Zotac’s GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi motherboard

Manufacturer Zotac
Model GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi
Price (Street)
Availability Now

The Tata Nano was officially launched last week. India’s newest econobox has four wheels, four seats, 33 horsepower, and a two-cylinder engine with less displacement than a Big Gulp. The Nano is the most basic of automobiles, but it only costs about two grand, which is frankly astonishing for a brand-new car. I can’t help but draw a comparison to Intel’s Atom platform, because as a tech journalist and Top Gear addict, I am inescapably bound to lavish you with automotive analogies.

Intel designed the Atom for mobile Internet devices, but it really caught fire with netbooks and went on to spawn a growing collection of pint-sized desktop systems that inexpensively handle basic computing tasks. The trouble is, the small-form-factor PCs birthed by the Atom’s popularity are hardly exciting platforms for enthusiasts. For our own systems, we tend to want a little better than simply adequate performance and basic functionality.

Nvidia’s Ion platform looks like a promising upgrade for the Atom processor, which gets paired with a potent GeForce 9300 integrated graphics chipset. The Ion is less Tata Nano and more Mini Cooper S or Fiat 500 Abarth. It’s still small and practical, but with a lot more polish, a more generous feature set, and additional power under the hood.

Unfortunately, the Ion concept’s real-world performance is ultimately hampered by the Atom’s general lack of grunt. We’ve seen an Ion-based system have problems smoothly playing back at least one Blu-ray movie, and the platform’s CPU resources are still too limited for speedy media encoding and gaming with the latest titles. The Ion platform is also stuck in a limbo of sorts; Nvidia has produced a solid reference design, but there are currently no shipping products based on it.

As luck would have it, the GeForce 9300 chipset is available on a new Mini-ITX motherboard from Zotac. The so-called GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi lives within the same form factor constraints as most Atom boards, but it swaps the anemic processor for a standard LGA775 socket and throws in a gen-two PCI Express x16 slot for good measure. What we have here, then, is a something with the potential to be entirely more powerful than a mere hot econobox. With this, you could build the PC equivalent of a hot rod if you like, all while retaining the cute, compact form factor of a Honda Fit. Now that is an exciting enthusiast platform.

The whole point behind the GeForce 9300-ITX is its Mini-ITX form factor, which measures roughly seven inches square. Those dimensions allow the board to squeeze into smaller enclosures than Micro ATX offerings, whose footprints are more than twice as large.

Unlike most Mini-ITX boards, the 9300-ITX hasn’t sacrificed performance potential to squeeze within the smaller form factor. The board sports an LGA775 socket with support for not only inexpensive dual-core chips, but also high-performance quad-core models. In fact, the only Core 2 processors not supported by the 9300-ITX are Extreme Edition chips that call for a 1600MHz front-side bus, since the GeForce 9300 only goes up to a 1333MHz FSB.

We should point out that the LGA775 socket doesn’t have much of an upgrade path looking forward. But then there isn’t one for soldered-on Atom CPUs, either. At least with LGA775, there are a wide range of attractive engine options to suit just about every need and budget.

As you might expect, a few concessions have been made in the face of form factor constraints. The 9300-ITX’s socket area, for example, is pretty tightly packed. You can squeeze in a stock cooler without a problem, but larger aftermarket models that fan out from the socket may interfere with the DIMM slots and the tall chipset heatsink. At least the chipset cooler is a silent, passive design.

There isn’t room on the 9300-ITX for more than two DIMM slots, but you can still take the board up to 8GB of memory with the two provided. Each DIMM slot gets its own memory channel, too, so you’ll want to run modules in pairs for optimal performance.

With the Core 2 line perhaps Intel’s last not to feature an integrated memory controller, the DIMM slots hook into a memory controller aboard Nvidia’s GeForce 9300 chipset. This is essentially the same core logic package that you’ll find in the Ion platform, GeForce 9300-based Micro ATX boards, and a whole bunch of recent Macs, including the latest mini. If you’re not familiar with the GeForce 9300, I suggest reading our initial review of the chipset. Today we’ll be focusing on Zotac’s Mini-ITX approach to Nvidia’s freshest MCP, so we’ll just be covering the basics on the chipset itself.

But what a chipset. The GeForce 9300 packs a DirectX 10-class GPU with 16 so-called CUDA processors running at 1.2GHz with a 450MHz graphics core. Those generous pixel-pushing resources deliver the best gaming performance we’ve seen from any integrated graphics chipset, and Nvidia throws in a PureVideo HD video decode engine that delivers silky-smooth Blu-ray playback with even a budget CPU.

