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 Post subject: Zotac GeForce 8200-ITX WiFi: A Compact AM2 Solution
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:15 am 
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Zotac GeForce 8200-ITX WiFi: A Compact AM2 Solution

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:25 am 
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Quote:
The board's capacitors are all solid-state

I see a few capacitors (near the audio ports) that are not.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:04 am 
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That's not the stock HSF for the 4850e is it? Mine certainly didn't come with it.

I know it's a motherboard review, and no temps are mentioned/taken, but it just seems a little unusual to use a stock HSF that doesn't come with the CPU tested.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:15 am 
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jhhoffma wrote:
That's not the stock HSF for the 4850e is it? Mine certainly didn't come with it.

I know it's a motherboard review, and no temps are mentioned/taken, but it just seems a little unusual to use a stock HSF that doesn't come with the CPU tested.

Yes, it is a mobo review, the heatsink is really not a focus. We have probably a dozen or so AMD branded AM2 and 939 "stock" heatsinks -- one was grabbed off the shelf. Differences among them are not big -- size, design, fan -- all are within a fairly narrow range.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:47 am 
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30W idle is good, but for the money I think you might as well get an mATX mobo. As well as fan control, you get six SATA ports with the 8200 chipset.

ITX stuff has always been massively overpriced. Considering you end up with a smaller case (i.e. less metal, lower shipping costs) and a low power PSU it doesn't make sense to pay 2-3x the price for ITX parts. I guess you'd have to really, really need a slightly smaller than thin mATX form factor and consider money no object.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:32 am 
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p8 "A simple overclocking began investigation was conducted"
p9 "to be ironed out in the soon though,"


if only I knew enough ppl willing to get these small pc's, I could try building some of these mitx ones

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 Post subject: Seems like the Intel board is a better buy
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:22 pm 
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I've been looking at this board on Newegg for a couple weeks. I have an ITX case with an old via board that I need to replace. Given the clearly lower power draw of the intel solution used in this article with a notably better CPU, and the fact the Zotac and Intel boards are about the same price right now, I'd be inclined to go for the intel.

Also, for anyone building an HTPC, I really think mini-itx is a limiting factor, and mostly a waste. I wouldn't invest in it except that I was given the case for free. Even so, I'm torn between relegating that box to a file server or upgrading it. There are just so many more options with mATX.


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 Post subject: Board not listed prominently on Zotac site
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:29 pm 
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Also of note: when this board came out about a month ago, it was featured on the Zotac web site. Now I can't find any reference to it on their site. This does not bode well for either the board, or the company.

UPDATE: OK, I did find driver downloads for this board on their site, in the support section, but the board is still not listed in the product section of their web site. Notable in reference to this article and this site in particular, there is a BIOS update that indicates they have added fan speed control.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:56 pm 
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Corrections made. Thanks to winguy and ACook.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:46 pm 
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Speaking for myself, I like building mini-itx systems in part because I like the challenge of squeezing a lot of features into a small package (don't we all like challenges? :D ) If you think the Silverstone ML02 and LC19 mATX cases are tight, well, I can build a comparable mini-itx based HTPC in a case that's 40% smaller.

The prices of mini-itx have come down quite a bit, thanks in part to Intel's Atom based boards and the DG45FC board. I can still remember paying $230 for a VIA mini-itx board. Mini-itx boards will always cost more than their mATX siblings because you always have to pay a premium for miniaturization/compactness.

On the topic of Intel vs AMD: There's no doubt the Intel board gives you more performance. But the question is really: Do you need a lot of performance in a mini-itx package? Keep in mind that mini-itx systems are inherently low power HTPCs and servers that are on 24/7, so idle power consumption is far more imporant than load consumption. This is where AMD really has an edge. Also, if you are running virtual machines on the box you might be interested to know that a cheap AMD dual core CPU gives you hardware VM support whereas for Intel you will have to pay more than twice for this feature.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:54 pm 
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I'd like to see some info on VM usages somewhere, and what the impact of them are wrt performance cpu/mem -wise

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:59 pm 
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Mike/Lawrence:

p5:
Quote:
Video memory was set to 128MB and SpeedStep was enabled (unless otherwise noted).


