NVIDIA Ion – Intel Atom Done Right?

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NVIDIA Ion – Intel Atom Done Right?

Today I have something special for everyone! I’ve spent the past couple of weeks playing with one of the NVIDIA Ion reference platforms and get to bring you my thoughts on this new innovative platform. The NVIDIA Ion platform has been one of the most anticipated platforms since it was shown off at CES back in January 2009, and even more so when the performance numbers were released later that same month. The NVIDIA Ion reference PC that I will be looking at today uses an Intel Atom 230 processor, a single 2GB DDR3 1066MHz SO-DIMM memory module, and the GeForce 9400M 256MB graphics processing unit. This system is basically what one will find in a high-end netbook, but has been placed in a sleek and sexy small form factor case that has Home Theater PC (HTPC) or media PC written all over it.

NVIDIA Ion with a GeForce GTX 295 and BlackBerry Bold

The NVIDIA Ion reference PC weighed in at 1.4 pounds and chassis was a mere 5.6 x 4.3 x 1.5-inch box that looks too small to contain a full PC. The NVIDIA Ion does include a cooling fan inside, but to help get the heat out NVIDIA laser cut in a thermal vent into the top of the chassis. This cooling vent also serves for branding as it was cut in the shape of NVIDIA’s ‘eye’ logo. Looking at the NVIDIA Ion by itself, it doesn’t look too special, so let’s place it next to some objects that you might be familiar with.

NVIDIA Ion with a GeForce GTX 295 and BlackBerry Bold

With the NVIDIA Ion reference PC sitting between my Blackberry Bold smart phone and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 video card you get an idea of how small this PC really is. The NVIDIA Ion reference PC is powered by an Intel Atom 230 processor, but what makes it different from other platforms is the fact that it also features a desktop version of NVIDIA’s 16-core GeForce 9400M (a different version of the 9400M than what is found in netbooks). With the GeForce 9400M GPU inside this Ion can playback 1080P video content with ease as well as play games like Spore with decent frame rates. 

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