General Performance: Better than the Original ION

As we concluded in our original Pine Trial article, the new platform (at least for nettops) is faster than the older Atom. The same is true for next-generation ION. We saw around a 10% increase in general purpose performance, which was noticeable in real world use. The system felt a bit snappier than our comparison point: a Zotac ZBOX HD-ND02 based on the original ION.

SYSMark 2007 - Overall

SYSMark 2007 - E-Learning

SYSMark 2007 - Video Creation

SYSMark 2007 - Productivity

SYSMark 2007 - 3D

In the grand scheme of things any Atom based system isn't going to be very quick. Multithreaded performance is better than an old Pentium 4, but worse than anything based on the Core 2 architecture. Single threaded performance is actually worse than the old Pentium 4.

Of course our recommendation still stands, an SSD is key to making these systems feel fast enough. Luckily there are a handful of value SSD options that deliver good performance without breaking the bank.

PCMark Vantage showed closer performance between the two systems. The gaming performance advantage was all NG-ION, while the older ION1 actually boasted better performance in the HDD test. It’s possible that NVIDIA’s SATA controller is actually a bit faster than whatever made it into the NM10 Express. While Intel is known for its potent SATA controllers, in an Atom system all bets are off as to what generation of tech you’re getting. Either way, the 10% difference in pure disk performance isn’t going to manifest itself as more than a couple of percentage points in a real world use case.

PCMark Vantage Performance: NG-ION vs. ION
  Zotac ZBOX HD-ID11 (NG-ION) Zotac ZBOX HD-ND02
PCMark Vantage Overall 3310 3386
Memories Suite 2951 2460
TV & Movies 1635 1715
Gaming 3929 3355
Music 4259 4819
Communication 2176 2110
Productivity 5393 5311
HDD 28570 31834

For overall system performance, the edge goes to the next-generation ION, at least compared to the old one. Compared to your standard Pine Trail system, there’s no advantage.

Zotac’s ZBOX HD-ID11 GPU Performance: Better and Worse than ION1


View All Comments

  • Swivelguy2 - Thursday, May 6, 2010 - link

    A little typo right up in the title: "Next Gen is ION" should say "Next Gen ION is" Reply
  • shotage - Thursday, May 6, 2010 - link

    I've been waiting for one of these to hook up to my HD TV. This looks near perfect, but the fact the flash playback sucks is going to make me wait. If Nvidia can fix it with an updated driver i'm off to the shop. Otherwise I'll be back... to curse Zotac Reply
  • jvdb - Thursday, May 6, 2010 - link

    They raised the price again? if it's true, I'll wait for the shuttle. Reply
  • Roy2001 - Thursday, May 6, 2010 - link

    I need to point out that Broadcom Crystal HD decoder has a 40Mbps limitation and Ion does not have. XBMC would report dropped frames with higher than 40Mbps bitrate. That said, BD spec is less than 40Mbps and you can hardly see > 40Mbps mkv files. But I have seen that. Even XBMC with CPU decoding has the 40Mbps limitation and drops frames with CPU utilization less than 70%. Reply
  • sucram03 - Thursday, May 6, 2010 - link

    You've seen >40mbps encoded MKV's? Whoever encoded them must have done a horrible job if they're at 1080p. Nothing should have to be encoded with that high of a bitrate -- that's overkill.

    A 40mbps limitation shouldn't be a problem. One thing that isn't touched on here, though, is CUDA-enabled decoding, which removes pretty much all limitations on H.264 content when done with DXVA. With CoreAVC 2.0, you'll pretty much never have a file you can't play. That would be the nice thing about this new ION, being that it has VP4 PureVideo. But.. as some have already said, this platform is way too expensive for that usefulness.
  • mcnabney - Thursday, May 6, 2010 - link

    I have the original Zotac ION HTPC and am relatively pleased with it. Added more RAM and upgrade XP to 7. The memory upgrade made it run much more quickly and moving to Win7 allowed Mediacenter usage (it is a DVR for an HDHomerun and recorded TV is automatically moved to my WHS box).

    Old ION $200 @ Best Buy
    Win7 upgrade $50
    Upgrade to 2GB $40

    So under $300 complete.

    compare to:

    New ION $250
    HDD/SSD $80
    Win7 OEM $100

    Now we are at $430 when complete. That is a LOT more money for almost identical performance.
  • Bateluer - Friday, May 7, 2010 - link

    This is a poor comparison. The 200 dollar Ion system the Acer Revo R1600, is an Atom 230 based machine. Single core. The new Ion featured in the review is a D510, dual core machine. Performance won't be light years better by any means, but this isn't a good comparison.

    Still, if you already have an Atom 330 Ion system, there's no need to pick up one of these machines unless you have money to burn. Like the Pine Trial platform itself, NG-Ion falls flat.
  • mcnabney - Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - link

    Why wouldn't it be a good comparison? Under the tests that the new ION does surpass the old (would more memory help the old one?) the difference is moving from 49% of the performance of a slow Core2 to 53%. So there is really a very slight difference in performance. But there is a very clear difference in cost. In fact, the original Zotac ION can be purchased for $170 now. Reply
  • sucram03 - Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - link

    You missed the point of the poster. The comparison you're making is between ION2 and the original ION with Atom 330 processor (note the difference -- this is dual-core). The $199 desktop at Best Buy is an Aspire Revo1600, as the poster said, which does NOT have an Atom 330 dual-core, it has a single-core Atom 230. If you want to talk about performance, go ahead and take a look at the benchmarks again, instead now looking at that last-place ranking with the Atom 230 processor which falls short in every benchmark. Not by a huge margin, but enough to make a significant impact, which is exactly what that poster was trying to say.

    It was a very valid argument. Just make sure you're backing up your claims with solid proof, links, or other general information instead of throwing together $'s and manipulating the outcome.
  • shotage - Thursday, May 6, 2010 - link

    This quote "Streaming high definition Internet video on popular sites such as YouTube™, Vimeo™ and Hulu™ render smoothly and flawlessly in full screen with the ZOTAC ZBOX HD-ID11 and Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1. Video stuttering is a faint thought of the past with the ZOTAC ZBOX HD-ID11 with NVIDIA® ION™ graphics technology."

    from Zotacs site:

    Obviously this is incorrect. Anand; maybe someone should tell Zotac? :p

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