You don’t need any tests to understand that there are very few games that can possibly run on nettops and netbooks. For example, you have to forget about all popular titles discussed in media over the past year or two. Therefore, we decided to check how the good old Quake 4 game that came out back in 2005 would run on our “atomic” platforms.
Nothing comforting here. Even with medium image quality settings, you can hardly play Quake 4 on a GeForce 9400 based system. And keeping in mind that resolution change barely affects the fps rate, we suspect the slow processor to be the main bottleneck here and not the weak graphics subsystem.
However, first-person 3D shooters are not the only type of games out there, so we decided to try a few other games on our tested platforms for the sake of experiment. So, we launched a popular network arcade called Trackmania Nations Forever that is not very resource-consuming:
And again nothing to celebrate. The performance is too low for comfortable gaming and the problem is again in the Atom processor, as we can see from the results of the Intel 945GC based system. Although it features considerably weaker graphics, its results are not that much lower than those of the competitor. Well, it looks like Atom-based systems and Nvidia ION in particular are not cut for gaming at all.
However, before we eliminate the possibility of comfortable gaming completely, we decided to give ION the last chance and tested it in World of Warcraft – one of the most popular online RPG. The peculiarity of World of Warcraft is that its gaming engine is extremely lenient to system hardware resources. And nevertheless…
We see exact same picture. Everything hit against the slow CPU, which once again proves how ill-balanced the Nvidia platform is. Although GeForce 9400 graphics core can do just fine in all games we have tried, Intel Atom 230 processor won’t let us see a satisfactory result. However, real WoW fans will still be able to enjoy their favorite game, since high fsp rate is not so important in this title and 20-25 fps may be quite enough for undemanding players.
After a not very positive gaming experience, we decided to focus on the typical nettop work (in Intel’s terms) – web-surfing and web-page loading. Here we used two tests. The first one was Futuremark Peacekeeper. It measured the browser performance during web-page rendering. The second test was Powerflasher Powerbench and it measured the performance of applications designed in Adobe Flash 10.
Although Nvidia ION demonstrated higher results than an all-Intel nettop, we won’t declare the superiority of the former. The obtained results are very close, which indicates almost identical performance during Internet-surfing. High-performance graphics core integrated into GeForce 9400 doesn’t step in during web-page loading as well as during Flash-playback.