The ASUS A3TB7A-I: Does it Work?

I decided to add this section after the issues with Zotac’s Ion board and not supporting wake on USB. There are several features which any reader would assume work on this board but I thought I’d go through and confirm that they do indeed work as prescribed.

H.264 GPU Acceleration

Yes. This one works and works well. Just like the Zotac board, I had no problems using the ASUS Ion motherboard in a real home theater environment. The lack of an external DC power supply is less convenient when transporting the motherboard around, but the board decoded 1080p H.264 without an issue.

Both original Blu-ray discs and Blu-ray rips worked without a problem. See our Zotac review for instructions on enabling H.264 decode acceleration under Media Player Classic - Home Cinema.

8-channel LPCM

Sort of. One of the core features of NVIDIA’s GeForce 9300/9400 chipset is its support for 8-channel LPCM audio output over HDMI. Don’t know what this is? Read up on it here.

I list this one as sort of because both Gary and I experienced a strange problem with this ASUS board. While we could both get video/audio output when connected directly to a display via HDMI, as soon as we stuck a receiver/preprocessor in between we got no signal at all. My Integra DTC-9.8 would see a signal while the system was POSTing/booting, but as soon as it got into Windows the signal died. Gary saw the same thing with his Denon AVR-3808, Pioneer VSX-94TXH and Yamaha RX-Z11BL.

Gary tried rolling back to an older version of the NVIDIA HDMI driver (1.0.0.42) and was able to get both 5.1/7.1 audio and video working across his receivers, but the latest HDMI drivers would not allow it.

We’ve fed this information back to NVIDIA and hope to see it resolved soon.

Wake on USB

Yes. Unlike the first PCB version of Zotac’s Ion board, ASUS’s Ion will properly come out of sleep whenever there’s a USB event (e.g. mouse click, key/button press).

Bluetooth

Sort of. Unfortunately the Bluetooth controller used on ASUS’ board has no driver support under Windows 7, and the supplied Windows Vista drivers don’t exactly work. If you fool the driver installer into thinking that you’re running Vista then the drivers will install. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to actually use any Bluetooth devices with the PC after pairing; even my Blueant headset wouldn’t work as either a microphone or speaker.

We’ve fed this information back to ASUS and NVIDIA.

Overclocking Using the ASUS Ion in Windows 7 and Linux/XBMC
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  • rudy - Friday, August 28, 2009 - link

    ASUS is messed up in this respect the last a8n-e board I used had the same stupid issue a small fan that was loud and broke down easily on the south bridge. It must be a cost issue but it causes more problems then its worth. I replaced it with a passive heatsink rather then getting a free one from asus cause I knew the free replacement would not be much better. Reply
  • bh192012 - Friday, August 28, 2009 - link

    Put the bluray drive all the way at the top, make the case 1 to 2 cm deeper and or higher and put a row of low rpm 60mm fans in the front. You could get two to three times the airflow and it would be quieter. Also, why have the restrictive punchouts in the back for the rear fan, seems you could open that up much more. Punch more holes all along the sides or in the blank area in the back. Reply
  • yuchai - Friday, August 28, 2009 - link

    I agree with this. These smaller devices are meant to be placed on the desk and are pretty close for the user. I wouldn't mind having them at a bigger size if that's what it takes to bring the noise level down. Reply
  • Das Capitolin - Friday, August 28, 2009 - link

    The hard drive beside the ASRock ION 330 is not what comes with the unit. It ships with a 320GB notebook drive, and not a 3.5" desktop drive. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, August 28, 2009 - link

    The hard drive was just included to show the small size of the machine, I'll clarify in a caption :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • yehuda - Friday, August 28, 2009 - link

    I don't think this was mentioned, but Asus has also introduced an Ion-based EeeBox, which is a complete system.

    http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=wH1q2VTqyLXa...">http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=wH1q2VTqyLXa...

    Anand, you think you could request a sample?
    Reply
  • elivebuy - Tuesday, December 8, 2009 - link

    http://www.elivebuy.com">http://www.elivebuy.com

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    Jewerly $20

    Nike shox(R4,NZ,OZ,TL1,TL2,TL3) $35
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    Reply
  • millerduck - Friday, August 28, 2009 - link

    That unit looks sweet. I stumbled on it over the last two days and am planning a Windows Home Server based on it.

    Looks to be fanless, 330 w/ION, eSATA for additional storage, gigabit Ethernet. A perfect WHS "appliance" for my house.

    MD
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, August 28, 2009 - link

    Just requested it :) Waiting to hear back from ASUS on their plans for this thing in North America.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • yehuda - Saturday, August 29, 2009 - link

    Thanks, please keep us posted. Reply

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