Staggered power-up or a better PSU. 21W is about 2x what I get during start-up on Seagate 1TB HDDs.
You have to also consider practical aspects such as the need to connect another drive to back up a failing one or just copy the data over to a larger capacity model when the time comes. Having only 2 ports also means no RAID 5 and being limited to one drives worth of capacity in RAID 1.
You may also want a SATA optical drive for installation/ripping/backup.
I think you've missed the target market for this mb/CPU. Staggered spin-up? RAID5? What percentage of users do you think need these features? And what percentage of those who need these features expect to get them in a 14W system? I'm not trying to diminish the importance of those features, I just don't think this mb/cpu is the appropriate paltform for them.
I got the 21W figure from WD's datasheet (pdf)
for the 2TB drive. There's a peak current draw spec ... 1.759A x 12V = ~21W peak. Real-word consumption might be different.
Right... Realtek NICs re-define the term "low end". They do very little to offload work from the CPU. I'd love to see some benchmarks where you saturate a gigabit link with file transfers, preferably including CPU usage. On a low speed CPU like the Atom you won't be able to reach your HDDs read speed over gigabit with a Realtek NIC.
You should not underestimate the difference a good NIC can make.
I underestimate nothing
. I own PCI and PCIe consumer-level Intel NICs, in addition to my on-board 8111c's. There's simply no reason to use the Intel NICs given my network and usage, unless some specific OS throws fits with the Realteks (ex.: opensolaris, the last time I used it). You're right about Realtek being low-end in general, and you're right about less TCP offload. But AFAIK, none of the consumer $30 Intel NICs do full offload either. Intel's TOE is reserved for their $100+ NICs. Do any Intel embedded NICs do TCP offloading?
The question of whether the single-core Atom can saturate GigE is one I've been asking anyone who owns this board/CPU combo. Like you, I also doubt this.
I'm at work now and don't have access to my data, but here's some real-world tests showing +/- 3MB/s difference
between Realtek 8111C and Intel Pro/1000 PT PCIe NIC.
Saturating gigE is a non-trivial matter, and depends on many factors. IMO, the brand of NIC is less important than the bus it's sitting on (I'd take a PCIe Realtek over a PCI Intel). But this is just one piece in the puzzle. By far, the largest performance improvement I've seen came by switching to Windows 7 RC on a client PC. SMB2's dynamic windowing is half of the story. In addition, the new file copy engine maintains multiple transfers "in flight" at once. I wish XP could inherit these improvements, as I still prefer it to Vista/Win7.