regarding Blu-Ray playback performance issues with the Ion chipset, which was quickly taken down after Nvidia wanted time to replicate the results. Whatever happened with this? Was there some type of workaround used to fix the Blu-ray playback? Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    On page 3:

    "Earlier versions of PowerDVD were not well optimized for Atom, but the latest updates to PowerDVD 8 and PowerDVD 9 ensure smooth playback on even a single-core Atom/Ion system (I used an older version of PowerDVD in my short lived Ion Blu-ray Investigation which was the cause for poor performance in those tests)"
    Reply
  • OSdeveloper - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    Since most people are using Windows XP, and especially since XP is more likely to be used on Atom based computers, it would be more meaningful to run benchmarks with XP rather than Vista. Other than that, it was a very interesting read. Good job Anand! Reply
  • ISHOULDCOCO - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    "In my quick testing the temperature of the heatsink did reach as much as 70-75C so I would use the fan in just about any installation locations." taken from PCPER.COM review

    "During Blu-ray playback, GPU temperatures rose to 72°C with the CPU cores between 76 and 79°C." Taken from TECHREPORT reveiw

    Was this device tested WITHIN a case?

    Is it truly a practical long-term Passivly cooled motherboard ?

    COCO
    Reply
  • ISHOULDCOCO - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    "In my quick testing the temperature of the heatsink did reach as much as 70-75C so I would use the fan in just about any installation locations." taken from PCPER.COM review

    "During Blu-ray playback, GPU temperatures rose to 72°C with the CPU cores between 76 and 79°C." Taken from TECHREPORT reveiw

    Was this device tested WITHIN a case?

    Is it truly a practical long-term Passivly cooled motherboard ?

    COCO
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    Did they mention what software they were checking that with? On my LF2 motherboard Speedfan is pretty much worthless, says fan readings are all over the place when it is at a constant speed and says the core temperatures are around 5 deg C.

    Otherwise, airflow in tiny cases can vary greatly, what cases sis those sites use?
    Reply
  • TA152H - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    I'm not sure the Pentium 4 is a few years old, since "few" generally means little more than one, not seven. The Northwood 2.66 came out in 2002.

    Even three years ago, you'd be comparing it to Pentium 4s running in the mid to high 3 GHz range, with dual cores, and hyper threading, and 200 MHz bus.

    The Atom needs a better chipset choice. Intel's is obsolete, and Nvidia's is, well, Nvidia's. Who'd want either?

    So, we're stuck with terribly slow processor paired with an obsolete, power hungry chipset, or we have to suffer with an Nvidia based chipset to get something more modern. What a choice. And, is the Atom so big they can't make it a real dual-core processor?

    Intel had a good idea, but their execution has been horrible. Centaur solutions are better, even though I'm inclined to think the Atom is a good processor for a market it can't hit because of bad chipsets available for it. It's taking Intel too long to get out a decent chipset.

    I'd like to see the Supermicro server motherboards reviewed with the Atom. For file serving, the Atom is fine, and the low power is very good. With a good chipset, this would be an ideal product for file servers. Heck, I run my webserver/gameserver with a K6-3+ 500 MHz (I'd still like to see AMD make a K6 derivative that competes with the Atom, instead of a K7/K8 based one that can't possible win) and it never gets pegged. Some workloads are perfect for the Atom. ... if they can get a !$#%!@#$ chipset for it that's decent.

    Obsolete or Nvidia. Dumb or dumber. Good grief. This is something you'd expect from AMD.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    There is a more modern chipset for Atom, the US15. Almost no one seems to be using it though, not sure if it is just the cost or more artificial Intel limitations.

    Don't think Atom is really available to just be dropped in a motherboard, so if Supermicro makes a motherboard with an Atom processor in it then they could test that configuration. Otherwise probably out of luck.
    Reply
  • Pandamonium - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    I happen to be very interested in this pairing. What's wrong with nVidia? Do you have any specific reasons?

