Regular fare from ZOTAC here, with Atheros WiFi included as standard. Realtek’s ALC662 six channel analogue audio out is sub-par at the price point we feel as some users prefer full 7.1 channel output capability. What’s in the box?

1 x Rear I/O plate

2 x SATA Cables

1 x SATA to Molex connector

1 x User Guide

1 x Quick Installation Guide

1 x Support CD

2 x WiFi aerials

Nothing surprising here, although we’d like to have seen three SATA cables instead of two given that the board has three SATA ports. The manuals are well written and easy to follow, so setup should be painless. There’s no bundled software to report on, so we can move on to the BIOS and short user expereince.

For everyday use, ZOTAC’s BIOS provides adequate functionality, although there are a few areas that could do with a touch of attention to bring this board in line with ION offerings from ASUS. The memory control section could do with a bit of a buff, as there’s no way to set important timings like tRCD above 7 clocks manually. The board will select SPD values higher than this when left to AUTO, but should you wish to set things yourself, a range of one to seven clocks is the limit.

Under-voltage control is also limited to a maximum of 0.1V below stock. We don’t see it as a huge deal breaker given the already low power consumption of the platform, but others might. The overclocking side of things is workable, however there is no self-recovery feature built into the BIOS; the only way to get the board to POST if a setting is wrong or out of stable range is to clear CMOS. We mention this only because our ASUS ION board recovers automatically in such situations.

One thing that is pleasing is that wake from S3 works even from USB. We know early iterations of ION were plagued by issues so took special precautions to check things out. We also tested compatibility with our ASUS Xonar D2X PCIe soundcard and encountered no problems during use. We're hoping this is a sign that users won't encounter any problems when using TV tuner cards and such in the PEG slot.

Unfortunately, the ZOTAC BIOS lacks any kind of workaround for enabling the NVIDIA IGP when a discrete ATI GPU is used in PEG slot. This is a feature that many vendors have managed to hack into their H55 motherboards, so it would be nice to see something similar done with ION. We've passed this suggestion on to ZOTAC and they are looking into implementing it in a future BIOS if at all possible.

Board Overview Testbed Setup and Power Consumption
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  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    Worst idea ever? Why not compare to a pentium G9650? Naw... that would make toooo much sense. Anyway I'd suspect this ion system to be worse than even a G9650, which is undoubtedly cheaper.
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    If you read the testbed setup section, you'll see I mentioned why I did not test against the G6950 - because I don't have one. I agree though, the G6950 should sit in between the Celeron and i3-540 results.

  • plewis00 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    Can someone tell me what the actual name of this Pentium chip is?

    Is it the:


    Because both seem to produce results in Google - I'm inclined to think it's the G6950 because that's what I see more but I genuinely don't know, even Wikipedia is not consistent (I know Wikipedia is not proof of anything).
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    It's the G6950

  • Rajinder Gill - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    Micro Center have a deal on the i3-540 at present ($99):

  • Ninjahedge - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link


    I have been seeing a few reviews of the Mini's here on Anand and I have a request (which could also be done right here in comments).

    What has been done to make a tru HDPC+gamer mini? this board looks great (looks) but it seels that, until they make a micro NVidia card or do it vertically, you are still stuck with a cute box that will do everything but play Crysis 7- The Thaw.

    What can be done with this box, a suitable case, and peripherals to make it run with the pack of average gaming machines (or TOTL 1/2 year old gaming machines....)?

    Has there been an article about Gaming Mini's?
  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    If you really want a gaming mini, you're better off going with a HM55 / Core i mini-itx motherboard. The only way you're going to get decent game performance is with a dedicated video card.
  • Taft12 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    He's right, this is not an appropriate platform for a mini gaming box.

    Here is the right place to start for that:

    This would be a fine step 2:

    since you can pick your own suitable ATX PSU to go with the CPU and video card of your choice. Now excuse me while I chop off my uncooperative arm that is reaching for my credit card!
  • sprockkets - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    eh, that case is like, weird.

    And it includes an proper power supply.

    Or I would buy this nice barebone

    And this time the pci ex slot is inner so you can use a dual slot card.
  • Roland00 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    The SILVERSTONE SG07 has enough space to fit a 5970. The powersupply is also large enough for the 5970.

    That said there are three things against this setup from
    1) ITX boards are way too crammed to have enough power states for a good overclock on the cpu.
    2) ITX boards often have very little space to place a nice heatsink, sometimes a nice heatsink would be blocked via the memory or the videocard. Now you can alleviate the space problem with a small waterblock+cooler but most cases don't have enough space for that. For example the SG07 doesn't have enough space for a corsair h50
    3) I have heard incidents where the 5970 overheats and freezes up on people during long gaming sessions when used in combination with the small case of SG07. A 5850 or a 5770 would be preferred.

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