Review Price free/subscription
Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi
The Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi is a tiny motherboard that measures a mere 170mm x 170mm so it has a certain cutesy appeal. That said, it doesn't pack the same visual impact as the Micro-ATX Asus Rampage II Gene.
Unpacking the Zotac only takes a moment as the box doesn't contain a huge pile of goodies. In addition to the motherboard you get two SATA cables, one SATA power adapter and the USB Wi-Fi module that gives the Zotac part of its name. We have previously seen the major elements of this motherboard in other models that we have reviewed.
The Intel DG45FC is a Mini-ITX motherboard that supports LGA775 processors with Intel G45 graphics and we all know the G45 core is competent but hardly dazzling. We've also seen the Nvidia GeForce 9300 chipset in the Asus P5NA-VM as well as the slightly beefed-up GeForce 9400 when we reviewed the Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H. Those are the ingredients on the table so the question is whether Zotac can turn them into a tasty dish.
The layout of the GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi requires a few compromises as there is so little space to accommodate the various components. Intel got round this problem by locating three controller chips on the back of the motherboard which presumably raised the cost of manufacture. Zotac, though, has stuck to the traditional approach and has kept all of the components on the front of the board.
The layout is dominated by the LGA775 socket and the passive cooler on the chipset. Once you add two DDR2 memory slots, the 24-pin power connector and the PCI Express x16 graphics slot there is very little space remaining. As a result the four-pin ATX 12V connector is squeezed in tight behind the HDMI connector on the I/O panel very close to the PS/2 port and two USB connectors, so it's a bit awkward to reach.
The other notable point is there are only two SATA connectors and no IDE connector so the storage options will be fully occupied by your hard drive and optical drive.
The connectors on the I/O panel do a good job of offering features that will appeal to most people so there are six USB 2.0 ports, one PS/2, one eSATA, Gigabit LAN, coaxial and optical audio and three analogue jacks as well as HDMI, VGA and DVI-I for the Nvidia graphics. We're a bit disappointed to see there are only three analogue mini jacks on the Realtek ALC662 chip but we have to wonder how many people want or need full analogue surround sound.
There are three USB headers on the Zotac that would usually support six more USB ports but this motherboard has a trick up its sleeve. The package includes a Wi-Fi module that screws to the motherboard next to the analogue jacks. You see we knew there was a reason Zotac left a space there instead of installing six connectors.