    Intel's atom chipsets are pretty obsolete; I'll give you that. If Intel had an Atom chipset with a X4500HD IGP, I'd be interested. But as it stands, this is the next best alternative.
    Reply
  • hamiltonguy - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    I am intrigued about the possibility of using this as small secondary 7MC media center. curious about Live HD TV performance. Reply
  • StraightPipe - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    Anybody know of some decent cases for this type of mobo?

    I'd love to see a couple of boxes for a HTPC and/or a carputer.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    You check out the usual suspects? mo-co-so.com, mini-box.com, logicsupply.com, etc... Reply
  • dman - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    I'd like at least the option of using a regular PCIe slot on these. I think with an HVR2250 and Win7 it would make for a nice LOW POWER alternative to a less flexible / subscription based DVR. I know there are/were some 945 chipset boards that had the slots, but they had problem playing back HighDef. So, also, I know, cablecard won't work, I don't need it...

    Well, I'm sure they'll introduce one sooner or later. It's not an emergency and there are alternatives, but they do use a bit more power from what I've read.
    Reply
  • bobvodka - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    While I know it's only at the RC stage, it might be intresting to see how this plays with Win7, if only as a nod to the future and with regards to how it performs against XP Reply
  • lemon8h8ead - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    Thanks for a good job in optimizing control over the environment. It is not easy to create apples-to-apples tests.

    I would have been interested in seeing the same H/W configurations running one of the popular Linux distros (E.g. Ubuntu). It has been my observation that the Linux kernel multithreads more efficiently than Windows but those were purely compute-bound applications that I was comparing and the benchmarks are 8 years old on very dated H/W platforms (obsolete). I realize that both Windows and Linux kernels have improved vastly since then.

    Is your HTPC speced out here anywhere? Just curious.
    Reply
  • sysdump - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    I want to see HD H264 content decoded using CUDA! To see if it can handle non DXVA compatible videos. Reply
  • mvrx - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    I've been using an Atom 330 system as a DD-WRT router.. cost me only $150 and is probably 15x faster than any Dlink or linksys on the market.. People really need to pay attention to this possibility. Reply
  • mindless1 - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    Presumably you're comparing against Dlink and Linksys consumer grade routers, that are meant for light use. In such a scenario why would it need to be 15X faster and had you done latency tests that quantify the difference? Checking latency on a router running DD-WRT I find the router latency insignificant compared to the rest of the nodes along a typical connection, and that when the router is even doing QOS concurrent to P2P transfers.

    I'd think a board like this to be quite overkill for mere routing, it might be nice though to have a few more features possible like DNS caching, web proxy, advanced firewall rules, web/mail server.
    Reply
  • JoKeRr - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    For $80 with 3 SATA ports and add in some ram and 3 hard disks, this will make a decent NAS file server with linux installed.

    I use a PS3 in the living room, it used to be a old mac mini. Right now I definitely miss the iPhone remote with iTune in the mac mini. PS3 is great for movies, but for not so with web content. I use PS3 media server to stream movies from my PC to the PS3, it also performs transcoding on the content that PS3 doesn't recognize (mkv). My desktop is P4 3.0C overclocked to 3.5GHz, and it has no problem transcoding mkv movies in 720p resolution (max bit rate I saw was around 15Mbps), I would really like to know how the dual core atom performs on the transcoding front with PS3 media server. If it works well, it will be a very nice compliment to the PS3 system.

    Thank you!
    Reply
  • NullSubroutine - Saturday, May 16, 2009 - link

    I thought I'd like to throw out that that with MKV files you can mux them (like with tsMuxer) to MT2S files which can then be renamed to MP4 to play on PS3.

    Muxing takes less than a minute usually and doesn't convert the video just takes it out of the MKV container file.

    It may be easier to do this with your files than have them transcode on the fly.
    Reply
  • ViRGE - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    If only it had component out. The HDMI port is nice, but I had a RP-CRT; I'd love to replace my HTPC box with something like this, but the lack of component out is a killer. Reply
  • moozoo - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I believe the ION platform supports CUDA.

    Please run some CUDA benchmarks and those H264 video encodings using BadaBOOM on this motherboard.

