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

Test Setup And Benchmark Configuration

Test System Configuration
VIA 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 Cooler
Shuttle CPU/Chipset Passive SinkShuttle Proprietary CoolersIntel Retail Boxed Cooler
Shuttle FM23, BIOS (05/25/2009)
VIA VX800 Chipset
Shuttle SFM27, BIOS 11/04/2008
Intel 945GC/ICH7 Chipset
ECS G45T-M2, BIOS 08/29/2008
Intel G45/ICH10R Chipset
Via Chrome9 HC3 IGP
166 MHz, 256MB Shared Memory
Intel GMA 950 IGP
400 MHz, 224MB Shared Memory
Intel GMA X4500HD IGP
800 MHz, 256MB Shared Memory
PNY 2GB DDR2-667
at DDR2-667 CAS 5-5-5-15
PNY 2GB DDR2-667
at DDR2-533 CAS 4-4-4-12
PNY 2GB DDR2-667
at DDR2-667 CAS 5-5-5-15
Hard Drive
Seagate Momentus 7200.2 160GB: 7200 RPM, 8.0 MB Cache
Integrated HD Audio
Integrated Gigabit Networking
Shuttle internal 12V to ATX, Seasonic external 100-240V to 12V/5ACorsair CMPSU-850HX
EPS12V, 80-Plus Gold
Opticarc BD ROM BC-5500S
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit SP1
VIA 21.09.01LIntel GMA GMA
VIA 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.

Benchmark Configuration
Adobe Photoshop CS3
Version: 10.0x20070321
Filtering 69MB TIF Photo
Benchmark: Tom's Guide-Benchmark V1.0.0.4
AVG Antivirus
Version 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.

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  • 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.
  • apache_lives
    Intel must still have large stock piles of 945 based chipsets if there still selling them with Atom's etc - kinda sad we have to wait for the next gen SoC like designs to see true low power setups and platforms etc
  • Don't understand y u even wrote this article.
    No Point at all.
    u guys problems are u doesn't even know what we want to read. You guys simply put up unprofessional article. Who would run vista in these types of platform? where is da video performance? Where is the noise test?

    speechless... really speechless...
  • juliom
    Why is a dual core CPU being compared to a single core one?...
  • tenshin0313
    Why not using 1.6Ghz Nano XS29 system to do a fair test against Atom 330?
  • tenshin0313
    Why not using 1.6Ghz Nano XS29 system to do a fair test against Atom 330?
  • Blueridge
    Yep, I totally agree! As long as there is a Shuttle machine equipped with a Nano processor that's running at a frequency close to the Atom's, that's the one that should have been used for this article. It's not fair to make the Intel based machine a clear winner in this article without pitting against a worthy opponent.
    Though this may seem far fetched, if Tom's hardware wants to maintain their standards as professionals, there should be a sequel to this article with a proper suite of benchmarks, a proper OS and balanced HW configurations (at least a 1.6Ghz Via Nano).

    After digging a little on the VIA's website, I think a better netbook would be build with the fastest Nano processor and the ULV version of the VX800 chipset. Just my two cents... again :)
  • Regected
    juliomWhy is a dual core CPU being compared to a single core one?...

    I was thinking the same thing through most of this write-up. Come on Thomas, you can do better than that. Compare comparable equipment. Why not throw an entry level dual core Pentium in for good measure?
  • DjEaZy
    ... give the nano a nVidia 9400m...
  • amnotanoobie
    This would be an interesting 24/7 printer server/web server/NAS and an occasional movie box.
  • amdfangirl
    I would so want this computer...
  • You should this properly: Intel Atom 270/280 vs VIA Nano U1700
    That would be a useful test for those interested in fanless nettops.
    The Atom 330 is a dual core which requires a fan...
  • Crashman
    ethanielNo CPU usage tests on Blu-ray playback? I was expecting that...

    You don't play blu-ray movies on office PC's. Well you might, but generally speaking office PC's don't even come with blu-ray drives.

    These two models target the desktop specifically, not home theaters.
    juliomWhy is a dual core CPU being compared to a single core one?...

    That's the way Shuttle wanted it.

    tenshin0313Why not using 1.6Ghz Nano XS29 system to do a fair test against Atom 330?

    That's not the way Shuttle wanted it.

    plinoYou should this properly: Intel Atom 270/280 vs VIA Nano U1700That would be a useful test for those interested in fanless nettops.The Atom 330 is a dual core which requires a fan...

    Then why doesn't the CPU HAVE a fan?
  • saint19
    Where is the Athlon neo???, could be interesting make a comparation fo those 3