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Zotac's Ion Board On Windows 7: Nvidia Re-Arms Intel’s Atom

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May 12, 2009 2:36:59 PM

Quote:
Granted, we could have done significantly better in the power department had we been a little choosier with our CPU. The Athlon X2 7850 was attractive due to its $69 price tag, 2.8 GHz clock speed, and unlocked multiplier, but its Kuma core is still rated at 95 W. You can dip down to the $60 Athlon X2 5050e (running at 2.8 GHz as well) and cut your maximum TDP down to 45W for $10 less.


If you knew you could have done better with a 45W not a 95W processor .. what gives? The supplier didn't have it in stock or why go for the obvious power monster?

On a different note, I'm looking forward to the transcoding article.
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13
May 12, 2009 2:37:45 PM

Everyone down-rates the first post which is posted by the author of the article. I'm not sure if anyone has noticed that yet because I see every author's first post down-rated many times.
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May 12, 2009 2:46:12 PM

I thought the ION platform used the Geforce 9400 and not the 9300?
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6
May 12, 2009 3:04:18 PM

Quote:
Here’s the short of it. When it comes to running multiple apps at the same time, compressing/decompressing large archives, and yes, even trasncoding

Just wanted to help: transcoding
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2
May 12, 2009 3:10:35 PM

Does anyone know if this system can play Hulu videos?
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2
May 12, 2009 3:23:37 PM

I almost wish you hadn't even tried playing games on it, but I suppose you needed some sort of comparison for the performance of the ION chipset.

How many people will use this as a satellite PC in their homes, and what ever happened to Windows Home Server? I would think you let your central PC/server handle the computing and just use this guy as a remote terminal to stream media to.
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5
Anonymous
a b $ Windows 7
May 12, 2009 3:42:47 PM

I'm looking for a low power system like this... my old father leaves his p4 system on ALL the time, and wonder why his electric bill is so high :-\
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May 12, 2009 3:48:25 PM

I love that they mentioned the GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi board at the end of the review. I used that board with an e7400, 4GB corsair, a low profile 9800 GT, a 320GB 7200RPM 2.5 inch drive, and an Antec 380 watt PSU. The reason I love it so much is three-fold.

First, I put all of the above mentioned components and put them into the case from the original Xbox (while maintaning totally stock appearances except for the back.

Second, the board boots lightning fast, and is a pleasure to work with.

Third, before we put the 9800GT into the build, using the same 9300 chipset as the Ion platform, we were running HL2 on max settings at 1680x1050 resolution (except with only 2x AA) and getting 35-45 FPS. We also played Halo 2 on medium settings and that played very well also. Obviously, after the 9800 was added, the computer flies. That just goes to show you that the Atom really is what is holding back the capabilities of the 9300 chipset.

All of this was accomplished with about $500, so it is a good budget computer that is inside of an Xbox. My i7 system has nothing on the "coolness" factor of this computer.
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May 12, 2009 4:20:30 PM

teeth_03I thought the ION platform used the Geforce 9400 and not the 9300?


The difference between 9300 and 9400 is clock speed. This one is slower than the 9300, even.
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May 12, 2009 4:23:09 PM

subliferJust wanted to help: transcoding


Thanks sub: fixed!
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May 12, 2009 4:23:35 PM

wyvern287Does anyone know if this system can play Hulu videos?


Yes, you'll be fine with Hulu videos.
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May 12, 2009 4:25:00 PM

hellwigI almost wish you hadn't even tried playing games on it, but I suppose you needed some sort of comparison for the performance of the ION chipset.How many people will use this as a satellite PC in their homes, and what ever happened to Windows Home Server? I would think you let your central PC/server handle the computing and just use this guy as a remote terminal to stream media to.


GPU power is one of the main advantages that Nvidia has over Intel's Atom-oriented platforms--it's worth looking at, even if you aren't going to be able to run much on it.
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May 12, 2009 5:30:50 PM

The point of a nettop is low power consumption, and a small footprint. Its uses really dont go any further than general office productivity, web browsing, file serving, or maybe as an HTPC.

As long as you're not planning to use it as a file server or HTPC, you might as well get a netbook and a docking station of some sort. There really wont be much difference in real use performance, but you'll get the added option of portability.
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Anonymous
a b $ Windows 7
May 12, 2009 5:45:50 PM

and the review with Linux ?
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3
May 12, 2009 6:03:42 PM

gotdieseland the review with Linux ?