The GeForce 9300’s integrated GPU may be able to handle the latest games at low resolutions and detail levels, but serious or even regular gamers are better off with discrete graphics cards that offer substantially better performance and the ability to crank up the eye candy. For those folks, the 9300-ITX sports a second-gen PCI Express x16 slot that had no problems hosting a GeForce GTX 280 for several hours of stress testing. The board also has a couple of Serial ATA RAID ports, although given the lack of IDE connectivity, most folks will probably use the second port for an optical drive rather than a second hard drive.

From here, we have a good view of the 9300-ITX’s Wi-Fi riser, which delivers 802.11b/g networking via an, er, VIA VT6656 wireless controller. Zotac throws an antenna into the box, too. The Wi-Fi card does eat an onboard USB header, but that still leaves two free headers for a total of four extra ports, in addition to the six in the rear cluster.

Despite its diminutive proportions, the GeForce 9300-ITX has a more complete selection of ports than most full-sized motherboards. You don’t get Firewire, but video output is offered in VGA, DVI, and HDMI flavors. The board can also pass uncompressed 8-channel LPCM audio through the HDMI port. If you don’t have a receiver or home theater setup that can handle HDMI audio, you can always use one of two digital S/PDIF outputs or the trio of analog jacks.

The discrete audio ports are backed by a 6-channel Realtek ALC662 codec that looks a little pedestrian in light of the board’s fancy HDMI audio output capabilities. I’d prefer to see the ALC889A instead, if only because it supports real-time Dolby Digital Live and DTS encoding, which would allow multi-channel game audio to be passed over HDMI. The ALC662’s multi-channel digital output capacity is limited to passing along the sort of pre-encoded audio tracks that come with movies.

A Gigabit Ethernet jack and External Serial ATA port round out the rear, and both are fed by the GeForce 9300 chipset. Zotac also kicks in a PS/2 keyboard port for all those IBM Model M fans out there, but you’ll have to run a USB mouse.

BIOS options

Mini-ITX platforms are hardly known for offering tweak-friendly BIOSes primed for overclocking. Zotac doesn’t have a stellar reputation for delivering enthusiast-ready BIOSes, either. Surprisingly, though, the 9300-ITX’s BIOS has a decent array of tweaking and overclocking options.

Clock speeds FSB: 400-2500MHz in 1MHz
increments

DRAM:
400-1400MHz in 1MHz
increments
GPU core: 300-1000MHz in 1MHz increments
GPU shader: 1000-2000MHz in 1MHz increments

Multipliers NA

Voltages
CPU: +0.02-0.3V in 0.02V increments

DRAM: 1.9-2.1V
in 0.01V increments
NB: 1.1-1.25V in 0.05V increments


Monitoring
Voltage, fan status, and
temperature

Fan speed control
CPU

The bulk of the overclocking and tweaking options look like they’ve been ripped directly from Nvidia’s reference BIOS designs, which is a good thing. There are plenty of front-side bus and memory clock options from which to choose, and the BIOS easily lets you key in arbitrary values. The memory clock won’t always nail your target exactly, though; it pulls from a selection of available memory speeds and selects the one closest to your input value without going over. Bob Barker would be proud.

On the voltage front, the 9300-ITX’s BIOS offers processor, memory, and chipset options to manipulate. The ranges are quite limited here, but you probably shouldn’t be cranking voltages for more extreme overclocks on a Mini-ITX motherboard. The platform has its limitations.

Speaking of platform limitations, we couldn’t get the board running with our memory at 4-4-4-12-1T timings. This is a problem Nvidia has acknowledged exists with the GeForce 9300, and we’ve experienced it on Micro ATX boards based on the chipset. While we’re talking memory, I should also note that the BIOS has an option to enable the GeForce 9300’s Advance Path memory controller feature, which purportedly lowers access latencies.

Given the board’s integrated graphics component, it’s no surprise to see a range of GPU controls built into the BIOS. Users can adjust the amount of system memory dedicated to the onboard GPU between 16 and 512MB. It’s also possible to raise or lower the clock speed of the graphics core and shader CUDA processors.

Those who want their systems to be as silent as they are compact will be pleased to know that the 9300-ITX’s BIOS offers a small measure of temperature-based fan speed control. A passive temperature control can be set between 50 and 65°C in 5° increments, governing the temperature at which the processor fan spins up. Although it’s not terribly intuitive, the “MCP fan control” offers values between 0 and 15 that control the speed of fans hooked up to the board’s secondary fan header.

