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In The Blue Corner: The Atom D525 Challenger

Efficiency Analysis: Atom D510 Vs. Atom D525/ION2
By , Achim Roos

Jetway NC98-525-LF with Atom D525 and Nvidia ION2

This motherboard is based on the mini-ITX form factor and includes the processor soldered right onto the PCB. The solution is based on the Intel NM10 chipset plus Nvidia's ION2, which helps improves graphics performance. Jetway adds an HD audio codec, four USB 2.0 ports, and DVI-D, as well as HDMI for attaching display connectivity. However, the board has no expansion slots, except for one mini PCIe slot, as a result of space constraints on the 170x170 mm form factor. Be aware that Jetway offers this board in different models with either the Atom D510 or Atom D525 processor.

There is no ATX connector on this motherboard. Instead, it employs a 12 V connector on the rear panel, which is used to deliver power through the external PSU. Since we had to run both Atom solutions with an identical power supply, we used the same Enermax Pro 82+ unit. For purely testing purposes, we attached the ATX 12V conductor and ground wires to the 12 V power connector using a soldering iron. This worked well, even if it's only a temporary solution.

The motherboard comes with a single Molex power connector. This allows you to connect one drive right away. You'll need to use a Y-cables if you want to install more than one internal drive. Finally, it’s important to ground the green power supply wire to make sure that the system turns on when you switch on the power supply.

Test System Data

Hardware Details
Motherboard
Jetway NC98-525-LF (Rev. 1.0), Chipset: Intel NM10 + Nvidia Ion, BIOS: A01 (07/08/10)
CPU
Intel Atom D525 (45 nm, 1.80 GHz, 1 MB L2 Cache, TDP 13 W)
RAM DDR2 (dual)2 x 2 GB DDR2-800 (Apogee AU2G732-12GH001)
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.11, 500 GB (ST3500320AS)
7200 RPM, SATA 3Gb/s, 32 MB Cache
Power SupplyEnermax Pro 82+ EPR425AWT
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate x64, Updated on 2010-03-03
Intel Chipset DriversChipset Installation Utility Ver. 9.1.1.1025
Intel Storage DriversMatrix Storage Drivers Ver. 8.​9.​0.​1023
Nvidia GraphicsVersion 258.96
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  • 1 Hide
    darthvidor , October 15, 2010 6:26 AM
    very nice, thank you. been wondering how fast and energy efficient the new atom is. might replace the intel d945gclf2 connected to my tv.
  • 1 Hide
    Simple11 , October 15, 2010 6:42 AM
    Sweet! I am always looking at atoms+ion combos for my Carputer build!
  • -1 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , October 15, 2010 6:50 AM
    I just skipped to the power consumption after I saw the application benches.

    I'd rather keep the D510 over a D525. Longer battery life for my simple purpose of web browsing.
  • 5 Hide
    super_tycoon , October 15, 2010 7:01 AM
    i don't think you guys even tried using the d525/ion2 system for anything beyond the benchmarks. you greatly underestimate how usable it is. my asus 1215n chugs along just fine in almost any game. obviously you wouldn't want to throw something like civ5 at it, but in reality the combo plays games better than (for the most part) any iX notebook with integrated graphics. it plays company of heroes and starcraft 2 just fine at lowered settings. i'd bet you'd be surprised how viable it is as a light gaming platform for something that uses as much power as your monitor.
  • 1 Hide
    jeremypv , October 15, 2010 7:40 AM
    >>This could not be done without Nvidia's graphics unit, as even 720p video was impossible to watch on the Atom D510.

    I'm using xbmc with a D510, and it plays 720p video just fine, with coreavc, it can even play a few 1080p videos
  • 2 Hide
    ta152h , October 15, 2010 8:38 AM
    Was this supposed to be about the Ion, or the D525? Why would you write an article with the intent to compare two processors, and put them on very different platforms?