At least officially, there are no Linux drivers for Ion yet. That'd make the review a little tough to write ;-)
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2
May 12, 2009 6:19:21 PM

Granted, we could have done significantly better in the power department had we been a little choosier with our CPU. The Athlon X2 7850 was attractive due to its $69 price tag, 2.8 GHz clock speed, and unlocked multiplier, but its Kuma core is still rated at 95 W. You can dip down to the $60 Athlon X2 5050e (running at 2.8 GHz as well) and cut your maximum TDP down to 45W for $10 less.

ok, let's pick this statement apart. Tom's has really lost it's way of late, and this is yet another example of what's really wrong. Ok the first obvious mind blowing error here is 5050e @2.8ghz. Unless you plan to overclock it, negating it's 45 TDP effectiveness, it arrives to you at 2.6 ghz.I own one, that's exactly how I know. Course if Tom's had done a review of it, they'd know this..but they didn't...I suppose their too busy writing boatloads of I7 reviews... Now to go farther with this, yeah this might sting a bit I grant ya, but oh well, a person who's considering an Atom Platform or a Low Energy AMD platform, their NOT EVEN LOOKING at a Kuma 95 watt core. Their looking at 45 watt, at most, like that 5050E, or maybe some LE-1600 series. I've said this before, but Tom's needs to start comparing oranges to oranges...what they really did here was compare a kiwi to a grapefruit. Tom's better start thinking or this site will lose it relevance very soon. Hard times are here, and shoppers are indeed shopping like this too. I fully recommend that Tom's redo this article with a proper watt AMD cpu, in this case 5050e or an LE-1600 series. Geeezzzzz..........95 watt kuma??? Roflao!!
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May 12, 2009 6:30:29 PM

It would have probably been enough to point out the typo ;-) If someone is looking for an Atom platform to use in any of the environments being sold here (gaming, HTPC, or desktop), then the benchmarks should show them that maybe they SHOULD be looking at a Kuma-based Athlon. Or, if they must go mini-ITX, the Zotac board suggested at the end of the story with a Core 2-class chip. Does the fact that the micro-ATX comparison platform used more power under load? If that's your only criteria, sure. But it hardly invalidates all of the other Ion-only observations.

I actually *used* this board. Why put a bunch of anemic platforms up against each other, suggesting, "Hey, if you're fine with creeping along at 2 MPH, here are five different solutions that'll make you pull your hair out as an anti-virus runs in the background?" The point is that, on the desktop or in a gaming situation, *you can do much, much better.*

Thanks for the feedback, though! =)
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May 12, 2009 7:40:39 PM

one-shotEveryone down-rates the first post which is posted by the author of the article. I'm not sure if anyone has noticed that yet because I see every author's first post down-rated many times.

That's us sending a message that we don't like it. Why post a comment with a link to the article we just read on the same page?
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May 12, 2009 7:50:10 PM

I'm thinking about getting the 775 chipset version of this to use with my old 2160. I would like to see a comparison of these two, or something comparable, but I guess that's wishful thinking.
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May 12, 2009 7:57:23 PM

And btw, we're trying to get rid of that top comment as well--not sure when or what that was added...
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1
May 12, 2009 8:12:48 PM

Why not a E7200 + Nvidia 9400 based Mobo (e.g. Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H) ?

That will give you more GPU power + much more CPU power.

Powercompsumption will be app. 35-40 watt at IDLE - using a 80 plus power supply

Even price is comparable (200$ for mobo+CPU).
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May 12, 2009 9:54:28 PM

MygindWhy not a E7200 + Nvidia 9400 based Mobo (e.g. Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H) ?That will give you more GPU power + much more CPU power.Powercompsumption will be app. 35-40 watt at IDLE - using a 80 plus power supplyEven price is comparable (200$ for mobo+CPU).

not miniITX
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Anonymous
a b $ Windows 7
May 12, 2009 11:27:19 PM

The reviewer doesn't understand the target market for this board AT ALL.

The target market for these low power ITX boards is:

#1 HTPC crowd
#2 LOW POWER 24/7 HOME SERVER crowd
#3 MAME / EMULATION CROWD

Gaming and encoding benchmarks...ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! Totally pointless to the low power ITX crowd!

The mATX system the reviewer put together is a power gobbling joke! No one in the Zoltac's target market would ever seriously consider that system.

Learn this market! Compare the ION to other Atom solutions (945G and 945GSE). Compare it to VIA ITX solutions.

WE ALL KNOW THE ATOM IS SLOW. WE ARE OK WITH THAT. DO NOT TRY TO NUDGE US INTO BUYING A 95W OR EVEN 45W DESKTOP SOUTION.

