Zotac ION N330 WiFi ITX Motherboard

Introduction

Introduction & Specifications
 
Zotac IONWith the rising popularity of the Intel Atom in cheap laptops, a number of brands have cottoned on to this and have begun to offer Net-Top Computers. Low power desktop computers that satisfy the large market of users that require systems for web browsing, word processing, organisational needs and general media playback. Examples of these include the Asus EEE Box, which have flown off the shelves with their paltry £200 pricetags. As time moved on3, a number of motherboards began to trickle into the DIY retail market with Intel Atom CPU's embedded into them. So here's our question for the day. Do embedded Mini ITX solutions have the guts to satisfy todays average PC user? Today we'll be putting one of today's Atom ITX options to the test. The Zotac ION 330 ITX Motherboard.
 
Zotac is very much the new kid on the block compared to most other manufacturers such as Asus and Gigabyte. Initially, just an Add In Board (AIB) partner of nVidia based graphics cards, they have diversified and begun to add motherboards to their portfolio. Zotac's motherboard range mainly consists of entry level and media centre based solutions but they offer a wide range for both Intel and AMD users in Mini ITX and Micro ATX form factor. Certain motherboards in particular such as the GeForce 9300-ITX motherboard, a Mini ITX LGA775 motherboard featuring a full size PCI-Express 16x slot was very well received by reviewers and end users alike so it'd be interesting to see what we make of this comparably elaborate looking product.
 
Though some of you might be wondering why we're reviewing something that's in essence an entry level solution? There must be something special about it surely? Well yes, there is. This is the first Intel Atom Mini ITX motherboard to hit the market with the much more capable nForce 7 MCP, featuring Direct X 10 GeForce 9400M graphics. It doesn't end there as Zotac have managed to fit 3 x SATA ports, integrated WiFi by Mini PCI-E, full size 240pin DDR2 DIMMs, 6 x USB ports, e-SATA, three different video inputs (DVI, HDMI and D-Sub) and even an embedded power supply solution with a passive 90W transformer brick. What's more is that the motherboard is shipped with the dual core version of the Intel Atom 1.60GHz CPU.
 
Intel Atom Embedded Dual Core CPU @ 1.60GHz
Hyperthreading Technology
2 x DDR2-667/800 DIMMs
1 x Mini PCI-E (Occupied)
MCP7A Chipset
GeForce 9400M Based “ION” Graphics (DX10, 256mb Shared, 1.10GHz Shader, 16 Stream Processors)
10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN
3 x SATA 3.0GB/s
1 x eSata 3.0GB/s
6 x USB 2.0 External
4 x USB 2.0 Internal
1 x HDMI (HDCP w/ 7.1 Digital Audio)
1 x DVI
1 x Analog VGA
802.11n Wireless
90W Power Supply Unit
Aluminium Heatsink and 80mm Fan.
 
It all sounds rather impressive so let's move on to the next page where we unleash the mini beast.... 
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Most Recent Comments

22-07-2009, 15:59:23

JN
"They say that the best things come in small packages, but does this rule also apply to PC components? Join us as we review the Zotac ION 330 ITX platform." by Mul.

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...085839890s.jpg

Zotac ION N330 WiFi ITX 'A' Motherboard

22-07-2009, 16:29:26

w3bbo
Nice review Mul.

Dunno if I would have been so generous with the marks being as tight as I am! I've never really grasped the point of mini pc's with so many good notebooks around now there just seems little point. A form factor to far maybe? For the price I would've liked to have seen a better cooling solution.

That said m8, good review

The graph needs fixing (load temp/passive)

22-07-2009, 17:02:06

noobieocer
i prefer mini itxs over laptops for home use becuase simply i hate how laptops get so hot and toasty. while mini itx temps can change depending on how you cool it.

22-07-2009, 17:12:44

Rastalovich
Only on OC3D would a mobo aimed at an entertainment (mainly) audience be installed with FarCry2 and oc'd

Sounds like an awesome mobo for ur htpc, full web and office needs.

