Shuttle XS29F: Is VIA's Nano Processor Powerful Enough?

Test Setup And Benchmark Configuration

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Test System Configuration
CPUVIA Nano U1700 1.0 GHz 1MB L2 Cache 200 MHz QDR FSB (FSB-800)Intel Atom 330 1.60 GHz 1MB L2 Cache 133 MHz QDR FSB (FSB-533)Intel Celeron 430 1.80 GHz 512KB L2 Cache 200 MHz QDR FSB (FSB-800)
CPU CoolerShuttle CPU/Chipset Passive SinkShuttle Proprietary CoolersIntel Retail Boxed Cooler
MotherboardShuttle FM23, BIOS (05/25/2009) VIA VX800 ChipsetShuttle SFM27, BIOS 11/04/2008 Intel 945GC/ICH7 ChipsetECS G45T-M2, BIOS 08/29/2008 Intel G45/ICH10R Chipset
GraphicsVia Chrome9 HC3 IGP 166 MHz, 256MB Shared MemoryIntel GMA 950 IGP 400 MHz, 224MB Shared MemoryIntel GMA X4500HD IGP 800 MHz, 256MB Shared Memory
RAMPNY 2GB DDR2-667 at DDR2-667 CAS 5-5-5-15PNY 2GB DDR2-667 at DDR2-533 CAS 4-4-4-12PNY 2GB DDR2-667 at DDR2-667 CAS 5-5-5-15
Hard DriveSeagate Momentus 7200.2 160GB: 7200 RPM, 8.0 MB Cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerShuttle internal 12V to ATX, Seasonic external 100-240V to 12V/5ACorsair CMPSU-850HX EPS12V, 80-Plus Gold
OpticalOpticarc BD ROM BC-5500S
OSMicrosoft Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit SP1
GraphicsVIA 21.09.01LIntel GMA GMA
ChipsetVIA HyperionPro 5.24AIntel INF INF

VIA’s Nano processor might be 64-bit capable, but Windows Vista x64 requires a hotfix to operate with it. Since that hotfix has not been rolled into a service pack and integrated into a DVD, users would be forced to slipstream it to their installation DVD prior to installation. This might not be a problem for Windows 7 users, but our benchmarks have not been updated to run under this yet-to-be-released OS. Thus, all systems were tested using Vista x86 and a few of our benchmarks were rolled back to the 32-bit version.

We tried to keep the performance-per-watt comparison as fair as possible by carrying over most parts, though the power supply used by the Nano and Atom didn’t have an ATX12V output required for the microATX platform. A further search of our labs revealed no high-efficiency low-power units.

Normally this would be a problem, since power supply efficiency often drops significantly at anything below 20% of its rated capacity. The 80 PLUS Gold rating of Corsair’s CMPSU-850HX, along with its highly-favorable certification charts, gave us hope, and further testing proved this enormous unit capable of delivering superior efficiency compared to any of our previous-generation, lower-capacity units.

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Benchmark Configuration
Adobe Photoshop CS3Version: 10.0x20070321 Filtering 69MB TIF Photo Benchmark: Tom's Guide-Benchmark V1.0.0.4
AVG AntivirusVersion 8.5 build 287, Virus Database 2094 Scanning 334MB folder of compressed files
TMPGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion 5 Minutes Terminator II SE DVD to MPG4
DivX 7Codec Version: 6.8.5: Insane Quality, Enhanced Multi-Threading, SSE4, Quarter Pixel Search
Xvid 1.2.1Version 1.2.1-04122008 Display encoding status = off
WinRARRelease version 3.80 Recompressing 334MB folder of compressed files
WinZip 12Version 12.0 Pro (8252), best compression 334MB folder of compressed files WinZip Command Line version 3.0
PCMark VantageVersion (32-bit)
Sandra 2009Version 2009.4.15.92

Our hopes for a test of true office applications were dashed when we found the VIA Nano platform unable to complete any version of SYSMark. Its graphics driver was most troublesome, appearing incompatible with one of SYSMark 2007 Preview’s video encoding tests, while SYSMark 2004 SE threw fits under Windows Vista x86.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Wouldn't this just be a linux-only machine then? I can't possibly see any other use for it other than maybe a childs pc or a general "Internet & Email only" PC.
  • pakardbell486dx2
    This may be a dumb question, but why was Xp not used for this test? Clearly "just barely" wont work for people who spend their hard earn money on something like this. Maybe the celeron is ok for vista basic but the atom and nano platforms are just not good enough for Vista. If I can make an analogy comparing Vista and Atom/Nano it's like an old 73' Corolla trying to haul ten tons uphill.
  • werr20
    wonderful ! i'm waiting for faster cpu-s from via
  • ethaniel
    No CPU usage tests on Blu-ray playback? I was expecting that...
  • tacoslave
    amd huron platform thats all i have to say i want to see it benched see how it stakes up.
  • Blueridge
    I agree that the major drawback of this review is the use of Microsoft Vista. I think that Windows XP Home edition for ULPC or a netbook spin of a linux distro (e.g. Ubuntu) would have been a much better choice for this review, especialy since is very well known that Vista is just not the right choice for netbooks (or nettops). Some time ago I read several reviews of the nano processor, based on Win XP and they performed more than OK, they were even suitable for a small HTPC at that time (the toughest challenge was DVD playback back then) and with a better chipset would have performed even netter. But this happens when a resource hungry OS like vista is used... just my 2 cents.
  • HalfHuman
    i guess a windoze xp or 7 would be a lot better to use with this kind of hardware. in fact i cannot think at a more inapropriate os to run on a nentop than vista. :)
    maybe the performance delta would be the same but the usability would be more than "acceptable".
    regarding the "benchmarking" stuff... i do not think that anybody sane would buy a nettop to use it for hardcore photo editiing or transcoding.
    if i'd buy a nettop i'd be interested in several factors:
    - to be powerfull enough for office work and maybe hd playback
    - to use as little power as possible (which nano does nicely) as this kind of device would be rarely powered down
    - to be silent (which nano is)
    i think that performance per watt is irrelevant here as a system like this is not meant to be "performant". i think that the one that uses less watts, has more features is queter wins here.
    my take on this is that via has a very nice platform and nano wins even if it's not the fastest.
  • Blueridge
    I just took a look at Via's website and it seems that Nano is available in flavors up to 1.8GHz. I wish a machine based on such a processor was used for this review, though I think the main issue here is availability.
  • HalfHuman
    i would be nice to see some noise evaluations, some hd playback tests... some appropriate os. :)
  • eddieroolz
    The Nano would be the perfect computer to just leave it powered on, seeding torrents and such.