Last year one of the most exciting product combinations to grace consumer shelves was the NVIDIA’s ION platform teamed up with an Intel Atom processor. The ultra-low power consumption, low heat output and ability to play HD video better than competing solutions of the time made it a difficult combo to ignore. ZOTAC took full advantage of this and successfully filled a niche demand with a slew of ION based products, offering various levels of plug and play functionality.

It was only a matter of time though before Intel would present us with something new and at the turn of 2010, Clarkdale was launched. In many ways, Clarkdale turned out to be the perfect successor to Atom + ION based systems by doing almost everything better. Clarkdale’s IGP is capable of delivering high definition video and the platform also offers Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-MA bitstreaming over HDMI - the latter a feature that eludes NVIDIA’s ION. Clarkdale also manages to deliver a lot more grunt should there be a need for the odd file zip or encode and can also be used to deliver a decent gaming experience with the addition of a discrete GPU thanks to an on-die PCIe controller. To boot, all of this comes within a rather attractive power consumption curve thanks to comprehensive power gating.   

Naturally, ZOTAC jumped on the Clarkdale bandwagon, and pulled the first H55 chipset based mini-ITX motherboard out of the hat back in February this year. Since then, several motherboard vendors have followed suit, and we’re at a point now where it makes very little sense to consider anything ION based for desktop use unless you’re on a really tight budget. It’s rather surprising then that ZOTAC are launching new ION based motherboards and media solutions today based around Intel’s CULV processors:

IONITX-P-E with the Celeron SU2300 - $169

IONITX-N-E with the Celeron 743 (single-core) - $130 USD

IONITX-O-E with the Pentium SU4100 - $200 MSRP BTO (built to order)

ZBOX HD-ND22 with SU2300 - $269.99

Zbox HD-NS21 with Celeron 743 - $199.99

We’ve got the IONITX-P-E model in house, and that’s what we’ll be looking at today:


 

The IONITX-P-E teams up a 1.2GHz CULV Celeron SU2300 with the ION GF9400 chipset. The MSRP for the P-E model is $170, while the Pentium SU4100 model will cost around $200. The SU4100 based board is a built on retail demand only product, though. So we’re not sure if you’ll see it on sale at all considering the $200 MSRP.  At the lower end of the scale, a single core Celeron 743 running at 1.3GHz should in theory appeal to uber-low power consumption enthusiasts.


 

 

Overall layout should be of no surprise to anyone familiar with mini-ITX; everything is accessible enough. The good news is that ZOTAC's choice of 60mm fan for CPU cooling is whipser quiet; with the board installed in a case you should find it inaudible.

Disappointingly, ZOTAC have chosen not to include a power brick with the IONITX-P-E, so you’ll need an ATX PSU. 

 

The rear panel offers all expected ports, including PS2 keyboard, HDMI, DVI, VGA D-SUB, six USB ports, eSATA, digital and analogue audio I/O, and onboard Wi-Fi. Put simply, something there for everyone.

Board Features & BIOS
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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. Reply
  • 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.

    -Raja
    Reply
  • plewis00 - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

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

    Is it the:

    G6950
    or
    G9650

    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).
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    It's the G6950

    http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=43230

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

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

    http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results....

    -Raja
    Reply
  • Ninjahedge - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    Hey,

    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?
    Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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:
    http://giga-byte.ca/products/product-page.aspx?pid...

    This would be a fine step 2:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    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!
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    eh, that case is like, weird.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    And it includes an proper power supply.

    Or I would buy this nice barebone

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    And this time the pci ex slot is inner so you can use a dual slot card.
    Reply
  • 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.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    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.
    Reply

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