Zotac NVIDIA Ion Motherboard: SFF Goodness - HotHardware

Zotac NVIDIA Ion Motherboard: SFF Goodness

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As we've already mentioned, Zotac's Ion motherboard design conforms to the diminutive mini-ITX form factor. As such, the entire board measures only 6.7" x 6.7".


The model you see pictured here is the Zotac IONITX-A; there will be other models of this motherboard available as well that feature different processor, wireless, and PSU configurations. As you can see, the dominating feature on the board is a large, aluminum heatsink. The heatsink rests atop and 1.6GHz, dual-core Atom N330 processor and the NVIDIA Ion chipset. We should note, that despite the relative low power this platform is already known for, we found this heatsink to get fairly hot during extended use. Zotac, however, includes a fan with the board that can be mounted to the heatsink using four screws, and with the fan installed, temps go down considerably. Either way though, we didn't experience any heat-related instability whatsoever.


The layout of the Zotac IONITX-A is expectedly tight, considering the nature of the ultra small mini-ITX form factor. Dual, DDR2 DIMM slots run along the front edge of the board, adjacent to a mini-PCIe expansion slot, which is filled with an Atheros WiFi controller here, and a trio if SATA ports. All ports, headers, and expansion slots come by way of the NVIDIA Ion Platform processor, which also features an integrated Ion graphics core with 16 shaders, full DX10 compatibility, and HD video hardware offload, in addition to other features like Hybrid SLI and NVIDIA's CUDA technology support. The integrated Ion graphics core as it is implemented here runs at 450MHz with 1100MHz shaders.


Various I/O connectivity on the Zotac IONITX-'s backplane consists of a PS/2 port, 6 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, DVI, and VGA outputs, optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, an eSATA ports, three analog audio jacks, an RJ45 LAN jack, a WiFi antenna post, and finally a DC-IN jack. The DC-IN jack is an interesting addition; one that we'll talk more about on the next page. You'll not there is no ATX power connector to be found. We should also point out that HD audio support on the board comes by way of a Realtek ALC662 5.1 channel CODEC and Ethernet support is native to the NVIDIA Ion chipset.

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Seems a bit pricey for the performance you really get. Still a very cool board. I could see that second core really helping out. While the Atom is "fast enough" it feels very limiting in what you can do with it.

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What is the mini-ITX enclosure at the very bottom of page 3 of the review?

I have been considering this motherboard in a build but can't find any cases I like that don't feature a PSU of some sort already included which makes the PSU in the case redundant and an added cost. The one at the bottom of page 3 appears to be relatively small and I imagine without a PSU due to its size.

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That case is the iStar S3 Storm...


It does come with a PSU, but it is external.

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