Cooling the Zotac Ion

I made it a point to talk about the fanless design of the Zotac Ion in my original review. For most of my tests I had a fan connected (just so I could tell when my otherwise silent machine was on), but I did test the system without a fan connected.

On a table with no active airflow over the heatsink, the latest version of CoreTemp showed temperatures in the 80 - 97C range - which are extremely high. Earlier versions of CoreTemp showed the CPU temperature at 60 - 70C, so it’s possible that neither value is correct. One of my first experiences with the Atom processor was it running Unreal Tournament 2004 without a heatsink or fan, I could actually touch the CPU core itself and it wasn’t hot at all. I’m guessing that the majority of thermal output here is from the GeForce 9300 or Ion chipset. Keep in mind that Intel’s own Atom mini-ITX boards have an extremely tiny heatsink on the CPU.

Without a fan the Zotac heatsink does get hot, but I haven’t had the machine crash on me without a fan running. I’m guessing that in a case with a single, slow spinning fan you should be fine. Given that a single hard drive can put out nearly as much heat as the Atom CPU, if you don’t have a solid state drive in your machine I might suggest mounting the optional fan.

With the fan running I saw temperatures below 30C as reported by CoreTemp and the heatsink was cool to the touch.

NVIDIA’s own ESA utility was not able to tell me the temperature of the GPU, but I’m fairly certain that’s where the heat is coming from. Since it shares a heatsink with the CPU, that’s most likely what’s responsible for the very high core temperatures.

Overclocking the Atom Processor Blu-ray and Gaming Power Consumption
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    The Logitech G5 actually sets this option to true by default in Windows Vista, and yes it was enabled. I'm still waiting to hear back from Zotac on it.

    Take care,
  • Badkarma - Wednesday, May 20, 2009 - link

    Thanks for writing something on the Wake on USB issue, it's really too bad Zotac leaves this feature out on HTPC-centric mobos.
  • icrf - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    I'm more curious about HD flash video, like Dr. Horrible on Hulu, or NCIS on CBS, or Heroes on NBC, than I am about SD flash scaled to HD resolutions. I haven't had major issues with SD hulu on my Atom netbook, but the HD content would be nice, especially considering how awesome this would be as an HTPC.

    But, that aside, wake-on-usb for a remote is the primary concern. Keep hounding them for us. :)
  • icrf - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    Also, on scaling flash video to full screen, I think there are underlying problems. My C2D E6600 can't smoothly scale flash video on my WQXGA moniter. I checked task manager, and the CPU isn't maxed out, but the video is pretty jumpy. My 1024x600 Atom netbook does just fine. Different browsers don't make any difference on either box.
  • ltcommanderdata - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    I wonder if you could do a review of the GN40 chipset and compare it to the 945G and Ion. The GN40 and the GMA 4000 may not be as fast as the nVidia 9300, but it seems that the primary limitation in gaming is Atom itself anyways even with Ion. The GN40 is supposed to offer accelerated 720p playback so it may well be good enough on the multimedia side.

    It also wouldn't surprise me if the GN40/GMA4000 is what is integrated into Pineview.
  • icrf - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    I thought the HD-decoding GPU wasn't actually an Intel part? If that's the case, it's doubtful the current GPU is what makes it on-die.
  • MadMan007 - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    Is it possible wake on USB is a chipset problem? Do other manufacturer's GF9300/9400 motherboards have no issue waking from USB?

    Anyway Atom is still a little too underwhelming to me for what I'd look to use it for. I'd rather go with the Zotac 9300ITX LGA775 and a cheap C2D-based Celeron. Poor flash video playback just kills it, maybe Adobe will make those things GPU-accelerated in the future. If that or other tasks that require some modicum of CPU grunt weren't expected I'd get a 945-based Atom board.
  • plschwartz - Friday, September 4, 2009 - link

    I think I read that the 9300 775 board in newer revisions now wake on USB But the earlier versions are still sold in US.
    I am going to Hong Kong next month and will get board there.
    How on this board can one find out the revision number?

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