Despite the fact that we are already in Q4, it looks like NVIDIA is really having a busy end of the year. The chip maker is getting ready to launch some highly anticipated products, the GTX 285 and the GTX 295 to be more specific, which are to become the company's highest-performance desktop computer graphics cards available. However, the aforementioned cards are still weeks away from their official launch, but that hasn't stopped NVIDIA from announcing a product that is likely to take the market by storm. Trapped in a 0.6L case, the NVIDIA ION is the first nettop that will provide users with just enough performance to enable them to use it for things such as video encoding, gaming or stuff that you won't normally think of getting on the basic Intel-based nettop.
NVIDIA has been presenting the new system in various parts of the world, and we were lucky enough to be, as they say, at the right time in the right place. It was rather difficult to notice the ION, mostly because of its small form factor and due to the fact that the room where it was showcased was full of systems that boasted NVIDIA's high-performance GeForce graphics cards. Still, when you see a small device such as the ION, next to a Full HD Sony Bravia LCD, running “The Dark Knight” like a real high-performance desktop, you immediately shift your attention towards the small “thing.”
What NVIDIA has done with the ION is to create a platform that combines a GeForce 9400M
chipset with an Intel Atom processor, all placed on a Pico-ITX PCB. Sure, if you aren't familiar with the form factor, that doesn't say much, but imagine you can actually fit the PC inside one of your pockets.
And this is all the more impressive when you get to read the technical specifications of this thing. The small ION is just big enough to provide you with six USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA ports, an Opticla SPDIF and a 7.1-channel LPCM sound. Thanks to the integration of the GeForce 9400M, this Pico-ITX platform is capable of providing a 5x faster transcoding than the Atom CPU alone (according to NVIDIA). The chip maker has also mentioned that the ION isn't that high on power consumption, as it has shown power requirements of 22W when in full load, according to internal benchmarks already performed.
You must already be wondering about the price tag – so imagine we felt the same the moment we got up close and personal with the ION. Unfortunately, NVIDIA hasn't put a price on it yet, but there was talk of a $50 premium over the general price tag of most netbooks out there. Given the capabilities of this small PC, paying $50 more could be considered a real bargain.