Imo u/OC3D should install WoW on them. Not on any fan basis, but it's the single game those who intensely do the above would be likely to play otherwize. (hardcore fps'ers generally have gaming rigs, WoW u can play on a laptop) I am surprized there's no WoW benchmark tool for these purposes - argument being it isn't testing, but from the experience I get - "can u build me a pc, I do this'n'this - oh and play WoW", generally that's it.

Great oc test, good mobo, great review.

I'd be interested if the dc adapter has the balls to grow with the oc over a period.

22-07-2009, 17:33:21

Mul.
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='w3bbo'
Nice review Mul.

Dunno if I would have been so generous with the marks being as tight as I am! I've never really grasped the point of mini pc's with so many good notebooks around now there just seems little point. A form factor to far maybe? For the price I would've liked to have seen a better cooling solution.

That said m8, good review

The graph needs fixing (load temp/passive)
The graph doesn't indicate a passive load as the temperatures simply didn't settle and continued to rise under passive conditions. That said, the ambient temperatures, the airflow in a HTPC environment and the tough Linpack test were major contibuting factors and in other situations it may have functioned fine. To an extend I also agree with your sentiments about Mini ITX, particularly due to it's pricing. After all, 175 would buy a much faster CPU/Motherboard/Graphics/PSU combo in ATX flavour!

Many thanks for the feedback

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='noobieocer'
i prefer mini itxs over laptops for home use becuase simply i hate how laptops get so hot and toasty. while mini itx temps can change depending on how you cool it.
Also a fair point. The Zotac was placed in a HTPC environment and I feel that this is particularly where it excels especially if space is a major concern. The Atom CPU will always be a limitation of the platform and personally, that would make me think twice before downsizing my own HTPC to something like this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Rastalovich'
Only on OC3D would a mobo aimed at an entertainment (mainly) audience be installed with FarCry2 and oc'd

Sounds like an awesome mobo for ur htpc, full web and office needs.

Imo u/OC3D should install WoW on them. Not on any fan basis, but it's the single game those who intensely do the above would be likely to play otherwize. (hardcore fps'ers generally have gaming rigs, WoW u can play on a laptop) I am surprized there's no WoW benchmark tool for these purposes - argument being it isn't testing, but from the experience I get - "can u build me a pc, I do this'n'this - oh and play WoW", generally that's it.

Great oc test, good mobo, great review.

I'd be interested if the dc adapter has the balls to grow with the oc over a period.
I would say that the DC adapter would probably be okay in the longterm with the mild overclock as the Atom CPU itself consumes a very small amount of power and without being able to raise it's Voltage, I doubt I could get power consumption to rise that much. There was however scope to add one more optical drive or hard disk drive, which may have affected power supply performance more. Interesting thought about the use of WoW though. Cheers for the feedback

22-07-2009, 18:24:05

tinytomlogan
Very nicely done dude. Been looking into mini itx myself. This mobo wouldnt suit me, but a great informative review.

22-07-2009, 18:27:52

Mul.
Cheers dude, though if it's performance you're after, take a gander at the Zotac GeForce 9300 ITX WiFi. Still very happy with mine

It's just a shame that no one offers any Socket AM2+/AM3 ITX boards with a full PCI-E 16x slot. J&W have one but it's TDP limited and only does PCI-E at 4x bandwith.

22-07-2009, 20:33:38

denis6902
Sorry guys, but i thibk i was the first lucky one to get my hands on the mobo!

I received it on the begining of the last week from june and i was able to play quite a lot from it, just botting from USB ubuntu.

Now we are in Brazil and i dont have a keyboard to set it up yet, but i will make sure i do post some pics when i manage to find someone to sponsor some acrilic around here to make a neat mni-itx case. Because the mini-itx cases here blow over the 1500 quid, so modd on first!

BTW the pics i took when i received it are quite good too, so here it goes!

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...g?t=1248308714

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...g?t=1248308724

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...g?t=1248308802

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...g?t=1248308809

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...g?t=1248308879

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...90622_0032.jpg

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...90622_0044.jpg

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...90622_0040.jpg

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...90622_0037.jpg

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...90622_0034.jpg

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...90622_0034.jpg

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...90622_0034.jpg

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...90622_0043.jpg

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...90622_0038.jpg

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...90622_0045.jpg

http://i559.photobucket.com/albums/s...90622_0046.jpg

23-07-2009, 07:54:57

Rastalovich
That last shot is a good one with the CD on the mobo. Puts it all into perspective.