I assume you meant CnQ.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:26 pm 
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How does the DVI-HDMI adapter put audio onto the HDMI cable?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:43 am 
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HammerSandwich wrote:
How does the DVI-HDMI adapter put audio onto the HDMI cable?


It doesn't. DVI and HDMI are mostly the same, and are electrically compatible. Audio can be transmitted on the same signal lines as video. The adapter just changes the physical connection.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:21 am 
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HammerSandwich wrote:
How does the DVI-HDMI adapter put audio onto the HDMI cable?


The HDMI adapter is not what puts audio on the cable. With most IGP solutions that support HDMI and/or HDCP (the latter required for Blu-ray playback) they also come with a built-in HDMI audio chip that can mix the audio stream with video and output on the same connector. So you can simply take a DVI to HDMI cable and connect to the HDMI input of an HDTV and get perfect video and audio.

I have read some ATI discrete cards that have only an DVI port come with DVI to HDMI dongle that must be used to get audio out. In other words, a straight DVI-HDMI cable won't work. I'm not sure why this is the case; some people believe the dongle shorts some pins to enable the audio. But in my experience, I've tested/owned a couple of ATI-based cards from 2400 to 4830 (all with on-board audio chip, some with DVI ports only, some with DVI and HDMI ports), all of them can output audo to the DVI port using straight DVI-HDMI cable.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:19 am 
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I too am interested in the performance of this machine using VMs. Instead of the typical use of an HTPC, I wanted to build a compact machine w/ 8GB of RAM and a desktop class CPU so I can run maybe 2 VMs with 2GB of RAM.

I think the value (performance vs $) would be better than the new quadcore laptops coming out?

Opinions?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:18 am 
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Thanks for the DVI/HDMI clarification. I'd always understood that DVI was video-only, but that has apparently changed.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:51 pm 
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VDPAU has the potential to make this little guy a blockbuster for a Linux home theater box - though the drivers are far from mature. Ironically, Blu-Ray playback probably works too with the aid of wine.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:47 pm 
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Hi everyone,

Let me introduce myself, my name is Tuan and I handle North American PR for ZOTAC.

Now that that's out of the way -- I'll have my PM look into the Blu-ray playback issues.

As for the 8200-ITX WiFi missing from the website, let me look into it. We recently revamped the product pages an it must've slipped through.

Also for those looking for an Intel-based solution, we'll have our 9300-ITX WiFi next month with PCIe x16 and an MSRP of $139.99.

The PR is on our website, but I can't post links

I will gladly answer any questions SPCR readers have, albeit I might be a tad slow as I'm still at CES.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:02 am 
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ZotacTuan wrote:
Also for those looking for an Intel-based solution, we'll have our 9300-ITX WiFi next month with PCIe x16 and an MSRP of $139.99.

This is great news. I've been waiting for ECS to release their 9300 mini-itx board. It sounds like you guys may beat them to market. From the specs the products sound similar (PCI x16 on a mini-itx board is highly unusual). Do you happen to source from the same OEM by any chance?

The $140 price is very attractive.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:09 am 
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ZotacTuan wrote:
Also for those looking for an Intel-based solution, we'll have our 9300-ITX WiFi next month with PCIe x16 and an MSRP of $139.99.


That sounds awesome. :) I've almost bought a Gigabyte 9400M board but now you've put me on the fence again... :?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:39 am 
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frank2003 wrote:
ZotacTuan wrote:
Also for those looking for an Intel-based solution, we'll have our 9300-ITX WiFi next month with PCIe x16 and an MSRP of $139.99.

This is great news. I've been waiting for ECS to release their 9300 mini-itx board. It sounds like you guys may beat them to market. From the specs the products sound similar (PCI x16 on a mini-itx board is highly unusual). Do you happen to source from the same OEM by any chance?

The $140 price is very attractive.


All our mini-ITX motherboards are engineered in house and manufactured by our parent company, PC Partner.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:25 am 
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Do you guys have or are you going to offer wireless N compatible wifi add on cards. my home network is N so it would be nice to upgrade it.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:41 am 
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What gigabit LAN IC/PHY are you using? What bus is it connected to?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:12 pm 
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MoJo wrote:
What gigabit LAN IC/PHY are you using? What bus is it connected to?


We're using a Realtek RTL8211CL PHY.

