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

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Zotac IONITX-A: An ION Powered Mini-ITX Board

June 15, 2009 by Lawrence Lee

Product Zotac IONITX-A
Mini-ITX Motherboard
Manufacturer Zotac
MSRP US$180~190

Intel's Atom processor has permeated through the market, swiftly gaining dominance in netbooks and nettops alike. Not particularly powerful, its popularity lies in its low cost and high energy efficiency. Intel pairs Atom with the outdated 945G chipset, which features GMA950 graphics. The 945G is actually not that energy efficient, as evinced on Intel's own embedded-Atom boards where the CPU heatsink doesn't have a fan but the NB heatsink does. Still, it is a cost effective choice for platforms where gaming and high definition video playback aren't required or expected.

Nvidia's ION platform unshackles Atom from Intel's antiquated chipset, joining it with a more capable partner, GeForce 9400M. The promise is tempting: Small, energy efficient computing with versatile multimedia capability including full 1080p Blu-ray playback. While ION netbooks and ultra-portable notebooks are only in the launch stage, ION has already been selling on the street for a few weeks in a mini-ITX embedded Atom desktop from Zotac.

The different IONITX SKUs.

Zotac, a Hong Kong based manufacturer established only three years ago, has made a nice niche for itself producing affordable, yet capable mini-ITX mainboards for the retail market. It is no surprise that Zotac would be the first out with a real flesh-and-blood ION product. The IONITX is available in four different flavors with options for single or dual core CPUs, power from a regular ATX power supply or a built-in AC/DC 90W unit, and a mini PCI-E WiFi card. The version we are testing is the IONITX-A-U (the 'U' is a regional differentiation) — it is the most complete package, selling for nearly $200.

The box.

Box contents.

Zotac IONITX-A-U: Specifications
(from the product data sheet)

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