Watching Flash Video on the Ion

You should never have to worry about your system specs when it comes to watching Flash video. Sites like YouTube and Hulu exist simply because of the large number of PCs that can play Flash video. Can the dual-core Atom 330 in the Zotac Ion-A handle watching video online?

To test this I watched the season finale of 24 on Hulu. I performed three tests: I watched the season finale in its default window at low res, high res (480p) and then full screen.

Thankfully, Adobe’s Flash player appears to be well threaded - all four cores (two physical, two virtual) had parts of the playback task running on them. The first test proved to work just fine:

CPU utilization never hit above 27% and for the most part stayed around 19%.

Next I tried Hulu’s high-res option, which keeps the playback window the same size but increases the resolution to 480p. While CPU utilization jumped to nearly 40%, playback was still smooth. Note that high-res Hulu isn’t smooth on a single-core Atom, the 330 is necessary for a good Hulu experience.

Note that I tested under Google Chrome, however if you use Internet Explorer your CPU utilization will drop a bit.

The experience you get when going full screen in Hulu is very dependent on your desktop resolution. With a 1920 x 1200 desktop resolution, 480p Hulu is unwatchable on the Zotac Ion. CPU utilization maxed out just under 80% and video playback was choppy.

Dropping the desktop resolution to 1280 x 720 made things more bearable, with CPU utilization generally under 50% but it still wasn’t totally smooth. I’m not sure how much of this is Adobe’s fault and how much is the Atom just not being able to keep up, but full screen Flash video playback just isn’t in the cards.

Zotac Ion: 720p Gaming Performance Overclocking the Atom Processor


View All Comments

  • jimbolicious - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    i purchased a Zotac IONITX-D-E from Newegg a couple of weeks ago and am currently running it as a low power secondary system for the Mozart TX in the living room. it has no problems waking from usb with the diNovo Edge. as a matter of fact it even wakes when i put the keyboard in the charger (kind of annoying there, but it does work... i've found the trick is to turn the keyboard off and get it into the cradle before the system is completely asleep).

    i am noticing that Core Temp shows the CPU at around 67 to 70 degrees C with the CPU fan attached and running, but the heat sink is very cool to the touch.

    flash video is pretty darn flaky in my limited experimentation (luckily, i don't watch it very often).

    i am running Windows 7 Professional with 2 x 2GB of DDR2 800 and a 1TB WD Green and for the most part, this thing is pretty darn snappy... well, snappier than i thought it'd be, anyhow.

    thanks for the article! i found it very informative!
  • apanloco - Saturday, May 30, 2009 - link

    Can you boot this board from a USB stick? The manual only states hard-drive and cd-rom, but I doubt they've missed out on something that fundamental :)
  • jimbolicious - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    i used a usb drive to load Windows 7 Professional onto mine and it worked fine. Reply
  • Namratalouver - Monday, May 25, 2009 - link

    Visit our site for more details about our products. Reply
  • estyx - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    I have been in contact with Zotac, because I want to use a mini-PCIe SSD disk to keep it small and silent, and it turns out the BIOS doesn't support booting via mini-PCIe. At least not yet. I'm waiting for an answer from them if they will include it in a later BIOS version.
    So now you know that :) If there is any interest I can keep you updated on the matter.
  • icrf - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    I'm curious, why use a PCIe SSD when there are three SATA ports available? Is space/power that big of a concern? Reply
  • snarfies - Tuesday, June 9, 2009 - link

    My mini-ITX NAS uses four drive connections. I boot from a CF-Card reader. I have two drives set up as RAID1. I have an optical drive. As near as I can tell, the only Atom-based ITX board on the market with enough drive connections is the MSI IM-945GC, which is what I'm currently using. If only the Ion had one more SATA port...! Reply
  • sprockkets - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    They are much cheaper. And, when using a really small mini-ITX case, it makes for a really easy build.

    They do show up as a SATA or PATA device, so you should be able to boot up from it, if it supports booting from add on cards. It isn't any different from an add on SATA or PATA controller in a pci slot.
  • abscode - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    That would be great! I also would like to use a mini-PCIe SSD for some of my car pcs. Hopefully they are interested in adding this ability soon. abscode[\@\]gmail{|dot|}com Reply
  • Fanfoot - Wednesday, May 20, 2009 - link

    So, you still couldn't do HD full screen playback, even at 720p, which is presumably what you'd run the system at if you hooked it up as a media center PC.

    What about after you cranked it up to 1.9MHz? Did that resolve the issues, or was it still unacceptable?

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now