IE WE NEEDED OR WANTED DESKTOP PERFORMANCE WE WOULD NOT BE READING THIS REVIEW!
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May 13, 2009 12:01:14 AM

mrhands,

I am not a sales person. Nvidia is trying to position this as a HTPC/Gaming/Desktop product. I'm the guy standing on the sideline trying to let you know that it is *not* two out of those three things. I know this because I actually got hands-on to *test* in those environments (perhaps you missed the page of HTPC testing?). For the folks who *are* looking for a gaming or desktop machine, alternatives are provided.

In the third segment--HTPC--I give the setup its dues, let you know where Nvidia needs to do some driver work still, and look forward to seeing this setup in top-form sooner than later.
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3
May 13, 2009 2:45:34 AM

This Ion is useless for the future of web applications. Just try playing a full screen HD video on Dailymotion with this platform without the video constantly stuttering. Try playing the video at the end of this link full screen to see what I mean: http://www.dailymotion.com/gb/video/x93zji_the-hunt-for...
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May 13, 2009 3:00:52 AM

Granted, we could have done significantly better in the power department had we been a little choosier with our CPU. The Athlon X2 7850 was attractive due to its $69 price tag, 2.8 GHz clock speed, and unlocked multiplier, but its Kuma core is still rated at 95 W. You can dip down to the $60 Athlon X2 5050e (running at 2.6 GHz) and cut your maximum TDP down to 45W for $10 less.

I have a 4200 brisbane G2 running at 30W idle for the whole system.
Abit 7050, 1x 2GB ram, 320GB 2.5" HDD, DVD-RW writer. If I use a 780G it will be a few watts higher, (but far more powerful IGP). Peak load is like 70W.

Wouldn't that be a far better comparison as compared to that Kuma?
That is using a far less efficient 300W PSU.
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1
May 13, 2009 3:35:23 AM

CangeliniGranted, we could have done significantly better in the power department had we been a little choosier with our CPU. The Athlon X2 7850 was attractive due to its $69 price tag, 2.8 GHz clock speed, and unlocked multiplier, but its Kuma core is still rated at 95 W. You can dip down to the $60 Athlon X2 5050e (running at 2.6 GHz) and cut your maximum TDP down to 45W for $10 less.

Is there supposed to be some kind of compelling reason in there as to why you did NOT go with the more suitable processor? I mean, unlocked multipliers aren't even important for these tests.
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May 13, 2009 6:06:54 AM

mrubermonkeyThis Ion is useless for the future of web applications. Just try playing a full screen HD video on Dailymotion with this platform without the video constantly stuttering. Try playing the video at the end of this link full screen to see what I mean: http://www.dailymotion.com/gb/vide [...] shortfilms

That HD movie played on Adobe Flashplayer eats more than 30% off a E2160 CPU, and it also shutters. Perhaps Adobe Flash Player could use some hardware acceleration.
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1
May 13, 2009 8:47:26 AM

Good review, but consider more file server type benchmarks for this type of hardware. Maybe a do-it-yourself NAS solution based on this platform could be compared to some of the overpriced NAS solutions from other companies or something like that.
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1
May 13, 2009 8:49:05 AM

Actually they couldn't have done worse on the processor.
Kuma is a BARCELONA (quad core, 65 μm) with two cores disabled.
Power-wise a quad core (even with 2 cores disabled) sucks much more than an X2.
They're comparing apples to twixs
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1
May 13, 2009 8:55:22 AM

Adobe Flash Player is one of the most common plug-ins used to play video on the WWW. If a computer cannot handle modern implementations then it will probably have bigger problems in the upcoming future.
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Anonymous
a b $ Windows 7
May 13, 2009 9:36:51 AM

I'd have to agree with mrhands...

*Finally*, we have an affordable, low-power, silent mini-ITX board with decent GPU, a board that's easily able to do 1080p without big fans, has HDMI/DVI/VGA, WiFi and optical out, which is ideal for a DIY HTPC that can also act as a simple home media/web server, and instead of a positive reception half of the people here (including the reviewer) discount this board because it can't run some freaking games, it doesn't have the fastest CPU around, and then compare it to a micro-ATX board with a cpu that runs twice as hot and needs a case with three times the volume. You guys must be kidding.
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May 13, 2009 9:59:26 AM

mrhandsThe reviewer doesn't understand the target market for this board AT ALL.The target market for these low power ITX boards is:#1 HTPC crowd#2 LOW POWER 24/7 HOME SERVER crowd#3 MAME / EMULATION CROWD


Blah blah blah THE SO-CALLED HOME-THEATER CROWD WE SEE ON THE INTERNET DOESN'T HAVE A CLUE ABOUT HOME THEATER EITHER. I remember when an HTPC replaced EVERYTHING in your A/V rack except the amplifier. That includes the gaming console, any and all video devices, even the FM tuner if you think you need one. As a Home Theater platform, the Atom and ION are jokes.

