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Thread: HEXUS.reviews :: Via Epia Cn13000 mainboard

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    HEXUS.reviews :: Via Epia Cn13000 mainboard

    EPIA systems are traditionally a generation or two behind on the CPU side of things when it comes to performance, and their integrated graphics cores leave a lot to be desired, even when compared to IGPs from other vendors. However, the miniaturisation of the EPIA means that, providing the power is acceptable, it can be used for a decently wide range of small form factor PC systems.

    That miniaturisation extends to the CPU now with an EPIA system, VIA asking IBM to manufacture their brand new C7 microprocessor which sips less than 20W at 2GHz, and usually much, much less. Pair that CPU with a VIA CN700 northbridge, one that integrates a UniChrome Pro graphics core, and other peripheral ICs (all from the VIA stable, keeping things very much in-house) and with a PCI slot you've got the potential for a decent computing platform for a range of tasks.
    http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=6625
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    Nice review of the board, seems to be a suitable htpc option. Do you know what kind of support the current Mini-ITX cases will have for it or will we have to wait for new ones?

    Did you get to try any hard disk performance benchmarks on the board due to the time you had with it, if anyone wanted to use it as a basis for a server?

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    Great review, but theres a few things you didnt attempt, which for the board and its application (MCE mainly) i would of hoped.

    Did you try this in MCE with various codec's to see if playback was smooth, and at what resolutions ?

    And do you have any links to people selling this board..

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    I eventually found it at http://www.mini-itx.com for £128 inc.VAT. Link also answers my own question about case support.

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    Nice little review, only thing that I'd like to have seen tested is whether the cpu has enough oomph to be able to record tv, preferably with something like a cheap little USB digital tv stick.

    I've always liked the idea of a nice cheap mini box that can be left running in the background without sucking much power. Something that can be left on for skype calls (could ditch the telephone line then) and a spot of browsing etc. and double up for recording purposes. Only trouble is a decent hard drive based dvd recorder can be had for less than £200 quid nowadays so the appeal has diminished a little.

    Still mull over the idea once in a while, price would have to be right though, which immediatley rules out the hideously expensive mobile pentium. What I would like to see on your testbed is that nice little Foxconn socket 754 miniITX that was shown, though I am starting to believe I imagined it....

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    Quote Originally Posted by wombat
    ...only thing that I'd like to have seen tested is whether the cpu has enough oomph to be able to record tv, preferably with something like a cheap little USB digital tv stick.
    Recording digital tv doesn't take much CPU. All that's required is taking the particular channel out of the MPEG-TS multiplex of ~6 channels and saving it to disk in a container of some sort. It's already MPEG-II, so no encoding required, as such.
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    I second that, great review, it's nice to see this kind of 'niche' product getting some attention, it's not always about speed and power you know!

    I was a little disappointed by those test results though. I have the CN10000 (a 1.0ghz fanless version of the CN13000) which 'feels' much quicker than the board specification suggests and I wonder whether 'real world' tests might have shown it in a better light?

    For anyone looking to buy, with the pound so strong at the moment I went to a US site for mine (www.logicsupply.com)

    Case-wise, the mini-itx format has been around for a long time and there are plenty of options available but a good site would be able to confirm compatability. A sites with a huge range of HTPC cases, including many I haven't seen elsewhere, is www.specialtech.co.uk. I have mine in a top of the range box file from Tesco but that's a whole other thread (2.58 and a stanley knife is all you need.)..

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    Quote Originally Posted by wombat
    Nice little review, only thing that I'd like to have seen tested is whether the cpu has enough oomph to be able to record tv, preferably with something like a cheap little USB digital tv stick.

    I've always liked the idea of a nice cheap mini box that can be left running in the background without sucking much power. Something that can be left on for skype calls (could ditch the telephone line then) and a spot of browsing etc. and double up for recording purposes. Only trouble is a decent hard drive based dvd recorder can be had for less than £200 quid nowadays so the appeal has diminished a little.

    Still mull over the idea once in a while, price would have to be right though, which immediatley rules out the hideously expensive mobile pentium. What I would like to see on your testbed is that nice little Foxconn socket 754 miniITX that was shown, though I am starting to believe I imagined it....
    But Hard Drive based DVD Recorders, cant browse the internet, or be used for skype.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sim0n
    But Hard Drive based DVD Recorders, cant browse the internet, or be used for skype.
    or be a great little "file server " that uses a stupidly low amount of power to run

    - used to have an epia
    Quote Originally Posted by Ephesians
    Do not be drunk with wine, which will ruin you, but be filled with the Spirit
    Vodka

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    Nice review, to repeat the thoughts of others, it would have been nice to see some multi-media benches, it would also help if you detailed your power consumption tests. The low power, mm market is exactly where this device is targeted.

    I'm currently developing a system based around these devices at work so I'll add my 2c....

