The Nvidia ION GPU has already been run through the HQV 2.0 test suite in an earlier review by Raja. I also can the system through our media streaming test suite.  Being that the system is an HTPC, format support is really not an issue, as the user can install all the players and codecs they choose. To give the hardware an accurate test however, media was played back with PowerDVD 10 Mark II Ultra.  Many of our tested audio files include 5.1 tracks that would not playback correctly with the included 2Ch+2Ch version of PowerDVD 9 included with the hardware.  The following softwares were used to process our media streamer test suite:

  1. Cyberlink PowerDVD 10.0.2113.51 Mark II retail
  2. MPC-HC x64 1.4.2499 with ffdshow Audio Decoder (x64 SVN 3572)
  3. VLC 1.1.4

The Zotac ZBOX obtained 308 out of a maximum possible 358 points (86%) in our media streaming test suite.  Most of the points were lost in files containing a bitstreaming test for an HD audio codec, which the Zotac Zbox is simply incapable of doing due to the limitations of the hardware.  Also, points were lost due to stuttering in high definition Real Media video streams. These decode for Real Media  is not accelerated by the GPU and the Atom D525, without the aid of the ION, is not able to playback HD content stutter free.

Using a Kill-a-Watt meter, the system posted 12 Watts of power draw while idle and a max of 45 Watts while under load.  Using RealTemp GT the system idled with a CPU temperature of 33C while it posted 44 C under load.  I streamed all media files from my main system using the gigabit Ethernet connection only.  I wanted the most bandwidth I could get to accurately test the hardware in the system.

Fan noise is hardly appreciable, and I had to hold my ear to the unit to hear the fan noise in my testing room.  Unfortunately, my primary LED backlit LCD display did not fit the VESA mount, and I wasn’t willing to drill holes in the wall simply to test this unit.  I have included additional images of the unit in the image gallery below.


Specification and Design Final Thoughts
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  • kake - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    Why don't these essentially hyper blu-ray players come with IR receivers built into the front of the device? Make adding a remote so much more intuitive for the impulsive buyer. Reply
  • CZroe - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    Probably because there is no one IR receiver that can work with everything. For example, MCE remotes require an RC6 receiver and will not work with a standard IR receiver. Reply
  • ckryan - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    Imagine if this Zotac wasn't just BD, could be your digital cable box and DVR solution. THAT would be something. As impressive as this system may be, Zotac could add true two way cable-card support and have a (IMO) all around awesome device. Not just a BluRay player that went to finishing school, but something I've been craving for a hot minute. Reply
  • iSmug - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    It could be when the HDHomerun Prime comes out. Just hide the network attached tuner somewhere. Reply
  • IceDread - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    "The Zotac ZBOX obtained 308 out of a maximum possible 358 points (86%) in our media streaming test suite. Most of the points were lost in files containing a bitstreaming test for an HD audio codec, which the Zotac Zbox is simply incapable of doing due to the limitations of the hardware. Also, points were lost due to stuttering in high definition Real Media video streams. These decode for Real Media is not accelerated by the GPU and the Atom D525, without the aid of the ION, is not able to playback HD content stutter free."

    So streaming is not a good idea? Sound quality is not good ether? Then what's the point?
    Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    "stuttering in high definition Real Media video streams"

    "Real Media" being the point. I haven't seen, streamed, or downloaded a Real Media file since 2001, and even then I avoided them the best I could. That sentence doesn't apply to any other tested HD media, so I don't think you have to worry.

    That being said, I'll wait for the Core i3 model - if it comes. No bitstreaming, no sale.
    Reply
  • ajlueke - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    Correct, a handful of media types do not support hardware acceleration from the ION. The Atom dual core is not capable of streaming playback stutter free in 1080p on its own in these scenarios. Reply
  • IceDread - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    True, Real Media is not something I use normally. Bitsteaming however, as you pointed out, must work.

    When you say i3, which one's do you think about then?

    Personally I'm very interested in the coming cpu's with integrated gpu. Thou it's some time left before they come.
    Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    the core i5 is one of them. Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    I have personally used a Core i3-330UM laptop (Acer Timeline X) for bitstreaming lossless to my receiver. It handled Blu-ray flawlessly as well as every other file type I tried *except* it didn't handle 1080p Youtube quite as well, there were very mild frame skips depending on content. A higher speed i3M or an entry-level i5M would probably do the trick. Without the need for Ion, hopefully such a platform could fit into the same chassis. They draw similar power (~18W) and would possibly generate less heat than the Atom/Ion combo.

    I wish Newegg sold more notebook components. I would just build one myself.
    Reply

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