Zotac IONITX-A: An ION / dual-core Atom Mini-ITX Board

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TEST RESULTS

Our test configuration is fairly basic, featuring a single 1GB stick of Corsair memory, an Asus Blu-ray drive and a Western Digital 5400 RPM notebook hard drive. The operating system is Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit).

Test Results
Test State
Mean
CPU
Peak
CPU
System Power
Idle
N/A
22W
Rush Hour
(H.264)
12%
16%
24W
Coral Reef
(WMV-HD)
35%
45%
25W
Drag Race
(VC-1)
23%
40%
22W
Disturbia
(Blu-ray H.264)
26%
40%
28W
CPU Load
N/A
27W
CPU + GPU
Load
N/A
34W
Grey boxes indicate test failure.

Despite the dual core Atom CPU and a "real" Nvidia-powered onboard graphics, the IONITX is surprisingly power efficient, idling at only 22W AC power. Video playback increased power consumption by no more than 3W (for Disturbia this number was higher because it had to access the Blu-ray drive). Full CPU load on both cores elicited 27W and the addition of stressing the GPU with FurMark resulting in 34W total AC power draw. These are very low numbers.

Video playback was smooth and effortless for the most part, but we initially had a lot of trouble getting our video test suite to run properly. Only the H.264 Rush Hour clip would play problem-free. When PowerDVD was upgraded to version 9, all but one of our HD clips played fine. The VC-1 Drag Race clip remained unwatchable due to a massive number of dropped frames and out-of-sync audio. Iincreasing the amount of system and video memory, decreasing the screen resolution, different driver versions and software players — none of these changes allowed the clip to be played with any degree of smoothness. CPU usage during this clip was odd, spiking and dipping between 10% and 40% every 5-10 seconds. If the IGP simply lacked VC-1 decoding capability, at least one of the CPU cores would have maxed out, so the source of the problem remains a mystery.

System Power Consumption Comparison
Test State
Zotac IONITX
HFX Micro S13
Idle
N/A
22W
N/A
25W
Rush Hour
(H.264)
12%
24W
65%
33W
Coral Reef
(WMV-HD)
35%
25W
31%
31W
CPU Load
N/A
27W
N/A
33W
CPU + GPU Load
N/A
34W
N/A
39W
Grey boxes indicate test failure.

Compared to the mCubed HFX Micro S13, a similar fanless system (only with Intel graphics and lacking an optical drive), the IONITX clearly delivers better video playback performance and power consumption. The GMA950 IGP lacks hardware acceleration for video playback so the D945GCLF2 board in the S13 could play only H.264 video. Using the same Atom N330 processor, the Nvidia's ION platform seems to be more energy efficient than Intel's.



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