    Leaving the office last night I checked the power consumption of one of our test ML6000 boards. This board is based on the older C3 processor @666MHz and fitted with 512k DDR ram and two Afaya flash drives ( http://www.icp-epia.co.uk , www.linitx.com (very helpful people here) and others), powered by the converter that came fittted to a Cubid case + a 60w power brick the whole system draws 18 watts while sitting at the linux command prompt. This is measured from the mains socket.

    From my tests, using a standard ATX psu adds about 5 to 10 watts to the total system power consumption, depends on the actual psu used.

    Adding a 3 1/2 hard drive will add another 5 to 10 watts, it's important to keep an eye on the hd startup power as this may exclude the use of psu's with a lower rating.

    The C7 core uses less power per MHz and allows for the use of DDR2 ram, from memory our 1500MHz C7 system fitted with 1GB ram and two flash drives also draws less than 20 watts when at the linux prompt.

    ....

    I was also evaluating the options for building a dvb based mm center a few months ago, the following may be of help to some....

    All of the mini-itx boards are capable of recording at least one stream, the transmission is basically mpeg2 so all the board needs to do is save to disk.

    Video playback, see: http://www.silentpcreview.com/article50-page2.html for an older system, http://www.silentpcreview.com/article609-page5.html for one of the newer systems.

    The sw supplied with the Hauppaugue Nova T USB 2 is a little clunky and my, sometimes marginal, dvb reception can cause it to crash. Not suitable for living room duty.

    GB-PVR, http://www.gbpvr.com/ , for windows is nice software but is also prone to reception and recording hickups.

    MythTV, http://www.mythtv.org/ , for linux is also nice software but suffers from the same reception and recording hickups.

    My dvb reception is good enough for a dedicated freeview decoder but causes problems for sw solutions.

    .... My conclusion was that no current application sw is sufficiently stable to be trusted with the job of un-attended recording of dvb, at least not with my dvb reception.

    My solution was to buy a Topfield 5800prv, www.toppy.org.uk , for recording and live viewing duty. This is a nice device, twin dvb tuners, hd recording etc. It also has a USB port! Special applications (taps), mostly written by other users, can be down loaded to customise various features AND recordings can be copied off the hd directly to a pc.

    Apart from a hickup last weekend, you can read about it on the toppy site, the toppy 5800 has worked a charm. Only two draw backs so far:

    1) I keep running low on disk space, thanks mostly to film4.
    2) While I could archive the recordings to dvd, VideoRedo does a fine job here, I've become used to browsing my recordings from a list, from the comfort of my chair.

    This is where mini-itx re-enters the plan.

    I'm currently waiting for a Jetway J7F2 + GIGA Lan board (www.linitx.com) to arrive. The plan is to build a system into an old VCR or mini-hifi case. The systm will:

    Copy files from the toppy.
    Allow recordings to be scheduled remotely via a web interface.
    Allow playback from hd.
    Record to dvd.
    Act as a Lan storage device.
    Make for a useful, dedicated, download device.
    Have at least two, preferably hot swap, data drives.
    Be nice and quiet while drawing little power.

    At least that's the plan, lol.

    I hope some of this ramble has been of value
    Last edited by ecat; 09-09-2006 at 09:04 AM.

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    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    When you consider just what you can get in mini-itx these days , the epia is starting to look very slow.

    I'm currently running a commell lv-677-dc board which has two ddr2 two slots and allows any of the Core Duo intel chips, along with a pci-ex slot for graphics its superb.

    Current specs are:

    T2500 Intel Core Duo (2.0ghz dual core)
    2 x 1gb Corsiar DDR2
    320gb sata II hard disc
    DL DVD Writer.
    Sapphire X800 GTO2

    All running off a single 120w psu brick in a cubit 3 chassis, when you then look at the epia's they are a bit last decade in terms of performance.

    Via at least have a pentium m solution on the way but that will be out of date by the time its launched heck it is already!

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    Thanks for the post ecat some useful insight there, I've got an old computer that doesn't need much to get it going so I think I'll have a play with that, I've been interested in looking at mythtv for a while. By the time I get round to doing it, the software may be stable enough for me...

    And yes I was wrong about the Foxconn socket 754 miniITX, it was Albatron that were showing it.

    Karl

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    You're welcome Karl

    I spent the weekend playing with the jf2w 1500. Some notes :-
    Win xp works out the box.

    Debian working with only a few problems of my own creation and two sound issues, now resolved.

    From Debian with desktop and no power saving, fitted with 1GB ram, a Panasonic slim-line DL dvd writer and 2, small, hd's the full system was pulling 60 ish watts when powered from an old, no name, pc psu.

    The same setup now powered from 110watt brick + 120watt pico converter is drawing about 35watts.... PC psu's are not the way to go

    I discovered a media player called VLC ( www.videolan.org ), available for windows and linux .... well worth checking out

    One note on the myth+distro download, avoid ati graphics cards, the older ones at least, lol, I learned the hard way.

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