Specifics on specifications

We’ve covered the essentials on the GeForce 9300-ITX Wi-Fi, but if you’d like all the key specifications distilled into a single chart, here you go:


CPU support
LGA775-based Celeron, Pentium
4/D, Core 2 processors

Chipset
Nvidia GeForce 9300

Expansion slots
1 PCI Express x16

Memory
2 240-pin DIMM
sockets

Maximum of 8GB of DDR2-667/800/1066 SDRAM


Storage I/O
2 channels 300MB/s Serial ATA
with RAID 0, 1 support
Audio 6-channel HD audio via Realtek
ALC662 codec
Ports 1 PS/2 keyboard
1 VGA
1 DVI
1 HDMI

6 USB
2.0 with headers for 6 more

1 RJ45 10/100/1000
1 802.11b/g Wi-Fi via VIA VT6656
1 eSATA

1 analog front out
1 analog line in/rear
out

1 analog mic in/center out
1 digital coaxial S/PDIF out
1 digital TOS-Link S/PDIF out

Our testing methods

For an in-depth look at how the GeForce 9300 chipset performs against its integrated graphics rivals, I suggest reading our full review of the chipset. Today we’re focusing on Zotac’s GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi, which we’ll be testing against Asus’ P5N7A-VM. The P5N7A-VM uses the same GeForce 9300 chipset, but it rides a larger Micro ATX motherboard.

All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged.

Processor

Intel Xeon 3320 2.5GHz
System bus 1333MHz (333MHz
quad-pumped)
1333MHz
(333MHz quad-pumped)
Motherboard

Asus P5N7A-VM


Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi
Bios revision 0504
2K090202A
North bridge Nvidia GeForce 9300 Nvidia GeForce 9300
South bridge
Chipset drivers Chipset: ForceWare 20.09

Graphics: ForceWare 182.08


Chipset: ForceWare 20.09

Graphics: ForceWare
182.08

Memory size 2GB (2 DIMMs)
2GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type

Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500C5

DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz
CAS latency
(CL)
5
5

RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)
4
4
RAS precharge
(tRP)
4
4
Cycle time
(tRAS)
12
12
Command rate 2T 2T
Audio codec Realtek
ALC1200
with 2.17 drivers

Realtek
ALC662
with 2.17 drivers

Hard drive


Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB
SATA

Operating system


Windows Vista Ultimate x86
with Service Pack 1

All of our test systems were powered by OCZ GameXStream 700W power supply units. Thanks to OCZ for providing these units for our use in testing.

Thanks to Corsair for providing the Dominator DIMMs we used for testing.

Finally, we’d like to thank Western Digital for sending Raptor WD1500ADFD hard drives for our test rigs.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Memory performance

When Nvidia first launched the GeForce 9300 chipset, its Advanced Path memory controller feature wasn’t yet enabled. The 9300-ITX has a BIOS switch for this feature, but unfortunately, the P5N7A does not. Since there’s no reason to penalize Zotac for supporting Advance Path, we ran the 9300-ITX with it enabled.

It’s a good thing we did, because Advance Path appears to be good for not only a healthy improvement in memory access latency, but also a boost in peak memory bandwidth.

STARS Euler3d computational fluid dynamics

Few folks run fluid dynamics simulations on their desktops, but we’ve found this multi-threaded test to be particularly demanding of memory subsystems, making it a good link between our memory and application performance tests.

No doubt thanks to Advance Path, the 9300-ITX boasts a higher Euler3d frequency than the Asus board.

WorldBench

WorldBench uses scripting to step through a series of tasks in common Windows applications. It then produces an overall score. WorldBench also spits out individual results for its component application tests, allowing us to compare performance in each. We’ll look at the overall score, and then we’ll show individual application results alongside the results from some of our own application tests.

WorldBench runs a little faster on the 9300-ITX than it does on the P5N7A. The difference in overall performance only amounts to two points, but it nicely confirms that the Zotac board doesn’t give up any performance in common desktop applications.

Gaming

The GeForce 9300 may be the fastest integrated graphics chipset around, but we still had to lower resolutions and in-game detail levels for most titles to get frame rates that we’d consider smooth and playable.

The Zotac board is no faster than the Asus here, which should come as no surprise considering that both use the same integrated graphics core running at the same clock speeds. Don’t get too excited about frame rates in the 30-40FPS range, though. While we were able to run Quake Wars at high detail, we had to drop Episode 2 to medium, Far Cry 2 to low, and turn off most of the graphics effects in Call of Duty.

Power consumption

We measured system power consumption, sans monitor and speakers, at the wall outlet using a Watts Up Pro power meter. Power consumption was measured at idle and under a load consisting of a multi-threaded Cinebench 10 render running in parallel with the “rthdribl” high dynamic range lighting demo. Results that fall under “No power management” were obtained with Windows Vista running in high-performance mode, while those with power management enabled were taken with Vista in its balanced performance mode.

Although the 9300-ITX is just as power-hungry as the Asus board under load, it pulls about 17W less at idle, which is a substantial margin given the total power consumption of each setup. Sure, Atom-based systems have about half the idle power consumption of our 9300-ITX config, but the Zotac setup easily offers more than twice the power.

Overclocking

The 9300-ITX isn’t being targeted at serious overclockers, but the BIOS still has enough bus speed and voltage controls to push a system beyond stock speeds. We already know that the Xeon 3320 used for testing is capable of hitting 3.26GHz at its default voltage, and we couldn’t resist seeing how high it would clock on the 9300-ITX.