23-07-2009, 08:13:41

monkey7
Very nice review, I spotted two errors though:

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='"introduction"'
As time moved on3, a number of motherboards began to trickle
Typo?

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='"BIOS section"'
No abnormal behaviour was observed while applying settings such as a blank screen or CMOS Checksum Error. All in all, a very comprehensive BIOS for a motherboard of this type.
Might want to reorder that sentence, it now sounds like you applied a blank screen or CMOS checksum error setting

Also, how is the wireless reception? A motherboard like this will most probably be used as a media center and possibly stream media off an NAS using wireless. How is the range / speed compared to something else you already have?

23-07-2009, 08:48:22

Mul.
Many thanks for pointing those out. I'd looked through the final article multiple times and yet more errors! *face palm*

Wireless reception was more than adequate, operating at 54mbps throughout usage, some 40ft from the router including two major walls. My only real reservation about the WiFi was the data transfer rate result from SiSoft Sandra's WiFi benchmark. In real world usage however, I didn't notice the wireless adapter performing poorly at all.

23-07-2009, 16:22:48

denis6902
i hope the pics have helped whoever is interested in them too.

Pic with dvd on top was eactly for the perspective comparinson. take it easy!

23-07-2009, 16:59:02

FarFarAway
Mini-ITX is a format I've always been tempted to get into. Especially to grab an old bit of AV kit, scrape out the innards and stuff an entire PC in it. Loving the ideas more and more. That and the fact you could build a proper passive PC. It's just a shame it's missing a PCI-E slot for a sound card as I feel that would be a huge benefit

Great little review Mul. mate, looks like a nice bit of kit.

23-07-2009, 20:08:32

denis6902
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Kempez'
Mini-ITX is a format I've always been tempted to get into. Especially to grab an old bit of AV kit, scrape out the innards and stuff an entire PC in it. Loving the ideas more and more. That and the fact you could build a proper passive PC. It's just a shame it's missing a PCI-E slot for a sound card as I feel that would be a huge benefit

Great little review Mul. mate, looks like a nice bit of kit.
in that case u should look into the Zotack Mini-ITX 9300 which has the pic-e 16x and also socket 775!

24-07-2009, 04:44:10

FarFarAway
I would still want Atom, just with a decent sound card.

09-08-2009, 13:51:01

Acic
Is it possible to upgrade it to atom 2.0 ??

09-08-2009, 14:28:49

JN
I'm wondering how tall the cooler is on that thing because I quite fancy gutting my Sony DVD Player and fitting it out with a complete HTPC setup if physically possible.

09-08-2009, 15:15:14

PeterStoba
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jim'
I'm wondering how tall the cooler is on that thing because I quite fancy gutting my Sony DVD Player and fitting it out with a complete HTPC setup if physically possible.
Doesn't look much taller than the IO backplate, so around 35mm?

09-08-2009, 16:28:58

denis6902
i will make a shot for all as soon as i can,

kisses to all! :**********

16-09-2009, 04:22:08

Johnbear
This mobo wouldnt suit me, but a great informative review.

-

16-09-2009, 14:56:24

Ducky Spud
Ha, was just reading that review last night, bit odd for the thread to just appear again!

But yea, one thing Im thinking is whats the difference between this, the A series one, and the D series one? The A is still around 170 but the D can be found for about 140, and looking over the spec I cant see any difference at all... so Im curious lol

EDIT: After just studying photos of the boards straight after posting these, the A doesnt come with an 24pin ATX socket as it uses the powersupply it comes with which plugs into the back. The D series does have the socket though, so guessing its cheaper as you dont get a power supply with it?

17-09-2009, 04:00:15

Mul.
Looks like it, Ducky. Out of convenience, I feel that the A version is worth the extra cash.

17-09-2009, 15:49:35

Ducky Spud
But the case Im looking at come with a 120W power supply anyway, so would prefer to save the money. Also the one that comes with the mobo is only 90W (I think!)... not that I'll need much more in a mini ITX rig but still

10-10-2009, 18:20:36

denis6902
Reply
x

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