    The ION chipset (MCP79) has very low latency between the GPU and the main memory. This makes it possible to perform audio functions on the GPU.
    See http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=92290">http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=92290
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    From the conclusion:

    "I did try some CUDA applications on the Zotac Ion board and they were definitely faster than using the CPU alone. While our x264 test managed around 12 fps on the Zotac Ion, using Badaboom I was able to encode at just under 20 fps."
    Reply
  • nubie - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Assuming the price is under $180 for the LGA 775 board that would be my choice.

    You can passively cool a Celeron 420, 430 or 440 and pick one up for $25-30 on ebay. The Conroe-L will absolutely murder the Atom for any gaming or encoding, and most of them will bump to 1066 without a voltage increase.

    The 775 board is $139 with free shipping.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    Throw an e5200 or Celeron DualCore at it and just laugh at the Ion platform trying to keep up.

    Don't forget the PCI-e 2.0 x16 slot so you can game too if you want.

    My choice is pretty clear, forget ION for the desktop unless you really need one of the features (DC power, ultra-low consumption, just can't afford the extra $20-40) the LGA 775 is the better choice for future-proofing an ITX platform. And chances are you have the CPU and heatsink laying around (I know I do.)

    If they can get a 32nm Desktop processor at 15-20 watts (for the CPU) instead of that Atom I would love to see it.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    I'm not sure I would call anything on LGA 775 future-proofing, as all the processors we are going to see for that socket are now out. So yes performance would be better than Ion, but it would still be a system with almost no room to upgrade. Reply
  • nubie - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    I meant future-proofing as in "allowing the platform to remain viable into the foreseeable future." And in comparison with the Atom board it is infinitely future-proof (X16 PCI-e 2.0 and an LGA socket will do that.)

    You can't argue that a 3.0ghz Quad core won't work adequately for the next 5 years on any conceivable OS, whereas this Atom processor is struggling even now.

    Not to mention the PCI-e 2.0 x16 slot, what happens when the 9300 doesn't cut it anymore? The Atom platform has no room for upgrade.

    If they cost the same when you outfit the LGA 775 motherboard with a Celeron (and the celeron is much faster), with the option down the road of a dual or quad core and any video card you want, I would say in comparison to the Atom board it is future-proofing.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    If power consumption is a concern though, you won't ever be using a Penryn quad-core. Due to the memory controller it is highly unlikely any motherboards from the Penryn era will be usable with future processors, so for low power usage an Atom board now and something else low power in a year or two is more likely the way to go. Reply
  • dEad0r - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Why are there different versions of that platform?
    Today Computerbase released their review of the "Zotac IONITX-A", which features the same CPU, but offers the faster Nvidia 9400 graphics card onboard.
    So all the gaming benchmarks should be way better.

    http://www.computerbase.de/artikel/hardware/mainbo...">http://www.computerbase.de/artikel/hard...dia_ion/...


    As you can see, for World in Conflict, Doom 3, F.E.A.R. and Company of Heroes are fully playable at 1024x768 1xAA/1xAF, as the ION gives us ~30 fps in those tests.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Don't get too carried away: the 9400 runs at 580/1400MHz core/shader clocks while the 9300 runs at 450/1200MHz core/shader clocks. Assuming games aren't bottlenecked by memory bandwidth, the 9400 is about 20% faster - so it could equal the X800 XT.

    Those benchmarks you link show the GeForce 9400 as being around six times faster than the 945G chipset, which is quite similar to the results Anand shows in WoW. I'm guessing that the details are set to low or medium in order to get many of those games to 5-6FPS with the GMA 950.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    when you have this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8... Reply
  • sprockkets - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Because that board is crap compared to the Intel LGA board in the article.

    It lacks a x16 pci-e slot, wifi isn't built in, needs laptop ram and has no optical or coax audio out. Plus, Linux easily supports PureVideo; no such tech I know of for Ati. While this does feature more SATA ports, I can live without that.

    And you rather pay $20 more for that?
    Reply
  • Visual - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    dude, the atom mini itx boards also don't have pci-express 16x. intels have a pci just like this amd, the ion one has mini-pci-e which is just 1x and it is ment to be used with the bundled wireless card - it will be quite hard to find other devices for it.
    where did you get that 16x from?
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    Are you capable of looking at the specs yourself of the LGA board in the article?