Normally, we test the limits of a motherboard’s front-side bus by dropping the CPU and memory multipliers and cranking the FSB. However, the 9300-ITX doesn’t offer CPU multiplier control, so we’re stuck with overclocking the processor. We still kept the system’s memory running at under 800MHz to take it out of the equation (the BIOS’s target memory speed option makes this quite easy). System stability was tested at each tick in our overclocking adventure with a four-way Prime95 load.

I really had no idea how the 9300-ITX would respond to overclocking, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the board cruise up to a 370MHz front-side bus speed without requiring extra voltage. Pushing to a 380MHz FSB required a little extra chipset and processor voltage, but I couldn’t get the system running any faster.

2.85GHz may be well short of the 3.26GHz we squeezed from this processor on a full-sized ATX system, but it’s a respectable overclock given the 9300-ITX’s tiny form factor. Of course, as is always the case with overclocking, your mileage may vary.

Motherboard peripheral performance

Some of the biggest performance differences you’ll find between motherboards come on the peripheral front, where it’s easy to spot where mobo makers have skimped on auxiliary peripheral chips.

Ethernet performance
Throughput (Mbps) CPU utilization (%)

Asus P5N7A-VM
937 10.5

Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi
939 8.9
HD Tach
USB performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)


CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P5N7A-VM
33.2 32.5 32.8 3.0

Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi
33.9 32.5 32.8 4.0
HD Tach
Serial ATA performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)


Random access time (ms)

CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P5N7A-VM
240.2 110.5 110.1 7.2 3.3

Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi
245.4 110.5 109.7 7.2 2.7

Most of the 9300-ITX’s peripherals are fed by the same GeForce 9300 chipset that you’ll find in on the P5N7A. Given their shared core logic component, it’s no wonder that the two boards offer nearly identical peripheral performance—and it’s good performance, too. Gigabit Ethernet throughput is solid with reasonable CPU utilization, USB transfers are quick both when reading and writing, and the SATA controller works as it should—even when running in AHCI mode.

RightMark Audio
Analyzer audio quality

Overall score

Frequency response

Noise level

Dynamic range

THD

THD + Noise

IMD + Noise

Stereo Crosstalk

IMD at 10kHz

Asus P5N7A-VM
4 5 4 4 5 3 5 5 5

Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi
4 4 4 4 5 3 4 5 5

Although they share a chipset, the Asus and Zotac boards do employ different audio codec chips. RightMark Audio Analyzer doesn’t detect much difference in analog output quality between the two, though.

Conclusions

Zotac’s GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi proves that you don’t have to give up performance to squeeze into a Mini-ITX form factor. The board’s LGA775 socket is compatible with a wide range of attractive processors, dual memory channels deliver plenty of bandwidth to arguably the best integrated graphics chipset around, a PCI Express x16 slot provides plenty of expansion potential for gamers, and you even get 802.11b/g Wi-Fi onboard. It’s no surprise, then, that the 9300-ITX is the best Mini-ITX board we’ve ever tested. Heck, it’s better than a lot of Micro ATX boards I’ve seen.

What makes the 9300-ITX so appealing is the fact that it’s quite flexible. Even with a low-end processor, you should have more than enough horsepower to drive a home theater PC that can play back Blu-ray movies smoothly over HDMI. The board has just about everything you’d need for a diminutive desktop, too. With the addition of a discrete graphics card, you could even build yourself a potent gaming rig that’s easy to tote to LAN parties.

Sure, the 9300-ITX has its limitations. The board’s not a great overclocker, Firewire support isn’t included, and expansion capacity is unavoidably constrained by the Mini-ITX form factor’s small footprint. Those are hardly serious flaws, though, especially when you look at other Mini-ITX boards on the market.

Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi
March 2009

The 9300-ITX is currently selling for around $140 online, which is actually a pretty good deal, all things considered. Yes, you can get an Atom-based Mini-ITX board for half that, but the 9300-ITX is really in a different league. Besides, it’s only $20-30 more expensive than Micro ATX boards based on the GeForce 9300 chipset, and about the same price as Mini-ITX boards based on AMD’s 780G chipset.

Naturally, the 9300-ITX’s Mini-ITX form factor won’t be for everyone. But for those looking to roll their own mini PCs, it’s the best platform around. That’s good enough to earn the board our coveted Editor’s Choice award.

Comments closed
    • internetsandman
    • 10 years ago

    As much as I love the potential to put a high performance, or at least strong mid-range graphics card into that PCI-e x16 slot, I can’t find a practical solution. This board will almost certainly be going into a mini-ITX case, and the strongest power supply I have found for one of these cases is 300W, which isn’t enough for most, if not all, mid-range graphics cards, nevermind high-end. It’s a circle which gets rather annoying when trying to figure out how to upgrade a system based off of this board

    • aejp
    • 10 years ago

    I’ve just built a media PC based on one of these and thought I’d share some of my experience so far. This is still work-in-progress!

