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VIA EPIA EX - Mini-ITX at the next level

By: Cameron Johnson | Editorials in Motherboards | Posted: Jun 14, 2007 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9%Manufacturer: VIA

Motherboard and Package



VIA's package box is extremely small, it is not much over 17cm by 17cm in size and that is because the motherboard is so small. VIA has gone green for its EPIA box work - all EPIA motherboards are shipped in the same box.



The back, that is plain Jane - no pictures, info, model number... nothing. This is how VIA keeps some of the costs down for its motherboards, a single box design for all EPIA Mini-ITX motherboards, just shove stickers on it for basic info.



For the extras in the box, there is very little - only a quick install pamphlet is included with very basic info for motherboard setup, a single IDE cable and an I/O shield. No SATA data or power converters and no extra USB expansion brackets. However this is not such a bad thing as most Mini-ITX cases have all the extra expansion ports on them, so VIA gets off the hook for this part, although a SATA data cable would have been nice, since this motherboard does support SATA.



Compared to the ATX 30x24cm design, this is a baby at 17x17cm - extremely small but packed to the brim with features. In terms of layout because of its extremely cool running nature, running cables though the system is not a problem, as it doesn't interfere with cooling, a small fan is required for the 1.5GHz CPU model but 1GHz models run fanless as they generate far less heat.


VIA has done quite well though on placement of ports and expansion connectors, especially given the space constraints that Mini-ITX entails. The motherboard only requires a 20-pin power connector, reducing the size of the power connector allows it to fit at the top of the motherboard on the left hand side near the CPU. Mini-ITX cases have the PSU at the back so this means less cables being run around the motherboard. The IDE port is located at the bottom of the motherboard behind the single DDR-2 memory slot. That is right; this motherboard is DDR-2 complaint up to 533MHz. The two SATA ports sit below the heatsink that cools both the CPU and chipset.



VIA does not need much in the way of power regulation as the CPU draws a maximum of 12 watts of energy, so in total the system may draw 15 watts under extreme conditions. The CPU gets 2 phase voltage regulation, and since VIA does not support overclocking on its CPU; there is no need to worry about extra power requirements as they will not be required here.


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