Motherboard Guide

Zotac Ion review

The DIY Zotac Ion Motherboard Kit

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Ion for the DIY Crowd

Ion for the DIY Crowd

This week, NVIDIA continues its relentless media assault with yet another Ion system. This time, the platform goes DIY, featuring a barebones mini-ITX motherboard from Zotac that uses the NVIDIA Ion chipset together with a dual-core Intel Atom processor.

By now, you should have an idea of NVIDIA's Ion platform. We have covered the initial engineering sample that wowed the crowds at CES 2009 and recently, even managed to test the first retail Ion, the Acer AspireRevo.

Of course, 'retail' is a bit of a fudge here since we have yet to see the Acer AspireRevo in retail channels and our attempts to get a local retail price in Singapore have not borne fruit. As for the performance of the AspireRevo, the system was predictably impressive for its Blu-ray playback.

But whether it was the bloatware installed by Acer (our benchmarks were ran after turning off unnecessary services and processes), or the choice of Windows Vista as the operating system, the user experience was mixed, with sluggish responses when opening or closing applications for example. Your mileage with the Ion's vaunted integrated graphics depends crucially on whether your applications can utilize it fully.

We had our suspicions that the single core Atom on the AspireRevo was a major impediment to its performance but could a dual-core version that's likely to be more popular in nettops really help? Well our answer has just arrived in the form of the Zotac Ion motherboard, which comes soldered with a dual-core processor and hence allowing us the freedom to configure it accordingly for benchmarking.