    I didn't even read this worthless article after I saw that. It would have been interesting had the reviewers used some common sense.
  • 4 Hide
    JonnyDough , October 15, 2010 8:40 AM
    Except for power savings...why would anyone buy one of these when you can get recycled PCs for almost free? In six months they will have something a lot better anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    sudeshc , October 15, 2010 9:12 AM
    nice article, but i feel there is still need for alot of improvements
  • 1 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , October 15, 2010 10:01 AM
    I don't get why intel still hasn't made the transition to 32nm for the Atoms yet. You would think these chips would have been the first to get 32nm.
  • 2 Hide
    jestersage , October 15, 2010 10:26 AM
    I feel the article lacked meat. It would have been interesting to compare it to an old gf9300 or even gf7050 socket 775 motherboard with a PDC or even CDC. The latter options would probably cost as much nowadays as the d525+ion combo.
  • 0 Hide
    nevertell , October 15, 2010 12:10 PM
    Oh come on, how is it NOT possible to watch a 720 p on an atom, if I can watch it with an sempron 2400+ which is just ancient.
  • -2 Hide
    tx-jose , October 15, 2010 1:25 PM
    sweet!!!

    I have a mini ITX buil but its a gigabyte pushing an 1156LGA i5 overclocked to 4.16GHz and DDR3 1333 ram!!! nice for HTPC with a GTS 250 Nvidia grafix card too .....
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , October 15, 2010 1:56 PM
    In general without the video/power tests the rest are still fairly valid for a performance comparison.

    tx-josesweet!!! I have a mini ITX buil but its a gigabyte pushing an 1156LGA i5 overclocked to 4.16GHz and DDR3 1333 ram!!! nice for HTPC with a GTS 250 Nvidia grafix card too .....
    Cool, I got one of those too but with a 5770, what does it have to do with this article? 46 watts idle without overclocking is cool though.

    super_tycooni'd bet you'd be surprised how viable it is as a light gaming platform for something that uses as much power as your monitor.

    Way less then my monitor, i bet i have the least efficient screen ever made.
  • 0 Hide
    Parsian , October 15, 2010 3:04 PM
    Here is my personal experience as a student, with my 11.6" HP MINI 311 ION w/ 3GB and Windows 7 Pro 32bit with Full AERO features active:

    I can run Mathlab, have 7 browsers open, and OpenOffice.org all at the same time. Oh yes, i can play Youtube HD 1080 smooth unlike most of the laptops out there. So to me, its the most amazing device that is light, cheap and can pack a lot of punch for 400 bux canadian.



  • 0 Hide
    digiex , October 15, 2010 3:49 PM
    I just wait for Zapate.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 15, 2010 4:14 PM
    I kind of think some things are bull;

    The older Atom N260 was capable of playing back older DX9 games,and HD 720p video; why should the desktop version not be able to?

    Perhaps not at 1600x1200 pixels or more, but at 1024x600 or 720p it should play back most games on lowered resolution!
  • 2 Hide
    luke904 , October 15, 2010 4:41 PM
    really? i never knew more clockspeed results in better performance and more power consumption, and relatively the same efficiency. sorry this just wasnt a good read
  • 1 Hide
    hellwig , October 15, 2010 5:05 PM
    Are you sure that old D510MO doesn't have a mini-PCIe slot, whats that grey riser between the ATX power plug and the PCI slot? Still, you can see why Intel downplays ION, it adds a lot to the power consumption. Sure, it makes it much more capable at video and gaming, but others here seem to think the non-ION variety can handle 720P just fine, which would put these in league with the AppleTV, where they cannot compete on price. I just don't see where Atom fits into any market segment. ARM is much more power efficient, and The Core i3s and Athlon II's are much too powerful (and not really much more expensive).
  • 0 Hide
    gmarsack , October 15, 2010 5:12 PM
    I own two Atom-based systems (one being a D510) and I have to say, they are pretty darn amazing for the cost to operate. It's nice to see this tech advance, and I would love to see continued advancement in power efficiency and see those power levels continue to drop.
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