    I’ve put 4GB OCZ RAM and a Core 2 E7400 processor. It’s a cute board and “out of the box” works well. I’m runing Windows 7 beta smoothly and the aero effects work well. I had read some people questioning the quality of Zotac kit but overall it’s not been a major issue. I have one little worry as the cooler mounting holes seem to be slightly out of alignment which leads a slight bowing of the board with the intel stock cooler. I’m planning to change to a low profile cooler as my case (A+ Cupid 2) means the hard drive and cooler interfere with each other – I’ve put in a smaller capacity 2.5″ drive for now. Maybe a different cooler won’t cause the bowing!

    As a media PC base I’m pleased so far. Putting aside the cooler concern there’s one main gotcha with the mobo. The board only has a single PCI express slot and there are very few PCI-e TV tuner cards around, and even fewer that support satellite (DVB-S/S2) so you need to be careful! There are USB options for DVB-T but I’d prefer to have it all in one box. I also want to go HD, so I’m still looking around for the best component here!

    I’ve done the build with a normal monitor and the next stage is to plug into the TV with HDMI so there may still be a snafu lying in wait!

      • aejp
      • 10 years ago

      And apologies for posting twice!

    • aejp
    • 10 years ago

    I’ve just built a media PC based on one of these and thought I’d share some of my experience so far. This is still work-in-progress!

    I’ve put 4GB OCZ RAM and a Core 2 E7400 processor. It’s a cute board and “out of the box” works well. I’m runing Windows 7 beta smoothly and the aero effects work well. I had read some people questioning the quality of Zotac kit but overall it’s not been a major issue. I have one little worry as the cooler mounting holes seem to be slightly out of alignment which leads a slight bowing of the board with the intel stock cooler. I’m planning to change to a low profile cooler as my case (A+ Cupid 2) means the hard drive and cooler interfere with each other – I’ve put in a smaller capacity 2.5″ drive for now. Maybe a different cooler won’t cause the bowing!

    As a media PC base I’m pleased so far. Putting aside the cooler concern there’s one main gotcha with the mobo. The board only has a single PCI express slot and there are very few PCI-e TV tuner cards around, and even fewer that support satellite (DVB-S/S2) so you need to be careful! There are USB options for DVB-T but I’d prefer to have it all in one box. I also want to go HD, so I’m still looking around for the best component here!

    I’ve done the build with a normal monitor and the next stage is to plug into the TV with HDMI so there may still be a snafu lying in wait!

    • Nomgle
    • 11 years ago

    /[

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      Well first off there are only analog outputs for 5.1 not 7.1. Second, passing 8-channel LPCM over HDMI through the chipset (which applies to movies only I think) is not the same as being able to real-time i[

    • crazybus
    • 11 years ago

    I now have a perverse desire to stick one of these in a Silverstone LC09. With appropriate component choices and careful undervolting it might be possible — 60w power supply be damned.

      • webkido13
      • 11 years ago

      The silverstone cases (with the included power supply) only have a 20-pin atx connector. The mainboards require a 24. I got screwed by this….

        • MadManOriginal
        • 11 years ago

        This board is too hot and powerful for that case imo. The case is only ~2.3″ high and all passive fanless cooling vents. While it would be neat they just aren’t meant to go together. This one would be much more appropriate: §[<http://silverstonetek.com/products/p_contents.php?pno=SG05&area=usa<]§ It's actually reasonably priced too (for aluminum, PSU and SFF tax) at ~$100.

    • millpub
    • 11 years ago

    I’ve seen conflicting reports about whether this board supports Wake on USB. I know that the option is listed in the BIOS, but supposedly the board does not actually support this feature. If Geoff or anyone else on the TR board has tried it out with this board, I would appreciate a shout out. I have been dying to get one of these boards for a new HTPC build, but it will be a no go unless I can wake from S3 with a remote control.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      Uh, is pressing a button that hard? I agree a feature if advertised should work but for that to make it a no go when everything else is perfect…

        • Skrying
        • 11 years ago

        It’s a miniITX board that the poster is questioning about for HTPC use. Wake on USB is pretty high up there in that regard for a feature actually working. I think most people would be pretty upset if the “On” button for their TV didn’t work.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 11 years ago

