Performance Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The NVIDIA Ion Small Form Factor reference PC platform proved itself to be a powerful multimedia machine with top-notch HD video playback capability and even a bit of light duty gaming performance available as well. In standard desktop and productivity applications, the machine was about on par with similarly equipped Intel Atom-based products. However, when tasked under multimedia workloads, the Ion offered best-of-class performance. In our demo video we also were able to prove out the machine's capabilities over an HDMI output, where the Ion showed excellent desktop image quality and great HD audio and video reproduction over our THX certified amplifier and through a 50" plasma TV.
Here at HotHardware.com we're tasked with fairly evaluating a product or perhaps an unreleased forthcoming product, based not only on what we feel is going to be end user out-of-the-box experience and performance, but also on how we feel the product will measure up to other products in its class and for the target market and applications a product has been designed for. It's with that in mind that we've come away decisively impressed based on our experience with the NVIDIA Ion reference platform. One of the major shortcomings we've found with products like the Asus Eee Box and the Dell Studio Hybrid small form factor PC is that, while they're sleek, low power designs, they're lacking in the specialized video processing and 3D engines that can be found in a truly capable IGP-enabled (Integrated Graphics Processor) chipset. It's quite possible that the NVIDIA Ion reference platform can offer a much more healthy alternative to the small form factor PC desktop and Home Theater PC markets, versus what's on the market today based on current Intel chipsets.
In fact, for the HTPC crowd, there's little question NVIDIA's Ion PC represents a breakout product, one where discrete graphics and their associated power consumption, heat and noise, can be dismissed for a fully integrated platform capable of all the tasks at hand. Wrap up Ion in some prettier skins, add a wireless keyboard and mouse, maybe a multi-function remote, and we think there may be more than a few NVIDIA sales engineers that will be looking at design wins over the next few quarters.
We'll bring this preview to a close and offer that, while we can't give any awards to a product that you simply can't buy yet as we have tested it here today, the long and short of Ion, for us is, we want one - preferably sooner than later. Would we give it and Editors Choice if this was a retail SKU from one of the major OEMs? You betcha. We'll be waiting in anticipation to see Ion in retail-ready form in the months ahead.