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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Powerlurker - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    XFX just released a single-slot 5770 which would probably be a great match for a more gaming oriented mini-ITX system.
  • -BubbaJoe- - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    I'm using a Asus M4A88T-I DELUXE + Athlon x3 445 + a 5770 in a silverstone sg05, thing plays BF2:BC2 at max settings at 1080p

    I think this qualifies as a mini-gamer :D
  • chomlee - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    First off, I want to say that I have been watching the Ion chipset and was really thinking of purchasing an itx board last year so I could put together a mini HTPC.

    Here is the issue. I recently purchased a patriot box office for $65.00 at newegg and for an extra $60.00, I put in a 500 gig hard drive. I have a file server that I keep all my pictures, music, and movies on and I stream it over my home network.

    Anyhow, my point is, as far as HTPCs go, my patriot box office does everything I need. I even am able to stream blue ray iso files over the network with flawless playback (using NFS, not SAMBA). The only downside is that it has a very plain gui and unlike a ION mini itx, you cant install XBMC on it. Anyhow, with the availability of boxes like this that are extra small and cheap and other devices such as the boxee box comming out in November, there doesn't seem to be a niche anymore for HTPCs unless you plan on some moderate gaming.
  • kmshark - Saturday, August 28, 2010 - link

    I had bad performance with my MKV Bluray files over the network using the PBO... it would play but had intermittent drops/etc. I though it was due to my MKV files being full 1080p + 5.1 or 6.1 FLAC just too much - but I was doing this via SAMBA from my 2K8 server.... so maybe it works better via NFS? For your ISOs, are you playing the hi-def audio?
  • mino - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    While Clarkadle has more rwa power the drivers are STILL a mess.

    Case in point - a STUPIDLY PRIMITIVE DX8 Worms World party simply crashes on Intel IGP while it runs happily on any ATI/NV IGP since 2004 ...

    While Intel seems to has invested heavily in support for benchmarks and current titles (aka review titles) the general 3D support is still a nightmare.
  • Cerb - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    Yes, it is. Even not counting GMA500, it is. One more reason to look forward to Bobcat; and for normal machines, to go AMD. The added single-threaded i3 performance is small, and made up for quite well, especially if you stick to 785 or newer IGP.
  • CSMR - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    A combination of old tech. Why would anyone bother with this? It's even more expensive than Clarkdale. Now a Clarkdale CULV would be more interesting.
  • sprockkets - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    Seeing as how Zotac's ION Atom boards are priced, this isn't bad at all. Just wish the pci slot was faster.

    In any case, I prefer a system be fanless and compact, which that H55 board isn't. This might come close.

    While having a built in PS is nice, what if it breaks? There goes the whole board. Besides the cases this would go into already have ITX sized power supplies anyhow. The one here is nice since it allows for an optical drive and two 2.5 drives: one SSD and one high capacity notebook drive.

  • Wineohe - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    Having experienced the trials and tribulations of Nvidia's GF8300 onboard graphics over HDMI in an ASUS board for AM2, I will not soon sign up again. I can't imagine buying a board with these chipsets. It's indicated in the review that they had no issues. Did you confirm that the HDMI works flawlessly? Did you check to see if it would work with an AV Receiver of switch. Can you adjust for over scan on a 720P Television in the NVidia control panel. Can you effectively adjust resolution at all over HDMI? Does the HD sound work perfectly after every reboot.

    Again not for me.
  • sprockkets - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    "Stepping out to a discrete GPU, the ION systems get blasted to smithereens by the i3-540. ION lacks the raw muscle required to handle the GTX 275. 1.875GHz is the maximum stable frequency we achieved on our processor without running out of cooling headroom."

    That's not ION's fault if the pci slot is really x16m, that's the fault of having a low clocked CPU and an older generation one to boot.

    Still, for the average person, this is much better than Atom. Same thing is happening on the laptop front as well.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now