This little guy packs about as many features in a small mm x mm footprint that you might want. There are a number of components on the back which should be handled with care:. The cooling package includes a CPU heatsink and passive heatsink for the North and Southbridge chips:. Accepting these figures, this comes out to a mere 0. This modest heat loading enables cooling the Via Epia M with a rather smallish heatsink sporting a 40 mm low-noise fan.
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You can't fault Via Technologies for persistence with their C3 processor. More than a year and a half ago, now, I checked out an MHz C3. Back then, C3s were Socket processors that didn't draw a lot of power, and were fast enough for business applications. But they had lousy price-performance compared with Intel processors for the same socket.
They weren't much cheaper if at all , and they were quite a lot slower. If C3s cost ten bucks then their lousy performance wouldn't have mattered; they were still more than fast enough for what most computers do most of the time, and what many computers do all of the time.
But the price killed 'em. Socket C3s still exist, and their sales figures are continuing to fail to set the world alight. Fortunately, Via came up with a better way to sell them. Behold - EPIA motherboards. In the Mini-ITX form factor. They're only 17 centimetres square; less than four tenths of the footprint of a standard ATX motherboard.
This means they can fit into very small cases. An EPIA is about the most concentrated dose of standard-x86 computing you're likely to find. Video, sound, network adapter? All built in. As is the CPU; it's soldered right onto the board. The Edens draw so little juice that they don't even need a fan on their heat sink. Via originally claimed the C3 would also be able to get away without a CPU fan, but in the real world, you need a pretty big heat sink and lots of case ventilation for that to work.
The Eden is the real fanless deal, but it's not fast. For everyday computing using today's slim and speedy Microsoft operating systems, you want at least a C3.
These little shoebox cases are popular habitats for EPIA boards. They've got enough room for a normal complement of drives one optical, one floppy, one hard , they're tall enough that you can fit a normal expansion card in if you want, and they look spiffy.
This one's a black Skyhawk IMC Aussies who'd like to order it can click here to do so. The living room PC market, however, generally wants a processor that's fast enough to play CPU-intensive video. Many people's perfectly legally acquired video files, though, are encoded using some other codec. Those codecs tend to be very CPU-intensive. Practically any AMD or Intel CPU made in the last few years will be able to handle video playback adequately - your old MHz Duron box may not be able to do much else while it's playing a DVD rip full screen, but you'll probably be fine with that.
The C3 has been getting faster since I last checked one out. Its core speed has climbed, and it's also gone through a few drastic core revisions. As part of Via's continuing attempt to teach the world's geeks the books of the Old Testament by stealth, the original C3's Samuel 2 core begat Ezra the one I reviewed last time , which begat Ezra-T , which begat the new Nehemiah. The Nehemiah core powers the C3 1. It's an Ezra-T. The WinChip core ought to be a significant step forward, primarily because the Floating Point Unit FPU inside it is finally running at full core speed, instead of half speed.
It also finally supports the SSE instruction set extensions. The boring-business-box market for the C3 doesn't care much about floating point speed and "multimedia extensions"; business apps do little or no floating point work, and only care about integer performance, which is good enough in the C3s.
But if you're playing 3D games or video files - which you may well be doing, on your funky little living room PC - you're likely to care a lot more about FPU speed. This is basically just an ingenious high quality random number generator that, if you're using encryption software that hooks into it, increases the security of random-number-based encryption schemes.
There's no software that supports it yet, though. Enhanced Performance I-something Architecture? Embedded Processor Information Appliance? So maybe this is just another one of those. EPIA does stand for something , but I'm pretty sure that's not right. Getting back on track. There's this little case, and there's an M board inside it, powered by the not-quite-newest version of the C3.
And some other stuff. It's easy to get into the Skyhawk case; the slide-off top-and-sides piece is retained by three thumbscrews. It's also quite easy to work on, as these things go; there's a transverse-mount 3. If you don't need a floppy drive many people don't, these days you could shoehorn another hard drive in there and turn this little box into a really startlingly capacious MP3 server, or what-have-you.
The Skyhawk case's motherboard mounting location has enough room around it that you won't be knocking caps off your EPIA board if you're installing it yourself. There's also enough air space around the compact watt power supply that its pleasingly standard 80mm exhaust fan many tiny boxes have ineffectively weeny fans ought to keep the case well ventilated. The back panel. There's that comparatively big fan, and the connector-packed back of the motherboard.
