Zotac NF610i-ITX: Compact, low cost, Core 2 solution

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TEST RESULTS

Our test system is basic, featuring a notebook hard drive and Blu-ray drive. The CPU is a Core 2 Duo E6400, an older processor with modest power requirements (65W). It is cooled by an Arctic Cooling Alpine 7 Pro CPU cooler connected to a variable DC fan controller (so the fan's power draw does not come into play).

Test Results: Zotac NF610i-ITX
Test State
CPU Usage
System Power (AC)
Mean
Peak
SS-400ET
SS-SFD300
Off
N/A
2W
2W
Sleep (S1)
N/A
48W
44W
Idle
1%
2%
50W
45W
Rush Hour
33%
54%
~61W
~57W
Coral Reef
28%
40%
~58W
~55W
Flight Sim.
46%
60%
~70W
~65W
Drag Race
55%
67%
~65W
~62W
Prime95
100%
102W
95W
Prime95 + ATITool
100%
103W
97W

As board can utilize the same processors as an equivalent mATX board, we thought it fitting to test the system with both the ATX power supply we typically use for mATX motherboards (Seasonic SS-400ET), as well as a SFX power supply (Seasonic SS-300SFD), one that might be more likely to be used in a mini-ITX case. Both are 80 Plus units, though the SFD300 is obviously more efficient at lower power levels. With the SFD300, the system consumed 3-5W less with light load, and 5-6W less with heavy load. The lack of power saved using Sleep mode was striking — suspend-to-RAM makes Vista's Sleep mode all but worthless.

Video playback was excellent on the NF610i-ITX. As we have seen in the past, nVidia GPUs are no slouches, and despite the fact that the board is powered by the rather dated Geforce 7050 chip, it passed our playback suite with no problems. CPU usage remained relatively low throughout and no anomalies presented themselves during playback.

Zotac NF610i-ITX vs. Asus P5E-VM HDMI (SS-400ET)
Test State
Zotac NF610i-ITX
Asus P5E-VM HDMI
Mean CPU Usage
System Power
Mean CPU Usage
System Power
Off
N/A
2W
N/A
3W
Sleep
N/A
48W
N/A
4W
Idle
1%
50W
1%
56W
Rush Hour
33%
~61W
36%
~65W
Coral Reef
28%
~58W
29%
~64W
Flight Sim.
46%
~70W
47%
~71W
Drag Race
55%
~65W
54%
~69W
Prime95
100%
102W
100%
96W
Prime95 + ATITool
100%
103W
100%
97W

Compared head to head with the Intel G35 powered Asus P5E-VM HDMI, video playback efficiency was very similar — CPU usage was almost identical. Power efficiency however was better with light load — the Zotac board registered a full 6W less when idle, and bested its opponent in varying degrees during video playback. When pushed to full load however, the results flipped in favor of the P5E-VM.

Zotac NF610i-ITX vs. Albatron KI690-AM2 (SS-300SFD)
Test State
Zotac NF610i-ITX
Albatron KI690-AM2
Mean CPU Usage
System Power
Mean CPU Usage
System Power
Off
N/A
2W
N/A
2W
Sleep
N/A
44W
N/A
4W
Idle
1%
45W
1%
32W
Rush Hour
33%
~57W
35%
~53W
Coral Reef
28%
~55W
50%
~57W
Flight Sim.
46%
~65W
88%
~68W
CPU Load*
100%
95W
100%
85W
*Prime95 was used for the NF610i-ITX and CPUBurn K7 was used for the KI690-AM2 (CPUBurn generates higher power consumption on K8 systems)

For a mini-ITX comparison, there was really only one board that has passed through our labs we could pit the Zotac against — the Albatron KI690-AM2. It's not a completely fair fight as our testing procedure is somewhat different now than it was then (most notably, we use PowerDVD instead of WMP to play back video). Also, the Albatron board was paired with a X2 3800+, a much slower processor than we normally use — generally a Core 2 Duo performs roughly equivalent to a X2 clocked 500-600Mhz higher.

Despite being at a disadvantage, the KI690-AM2 continues to impress us, even though a year has passed since we reviewed it. The Zotac board uses a lot more power when idle, though makes up for it somewhat with good efficiency playing HD video. Getting the power consumption down on a Core 2 system to AM2 levels, no matter what form factor, seems daunting.



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