    Or, look here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    I accept your apology Pirks.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Jeebus, you'd prefer PCI-e x16 and Wi-Fi with uberslow CPU like Atom? If you check newegg you'll find a bunch of AM2 mini-ATX mobos better that this slow Intel p.o.s.

    Say this one http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8... has Wi-Fi and desktop DDR you love so much.

    Ah, whatever, if you love uberslow CPUs so be it. I'll never get it why people buy Atom p.o.s. for desktops when there are so many excellent and cheap AM2 solutions around.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    Notice he said LGA board, look at the last image on the last page. Not referring to the Atom board that was the subject of most of the article. Reply
  • kalrith - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I'm curious as to why this is in the video-card section and not in the motherboard section Reply
  • Zingam - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    PMU Versoin - don't these guys ever read what they type? And if that's a final version - I don't want to touch it. If there are mistakes like that I don't want to image what other bugs could they have implanted into it.

    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    They must have the DailyTech guys proofread for them. Reply
  • AmdInside - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Just curious how well the motherboard w/ dual core ATOM would do with MAME? I am tempted to build a new HTPC on this but it must also play my MAME games smoothly. Reply
  • vajm1234 - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    in b/w the winrar and WOW charts ""Once more, the Pentium 4 gets beat by the Atom 330 but loses to the Atom 230."" :P Reply
  • KidneyBean - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I hear that sometimes when you make a computer without any moving parts (using a flash drive) that sometimes a component will emit electrical buzzing noises. Did you hear anything like that?

    I may use this as a desktop computer.
    Reply
  • KidneyBean - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Never mind, I wouldn't use this as a desktop computer. For me, any power savings would be cancelled by the slow performance. Reply
  • KidneyBean - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I like how you provided a comparison to the Pentium 4. I'm often upgrading people from older computers to newer ones and it's nice to be able to tell them how much faster the newer ones are. People who still have a high speed Pentium 4, and don't do gaming, are about at the point of needing to upgrade. Good job! Reply
  • KidneyBean - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Isn't it stealing to use Media Player Classic if you use patented decoders without paying for them?

    If so, I would hope you don't publish such information in articles in the future.
    Reply
  • Penti - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    Nope infringement is never steeling. It's pretty okay as long as it isn't used commercially. Usually your allowed to use any patents for personal use though. So it's fine. You won't go to jail. Of course he won't publish stuff that discourage the use of homebrew codecs and software that are needed for playing warez and illegally ripping your movies. It would be silly as that's what people use computers for, especially htpcs. It would really be a limited worthless device without it. Reply
  • sprockkets - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    With MPEG4, you only pay what you publish with it, not decode.

    DXA for nvidia cards is clearly documented on how to use it.

    Dolby Digital is another story, but seeing as how you can send the bitstream to your receiver to decode it legally, what's the big deal?
    Reply
  • Jeffk464 - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I don't understand what the major need is to have a low power desktop. If it plugs into the wall its not really an issue like it is with notebooks. Its seems like the main focus for a Home Theater PC should be in keeping things quiet. Why not use a notebook processor and focus on making a super quiet heat sink and fan. I like the idea of compact pc's but HP has managed to squeeze a full on systems with a high end cpu onto the back of a lcd display in a nice little package. Reply
  • cosmotic - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    How are Flash (normal animation and (HD)video) and Java graphics performance?

    For Java, you can install the JDK and double click the jar:
    C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_13\demo\jfc\Java2D\Java2Demo.jar

    The composite and transform demos would be particularly helpful.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I've been meaning to talk about FLV performance, I'll try and include that in a short followup soon.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    The version of the Intel LF2 board you have here is already being pulled from the channel. It's replacement is the LF2D, which loses the S-Video port. Not a huge loss, as most people who tried to use it could not get what they wanted out of it (does not support different content to both the VGA and S-Video ports).

    Was Vista the OS for all the tests? I am using an LF2 board in my carputer with 1GB RAM, running a somewhat stripped-down version of XP on a 7200RPM 2.5" drive. Running on the car touchscreen (7", 800x480) or in PIP on my desktop monitor, and it feels pretty snappy in general usage. If I give it the full 1920x1200 though it slows down a lot, especially in my front-end software. Also, the image quality over VGA is not as good as some laptops I have hooked up to that monitor over VGA.

