Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi: Good Things Come in Small Packages

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3D Performance

To get a rough estimate of how well each board's integrated graphics plays games, we ran 3DMark05/06. As synthetic benchmarks they have limited value, but they give a rough idea of how well an IGP performs.

3D Performance: Futuremark Comparison
Motherboard
Graphics
3DMark05
3DMark06
Zotac GeForce 8200-ITX
GF8200
1623
869
Asus M3N78 Pro
GF8300
1669
902
Asus P5Q-EM
X4500HD
1708
1092
MSI KA760GM
HD 3000
2289
1049
Gigabyte MA78GM-2SH
HD 3200
2293
1116
Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H
HD 3300 (Sideport)
3377
1668
Gigabyte MA78GM-2SH
HD 3450
(Discrete)
3405
1716
Asus P5N7A-VM
GF9300
3497
1776
Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX
GF9300
3522
1797
All results with 2GB of system RAM and 256MB of VRAM assigned for IGP's (128MB Sideport + 128MB UMA for boards with Sideport memory). AMD systems in green (X2 4850E), Intel systems in blue (E7200).

The board's scores in 3DMark05 and 3DMark06 squeak past another GF9300 board and an AMD 790 board to the highest we've recorded for an IGP. GeForce 9300 is a good rival for AMD's HD 3300 IGP with Sideport memory. It's 3DMark scores are also almost twice as high as the P5Q-EM, which is powered by the same chipset found in the Intel DG45FC. If budget gaming is desired, clearly the GeForce 9300-ITX is the superior solution. Intel still has much work ahead to compete with AMD or nVidia in this regard.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The GeForce 9300-ITX easily dethrones Intel's DG45FC as the reference standard for LGA775 mini-ITX boards. Intel X4500HD graphics cannot even come close to competing with GeForce 9300. In addition, Intel's board lacks support for 95W CPUs, so those who wish to use a quad core chip have to spend an extra $100 for one of Intel's 65W models. The DG45FC is slightly more power efficient when playing video, but expending a couple of extra watts is well worth it for all the extra functionality the GeForce 9300-ITX brings to the table.

While more formidable than the competition, the GeForce 9300-ITX has its share of flaws, most of which are centered around the BIOS. The BIOS does not permit undervolting, and is missing the Wake-on USB feature which is key for many HTPC users. The menu layout is also awkward, with frequencies displayed unconventionally in effective rather than base speed and voltages on a different screen. This isn't a serious problem, but it shows a lack of polish. The BIOS is second-rate compared to the functional and clean layout found on Asus or Gigabyte boards. Additionally, the BIOS' "SmartFan Control" didn't work and the board is not yet supported by SpeedFan. The best we could manage was to set a single PWM fan to a static speed setting.

Despite its shortcomings, the Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi brings many attractive features missing from the majority of consumer-oriented mini-ITX boards on the market. With the exception of GeForce 9400, GeForce 9300 is the fastest onboard graphics money can buy, good enough for less demanding games and of course it plays HD video including Blu-ray without a hiccup. A standard 16x PCI Express slot gives users the option of upgrading to a high performance discrete graphics card. The WiFi adapter is just icing on the cake for a board already loaded with a feature list that includes HDMI, S/PDIF, and eSATA. The $140 price-tag is very reasonable when you consider the Intel DG45FC now retails for only $20 less. If you use that as a point of comparison, the $20 difference delivers a ridiculous amount of value.

Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi
PROS

* Full CPU support
* Feature-rich
* WiFi ready
* Low power consumption
* Reasonable price
CONS

* No undervolting
* No Wake-on USB
* Poor fan control
* Only 2 SATA ports

Our thanks to Zotac for the motherboard sample.



SPCR Editor's Choice Award

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Articles of Related Interest
Asus M4A78T-E AM3 motherboard
MSI KA760GM: 780G Minus the HD
790GX Showdown: Gigabyte vs. MSI
Zotac GeForce 8200-ITX WiFi: A Compact AM2 Solution
Asus P5N7A-VM: Geforce 9300 IGP
Intel DG45FC: Loaded LGA775 Mini-ITX Board

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