          No, he said this:

          q[

        • millpub
        • 11 years ago

        Pressing a button is not hard and this is not issue of advertised features. It is an issue of trying to decide if a product suits my needs and purposes. My hope is that some company will eventually release a mini-itx board that has all of the features I am looking for to replace the micro-atx boards that I typically use for HTPCs and I was hoping that the good folks who frequent TR might be able to help determine whether this board meets that goal before I plunk down a wad of cash. If this board lacks a feature that I currently enjoy and make use of with other boards, then this board is not a suitable choice. I am not expecting this board to fill a role it is not suited for such as a high end gaming machine, but Zotac does seem interested in positioning this an HTPC product and if one plans to use it in the living room with a remote control, Wake-on-USB does not seem like an unreasonable request. On the other hand, your snide insight leaves me questioning whether I simply sought out the wrong forum for help.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 11 years ago

          -[

            • millpub
            • 11 years ago

            The conflicting reports consist of a newegg review and several random forum board posts found through google at sites that I do not regularly visit and thus do not rely upon. A TR test would be a matter of trust. I trust the good folks at TR. I would have been comfortable accepting their feedback as definitive because I visit TR everyday looking for it on a wide variety of hardware subjects. Of course, nothing beats hands-on experience, but at least I know that the good folks at TR have the technical chops to form an expert opinion

            As to you being pissy, I’m not sure why you were feeling that way either. After all, I am completely aware that there are other suitable options. I am already using some. I do find this board appealing however. I was simply asking for help because if this particular board does not have Wake on USB, then it does not have “completely everything” *[

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            I don’t know, imagine a consumer electronics product that worked fine with a remote /[

            • MadManOriginal
            • 11 years ago

            I am in to oldschool audio for 2 channel listening which has no remote so I guess I’m wierd. Of course it’s fed by a remote-controlled Squeezebox…

    • pedro
    • 11 years ago

    Anyone know if PCI-E IEEE 1394 cards exist?

    I’m pretty much sold if I can get me some FireWire going on this bad boy.

      • grantmeaname
      • 11 years ago

      they do.

      • pedro
      • 11 years ago

      Thanks folks. For some reason, I don’t like what I see.

      Guess I’ll just have to wait for one of these type of boards with FireWire built in…

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        ……Why?

        • Nomgle
        • 11 years ago

        /[

      • pedro
      • 11 years ago

      molex connectors on some of them & the other ones looking somehow ‘shoddy’.

      crazy i know..

      ***reply to #55***.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 11 years ago

        I don’t think you’re going to find a ‘quality’ Firewire add-on card nor simple add-on cards of any type. They are cheap low margin commodity stuff probably all based around a few reference designs. Not a lot of ATX mobos have firewire nowadays let alone mini-ITX ones, I’m afraid your search will be futile.

          • pedro
          • 11 years ago

          I fear you’ll be correct…

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    Speaking of cases, there’s always this:
    §[<http://www.mini-itx.com/news/44187554<]§ Even comes with a slot-loading drive. Speaking of which, WTF happened to them? They were never plentiful, but you could always find a couple of models if you looked around online (Fry's even carried one for a while). Other than a couple of "slim" drives primarily aimed at laptops, they seem to have vanished from retail (though they do turn up in "lifestyle' OEM machines like the Touchsmart and Studio Hybrid)

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 11 years ago

      268 bucks!! No thanks. What I’m looking for, but not at that price.

    • crsh1976
    • 11 years ago

    Wow, this little thing is near perfect.. It has just the right features, unlike most ITX setups living off outdated tech.

    Very nice, I’m gonna look into getting out in Canada.

    • Shadows_of_Orion
    • 11 years ago

    I’ll trade the wifi module for a total of 6 sata ports.

    I want to load a Chenbro ES34069 up, but nobody makes more than 5 sata ports (yet) with a S775 and desktop memory.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      What would be your purpose for that build? As a NAS there are other ITX motherboards that have sufficient SATA ports, that case only has 4 3.5″ HD bays, I’m not certain why you need it to be s775. Unless you were planning on using the PCIe slot for discrete graphics you could always get an inexpensive add-on SATA controller.

        • Shadows_of_Orion
        • 11 years ago

        Small NAS with enough horsepower to do any other kind of webserving/torrenting I care to throw at it. Plus having the wider choice of processors at a lower price. Most others use mobile processors that are an unnecessary expense.

        Need 4 for the front 3.5″ drives, 1 for the 2.5″ boot drive and 1 for the CD/DVD drive. 6. Now, there is a Gigabyte board with 5 plus a PATA port, but it uses a mobile processor. There are a couple with 4, but I’d still rather avoid adapting 40pin to 44pin PATA.

        The case does not allow access to the expansion slot.

          • SomeOtherGeek
          • 11 years ago

          I don’t know…. But by the time you stack up every HDD and CD thingy, the case is big enough for a bigger mobo and they provide 6 SATA ports. No?

          • cygnus1
          • 11 years ago

          Just take the bracket off the back of the card and it doesn’t matter if the case gives you access to the slot. As long as there is physically enough room for the card you should be good to go.

