Before we dive into the performance benchmarks, we have come up with a reasonable set of tests to highlight the main selling points of such a small and compact system. The ION platform can utilize an Atom CPU along with the GeForce IGP on the ION 2 chipset to display full HD content, while keeping power consumption to a mininum. Other tasks like browsing and office work would be nothing new for small form factor PCs as that has been possible with older mini-ITX generations already. Even the new all in one Intel Atom solution, which holds the CPU, GPU and chipset in a single package cannot manage 1080p output yet as preliminary tests have shown, so ION and ION2 remain the only ones out there for mini-ITX solutions in combination with Atom. This brings us to the second aspect: power consumption. This is another major selling point and we wanted to see how much the entire system draws in standby, idle, load and watching a full HD movie in form of a WMV HD file.
The power level during standby is very low, just as expected. Interestingly enough the PSU of the Edge-HD seems to draw a tad bit more during such a state than others. In idle, while sitting at the Windows desktop, the Nettop manages to impress with the lowest numbers of all such systems to date, with the Foxconn NT-330i coming in at a close second
Stepping things up, the ION 2 equipped Edge-HD did not dissapoint at all. Both during movie playback and at full load the power draw is less than all other systems on our test bench.
CPU Utilizaton & Temperatures
When watching the "Step Into Liquid" 1080p WMV-HD trailer on the Edge-HD, CPU utilization sat at around 27% most of the time. This is also a tad bit less than the previous generation ION systems. While we have always used this one file, the level of utilization may fluctuate a bit with varying bit rate. The Mini-PC played back the file flawlessly, without any skipping or artifacts.
When pushing the system, the fan does ramp up a bit, but still is quite bearable. Keeping an eye on temperatures, there is a fairly large difference between the CPU and GPU, even though both are rather close to each other and use the same fan and heatsink assembly. The high temperatures of the GPU may be attributed to that weird, secondary copper plate on the heatsink. But at no point did the Edge-HD quit working and it never became unstable, no matter what I threw at it.
Thanks to the GeForce GT218 and the 512 MB dedicated memory, the Edge-HD beats all other offerings by a long shot in 3DMark06. While you won't be able to play Crysis 2 on the system, nothing stands in the way of casual gaming.
| ||Sapphire Edge-HD||Zotac ION F||Zotac 9300-ITX||ASRock ION 330HT-BD||Foxconn NT-330I Netbox|
| ||Atom 510 @ 1.66 GHz|
NVIDIA ION 2
|Atom 330 @ 1.60 GHz|
|Celeron 440 @ 2.00 GHz|
|Atom 330 @ 1.60 GHz|
|Atom 330 @ 1.60 GHz|
|PCMark 05 Score||2723||2035||2278||2165||2309|
|HDD - XP Startup||7.3 MB/s||6.4 MB/s||5.9 MB/s||5.8 MB/s||6.9 MB/s|
|Physics and 3D||49.2 FPS||47.1 FPS||96.2 FPS||47.2 FPS||46.3 FPS|
|3D- Pixel Shader||123.3 FPS||70.1 FPS||51.3 FPS||67.2 FPS||76.6 FPS|
|Web Page Rendering||0.9 Pages/s||0.8 Pages/s||1.2 Pages/s||0.8 Pages/s||0.8 Pages/s|
|File Decryption||14.7 MB/s||14.4 MB/s||46.5 MB/s||14.6 MB/s||14.2 MB/s|
|Graphics Memory||493.7 FPS||454.5 FPS||358.1 FPS||464.9 FPS||330,7 FPS|
|HDD - General Usage||4.5 MB/s||4.2 MB/s||4.3 MB/s||3.7 MB/s||4.4 MB/s|
|Audio Compression||789 KB/s||787 KB/s||1225 KB/s||770 KB/s||767 KB/s|
|Video Encoding||152 KB/s||140 KB/s||151 KB/s||167 KB/s||169 KB/s|
|Text Edit||41.4 Pages/s||38.9 Pages/s||52.9 Pages/s||38.0 Pages/s||38.8 Pages/s|
|Image Decompression||9.1 MPixel/s||8.0 MPixel/s||13.2 MPixel/s||8.7 MPixel/s||8.3 MPixel/s|
|File Compression||2.9 MB/s||3.0 MB/s||2.1 MB/s||3.1 MB/s||2.1 MB/s|
|File Encryption||13.5 MB/s||12.8 MB/s||12.5 MB/s||12.6 MB/s||12.6 MB/s|
|HDD Virus Scan||85.8 MB/s||59.2 MB/s||42.3 MB/s||69.9 MB/s||62.7 MB/s|
|Memory Latency||8.0 MAccesses/s||5.9 MAccess/s||6.7 MAccesses/s||5.7 MAccesses/s||7.0 MAccess/s|
The Sapphire Edge-HD Mini PC may be as compact as the Foxconn NT-330i, but it is not nearly as loud. While you will hear the fan during operation and you may also note the slight change in rotation speeds when pushing the Edge-HD a bit, but the overall noise level is very good. You should be able to get used to the operational noise as it is much lower than a Playstation 3 or classic Xbox 360, while being on par with a modern Xbox 360 Slim for example.