Zotac Ion Mini-ITX with Atom N330 review

Nvidia's new Ion platform gives Intel's Atom processor some sizzle

Zotac ION
ION is Nvidia's attempt to give the ATOM processor more graphical grunt

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The simple sum up is that Ion remains suboptimal for use as a general purpose PC platform, it sucks at gaming and yet is pretty impressive as an alternative home cinema solution. However, we do have one further qualification to add and it concerns pricing.

This Zotac solution costs £175. That might seem competitive given that it includes the CPU and offers great 2D video features. However, for the same price you can snag Zotac's own Core 2-compatible mini-ITX board with the Geforce 9300M integrated chip and a 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

The 9300M has all the key 2D video features courtesy of PureVideo while the Core 2 processor will completely smoke any Atom chip.

Crucially what the Core 2 chip will do is guarantee you have sufficient CPU power should any given video stream prove incompatible with the PureVideo engine in the 9300M. This Core 2 solution also includes a PCI Express graphics port, allowing you drop in a proper video card should you want to do some gaming.

So there's no getting around it. At £100, this board would look like a real winner. At £175, it simply doesn't make sense. Whether it's possible to get close to £100 pounds given the component cost of Atom and Ion, however, only time will tell.


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