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NVIDIA's Ion 'Cannon' Lock and Loaded!

NVIDIA's Ion 'Cannon' Lock and Loaded!

Results - HD Video Playback and Power Consumption

HD Video Playback

So the gaming benchmarks weren't spectacular, how about the HD video playback then? Well, given the PureVideo HD hardware onboard, it was always going to do a good job and with an average of 24% CPU utilization in our testing, the Ion is far more capable of playing 1080p HD videos than the generic Atom-based system using integrated graphics (which tops out at 720p in our experience). That scores another impressive win for the NVIDIA Ion.

While we managed to play back 1080p video clips with bitrates of up to 25Mbps without issues, our lack of an external Blu-ray drive meant we could not test this aspect completely with a taxing Blu-ray movie which could hit bitrates of up to 40Mbps or higher (normal ones have bitrates that hover around 25Mbps). But from our previous experience with the GeForce 9300 mGPU, the onboard PureVideo HD is a solid performer and we believe this would be the case on the Ion platform as well since the tested materials didn't tax the CPU beyond 25% utilization.

Power Consumption

Next we move on to power consumption. Since our only comparisons are with desktop boards, it would be quite unfair to stack them against the low-power Atom in the Ion. Not to mention that these boards have optical and floppy drives and a more powerful PSU. On the other hand, a typical Atom system would be using the N270 instead of the 330, a difference of 5.5W in terms of rated TDP. Hence, it's an imperfect situation and a proper verdict can only be delivered with the actual implemented product.

When we tried our usual CPU test in 3DMark06, we found that the Ion barely drew more power, going from its idle of 22W to 23W, due to the Atom processor inside. Hence, we switched to using Unreal Tournament 3, which stressed the entire system. This saw a spike to 30W, which was still a rather decent figure. We doubt that it would translate to better battery life, though we have hopes that it would be comparable to the typical Atom-based systems now.