Intel D201GLY2 Mini-ITX mainboard

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CASUAL COMPARISONS

We were curious to see how the D201GLY2T stacked up against the recently reviewed Albatron KI690-AM2. Our Albatron board sample was fitted with 1GB of PC2-5300 SODIMM memory and an AMD X2 4800+ processor along with a similar notebook drive. The current market price of the Albatron system would be about $500, compared to about $220 for the Intel system.

We used FutureMark PCMark05 and ran the full suite of CPU benchmarks on both systems. Other benchmarks were not run, since they typically do not affect overall system performance as much, and it is difficult to keep consistency across platforms. We found that the D201GLY2 system ended up with a CPU score of about 2400, while the AMD powered system scored somewhere betwen 4800 and 5000 on repeated tests. We also know that the KI690-AM2 is capable of running HD video of the highest resolution, via DVI or HDMI outputs, unlike the Intel. Whether that's worth the ~$280 difference depends on the viewpoint and needs of the buyer, of course.

Then there is the performance comparison posted by mini-box.com we mentioned earlier, where the Intel board trounced a VIA EPIA-EX15000G. The latter sells for around $270, has an embedded CPU like the Intel, and extra features such as Firewire, DVI video, S/PDIF opical and coax connections to balance the slower performance. Adding a PSU, memory, and HDD like the ones in our comparison systems would bring the total cost to about $400. Again, the question of relative value depends on the intended application and user's perspective.


FINAL THOUGHTS

With a stunningly low price and a reasonably complete feature set, Intel has set a new standard for integrated motherboard manufacturers. At a price that undercuts comparable VIA offerings by at least half, Intel has a mini-ITX platform capable of handling most desktop computing tasks. With little effort, it's possible to use the D201GLY2 to build a flexible, low-power, low-cost computer system for point-of-sales terminals, data collection systems, NAS devices, and just about anything else you could think of.

While not quite as low power as the VIA EPIA EN12000E, nor as capable as a system built from mini-ITX boards with CPU sockets, Intel has hit a sweet spot, providing good performance while keeping power consumption low and bringing price down to a new minimum. The D201GLY2 is able to handle all but the most demanding high definition video playback, and had no troubles with normal use over a couple of weeks' trial.

One concern is the high CPU temperature without active cooling. It's clear that Intel intended for the board to be run passively, but there is no way to this in an enclosed environment. Some airflow is required to keep temperatures to a reasonable level. The EPIA is able to run passively, but then again, it draws just half the AC power of our D201GLY2 sample did at full load.

Intel has already surpassed expectations in low-cost, SFF computing, but there's always room for improvement. Is there any chance the next gen mini-ITX from Intel will provide us with a dual core CPU? Better integrated graphics with HD capability, DVI and HDMI? Or will they drop power consumption even further? The options seem endless with a company as big and diversified as Intel.

The new D201GLY2 could well mark the start of a transformation in the mini-ITX scene, and an acceleration of the trend to small, low power, low cost computing. It could also stimulate more activity in the emerging markets. Only time will tell; we'll be watching and reporting.

PROS

* Low, low price
* Low power consumption
* Customizable BIOS
* Works well
CONS

* Simplistic default BIOS
* Poor fan control
* Somewhat underpowered
* Few features

Many thanks to Intel for the D201GLY2T sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
Albatron KI690-AM2: A Mini-ITX Powerhouse
AOpen i945GTt-VFA m-ITX C2D motherboard
VIA EPIA EN12000E: Today's most efficient CPU & mainboard
Asus M2A-VM HDMI: AM2 mATX motherboard

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