Zotac NVIDIA Ion Motherboard: SFF Goodness

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Zotac Ion motherboard performed as expected in our testing. The board's benchmark scores were right in-line with NVIDIA's Atom 330-based Ion reference PC, which is to say they were significantly better than any of the single core Atom 230 based systems. The additional horsepower afforded by the dual core Atom N330 processor used on the Zotac board not only resulted in increased benchmark scores, but also allowed the system to better handle Flash video from sites like Hulu and YouTube and to perform better in the gaming benchmarks.

 

At this point, we have shown you a handful of different NVIDIA Ion based products here at HotHardware, ranging from NVIDIA's own reference system, to the Acer Aspire Revo, and now the Zotac Ion motherboard. In essence, all of these systems offer similar functionality because they are all based on the same platform. But the Zotac Ion motherboard is most appealing to us currently because it caters to the DIY crowd. Not only that, but the design of the IONITX-A model we tested in particular, offers some very interesting features, not the least of which is its DC power input. The inclusion of a completely silent power brick to power the Zotac Ion motherboard gives potential buyers more flexibility when choosing a mini-ITX enclosure and also opens up a world of potential mod possibilities. The Zotac IONITX-A would be an excellent candidate for a car computer, for example, and would require only an inexpensive DC step up voltage inverter to receive power. The IONITX-A's dual core Atom processor and other specs also make it an excellent potential candidate for low-power silent PC or small form factor Home Theater system.


Zotac's Ion Motherboard Line-Up

Zotac plans to ship their Ion-based motherboard in a number of different configurations ranging from the top of the line IONITX-A model we tested to lower end models with single core processors, and sans WiFi or PSU. We don't have pricing for the lower end models just yet, but the IONITX-A is expected to sell for roughly $179 (e-tail) to $189 (retail). That may seem steep to some of you based on the performance of the platform and the fact that Intel's Atom 330 based, Mini-ITX BOXD945GCLF2D motherboard is available for less than $80, but all things considered, you have to expect to pay more for the Zotac Ion because it simply offers more--significantly better video performance, better gaming, WiFi, dual-channel memory support and a PSU.

Expect limited availability of the Zotac Ion motherboard for the next couple of weeks with broader availability towards the end of the month. Those of you that were waiting for an Ion-based solution for the DIY market need not wait much longer.

  

  • Low Power
  • Silent
  • Highly Integrated
  • CUDA Support
  • Integrated DC/DC PSU

 

  • Somewhat Pricey
  • Ion GPU Is Limited By Atom CPU
  • Limited Availability At First

 


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