          Just don’t let it get jostled around too much, as nothing would be securing the card in the slot other than the grabby-ness of the slot itself.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 11 years ago

            It would also be trivial to make a support bracket of some sort for the controller card. There’s no reason to be limited to what a case allows.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 11 years ago

          You have to be more flexible if you’re doing something unusual but it sounds as if you’re not willing to be flexible. I’m not sure I understand the obsession with tiny NAS boxes though…the ‘NA’ part means they can really go any where and a mid-tower case isn’t all that big anyway.

            • cygnus1
            • 11 years ago

            agreed, if it’s going in a corner, under a desk or in a closet, does it really need to be that tiny?

      • Skrying
      • 11 years ago

      You can’t get a PCIe card that will add the ports you need?

        • Shadows_of_Orion
        • 11 years ago

        /27/29, I could. But that defeats the simplicity. Yes, I could find something out there already, but most of them require mobile processors, or 40-42pin adapters or an expansion card with more sata ports. So regard this more of a ‘my ideal mini-ITX board’… (for this application anyway).

        As for NA… yeah. If I really wanted to I could go buy a 2 or 3U case with 4/6/8 hot swap bays etc etc and put it in a rack in a corner. But… why? 4 drives at 1.5-2 terabytes… thats plenty. And in a nice small package even.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 11 years ago

          Ooor you could get a normal mid tower+PSU for a lot less money and add about 5-8″ to both the height and depth. What’s the necessity for hot-swap in a home unit? Are you running actual production (time=$$) webservers? (Might want to check with your ISP if so.) If that’s the case why are you using consumer stuff?

          Oh well, tough beans for you. People give other options or even workarounds to get *exactly* what you want and you reject them. Sounds like you don’t really want to do it to me and it’s just a ‘what if’ project.

          • Skrying
          • 11 years ago

          What are you getting at? Just buy this motherboard, the proper Core 2 you want, the amount of memory, and the PCIe card. The complexity factor increases by practically none with the additional card and the main benefit of this all (the compact factor) is still preserved. You sure do seem to be getting worked up over something you seem incredibly unlikely to do.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 11 years ago

          Anyway, sorry if the replies before were harsh. I was under the impression you already had the case and were twiddling your thumbs waiting for the ‘perfect motherboard,’ not that it is just an idea you’re thinking on. I do think it would help you to be more flexible in the CPU and memory area if you’re dead set on that case.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 11 years ago

          If you’re enamored with the small form factor, hot swap, low power design etc there’s this WHS box: §[<http://www.tranquilpc-shop.co.uk/acatalog/AVA_RS5.html<]§ Not sure if you were looking to use a different OS though. (Acutally it's a little bit overkill and made for plug-n-play PC dummy simplicity with the built-in ripping feature. Maybe they have other servers that have less extraneous features.)

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Why do you need something with this level of graphics for a NAS/Torrent/webserver box?

      • Luminair
      • 11 years ago

      you’re asking for a different motherboard.

      you don’t use a motherboard with a pcie x16 slot in a case that has no expansion slots.

      you don’t use the hottest onboard video ever made in a fucking low profile NAS.

    • onlycodered
    • 11 years ago

    This board is an amazing little gem. I knew I should have waited to build my HTPC. I would have really loved to use this board.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 11 years ago

    add one of these for lovely HTPC goodness:

    §[<http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hvr2250.html<]§

      • libradude
      • 11 years ago

      where you gonna plug that into? 😉 I guess you could put it in the x16 slot, but that seems like kind of a waste. It’d be nice if it had an x1 slot and the x16, but then it wouldn’t be ITX form factor anymore.

      Great writeup on this – I am very tempted to make a little lan party box with one and a low-profile HD4650 once they become more readily available. A Google search shows Powercolor is making one, but it would have to come from Australia last time I checked. 🙁

      edit: just checked the Egg and oh joy! It’s in 🙂

      §[<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131151<]§

        • Kurotetsu
        • 11 years ago

        If you wanted to preserve the x16 you could get an external USB tuner. I don’t know if one exists that has all the features of that internal card though…

    • Creamsteak
    • 11 years ago

    I’d be interested to see a htpc build based on this (or something similar) in the next system guide.

    • moriz
    • 11 years ago

    interesting. you can potentially use this to make a competent gaming system that’s slightly larger than a shoebox. it would be cramped with questionable cooling, but it’s certainly doable.

    • AdoptAPet
    • 11 years ago

    Thanks to the commentors for pointing out the Silverstone case. I hope that TR does a comparison of available mini-itx cases capable of providing expansion room for SFF system boards.

    • AdoptAPet
    • 11 years ago

    Thanks to the other commentors for mentioning the mini-itx case by Silverstone. Hope that TR will do a comparison of the limited number of cases available for the various SFF system boards.

