Is the NVIDIA ION platform worth it for home theater PCs?

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There has been a lot of buzz around nVidia’s ION platform, and the central question being addressed in this post is simple. Is the nVidia ION platform really worth the money? If you’re planning on building or buying a media PC for a home theater, then the simple answer is yes.

What is nVidia ION?

The nVidia ION platform consists of an nVidia chipset which is connected to Intel’s Atom processor. The Atom is a very small processor that is not powerful enough to display any sort of decent graphics or video. In short, the Intel Atom processor lacks the ability to play video, making it seemingly worthless for home theater PCs. Luckily for Intel, nVidia’s chipset saves the Atom processor by making it useful for home theater computers. The ION chipset contains a graphics processing core which is more than capable of displaying flawless high definition, video. 720p, 1080p, everything plays flawlessly with the nVidia’s ION chipset because it can do the complex and computationally intensive task of displaying high definition video. Of course, the ION platform is fully capable of outputting with a regular DVI or HDMI connector, making it ideal for connecting it to your television. Without the ION chipset, you can not connect an HDMI connector to a computer with an Intel Atom processor. Period. Intel’s default chipset is extremely primitive when compared to the ION.

Other advantages

Aside from being able to flawlessly play HD content with the ION chipset, there are other advantages as well. The ION uses about the same amount of power on average as Intel’s default chipset. This means you aren’t going to need any additional fans or any noisy components in order to keep the computer cool. The ION is also advanced enough to enable playing 2d and 3d games on your computer. Intel’s chipset for the Atom processor is simply too primitive to play any sort of modern game. Having said that, please keep in mind that the ION is not, and is not meant to be, a high end gaming solution, but it can play most modern games at reasonable settings.

The cost

This blog is about saving money, so what sort of cost will the ION add to any computer? Reports have been claiming that the addition of the ION graphics processor will add approximately 50 dollars to the total cost of the system. This is actually pretty reasonable considering that it allows you to play and display video in true HD quality, even with the puny Atom possessor. The ION is worth every penny because there is simply no alternative. If you’re building or buying a media or home theater PC, the absolute best choice is anything with nVidia’s ION processor inside.

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This post was written by admin on May 24, 2009

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