No word on 802.11n support yet.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 3:47 am 
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Thanks for an interesting Review:) As being into the low power route it is always very nice to find a new champion. Why do you think this is, btw? Is it due to less features or is it something else, something ineherent with the ITX factor or something else?

This review gave rise to a few questions regarding your test-method, though.

1. The Power supply used on the testbench is an untested unit for which we have no idea about the the efficiency drop off as power decreases. Sure it is 80+, but that only means that at 20% power draw it is 80%+ efficient. This is a fair bit from 20% though. Even the AC draw is only 7.5%.

This means that more efficient mobos will be penalized compared to less efficient ones due to the efficiency of the power supply. 1W or 2W difference may not seem much at the 30W level, but relatively speaking, it is a rather lot. Specially if the system is meant to be powered up 24/7.

I can immediately see 2 solutions to this problem. The first is to get a powersupply that we know is efficient at these power draws, but that would mean that the new results would not be comparable with older tests.

The other solution is to make a very good mapping of the used powersupply at those load levels so that it is possible to convert the meassured AC into DC values. However, if the AC values would platuae (same AC value for different DC values because that efficiency drops at the same rate as relative power level), then a new power supply would be needed regardless.

2. From the article for the Zotac board.

Quote:
We tested the board with the CPU at stock settings with Cool'n'Quiet enabled, and underclocked to 1.5GHz and undervolted to the minimum stable voltage (0.875V).


From the M3A78 Pro article

Code:
X2 4850e @ 1.5Ghz undervolted to 1.100V, Cool-N-Quiet disabled


In the M2N78 Pro article the underclocked/undervolted CPU was also at 1.1V as well as in the MA74GM-S2 review.

Is there a reason why you chose to go with the minimum stable voltage this time? But more importantly, why not do that every time? We are all running our CPU's somewhere at the efficiency curve anyways, not some arbitrary set point, like stock clock/voltage. And finding that one motherboard will let you undervolt better than another might sway the conclusions...

Apart from the above, there are a few differences in this review. In the Zotac review, CnQ was enabled, but at least in the M3A78 review quoted above, CnQ was disabled when testing underclock/volt. There has also been a few comparisons between chipsets at the underclocked level, but not in this one. However, due to the differences in how the CPU was configured, such a comparison would not have been informative.

As it stands, though, it was nice to see what is attainable in terms of powerlevel with a CPU at the efficiency curve. It gives a nice idea of how much heat one will have to plan for.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 4:34 am 
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ZotacTuan wrote:
MoJo wrote:
What gigabit LAN IC/PHY are you using? What bus is it connected to?


We're using a Realtek RTL8211CL PHY.


Thanks. Looks like a PCI-e NIC, which is good.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 6:10 am 
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MoJo wrote:
ZotacTuan wrote:
MoJo wrote:
What gigabit LAN IC/PHY are you using? What bus is it connected to?


We're using a Realtek RTL8211CL PHY.


Thanks. Looks like a PCI-e NIC, which is good.


It's not. It's the PHY only, the MAC is most likely built into the chipset (which is even better, except that nVidia have never, imo, been much good at NICs..), the connection is via RGMII.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:57 am 
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Monkeh16 wrote:
It's not. It's the PHY only, the MAC is most likely built into the chipset (which is even better, except that nVidia have never, imo, been much good at NICs..), the connection is via RGMII.


I know, I just didn't make it clear, sorry.

I was basing my comment on the LAN drivers, which are included in the chipset driver package on the Zotac web site. The NIC is an nVidia on-board NIC, connected by PCI-e internally. The Realtek PHY is just the physical layer transceiver.

Early nVidia NIC design was indeed rubbish. I had one of the old nForce 4 boards that was supposed to have a hardware firewall, except that it never worked properly and in the end they just disabled it and replaced it with a software one, which was also pretty useless.

However, the newer nForce chipsets are a lot better. They seem to be on a par with other low cost PCI-e NICs like Realtek or Marvell. These days there is little to choose between them, except for Intel NICs which keep the CPU load down. All of them can max out gigabit at 20-30% CPU load, or <5% for Intel.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:32 am 
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So they're just about usable these days, then. Well, it's an improvement. Still waiting for them to fix USB properly.


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