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Zotac nForce 630i-ITX WiFi review

Seth Barton
30 Jan 2009
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
65
inc VAT

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Specifications

LGA775, Mini-ITX, Nvidia GeForce 7100 chipset, supports: Celeron Dual Core, Pentium Dual Core, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, Core 2 Extreme

If you're looking to build a compact media centre PC, you should consider a mini-ITX motherboard and case.

All the mini-ITX boards we've seen so far have been low-powered models, such as the Gigabyte GA-GC230D, which take the same Intel Atom processor found in most netbooks. This can handle standard-definition video, but it won't cope with HD.

The mini-ITX Zotac nForce 630i-ITX WiFi has a standard LGA775 processor socket. It's compatible with all the Core 2 processors in Intel's current range. This makes it possible to build a tiny media centre PC that's perfectly capable of playing HD video.

We thought that the tiny motherboard would force some serious compromises on our small PC. However, the only real drawback is the lack of a PCI Express x16 slot. This means you can't add your own graphics card, so you'll have to rely on the onboard Nvidia GeForce 7100 chipset. Fortunately this has both VGA and DVI outputs, and an HDMI adaptor is supplied for the latter. The chipset supports HDCP for Blu-ray playback. You can output digital audio over HDMI or use the three analogue mini-jacks for analogue 5.1 surround sound.

We tested Blu-ray playback with a handful of different Core 2-based processors, and even the cheapest produced smooth video. However, if you want to record TV programmes in Media Center while watching a Blu-ray movie, we'd recommend buying a 2.2GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E2180, which costs around £50 including VAT.

The motherboard has only two memory slots, which support a maximum of 4GB of DDR2, but this is still plenty for most users. The result from our PCMark Vantage benchmark looks poor because it includes a 3D graphics section and we couldn't fit our reference ATI HD 4850 graphics card. However, it's fairly typical when compared with other motherboards when using their integrated-graphics chipsets. The chipset isn't suitable for games, producing only 3.6fps in Call of Duty 4 even at a resolution of 1,024x768 with anti-aliasing disabled.

Its six USB ports would be impressive even on a standard ATX board, enabling you to add plenty of peripherals. This version of the board comes with a tiny screw-in daughterboard that supports 802.11b/g wireless networking. There's also a Gigabit Ethernet port for fast network connections. Expansion cards are limited to a single PCI-Express x1 slot, but that's still sufficient for adding an internal dual TV tuner.

The 630i-ITX packs an impressive number of features into a very small space. By adding a powerful Core 2 processor you can build a PC with plenty of processing power at a fraction of the usual size. There are plenty of great-looking mini-ITX cases available, such as the Nexus Psile from www.psile.com, which would work well with this board. We'd suggest using one with an exhaust fan rather than just passive cooling vents, though. We can't find any similar motherboards at anywhere near this price, so we're happy to give the 630i-ITX our Best Buy award.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
Processor socketLGA775
Form factorMini-ITX
Size170x170mm
Processor supportCeleron Dual Core, Pentium Dual Core, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, Core 2 Extreme
Processor external bus333MHz (1,333MHz quad-pumped FSB)
Chipset north bridgeNvidia GeForce 7100
Chipset south bridgeNvidia nForce 630i
Passively-cooled north bridgeyes
Integrated graphicsYes
Supported memory typeDDR2 533/667
Maximum memory speedPC2-4300
Memory slots2
Maximum memory4GB
Dual-channel supportyes

Buying Information

Price£65
Supplierhttp://www.cclonline.com
Detailswww.zotac.com

Internal Ports

PCI-E x16 slots0
Dual graphics architecturenone
PCI-E x4 slots0
PCI-E x1 slots1
PCI slots0
Fan headers2
Floppy ports0
IDE ports1
Serial ATA ports2
RAID chipset (max disks)none

Features

Wired network ports10/100
Sound (ports)Realtek ALC888 (3x analogue out)
USB2 ports / headers6/2
Firewire ports / headers0/0
Legacy ports2x PS/2

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