Zotac GeForce 8200-ITX WiFi: A Compact AM2 Solution

CPUs|Motherboards
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VRM/Chipset Cooling/Efficiency

A motherboard typically has two secondary chips (Northbridge and Southbridge) as well as voltage regulators around the CPU socket that are susceptible to heat. When these components heat up they can become less efficient. This is one of the reasons stock CPU coolers are designed to provide some top-down cooling for nearby components. If a tower cooler is used, it's important to consider whether abandoning top-down cooling will affect the efficiency or stability of the system.

With that in mind, we lowered the CPU fan's voltage to 6V to reduce the amount of airflow the nearby components received and proceeded to stress the system with CPUBurn and FurMark. We took power consumption readings during the first minute, after 15 minutes of stress when the board heated up, and then with a 1,500 RPM case fan placed in an appropriate position for a few minutes.

System Power with Extra Cooling
State
CPU Load
CPU + GPU Load
After 15 minutes
+1W
+5W
VRM Cooling
-2W
N/A
Chipset Cooling
N/A
-4W

After 15 minutes of CPUBurn, power consumption was only 1W higher than recorded during the first minute. Placing a case fan on the left side of the socket blowing on the VRMs reduced the power draw by only 2W. After 15 minutes of CPUBurn and FurMark, system power draw was 5W higher. Placing a case fan on top of the chipset heatsink reduced this by 4W. As this is the first time we've done this test, we can't say whether these results are good or bad. The system did stay perfectly stable throughout testing though. It should be interesting to see how future boards perform.

Fan Control

SpeedFan is our application of choice for fan control. It can be configured to raise or lower multiple fan speeds to designated limits when any specified temperature threshold is breached.


SpeedFan main screen.

Unfortunately the latest version of SpeedFan (4.37) was not supported by the 8200-ITX, so fan control was not possible on this board. There are no fan control options in the BIOS either, and Zotac does not offer a fan control utility of their own. All fans connected to the board run at full speed, even the PWM CPU fan header.

Addendum:
Shortly after this review was completed, a BIOS update appeared on the Zotac website that enables fan control. The feature should be used cautiously given the thermal limitations of most mini-ITX cases.



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