ASRock A330ION ITX Motherboard - Gaming Performance and More

Article Index
ASRock A330ION ITX Motherboard
Closer Look at the A330ION
Specifications and More
Test Setup and Testing
Synthetic Testing Continued
Gaming Performance and More

 

3DMark Performance:

As we carry on into the gaming side of things, we start off with a couple of tried-and-true benchmarks; 3DMark 06 and 3DMark Vantage.  We used the default benchmark settings for both.  This gives a balanced score and stresses both the graphics and CPU systems on the notebook.  While higher quality and resolution tests may be interesting, we don't have any other relative data to compare to and these numbers wouldn't mean much to most people.  If you want to see how your under-powered system compares, please head on over to FutureMark, download these benchmarks and post your results and system specs at the "Comments" link below.  3DMark Vantage was ran using the "Entry" pre-configured settings with 3DMark 06 running the stock benchmark.

 3DMark Chart
3DMark Vantage

 

While the Atom + ION is certainly not a gaming machine, it ran these benchmarks without error and generated a score - albeit a low one.  This doesn't paint the whole picture though and I decided to install Call of Duty 4 on the machine and play around with it for a bit.  In the end I was able to run most maps at 1024x768 at medium-low detail anywhere from 18-58FPS.  I'd hate to play online with this machine, but it could get the job done if you were desperate.


 

Real-World Performance:

We wrap up with a look at video decoding (watching).  We've used several HD Video clips at 1080p and 720p on both WMVHD and Quicktime H.264.  The Atom is not powerful enough to process this video on its own and if it weren't for the ION chipset from NVIDIA the system would choke.  To make things interesting, I thought I'd throw the Intel Atom Nettop from ASRock once more for comparison.  The Nettop uses DDR2 while the A330ION uses DDR3 - other than that, system specs are virtually identical in regards to video playback.

  HD Video

 

Both ION-based systems are virtually identical in performance and we see no more than 1-2% of difference either way.  This is within margin of error and both systems can play back HD video very easily.

 

Conclusion:

With the price and availability of ITX systems coming down, the A330ION motherboard from ASRock is a decent choice for a quiet, Home Theatre PC or web-connected computer.  The A330ION board supports four SATA devices internally as well as two eSATA devices, a bunch of USB ports and HDMI, DVI-D and even a VGA port.  If you have some extra DDR3 and a hard drive lying around, it makes a cheap system that can get a lot of little jobs done.  If you need a full system, you should still consider a cheap AMD-system and you'll have more power.  In the end, it's a great little board that is loaded with features.  The Atom + ION combination is pretty solid, but when doing any kind of encoding or compression, it shows that it is weak sauce.  For web apps, it's a great little unit though.

When it comes to HD Video performance, this unit shines like the sun after a rainy week.  It decodes any 720p or 1080p video without issues and is an H.264 behemoth.  You can easily add a Blu-Ray drive to your ITX system and have a great little HTPC that will keep you happy for many years.  ASRock uses their solid-state capacitors to ensure long life.

 

Pros:

  • Small ITX form factor
  • ION Chipset gives the Atom some life
  • Dual-core 330 with HyperThreading
  • HDMI, DVI-D & VGA output
  • Two eSATA/USB ports for extra external storage options

 

Cons:

  • Nothing really stands out

 

BCCRating

Silver

I'd like to thank ASRock for sending out this little ITX motherboard for us to play around with.  It's not a bad board at all and is worth consideration if you are looking to build a PC for a small space.

Please post your comments and questions in the forum at the "Comments" link below.