    • Skrying
    • 11 years ago

    Zotac board + Silverstone mini-ITX case = powerful awesomeness in a tiny package. The WiFi-less version of this board is currently available on a combo deal at Newegg with the Silverstone case. The Silverstone case can handle a HD4850 as well.

    • Lazier_Said
    • 11 years ago

    Off topic to this board in particular, but a bit of a rant: I looked into putting together a GF9x00 system and discovered that, Nvidia marketing feature lists to the contrary, no one seems to make a GF9x00 board that supports simultaneous output over HDMI and DVI. You can run one or the other but the 2nd display must be output as analog HD15.

    So unless you’re still using a 5 year old tube monitor getting useful dual head output (or single head + HDTV out) means adding a discrete video card – which seems to defeat the purpose of paying more than $50 let alone $130 for a bare board.

    AMD 780/790 and GF8x00 don’t support this either. The much maligned Intel G3x/G4x do.

    I seem to recall seeing dual digital outs on a Geforce4 card circa 2003.

      • cygnus1
      • 11 years ago

      Honestly, unless you got crappy parts/cables VGA/analog output is fine. I have a 6 yr old laptop I hook up to my 47″ LCD running 1920×1080 through analog VGA and it looks fantastic. (I use it for netflix and hulu)

      Pretty much every LCD monitor or TV worth having will display analog output just fine, not sure why you’re complaining.

        • indeego
        • 11 years ago

        Agreed. We plug some of our 1920×1200 24″ Samsungs in analog and there is no difference the users (or myself) can tell with DVIg{<.<}g Cables do make a difference, some will show a "ghosting, shimmering" effect, but a quick replacement fixesg{<.<}g

          • KikassAssassin
          • 11 years ago

          I hooked my laptop up to my 24″ LCD with a VGA cable, and once I got the image aligned properly, the only way I can tell the difference between that and the DVI my desktop PC’s hooked up to is if I put my face right up to the screen, where I can see that the pixels are a tiny bit blurrier on the VGA. At normal viewing distance, I can’t tell them apart.

        • SomeOtherGeek
        • 11 years ago

        Yep, that is right… I had a dual VGA hook up at one time and it worked great! Cables are very important, the fat, thicks ones seem to be the best, not the crappy ones from Dell.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 11 years ago

    Cool, thanks for the write-up! It’s nice to see a smaller company like Zotac push new configurations out and the GF9300 is much better than the GF7000s. You mentioned that you put a GTX 280 in it and I was hoping for a picture though just for laughs. Can you take one pretty please? 😀

    One thing I’ve seen mentioned is that the chipset heatsink and therefore chipset can get quite hot on this board (I believe it was this board.) Did you check chipset temps at all, or test it in an enclosure? Running all passive would be great but I think you’d need at least one fan to provide airflow through the system.

    • Jambe
    • 11 years ago

    That’s pretty spiffy. It’s great to see SFF platforms getting more competent. I personally have no need for the smallness or portability this board, so I’d likely just go with a full-ATX offering, but it’s still neat.

    Are there any worthwhile SFF graphics adapters that’d round-out a prospective “mini-LAN-box” based on this board? I confess I don’t know anything about mini-ITX, so a host of cards might presumably fit in such an enclosure.

      • TheBob!
      • 11 years ago

      Galaxy makes a low profile 9600gt. Not sure how long it is.
      I looked at Mini ITX boards a while back and got frustrated not finding one with a full PCI-e slot. I just figured there was not room for that many traces on such a small board and gave up. I still need to do some looking around, but this may be my new HTPC. I have a wireless keyboard laying around, just need a good wireless mouse for a round or two of TF2 on the couch.

      • KikassAssassin
      • 11 years ago

      Most Mini-ITX cases are really cramped and can’t fit most discreet graphics cards (and most have tiny sub-150 watt power supplies that wouldn’t be able to handle most gaming-capable graphics cards), but I was looking around on Newegg today and saw this Silverstone case that might make for a pretty good Mini-ITX gaming system:

      §[<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163149<]§ It's big enough to fit any graphics card up to 9 inches long, and its 300-watt power supply is certified by Silverstone to be able to handle an HD4850 in a Core 2 Quad system. That seems like it could make for a pretty sweet LAN box.

        • Jambe
        • 11 years ago

        Yeah, I saw that; it seems a bit pricey, but it is SilverStone, after all. Maybe TR could test an HTPC / LAN / Living Room Gaming Box in this case (or have a full-blown roundup-style SFF build-off!).

        If I didn’t already have a gaming PC for my living room I’d be all over this board in that SilverStone enclosure.

        • My Johnson
        • 11 years ago

        Bummer. The Silverstone case is sold out.

          • KikassAssassin
          • 11 years ago

          Probably from all the people who read this article and are now rushing out to build their new mini-ITX Core 2 systems. 😉

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