    For carputer use I would like to see a better onboard audio codec and more ports. The 3-port thing doesn't give much flexibility on inputs and outputs.

    Is the increased power consumption of the Intel boards due to using a standard ATX PSU? Did you consider getting one of the Pico-PSUs (like this: http://www.mini-box.com/picoPSU-150-XT-102-power-k...">http://www.mini-box.com/picoPSU-150-XT-102-power-k... ) to try on a more comparable basis? Also, is there any way to test the draw on each rail? The Intel boards are not really compatible with the lower-powered Pico-PSUs due to rather excessive draw on the 5V rail.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Vista was the OS used for all of the tests and I'll second what you're saying, I've found XP far snappier than Vista with these Atom based systems. I just stuck with Vista to keep the results somewhat comparable to other CPU results.

    I did use a standard ATX power supply on the Intel boards but that's why I also tossed in the Eee Box results to show you what an Atom system with a smaller PSU can do.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Jeffk464 - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I don't understand what the major need is to have a low power desktop. If it plugs into the wall its not really an issue like it is with notebooks. Its seems like the main focus for a Home Theater PC should be in keeping things quiet. Why not use a notebook processor and focus on making a super quiet heat sink and fan. I like the idea of compact pc's but HP has managed to squeeze a full on systems with a high end cpu onto the back of a lcd display in a nice little package. Reply
  • sprockkets - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Look at the prices on logic supply for a laptop socket itx board and how much the processor is and you will see how much cheaper this setup is.

    Besides, the vast majority of Anandtech readers prefer to build ourselves, not buy OEM crap.
    Reply
  • ahmshaegar - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Greater power consumption = more heat. Where's that energy going to go? Reply
  • marshylucas - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    You were faster, I was about to reply something similar.

    Thumbs up for the fanless design!
    Reply
  • Jeffk464 - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Yes, but my laptop is very quiet, even with being severely limited on space for a heat sink and fan. If you had more rooms to put a large heat sink on it with a large low rpm fan, I think it would be near silent. Reply
  • trabpukcip - Friday, May 15, 2009 - link

    A laptop does not make the best HTPC though. Connectivity is too limited and is generally inconvenient. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    "a single Gigabit Ethernet port (just like on the Intel boards)"

    Actually, only the D945GCLF2 has Gigabit Ethernet. The D945GCLF is stuck with 10/100, which is kind of a deal killer for me.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Thanks for the correction :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • DrLudvig - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I'm confused here, most places it says that the hole ION thing is a 9400 chip, while some other places, like now here, says 9300?
    What is it really?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    The 9300 and 9400 are the same chip, the difference is GPU clock. Take a look at the table on this page:

    http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3432">http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3432

    The GF9300 on the Zotac board actually runs a bit slower than the stock GeForce 9300. It runs its core at 450MHz and its shaders at 1.1GHz instead of 450/1.2.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Badkarma - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Anand,

    Can you please confirm/deny if the Zotac Ion boards support wake-on-usb? The Zotac 9300 mini-itx board does not support wake-on-usb and therefore powering the system on from standby from the MCE remote does not work without physical workarounds.

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I'm out of the office right now but I'll try it this weekend :) Drop me an email to remind me if you don't see something by the end of next week :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Badkarma - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    Thanks Anand, will definitely drop you a note regarding this over the weekend. It's quite unfortunate that Zotac left out Wake-On-USB for their 9300/9400 mobos, something many consider essential in an HTPC build. Reply
  • djc208 - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    If I didn't have so many projects already I'd seriously consider one of these as the basis of a CarPC system. It's not cheap but a good touchscreen car monitor will run you far more. Reply
  • NNix - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    On page 5: "Once more, the Pentium 4 gets beat by the Atom 330 but loses to the Atom 230"

    I hope you will review Cortex A8-based Netbooks once they show up. Because Im not impressed at all with Atom, not when looking at <45W dualcore Athlons. Taking into account that those are at 65nm aswell the Atom aint looking that efficient.
    Reply
  • nubie - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I would take a Celeron 420 any day of the week over an Atom or a dualcore athlon ;) Reply
  • GaryJohnson - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Celery is for eating, not computing. Reply
  • nubie - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    "Celery is for eating, not computing."

