Zotac NM10-DTX Motherboard



With our testing complete, it's time to blend our mixed feelings into a balanced conclusion. As we have already hinted along the way, there are aspects of the NM10-DTX that we happen to like and dislike.

Let's begin on a positive note. As per usual, hats off to Zotac for another excellent motherboard design. On a PCB with such a small footprint, the NM10-DTX sports an excellent feature set of 7.1 audio, WiFi and a large number of USB/SATA ports. For those who care greatly about noise, the NM10-DTX is capable of passive operation. There is no escaping the fact that Zotac has presented a motherboard with features that encompasses all other NM10 based competitors. From here on however, things start to go a little pear shaped...

Yes, it has a fantastic feature set compared to it's "spartan" competitors but these modcons come at a severe premium. While conventional Intel NM10/Atom D510 motherboards start at around £65, the Zotac is over 75% more expensive at £115. At such a pricepoint, the NM10-DTX is in direct competition with it's nVidia ION equipped siblings but also more capable (and more power/heat demanding) Core 2 Duo/Quad compliant ITX motherboards. Relying solely on the NM10 chipset, this motherboard simply cannot compete against it's competitors.

In all credit to Intel, the Pinetrail platform is a step in the right direction for the entry level sector. It resembles a much more modern design that is both cost effective for manufacturers but also more energy efficient. For 8.9"/10" netbook purposes, I dare say that it's a fantastic platform for basic usage. For desktop purposes however, the NM10's GMA3150 simply doesn't cut it. Given the level of GPU dependency with today's multimedia usage one can only assert that the Intel Atom is like a fish out of water without nVidia's ION GPU. The ability to power digital monitors upwards of 1366x768 should be a given in this day and age and frankly, I don't think today's Tom, Dick and Harry would be even slightly impressed when their entry level machine begins to struggle with 720p/1080p Video Streaming. Yes, the NM10-DTX allows you to install an additional GPU and as a matter of fact, Zotac will be offering an "ION Upgrade kit" for existing users. Regardless, this motherboard severely lacks fundamental capabilities that should already be present on a motherboard of it's price and supposed calibre. You only need to look within Zotac's own Mini ITX portfolio to find equally priced Atom motherboards that will run circles around this model.

In summary, Zotac have done a superb job at making their rendition of the Atom/NM10 platform stand out amongst the rest. It's great to see the arrival of the Mini DTX form factor, however I must stress that those additional expansion slots aren't there because you might wish to upgrade in future...They're present because you will need an upgrade.

The Good
- Passive Operation
- Excellent Flexibility & Feature Set
- Zotac Extended Warranty

The Mediocre
- Poor Overclocker

The Bad
- Prehistoric GPU
- Price

Thanks to Zotac for the sample today, you can discus this and many other reviews in our forums.

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Most Recent Comments

20-05-2010, 11:31:57

Great review.

All the way through it I find myself thinking about each component as "it's nearly good enough..".

The price breaks it tho. Play music, browse the net on ur tv, email and office (well an older version of office).

A step up in each component and it could be so much better. Atleast be capable of 1080 and it'd have much more use.Quote

20-05-2010, 11:43:16

That's exactly the problem. It had nearly all of the ingredients to make a very competent motherboard but lost out greatly in the GPU department. Given the (lack of) performance provided by the Atom CPU, multimedia tasks are largely GPU dependent. It's great to see that Intel have modernised the Atom platform but it's all too clear that this is a platform for laptops and not desktops.

Yes, you can always drop a competent GPU into the NM10-DTX but at this pricepoint you shouldn't need to. The nVidia ION that we have tried multiple times can do HD up to 1080p without breaking much of a sweat and can even do CUDA accelerated tasks such as video encoding (with apps such as Badaboom). The nVidia ION2 for the new NM10/Atom D510 platform is even better still.

Sadly, all this review has proven is that the Atom is like a fish out of water when nVidia's ION GPU isn't present. The endgame is that similar money will buy you an ION equipped motherboard.Quote

20-05-2010, 11:48:07

Indeed, just as a sidenote, I noticed £76 is all that's being asked for complete units, boxed and ready to go, that will do all that this won't.Quote

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