You need a real video card and a real processor to build a versitile home theater system. If it can't replace a bunch of stuff, it's just another toy.

If it's just another toy, you'd might as well use a TiVO. Or WebTV. Just keep stacking the trash, if you make the devices small enough maybe people won't notice that there's boxes and cords all over the place. At least, that's what you can tell yourself.
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Anonymous
a b $ Windows 7
May 13, 2009 10:20:14 AM

@Crashman:
Your definition of an HTPC doesn't have to fit everyone else's, you realize that don't you.

Myself, I'm still running XBMC on an old Xbox Classic. It's my primary video player and it's used on a regular basis to play anything I get from the internet, and it has my music on it which is streamed to tiny streaming media player with a nice display, that I don't want to put in my AV cabinet but in full view so I can see what's playing. I don't need an optical drive, I don't need a TV tuner and I don't need to play games on it, because that's what I have my set-top decoder/DVR and my PS3 for. I wouldn't even be able to use a DIY HTPC for that anyway because here all digital TV is encrypted, and the games I like are primarily console-only.

With a box based on this platform I will finally be able to replace that old Xbox, without having to resort to putting a desktop PC next to my TV. That box will do 1080p, will make less noise, will run a fully featured Linux OS and anything I want to throw at it, and will do all of that much better than the Xbox.
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3
May 13, 2009 12:06:46 PM

Quote:
Temper your excitement about those modern memory and bus settings, though. The Atom 330 soldered onto Zotac’s board sports a 533 MHz FSB and communicates with DDR2 modules-only.


Umm, no. As far as FSB goes, Intel has shown plans for 800FSB Atoms, and Intel's processors (except i7) have nothing to do with what kind of memory they talk to. That is all handled by the chipset. Remember how VIA stole so much business from Intel's chipset division back in the P4 (RDRAM v. DDR) days? That's b/c the processor DOESN'T KNOW WHAT KIND OF MEMORY IT'S TALKING TO!

Isn't this supposed to be a tech site? Shouldn't you have people who know what they write about? Or, at least, can do some basic research?

just my $.02
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May 13, 2009 9:03:55 PM

Why not review this setup against the AMD Neo platform?
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1
May 13, 2009 11:59:44 PM

Daerosthe processor DOESN'T KNOW WHAT KIND OF MEMORY IT'S TALKING TO!


I thought it was refering to the chipset not supporting the proper ratios for normal DDR3 memory speeds when used with a 533 MHz FSB processor?
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May 14, 2009 1:27:46 AM

Quote:
That list includes Age of Empires III, several games in the Battlefield franchise, Call of Duty 4, C&C: Red Alert 3, Iron Man, Spore, and a couple of
Quote:
Warcraft games
. Many of those are older titles with significant replay value, suggesting that the integrated graphics core is quick enough to serve up reasonable frame rates


Although I'm reading this article to find out how did the Zotac performed, I'm glad to be able to find out that intergrated 9300 can run WORLD OF WARCRAFT fairly well even with an Atom. This is the stuff that have been missing from previous low-cost setup and integrated GPUs reviews.

Guys at Tom's, can you really really please include WoW, Warcraft 3, or even Guild Wars; I mean any game even legacy games with great replay value, in your next reviews on integrated GPUs and low-cost PC setup? It would have mean a lot to readers; including myself, who like to watch movies, surf the net and only play games casually (maybe hardcore sometimes, but the games themselves aren't really taxing)

On another note, I wonder what can we expect from an Ion setup with the new 2GHz Atom :) 
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May 14, 2009 1:33:12 AM

Drealar,

Absolutely--in fact, I'm looking to get a WoW-dedicated performance story planned!
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May 14, 2009 3:08:01 AM

This would make a good car computer.
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1
May 14, 2009 12:03:13 PM

Wow!! Thanks for replying Chris. Glad to hear it:) 
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May 14, 2009 1:46:50 PM

drealar. Many of those are older titles with significant replay value, suggesting that the integrated graphics core is quick enough to serve up reasonable frame ratesAlthough I'm reading this article to find out how did the Zotac performed, I'm glad to be able to find out that intergrated 9300 can run WORLD OF WARCRAFT fairly well even with an Atom. This is the stuff that have been missing from previous low-cost setup and integrated GPUs reviews.Guys at Tom's, can you really really please include WoW, Warcraft 3, or even Guild Wars; I mean any game even legacy games with great replay value, in your next reviews on integrated GPUs and low-cost PC setup? It would have mean a lot to readers; including myself, who like to watch movies, surf the net and only play games casually (maybe hardcore sometimes, but the games themselves aren't really taxing)On another note, I wonder what can we expect from an Ion setup with the new 2GHz Atom
[/quote]

I'm not so sure this platform can actually run wow. Sure it'll run ironforge, but will it really work? I can't imagine anyone doing a raid or bg with this!

