Dual-core Atom motherboard reviewed

Motherboards with built-in dual-core Atom processors have been slowly trickling into the market since late last month, but they're still a little hard to come by. If you'd like to get an early preview, Hilbert Hagedoorn over at Guru3D has gotten a chance to review one of them.

The star of Hagedoorn's article is an ECS 945GC motherboard that has a dual-core, 1.6GHz Atom 330 processor soldered on. The CPU has a thermal envelope of only 8W, and it feeds bits through the same 533MHz front-side bus as its single-core brethren. Dual processor cores aside, ECS's board looks pretty typical for a mini-ITX Atom mobo: it has a lone DDR2-533 memory slot, one 32-bit PCI slot, dual 300MB/s Serial ATA ports, and a VGA display output. ECS also delivers a six-channel VIA audio codec and 100Mbps Ethernet—just what you need for a cheap desktop.

After slapping in some memory and hooking up a hard drive, Hagedoorn put the board through a suite of synthetic benchmarks, where it predictably got pummeled by Athlon X2 4850e and Phenom X4 9850 systems. The most interesting part there is probably the power tests, in which the dual-core Atom system managed to draw just 56W with CPU utilization maxed out.

The board is still at the engineering sample stage, so it hasn't popped up on our price search engine just yet. However, Hagedoorn expects you'll be able to grab it for around $75-99 when it becomes available.

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