If the Ion platform is to assert itself anywhere, it’s here. The 90W power brick that Zotac ships with the motherboard suggests we’ll see particularly low numbers from the mini-ITX configuration.
Indeed, Zotac’s Ion board does incredibly well. At idle, it uses less than half of what AMD’s Athlon X2 7850 dual-core processor consumes—even with Cool’n’Quiet enabled. Under load, though, the difference is much more significant: 114 W separate the two solutions.
If low-power computing is your thing and you don’t mind the performance implications of an Atom-based PC, you won’t be able to come anywhere close to Zotac’s Ion board using desktop-class hardware.
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.
As mentioned, retail pricing on the ION-ITX-A-U (the version of the board with Intel’s dual-core Atom 330) is set at $189, though it should be available for $10 less at e-tail.
Launching alongside the dual-core model are the ION-ITX-B-E with a single-core Atom N270 at 1.6 GHz, no WiFi, and no bundled power supply, the ION-ITX-C-U with the N270 plus power supply, and the ION-ITX-D-E with an Atom 330 and WiFi (and without the PSU).
The micro-ATX system we built to compare against the ION-ITX-A-U is priced to go against Zotac’s e-tail target. Though online prices are going to change constantly, as of the night before publication, the MA78GM-US2H motherboard was $74 before a $10 MiR, AMD’s Athlon X2 7850 was listed at $69, and Enermax’s ETK405AST was listed at $44 (that’s $187 total, not counting the MiR).
- Zotac’s Ion-Series Motherboard: Added Value
- Ion As A Desktop PC (Nettop)
- Ion As An HTPC
- Ion As A Gaming PC
- Test Setup And Benchmarks
- Benchmark Results: Synthetics
- Benchmark Results: Encoding Apps
- Benchmark Results: Productivity
- Benchmark Results: Gaming
- Power Consumption And Pricing