I've got a spare computer at home. In case my system all of a sudden fails as was the case last summer when my 8800gtx retired.
That backup system's an old brisbane dualcore mashine (see my config). Even with a 4870 or 8800gtx that system isn't running wow much better than it is with its own 6800 card. It's simply lacking cpu power - especially after the 3.0.2 patch. So a 1.6ghz processor is really unlikely to perform well in situations with a lot of action.

And in any event - wow is a hundred years old now, so that it can run it is a bit like saying 'buy this new mercedes! it has a radio built in'
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May 14, 2009 3:38:24 PM

@neiroatopelcc

Like I said, I'm just glad to see WoW running fairly good with intergrated GPU. So that probably means... Tom's setup in their previous reviews on AMD 790GX and NVidia m9300 can run WoW or other non-taxing MMO smoothly with details on. It is this kind of games that were missing in the benchmark of those reviews, including sub$250 setups. Simply coz most people who target those kind of machine setup, play these kind of games.

Now I'm also excited to see what kind of test will Chris run with WoW in his next article **I take that as a promise Chris :)  ** In any way, if it includes a benchmark of WoW running on multiple low-cost setup, that would be a great news to me since I can estimate how my other MMO games will run on those machines (Guild Wars, Lineage and good old WC3 mod: DotA)

You can say I'm kind of a minimalist :)  Low power, more than enough for my kind of games, and good overall experience (watching movies, occasional encoding, great surfing, and every other moderate stuff)
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May 14, 2009 3:53:59 PM

It's been in the works for a while, but it WILL happen :) 
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May 14, 2009 3:56:22 PM

well most of these will run just fine really. They're based on very old directx standards, so anything with enough cpu power and memory (wow requirement=memory requirement) and a non intel gpu will work to some extend.
I actually built an allround pc for someone back in february using an msi 790gx board, a corsair psu and the 5050e cpu mentioned - along with 4gb kingston or corsair memory - don't remember. Worked just fine. And for that sake, I bet even an old onboard x200 chip would suffice. I've been able to play wow (prior to version 3 patch in november 2008) on a laptop with a T5500, 1gb memory and a poor intel graphics solution - so if your requirements are minimalistic, anything will work. Just don't expect to run wow in 1600x1200 in window mode with everything on full and have youtube run on the other monitor at the same time.
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Anonymous
a b $ Windows 7
May 14, 2009 4:40:47 PM

I wished you had compared this DC Atom Ion setup to the singlecore version.

Atom 330 VS 270 would be nice!

Gaming:
This system is a perfect replacement for a nintendo Wii. It outperforms the Wii so, why not?

Why take this system:
-Price
-Powerconsumption

It's a good system to leave on all day. Kind of like a cheap desktop replacement for mail, internet, and perhaps stock market programs.
Good enough for that!

I'd suggest running XP on that thing! It really needs XP, and get a 16-32GB SSD drive on the mini PCIE slot.
Those drives generally boost the performance of the processor.

I'm a little dissapointed in the speed of the processor. I had hoped it would be faster to the N270; but it seems it can do very little more than what the N270 + ION can do.

Just for reference, could you test HD Blueray playback on the N330 and the N270 with the Ion platform, and is there a possibility to run CUDA technology on the Atom powered device?
If so, it could give the Atom processor the boost it needs, and would be good enough to run Vista.
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May 14, 2009 9:42:30 PM

cangeliniYes, you'll be fine with Hulu videos.

Have you actually tried this with Hulu that you can make such declarations? I suggest you actually test it first before making any statements. Hulu, particularly in full screen mode, is CPU-hungry. Since it's Flash-based and hardware acceleration isn't available for Flash, the 9300 graphics won't do much.
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May 15, 2009 2:19:42 AM

I thought article was pretty good in addressing Ion's marketed targets and how well it performed at them. :) 

One question though, I assume the power numbers for both the Ion and 780G are using Enermax ETK405AST 405W so what of numbers would the Ion post using the 90W PSU brick (as allured to in article)? Or a 60W or even smaller?

Just wondering how low can you push the Ion.. :) 

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May 15, 2009 3:22:08 AM

We're missing a niche market for the Ion from the article. This has the base for a powerful, small, low energy car-pc.
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!