Testbed Setup
Overclocking / Benchmark Testbed
Processors 1 x Intel i3-540 - 3.06GHz, 2 Cores 4 threads, 4MB L3 Cache
Intel CULV Celeron Su2300 1.2GHz, 800MHz FSB, 2 Cores, 1MB L3 Cache
Intel Atom 330, 533 MHz FSB, 2 Cores, 1MB L3 Cache
CPU Voltage Various
Cooling Intel air cooler, stock motherboard air cooling for IONs.
Power Supply Enhance ENP-2320 200W PSU, Corsair HX950 (used for 275 GTX)
Memory CorsairXMS3 CMX8GX3M4A1333C9 DDR3-1333 CAS 9-9-9-24 2x2GB kit
Corsair Dominator GT 8-8-8-24 DDR3-2200 2x2GB kit
Crucial Ballistix BL2566F4N1608 DDR3-1600 8-8-8-24 2x2GB kit
Memory Settings Various
Video Cards MSI 275 Lightning (stock clocks)
Video Drivers NVIDIA 258.96 WHQL
Hard Drive Western Digital 7200RPM 1TB SATA 3/Gbps 32MB Buffer
OCZ Vertex 120GB SSD
Optical Drives Plextor PX-B900A, Toshiba SD-H802A
Case Open Test Bed
Operating System Windows 7 64 bit

We utilized memory kits from Corsair and G.Skill to verify memory compatibility on our test boards. Our OS and primary applications are loaded on the OCZ Vertex 120GB SSD drive and our games operate off the WD Caviar Black 1TB drive. We did a clean install of the OS and applications for each motherboard. For graphics duty, MSI’s GTX N275 GPU is used to provide performance comparisons between boards during gaming benchmarks.

ECS's H55H-I mini-ITX board was used to provide the Clarkdale i3-540 numbers, while ASUS's AT3IONT-I was used for the Atom 330 results. We set up each board with platform defaults, and match up primary memory timings and memory frequency. The ION platforms were run at CAS 7-7-7-20 2T DDR3-1333, while the i3-540 Clarkdale was run at 7-7-7-20 1T DDR3-1333. We did not manage to engage a 1T Command Rate on the ION platform as both boards refused to POST with all of our test memory modules, so had to settle for 2T instead. 

The natural choice for comparison would be a G6950, unfortunately I don't have one of those in my possession at present so we've had to make do with the i3-540 instead. The G6950 touts a 2.8GHz clock speed albeit lacking Turbo and Hyper threading, so should sit neatly between the i3-540 and SU2300 Celeron results in most benchmarks.


Power Consumption

Our power consumption testing utilizes the same batch of components under similar circumstances in a bid to monitor variances between idle and CPU load conditions. We install the vendor supplied power saving utilities on each board (when available) and enable power saving modes that don't involve any kind of underclocking or CPU core frequency modulation in order to run an apples to apples comparison.

ATX PSU switching losses are absent from our figures because we monitor power consumption directly at the DC rails of the PSU. These figures measure only the CPU, motherboard and memory DC power draw and exclude any other peripherals, such as cooling fans and hard drives etc.  AC power consumption at the wall will be anywhere from 15~40% higher than these figures depending upon the efficiency of your power supply.

Motherboard Power Consumption - Idle Power

Motherboard Power Consumption - OCCT Small FFT

Motherboard Power Consumption - HD Video Playback

The CULV SU2300 improves on the idle power consumption of Atom. The i3-540 isn't that far adrift when you consider the additional horsepower and 3.06GHz operating frequency. In most loading scenarios, you'll be giving up 10W of power in return for a more capable all-round PC. As we're dealing with desktop systems here and not mobile devices, we think the 10W gap shouldn't be of concern to most users.

Board Features & BIOS HTPC Performance - Image Quality
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  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    Worst idea ever? Why not compare to a pentium G9650? Naw... that would make toooo much sense. Anyway I'd suspect this ion system to be worse than even a G9650, which is undoubtedly cheaper.
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    If you read the testbed setup section, you'll see I mentioned why I did not test against the G6950 - because I don't have one. I agree though, the G6950 should sit in between the Celeron and i3-540 results.

  • plewis00 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    Can someone tell me what the actual name of this Pentium chip is?

    Is it the:


    Because both seem to produce results in Google - I'm inclined to think it's the G6950 because that's what I see more but I genuinely don't know, even Wikipedia is not consistent (I know Wikipedia is not proof of anything).
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    It's the G6950


  • Rajinder Gill - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    Micro Center have a deal on the i3-540 at present ($99):


  • Ninjahedge - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link


    I have been seeing a few reviews of the Mini's here on Anand and I have a request (which could also be done right here in comments).

    What has been done to make a tru HDPC+gamer mini? this board looks great (looks) but it seels that, until they make a micro NVidia card or do it vertically, you are still stuck with a cute box that will do everything but play Crysis 7- The Thaw.

    What can be done with this box, a suitable case, and peripherals to make it run with the pack of average gaming machines (or TOTL 1/2 year old gaming machines....)?

    Has there been an article about Gaming Mini's?
  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    If you really want a gaming mini, you're better off going with a HM55 / Core i mini-itx motherboard. The only way you're going to get decent game performance is with a dedicated video card.
  • Taft12 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    He's right, this is not an appropriate platform for a mini gaming box.

    Here is the right place to start for that:

    This would be a fine step 2:

    since you can pick your own suitable ATX PSU to go with the CPU and video card of your choice. Now excuse me while I chop off my uncooperative arm that is reaching for my credit card!
  • sprockkets - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    eh, that case is like, weird.


    And it includes an proper power supply.

    Or I would buy this nice barebone


    And this time the pci ex slot is inner so you can use a dual slot card.
  • Roland00 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    The SILVERSTONE SG07 has enough space to fit a 5970. The powersupply is also large enough for the 5970.


    That said there are three things against this setup from
    1) ITX boards are way too crammed to have enough power states for a good overclock on the cpu.
    2) ITX boards often have very little space to place a nice heatsink, sometimes a nice heatsink would be blocked via the memory or the videocard. Now you can alleviate the space problem with a small waterblock+cooler but most cases don't have enough space for that. For example the SG07 doesn't have enough space for a corsair h50
    3) I have heard incidents where the 5970 overheats and freezes up on people during long gaming sessions when used in combination with the small case of SG07. A 5850 or a 5770 would be preferred.

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