Commell's P4 Mini-ITX board

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The opening photo of this article showed the packaging for the LV-670M plus all of its contents. The plain brown cardboard box tells you right away that it is not designed to woo distracted customers in retail showrooms. No, this is a properly serious industrial package.

Here are some detailed photos:

In the photo above, the small white connector on the farthest left (next to the RAM slot) is the LVDS TFT LCD Interface. The think black slot next to the blue colored IDE connector is when the DiskOnModule flash disk plugs in. You'll also notice the absence of the plastic heatsink retention frame that normally bolts around the CPU socket. The optional CPC-1400 1U heatsink / fan bolts in through the retention frame mounting holes.

As you can see from the photo above, the in/out back panel is packed, like other M-ITX boards. The specs above will verify that the LV-670M is equipped with everything a VIA EPIA M has.

This shot above clear shows the low height of the cooler. The LVDS TFT LCD Interface is also clearly visible in the forefront. Note too, the springs employed to achieve even pressure all around the physical heatsink / CPU interface.

There were some interesting space-saving strategies employed on this board. Note the way the CMOS battery is suspended in an L-shaped clip over the corner of the southbridge chip.

The PCB trace side shows the metal support piece to which the heatsink is attached from the other side. This is a very secure heatsink mounting method. In essence, the CPU is firmly sandwiched along with the PCB between the metal support and the heatsink.

Removing the heatsink, it is clear that Commell technicians went overboard with the silicon thermal interface material. There was at least half a teaspoon! It all got cleaned away with lint-free paper and 99% isopropyl alcohol. A very thin layer of Arctic Silver 3 was applied before putting the HS back on.

But before covering it up, let's have a close look at this Mobile Intel Pentium 4 Processor-M:

This was my first peek at a Mobile P4-M; I had been unaware that it doesn't have a heat spreader as with the desktop P4s. To my way of thinking, this is a good thing: One less layer for the heat to get trapped behind. (Many of you already know that the heatspreader main function is mechanical protection against core crushing by ham-fisted users and poorly designed heatsink clips.) The CPU is clearly marked as an SL6VB. According to Intel's processor code finder, the code RH80532 marks it as an OEM unit. The core voltage is 1.3V, the thermal guideline is 35W, and the thermal spec is 100°C. The CPU is locked in place in the photo; the little round slotted knob is turned counterclockwise 180 degrees with a small screwdriver to release the CPU.

An Aside: The Mobile Intel Pentium 4 Processor-M is not to be confused with the newer Centrino-based Pentium M, a more efficient device that performs as well or better than the P4-M at lower core speed, lower voltage and lower power. AFAIK, no one has yet produced a desktop motherboard equipped with the necessary Intel 855 chipset to run Pentium M processors. (While I have yet to see an indication of "thermal guideline", battery life comparisons between a 1.7 GHz Pentium M notebook and a 2.6 GHz P4-M notebook show the former lasting 37% longer, implying that much less power consumption. By the way, according to Intel, the 1.7 GHz Pentium M outperforms the 2.6 GHz P4-M in every other parameter. When and if the Pentium M is migrated to the desktop, efficiency lovers will rejoice.)

Finally, the CPC-1400 Low Profile 1U Pentium 4 CPU Heatsink/Fan, made of a single 196 gram piece of copper and topped with a 10mm low profile 60mm fan. It is noisy at stock voltage: 36-38 dBA according to Commell. The captive spring-loaded screws are a nice touch for consistent performance. The base is flat but the finish could be improved; the visible polishing lines could be felt with the fingernails.

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