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Thread: Hardware review - ZOTAC A-U Atom 330

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate sergatiuk's Avatar
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    Hardware review - ZOTAC A-U Atom 330

    scroll down for pics.

    Ordered the board from Newegg with the 4GB ram crossair that they suggested, it was at my door within 3 days.
    after unpacking it, i put in the ram, connected sata HD, DVD-rom, monitor and the power supply it came with, i loaded windows 7 on it.
    i was very impressed with the performance of the Atom CPU, this little board packs lots of power in a very small form factor. being a dual core CPU, with HT enabled, windows sees it as 4 CPUs. out of 4GB of dual channel ram, windows 7 was using +/- 600MB which leaves plenty of juice for other ram hungry programs.
    it has 6 USB ports on the back panel, and onboard pin connectors for 4 additional ports. with 10 USB ports from the board itself, i highly doubt i will ever need a hub with it.
    i should also note that even though its USB 2, the transfer speed appears to be near double the speed i was getting on my Acer lappy which also has USB 2.
    win 7 was able to recongnise most of the drivers and ran pretty well on first boot.
    The driver CD that came with the board seems to have some issues with its software, when i ran the setup from the CD root folder, it showed a message "detecting hardware..." and then nothing .... the drivers can be found on the CD folders and installed seperatly. however i downloaded them from the ZOTAC site, as theres is better description of the drivers that are for win 7. all the drivers installed well, everything was functioning properly.

    even though i was impressed with the performance on win 7 on this board, i wasnt satisfied enough for use in the car, boot time wasnt as good as i wanted it.
    after extreme nLite configuration, i installed 2003 server and it was blazing fast. cold boot in 30 secs, response was amazing - when you release the 2nd mouse click the program/folder is open, the OS used only 100MB ram. however on the downside the drivers werent very compatible, and the OS showed errors after installing the drivers.
    i then reinstalled win 7 and went on tweaking it.

    after tweaking it to the max i was able to get the desired cold boot times: +/- 40-60 secs.

    by now, most of you might be asking why i went with A-U (19VDC power input) and not D-E (ATX power input), and the reason is that i dont want to go with the Mseries-ATX PSU, and the other are way overpriced, it really doesnt seem logiclal to me paying for the PSU more then the mobo itself. plug since i dont have a spare AC PSU laying around i wanted to be able to do all the configuration as home before i throw the mobo in the car and therefore the AC-DC adapter it came with was the perfect choice, the PSU i will use in the car is http://www.mini-box.com/DCDC-USB, the price seem much more down-to-earth and it offers a wider range and variety for other devices besides a PC.

    before ordering the board i was unshurly debating if i should spend $250 and have everything i want and need in one or go with the $100 cheaper intel board which also has atom 330.
    now i know i made the right choice, having 2GB or 4GB dual channel ram does make a differance, having 10 USB ports does make a differance, having intel chipset or Nvidia ION does make a differance, and unlike the other boards, having HDMI, DVI, digital audio, wifi is a nice extra, and though it isnt needed in the car, if i ever want to use this board for HDPC i can.

    after all i think i investment was well worth it and i am very glad i decided to spend a little extra and go with this board and not another. i really recommend this board to anybody that want the maximum performance in this class of boards, this board should handle anything you might want to throw at it in a car envirment.

    also i forgot to mention the BIOS on this board is customizable and has overclocking options, makign this board useful for more then a year or 2...

    i hope that somebody can find this review helpful.
    ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
    2007 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR5
    >"Say what you mean and mean what you say"<

  2. #2
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    Seeing how my D945GCLF2 takes about 5 seconds to POST before it starts to load windows, how long does POST take on that Zotac motherboard?

  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate simplex's Avatar
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    energy consumption?

  4. #4
    Constant Bitrate sergatiuk's Avatar
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    havent measured the exact time but 2-4 secs...
    i disabled a some detections and other features in the bios, it made it a little faster...see if there is anything you dont need in the bios and disable it, should decrease the post time by a second or 2....
    the zotac comes with AMI bios, so as i said it is very customizable, including possibility to customize the bios splash image. im not sure if the bios on the intel board offers as many possibilities.
    ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
    2007 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR5
    >"Say what you mean and mean what you say"<

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    Constant Bitrate sergatiuk's Avatar
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    simplex, i dont have any device to check energy consumption ....
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    >"Say what you mean and mean what you say"<

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    Constant Bitrate sergatiuk's Avatar
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    ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
    2007 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR5
    >"Say what you mean and mean what you say"<

  7. #7
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    Nice review man! I'm seriously considering this board as an upgrade.

    I'm currently running a Kino-9453 dual core setup, but need extra USB (Kino has 8) which isnt enough for me, so this is very interesting to see the Zotac having 10.

    I personally may go down the path of the D-E version as I run the DSATX - (which reminds me I need to ship my faulty one back back to Jeff)

    The remaining stuff I have on the kino, like wireless and spdif and I could through in a fast Core 2 dual upto T7400 if I need the speed, so I'm not sure if I should change to this board

    Have you tried to overclock and see what speeds you can get out of the ION?

    Cheers
    Kosti
    New Car PC Build list in progress

  8. #8
    Constant Bitrate sergatiuk's Avatar
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    i have not yet tried overclocking it. it really doesnt need it, not yet at least.
    overclocking would require better cooling and higher power consumption, both things i prefer to avoid. i live in Florida where temperatures in the car can get pretty high, you can imagine what it can reach with black interior when its 95f outside. running CF playing a video and using iGO simultaneously and the board doesnt slow down even a bit. (iGO is full 3d)
    the only other priority is boot time, but overclocking the ion wont really affect it enough to sacrifice energy and heat benefits.
    with this board you will not need the wifi nor your chip, the CPU is soldered on the board, not upgradable, but as i said in my review, i defiantly believe this board can serve a nice few years. also we dont know what kind of monitors will come out tomorrow, whether they will be DVI or HDMI. this board is ready for tomorrow's technology
    and yes, if you already purchased a psu, then go with the D-E version.
    ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
    2007 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR5
    >"Say what you mean and mean what you say"<

  9. #9
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    As mentioned the only thing my current board is letting me down on are:

    [1] Audio - only has line out and mic in (also SPDIF)
    [2] USB - Has 8, but need 10

    Starting up isnt that big of a deal as after initial boot up you'd hibernate it.

    I did find a team that O/C the pants off the ATOM330 on the zotac M/B, click HERE

    Id assume it will run CF3 no problems if it ever gets out of the beta testers hands...

    Cheers

  10. #10
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    Did you pay $250 just for the board...cause it's $184.99. If I was you I would see if you could get some of your money back.

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