TODO alt text

Zotac IONITX-P-E review

Combination of NVIDIA's ION chipset and a Core 2 class CPU has a lot to offer

Our Verdict

Combination of NVIDIA's ION chipset and a Core 2-class CPU promises much but fails to deliver

For

  • Super feature set for an ITX board
  • Penryn-class processor

Against

  • Disappointing CPU performance
  • NO USB 3.0 or SATA 6.0Gbps

We're big fans of NVIDIA's plucky little ION motherboard chipset. What we haven't enjoyed is the feeble Intel Atom processor it's been saddled with. But what if you could have all the yummy graphics goodness of ION combined with a tastier CPU? Luckily, that's the very meaning of the Zotac IONITX-P-E's existence.

Kiss goodbye to the dreadful Atom chip. Say hello to an Intel Celeron SU2300. One of Intel's lesser known and more esoteric processor models, the SU2300 is a low voltage version of ye olde Core 2 CPU running at 1.2GHz.

Simply add memory, storage and a power supply, therefore, and you have a pukka PC.

Indeed, VGA, HDMI and even dual-link DVI connectivity are supplied as standard giving you the option to drive everything from a high resolution desktop PC to a home cinema system.

Intriguingly, Zotac has also provided a full 16-lane PCI Express expansion slot enabling high-end discrete graphics as an option. If the ION chipset part of the Zotac IONITX-P-E motherboard is a well-known quantity, the Intel Celeron SU2300 CPU is something of a head scratcher.

True to recent Intel tradition, the branding (in this case the ancient Celeron moniker) isn't much help. But no matter. We can reveal that the SU2300 is in fact a Penryn class processor. Thus, it's a 45nm dual-core chip. Clocked down to 1.2GHz to achieve ultra-low voltage operation, the SU2300 also makes do with just 1MB of shared cache memory.

Zotac ionitx p e

Low power, low grunt

That's hardly a recipe for killer numbercrunching performance from this motherboard. However, the upside is a claimed TDP of just 10 watts.

It's also worth remembering that the Celeron's two cores are proper desktop-class items with pukka out-of-order instruction handling. It's the Atom's in-order architecture that arguably does most to compromise performance.

Further noteworthy features include integrated N-spec WiFi and the aforementioned 16-lane graphics slot. In practice, the latter is probably an irrelevance.

In testing, the Celeron processor simply doesn't have the gumption for running modern games, regardless of the GPU it's paired with. In fact, the overall performance of the SU2300 Penryn processor can only be described as disappointing.

Granted, power consumption when running on the ION integrated graphics is absolutely puny. But then so is the performance. In terms of the end-user experience, it's only marginally better than a dual-core Atom processor.

You absolutely, positively wouldn't want to rely on this system to do any serious processor-intensive work.

In fact, even when paired with an ultra-fast solid state drive, the general performance and responsiveness in Windows we experienced felt a little sluggish.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerNVIDIA
Onboard VideoOn-board Video Chipset
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots1
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Brand NameZotac
Form FactorMini ITX
Processor SupportedCeleron Dual-Core
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory8 GB
Front Side Bus800 MHz
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots2
Graphics Controller ManufacturerNVIDIA
Audio Channels5.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
Number of SATA Interfaces3
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots2
eSATAYes
HDMIYes
DVIYes
Total Number of USB Ports6
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports4
Total Number of PCI Express Slots1
Width170.2 mm
Depth170.2 mm
Product SeriesP
ManufacturerZOTAC International
Product ModelIONITX-P-E
Product NameP Series IONITX-P-E Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300
Manufacturer Part NumberIONITXPE
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.zotac.com
Marketing Information

Experience fluid and vivid high-definition video playback with the ultra-compact ZOTAC ION motherboard. The mini-ITX form factor ZOTAC ION motherboards combine a high-performance NVIDIA ION graphics processor with a power-efficient Intel Celeron processor for the ultimate eco-friendly platform that has no troubles handling regular web browsing, e-mail, productivity and HD video playback tasks. NVIDIA PureVideo HD technology harnesses the power of the NVIDIA ION GPUs 16 high-speed stream processors for high-definition Blu-ray playback capabilities. PureVideo HD technology decodes HD video formats and enhances standard-definition videos with the NVIDIA ION GPU for flawless HD and superior SD video playback.