    Sorry, let me be perfectly clear, I would like a Core2 Conroe-L from 1.6-2.0 ghz (every one I have used will easily go over 3 ghz with no voltage increase)

    Look at the raw numbers between the Atom and the Conroe-L and tell me on a desktop/stationary machine (IE not a netbook) you wouldn't rather have something more than twice as powerful.

    I realize it is called a "celeron", but it is the most freaking powerful (Core2 architecture) Celeron ever sold.

    They cost $25-35 on ebay, the LGA 775 version of this board is only $139. It makes a whole lot of sense if you don't plan on running it on battery power.

    Not to mention you can move all the way up to a Quad if you want, but a $60 e5200 2.5ghz 2MB Level 2 Cache seems like a perfect match.

    Oh, and you get a PCI-e 2.0 X16 slot :P http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    For $10 more it makes a whole lot of sense. (If you already have the LGA 775 chip laying around it makes even more sense.)
    Reply
  • npp - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    What could have made this board perfect is a PCI-E slot to stick some decent audio in. Anyone seen mini PCI-E sound cards around :) Reply
  • Visual - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    Why would you want a sound card for any computer made in the last 10 years? Even with the fanciest card, there would not be even one bit of difference on the digital outputs, which are the ones you should be connecting to your receiver. On the analog outputs there will be quality differences indeed, but if you're using them you deserve what you get :p Besides, I get the feeling you wouldn't notice the difference anyway as if you're that stupid to be using them you are also probably using some crappy speakers. Reply
  • flipmode - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    "Everyone seemed to want a Ion based motherboard after I first previewed the platform."

    Yeah, it is all because of you :roll:

    Is that x264 encoding that you used to test power consumption? Why that? The most power draw likely comes from the chipset. Test Blu-Ray playback or something.
    Reply
  • Pandamonium - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    The first comment was pretty rude and uncalled for, I must say.

    I wanted to see an Ion-based HTPC after the preview and this article confirmed that an Ion-based HTPC is what I should set my sights on next. The only improvement Zotac could have made is to include a PCIe slot for TV tuners, audio, or beefed up video. A higher rated Atom would be nice too, but I don't even know that one exists.
    Reply
  • scottwilkins - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    I need a ITX with PCI-e 1x slot. ANyone seen such an animal? Reply
  • dingetje - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    @Pandamonium,
    No it was not rude; flipmode was obviously joking about the funny sounding line in the article.
    Lighten up...
    Reply
  • flipmode - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    Yeah, it did sound pretty rude, but I was just giving him a hard time. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I didn't intend for the line to sound like that, I meant that after our first review went up there was a great amount of interest in an Ion motherboard from our readership. I'll update to clarify.

    I stuck with the x264 test for power consumption since we've used it in previous reviews and I needed a good way of comparing power consumption to other systems that can't play back Blu-ray content.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • flipmode - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I did not mean to sound too snotty, but I do enjoy being a smart ass once in a while. Maybe a :wink: would have been better than a :roll:

    As for power consumption, using x264 encoding does make sense for most reviews, but it seems a bit of stretch for this one. I sure do feel bad for anyone encoding x264 with an Atom. Do you think it is safe to say that the power consumption would be at its highest when the IGP is under load?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    I agree, in hindsight I should've probably done a load test with the GPU being stressed as well. I'll try and look at that if I do a followup.

    The power consumption of the Ion/GF9300 chipset should be higher than the dual-core Atom CPU, so anything that stresses the GPU should deliver the highest power consumption. Note that Blu-ray playback uses the PureVideo HD engine which is actually separate from the shader processors on the GPU, it's a separate set of functional blocks on the die. I wouldn't assume that BD playback would generate the highest power consumption values, playing a game might do the trick for that.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    Anand, Thanks much for the review. I have been wondering much about this platform since I first read the ads on nVidias webpages.

