Zotac Ion: 720p Gaming Performance

In my Zotac Ion review I only included one gaming result: 17.7 fps in World of Warcraft at 800 x 600 with WoW’s Good Quality settings. A few of you asked for more details on how well the Ion could play games; I happily obliged and ran the board with a few more games and settings. The table below shows the frame rates I was able to achieve:

  Zotac Ion-A (Atom 330) 720p Performance
Left 4 Dead (Medium Quality) 25.0 fps
Far Cry 2 (Medium Quality) 9.0 fps
Far Cry 2 (Low Quality) 12.0 fps
Fallout 3 (Medium Quality) 17.3 fps
Fallout 3 (Low Quality) 21.0 fps
Red Alert 3 (Medium Quality) 18.0 fps


Far Cry 2, even at its lowest quality settings, can only manage 12 fps at 720p; but that’s a stressful game. Left 4 Dead, at a balance of low/medium quality settings managed 25 fps. Fallout 3 straddled the borderline of playability when set to Low quality defaults at 21 fps.

I even tried Red Alert 3, where I managed 18 fps at Medium quality.

It’s possible to get near playable frame rates with the Zotac Ion at 720p but it’s definitely not smooth unless you’re playing something truly light on the CPU/GPU.

Index Watching Flash Video on the Ion
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  • 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.
  • Namratalouver - Monday, May 25, 2009 - link

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  • 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?
  • 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...!
  • 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
  • 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?

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