Asrock ION 330

The Asrock ION 330 is based on nVidia’s ION platform. This comprises a Pico-ITXe motherboard that features nVidia’s GeForce 9400M GPU, either DDR3 1066 or DDR2 800 memory and a variant of Intel’s Atom processor

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Asrock ION 330
By  Jason Saundalkar Published  September 2, 2009

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Key Specs

Audio: nVidia ION
Card reader: N
Form factor: Nettop
Graphics: nVidia ION
Internal storage: 320GB hard drive

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As you may have guessed from its rather telling name, the Asrock ION 330 is based on nVidia's ION platform. This comprises a Pico-ITXe motherboard that features nVidia's GeForce 9400M GPU, either DDR3 1066 or DDR2 800 memory and a variant of Intel's Atom processor. nVidia reckons the ION will give nettops and netbooks far more firepower and after putting the Asrock ION 330 to the test, we can only agree with nVidia's claims.

The ION 330 nettop sports dimensions of 195 x 70 x 186mm (W x H x L) making it ultra-compact and thus very easy-to-place. The tight dimensions and negligible weight of 1.7kg also make it very easy to move the machine from place-to-place, should the need arise.

Aesthetically the Asrock is very pleasing to look at and should the glossy black finish not be to your liking, you can also have the machine in white. The only real fault we had with the ION 330's design had to do with its lack of front-facing USB ports.

Under its attractive exterior, Asrock has followed nVidia's ION platform specifications to the letter. The machine packs a 1.6GHz dual-core Atom 330 processor that also sports HyperThreading on each core, and this enables the CPU to process four threads simultaneously. The 330 also packs 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 memory and, of course, the nForce 740i SLI, which features the GeForce 9400M GPU.

These core components made the Asrock a very potent nettop. We ran a number of Full HD (1080p) video clips on the machine and each and every one of them ran smooth and stutter-free. This is an awesome feat and one that can be attributed to the GPU's hardware-accelerated video decoding features. Without the GPU's aid the Atom CPU struggled to smoothly decode 720p video let alone higher resolution 1080p content.

The machine's GPU is also CUDA compatible so when running compatible applications, the Asrock will perform far better running that application than it would relying on just the Atom CPU with standard apps. This became obvious when we ran our - non-CUDA compliant - PCMark Vantage benchmark suite, as the Ion returned scores of 1592, 1410, 868, 1660, 1709, 1228, 1525 and 2861 in the PCMark, Memories, TV & Movies, Gaming, Music, Communication, Productivity and HDD Test suites. These are fairly basic scores and show that the machine isn't as capable relying only on its Atom processor.

On the gaming front the Asrock struggles to maintain playable framerates at higher resolutions but is perfectly capable of running games like Call of Duty 4 in medium detail at a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. This is a solid showing when you consider the machine costs only US $399.

Pros: Exceptionally compact proportions, can playback Full HD content smoothly, silent, great performance when running CUDA-enabled applications.
Cons: No front-mounted USB ports.
Verdict

With the list of CUDA-compatible applications continuing to grow and the already potent video capabilities of this rig, Asrock's ION 330 is worth every penny.

2968 days ago
Manfred L. Schuermann
User rating: 5 stars

Pros: Small, powerful, quiet, Part of the beginning end for the Big Tower hype.

Cons: No firewire jack, no eSATA jack, only 2 SATA connectors inside.

Very useful for biz operations. But also for video editing and transcoding with CUDA options (LoiLoScope PowerDirector for AVCHD, MovieShow Espresso for converting videos). Very surprising coz of HT CPUs. Smoothly running with XP, VISTA Ultimate and even IBM Symphony office solution under LINUX.

2994 days ago
nev310
User rating: 4 stars

Pros: this system does not have a pico-itxe it is a mini-itx.

Cons: could be smaller

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