    Here, we live off grid, and are entirely powered by solar + wind (and the occasional running of a 30kW gen to pump water). What I was hoping to see here, was something that could play games fairly well at medium settings, do photoshop tasks fairly well, and play movies well also. I was fairly certain the latter would not be much of a problem, but the former two might have been. According to your benchmarks, it looks like my guess was not too far off.

    Also, your review came about two days too late concerning a decisions I was making concerning getting a newer system for above duties, while keeping power usage down to a minimum. That however is not your fault, and probably made my decision much easier.

    Now, I would like to add that the Zotac board with ATX power connectors is it ? May actually be a better overall option for some, including myself, *if* "we" can find a good sub 100W 80 Plus PSU. Once you get down to around 50-60W of system usage, the 50% PSU power out/usage combination is what can, and does kill power efficiency according to what I have been reading(e.g. for best efficiency, loading any PSU is usually optimal at 50% load capacity). George Oui from ZDNET tech articles (sorry may have spelled his last name incorrectly, I do not have the link handy) has done some experimentation on the subject, and at the time of his findings the best PSU he was able to find was the sparkle 220W 80 Plus PSU ( the PicoPSU's did not seem to do as well ). Anyways, he was able to get a complete Core 2 system, including an LCD monitor down to a sipping 49W of power usage while under load I believe. Personally, I consider that pretty good.

    Anyways, thanks again, and I for one would love to see more articles along these lines.
    Reply
  • Penti - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    Why not simply run something downclocked? Low-power parts or simply a laptop with a discrete GPU is also a possibility. Or even something like the Fujitsu Amilo Sa 3650 with graphic booster (external mobile HD3870).

    BTW the Zotac board comes with a powersupply and doesn't have an ATX connector in this version Anand reviewed.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, May 14, 2009 - link

    The Pico-PSU efficiency is going to be rather dependent on the efficiency of your AC to DC conversion. They claim over 95% DC-DC efficiency, so if you have an efficient method of directly feeding them regulated 12V they probably do pretty well. I suppose if you needed multiple workstations you could use one ATX PSU to feed regulated 12V to a bunch of Pico-PSUs and get the load on the ATX PSU up to the range it likes. Otherwise, I'm not sure how efficient those bricks are at Ac to DC. Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    Great review, thanks!

    Speaking of GPU tests, I have seen other reviews of Ion showing Left 4 Dead playable at 25fps and WoW (720p, low details) playable at 50fps! How come your rates are so low?

    I think it would be appropriate to follow up with testing of games like UT2004, Halo PC, COD4, Battlefield 2, and Counter-Strike: Source. Obviously, Crysis would be a waste of time on this platform, but some slightly older games that are still played heavily online and at LAN parties are ones I would really like to see benched.

    Nothing would excite me more than to have a portable, cheap, fanless, low-power, Mini-ITX gaming machine for some of the games listed above. If it can manage 25-30fps at or near 720p without looking like a turd, that would be more than acceptable. Please don't make me buy one and benchmark it myself! ;-)
    Reply
  • tshen83 - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - link

    A good article. GF9300 has a TDP of 12W. So combined with 8W Atom 330, and 80-90% efficient power supply, gives you the 25W load power figure you see which is phenomenal.(Not to be confused with the brand name from AMD that stands for Opteron rejects)

    Let me ask you, Anand, a question: just what the fuck is Johan doing these days pumping Quad Socket 8393SE(you can assume the 137W TDP Istanbuls when they come out too) against Nehalem Xeon X5570? One of them is a $10,000 set of CPUs, and the other is $3,000 worth of CPUs let alone (137W*4 power consumption vs 95W*2 on the Xeons) Besides that, now that the fucker is trying to invalidate VMmark. What a Belgian joke.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - link

    You're quite the asshole, arent you? Reply
  • AshleyComputer - Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - link

    ION have different, use MCP79 or MCP7A,
    can do GF9400+Atom 330, GF9400+Atom 230; or GF9300+Atom 330, or GF9300+Atom 230.
    If any want to know more about ION, please try to browse: www.micputer.com.
    Reply

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