Note, also, the single full height expansion slot. If you don't install a card there - and most people won't need to - then you can use the space for It comes with the M-Series boards, it plugs into the motherboard, and it gives you your extra two USB ports, and your two FireWire ports. In the olden days, budget priced all-in-one motherboards were seriously nasty.
Driver issues, reliability problems, and truly miserable performance. Even for office applications. Because I was expecting this system to perform like top-of-the-range machines of a few years ago, I started by bouncing a few elderly benchmarks off it. This is a totally synthetic tiny-bench with little relevance to real world tasks, but a big difference in synthetic MIPS or MFLOPS scores does , generally, mean a noticeable difference in real world performance.
The humble 1. Even if you allow for its higher clock speed, it's still 2. I really, really hope the full-speed Nehemiah FPU improves this situation.
WinTune also has some lightweight "application simulation" tests for integer, floating point and MMX operations. The Athlon beat it senseless for those, too. The newer CPU scored better across the board of the WinTune CPU tests than the Ezra, as you'd expect given its higher clock speed, but once I corrected for clock speed, it was pretty much exactly the same speed as the Ezra. C3-versus-C3 tests aren't of much interest to most people, of course; they want to know how the C3 stacks up against better known CPUs.
Just by a somewhat smaller amount. OK, let's try something a bit more real-world. And, as I sat there and watched PCMark Pro work its way through its video tests, yea, did I witness nasty pauses and hiccups. I fired up the simple 1.
It scored and for CPU and memory. I like to run distributed. It was, however, smacked down by a factor of more than four for both the RC5 and OGR benchmarks by my 1.
Correcting for clock speed, the Athlon still won by factors of 2. Well, "OK" in the sense that it didn't crash, anyway; the default benchmark gave the M a result of only 3DMarks. It's not just the M's same-day service ProSavage graphics holding the C3 back, here. The 1. It'll score in 3DMark, with a following wind, on an M-Series board. OK, let's get crazy with the old school benches and try Quake 2. In OpenGL mode, by , Q2's demo2.
The non-studliness of the ProSavage adapter is indicated by the fact that switching to software-rendered mode at this resolution raised the frame rate, to At by , though, OpenGL mode was heavens be praised faster than software; it managed The worst-case-scenario Crusher multiplayer demo zipped by relatively speaking at Once upon a time, I had a pimped-out gaming rig that performed like this. I could have kept on beating the C3 about the head and body with benchmark software, but I didn't.
Check out this other review if you need to see some pretty graphs; they got a Nehemiah-core C3 to play with and discovered, in a nutshell, that it's usefully faster than the 1GHz Ezra-T, but still not by enough to put it ahead of budget Intel and AMD chips. As part of my rigorous going-the-extra-mile, no-job-is-too-difficult testing program, I took the M box to a party. To test its suitability as a mobile TV-output music station, naturally. Most AVS presets are enormous CPU hogs; even steaming monster-systems won't be able to get smooth AVS eye candy displays happening at anything like their usual Windows desktop resolution.
But no resolution was low enough, even with pixel doubling reducing the actual resolution by half each way, to get more than a-frame-and-a-bit-per-second from many AVS presets on the M This is Windows' fault, not the M's; it's alleged to be a feature , not a bug. After the party which involved a fair bit of squinting at the various text that I couldn't make bigger , I discovered that I could wind the resolution down to by by using Powerstrip.
I installed Mandrake 9. It worked. Everything was detected OK. The C3's a low power processor, electrically speaking; Via quote about 10 watt power consumption for it.
EPIA M Mini-ITX Board
Small is better, that's what VIA would have you believe. Think of VIA and you'll inevitably think of the Taiwanese motherboard chipset maker. That's true to a certain extent, as a large proportion of VIA's earnings stem from the production of chipsets. Of late, though, VIA have been concentrating on expanding their core duties. Even simple diversification can lead to a better accounting bottom line. The Mini-ITX form factor measures a scant 17cm x 17cm.
VIA EPIA M10000 - motherboard - mini ITX - VIA C3 - Socket 370 - CLE266 Specs
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Via Epia M10000
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Via EPIA M10000 computer system
You can't fault Via Technologies for persistence with their C3 processor. More than a year and a half ago, now, I checked out an MHz C3. Back then, C3s were Socket processors that didn't draw a lot of power, and were fast enough for business applications. But they had lousy price-performance compared with Intel processors for the same socket. They weren't much cheaper if at all , and they were quite a lot slower. If C3s cost ten bucks then their lousy performance wouldn't have mattered; they were still more than fast enough for what most computers do most of the time, and what many computers do all of the time. But the price killed 'em.