Intel D201GLY2 Mini-ITX mainboard

CPUs|Motherboards
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November 30, 2007 by Mike Chin and Nicholas Geraedts

Product Intel D201GLY2T
embedded CPU mini-ITX motherboard
Manufacturer Intel
Street Price ~US $75

The realm of Mini-ITX mainboards has been dominated by VIA ever since they established the platform back in 2001. Their devices have been used in various integrated systems, such as the Seagate Mirra Personal Server we reviewed back in late 2006, and the Hush mini-ITX PC we reviewed in November 2003. They are also used in a slew of invisible industrial devices that run things like PoS terminals, touch-screen kiosks, and other applications where low power, low heat, low noise and low maintenance are critical.

Over the years, a manufacturers in the commercial arena have joined VIA in making mini-ITX boards, usually in small volume at high prices. Most utilize VIA chipsets and processors, but there are Intel P4, Pentium M (socket 479), Core, and Core 2 as well as AMD Geode, Turion, and AM2, with sockets that allow for removable CPUs. These board makers are little-known in the retail market, such as Commell, Jetway, Kontron, Portwell, and iBase. Other than VIA, the only board makers to have any kind of visible presence with consumer-oriented, full-featured mini-ITX boards have been AOpen and DFI, whose first mini-ITX boards we reviewed here.

The prices of both the retail and system integrator versions of mini-ITX boards have been, plainly speaking, ridiculously high. For the longest time, about $150 was the lowest price you could find anywhere for the most minimalist VIA (or VIA-based) mini-ITX board, usually with a CPU running at <1GHz that a Pentium 3 of half the clock speed could match in performance. Prices for better featured boards with any chipset and CPU/socket usually ran at least $250, and often, over $300, many without CPU.

The material cost of a 6.5" square board has to be considerably less than that of a microATX board which is twice as big. So where's the logic of boards like the AOpen i945GMt-FSA (C2D) and the Albatron KI690-AM2 both priced near $300... when microATX boards with more features like the recently reviewed Asus M2A-VM HDMI can be had for a measly $75? There can really be only one answer: Supply and demand. Like any smart vendor, these mini-ITX makers have been charging what the market will bear. Those who needed the unique qualities of mini-ITX have been willing to pay through the nose; there simply hasn't been any choice.

Enter the Intel D201GLY

Released in May 2007, the D201GLY caught the attention of many because it's an embedded-CPU mini-ITX board from one of the industry's 800-lb gorillas, and because of its price. At a paltry $70-75, one could buy two or three D201GLY boards for the price of a typical VIA C7 board. Not to mention the fact that the D201GLY runs circles around a C7 1.5GHz equipped motherboard, as documented in mini-box.com's enlightening comparison. (The comparison shows the Intel board achieving about double the score on a number of standard benchmarks.) The D201GLY lacked SATA ports, however, despite the traces for two SATA ports clearly visible on the board.

The questions glowed like neon (or, to be more uptodate, LEDs): With its huge manufacturing, distribution and marketing power, was Intel setting its sights on the mini-ITX market? Would Intel's aggressive pricing steal market share from the rest and set them tumbling or would they stimulate new demand and blow the sector wide open?

In a partial answer six months later, Intel released the D201GLY2 with SATA ports installed and an upgraded processor, the Celeron 220. While running at a lower clock speed, the Celeron 220 lowered the TDP of the CPU from 27W to 19W, but it is suspected to perform better than its Yonah-based predecessor. Despite the hardware improvements, the retail price of the board hasn't increased significantly.

D201GLY2 SPECIFICATIONS (from the Intel web site)
CPU Celeron 220, soldered
Chipset SiS SiS662 / SiS964
FSB 533 MHz
Memory 1x DDR2-533/400
Integrated Graphics Sis Mirage 1
Expansion Slots 1x PCI Slot
USB 6x USB 1.1/2.0 Ports
LAN Broadcom 10/100 Adaptor
Sound 2 Channel AC97
South Bridge Speed 1x ATA 133 channel
Serial ATA 2x SATA 1.5Gb/s Channels

The D201GLY2 provides all the necessities for a basic system. As is the norm for mini-ITX, there is only one PCI slot, and there's just one DDR2 memory slot. Minimalist is good and fine, but we were a little surprised that our sample board came by itself and nothing else (not even a driver CD) in an anti-static bag! We're guessing that our review sample was just that... a sample. Retail packages come with a driver CD, an ATA cable, SATA cable, and an I/O faceplate.

Not too much real estate left on this board...

Everything in place. An AUX12V port is present (hidden by the ATX power cables), but we don't really see why it's necessary for such a low power device.


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