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Pegatron IPX7A-ION/330 Motherboard

A good mini-ITX solution from a new market player.

February 16, 2010



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After ASUS AT3N7A-I and Zotac ION ITX series, we got another mini-ITX motherboard based on the NVIDIA ION chipset and the Intel Atom 330 CPU -- Pegatron IPX7A-ION/330. Its key difference from the aforementioned products is a PCIe x16 slot that also supports PCIe x4 and x1 expansion cards. The slot lets you improve your machine with a discrete graphics card, or a TV tuner, or a sound card, etc.

Design



Besides having a PCIe x16 slot, the motherboard supports SO-DIMM DDR2 memory in two typical horizontal sockets. Since it's hardly more expensive these days, this is not a drawback or an advantage, just a peculiarity.



Everything else is quite regular, including all pros and cons of the chipset and CPU. As you might remember, NVIDIA ION has a decent integrated graphics solution, GeForce 9400, that has hardware support for MPEG-4 AVC (H.264), VC-1 and MPEG-2 FullHD video. This lets you use ION-based motherboards to build HTPCs and entry-level entertainment centers. The soldered Intel Atom 330 CPU consists of two Atom 230 cores on a single substrate. Operating at 1.6 GHz, each core supports Hyper-Threading, so an OS would detect 4 processors: 2 actual and 2 virtual. This CPU has the TDP of just 8W, or 4W per core.



Like ASUS AT3N7A-I, IPX7A-ION/330 has a custom cooler. The company installed two separate heatsinks instead of one large heat dissipator. This motherboard is supplied with no fans, which should theoretically hint at its ability to work in the fully passive mode.

Unfortunately, the tests indicate quite the opposite. Even in an open enclosure, at 24°C ambient temperature, the cooler yields to the maximum load provided by prime95 + Furmark in about 20 minutes. After that the system either hang or reboots. One slow 120mm fan covering the board (a GlacialTech's 950rpm solution in our case) solves this issue.


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