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With web browsing, e-mail, MS Word, creating web content with Macromedia Dreamweaver
4 and Photoshop, and a few other typical applications, the EPIA-5000 system
was perfectly up to the task. I noticed no great slowdown or hesitation compared
with my reference Intel P4-2 GHz or AMD XP1700+ systems, except when dealing
with large image files in Photoshop. Big number-crunching tasks, electronic
publishing for print or 3-D games would be better handled by a system with better
raw computing power. No attempt was made to run long burn-in type programs or
play any games.
The total power drawn by the system was derived by obtaining the current draw
of the Zalman power supply, then multiplying the current by the AC voltage (120
VAC) to obtain the wattage. The same was done with the Zalman powering two other
systems, one a VIA C3-933 on a Chaintech 6VJD2 motherboard, the other an AMD
XP+1700 on an ABIT KT7A-R motherboard. Both of these systems were equipped with
a 256 meg stick of PC133 SDRAM, a GeForce2 MX AGP video, sound card and network
card, along with CD drive and a Seagate Barracuda IV 20G hard drive.
C3-933 / Chaintech
XP1700+ / ABIT
The results speak for themselves.
As mentioned above, there appeared to be no support for any internal CPU tempererature
diode. There is also virtually no gap between bottom of the heatsink and the
CPU casing. So... I wedged a Veriteq temperature sensor in the fins of the CPU
heatsink and set the logger to record every 10 seconds while I surfed the web
then ran some benchmarks. The room temperature was 24° C. After about 2
hours, the graph showed these maximum and minimum temperatures:
|Idle / low load
The actual casing temperature would probably be somewhat higher
than these numbers my guess is ~10° C higher, which gives us an approximate
maximum of ~50° C. VIA specifies 70° C as the maximum casing temperature
for the C3, so it appears perfectly safe. There was never any instability in
Ambient temperature inside a small case is bound to be much higher
than on my test bench. Perhaps as high as 40° C? That would put the maximum
CPU casing temperature close to the recommended limit of 70° C, but until I
actually install the EPIA-5000 in a Mini-ITX case, this is all conjecture. Hopefully,
there will soon be an postscript to this review detailing performance in a Mini-ITX
The math CPU and memory performance benchmarks are patently unfair
for the EPIA 5000. As you can see in the screenshot above, the CPU is a 533
MHz VIA Samuel 2 with an estimated PR of 640. Still, I include them for the
sake of completeness.
It is not sizzling performance by today's standards, but the system still responds
many times faster than I can possibly type.
With the Mini-ITX platform in rapid development at VIA, it's difficult to say
exactly what is available when, but it appears that a C3-800MHz on a faster
PN133T chipset (especially for video) Eden platform may be available in the
near future. Please check the VIA website for the latest details. NOTE: VIA
and Biostar are
also committed to producing Mini-ITX motherboards, although I was unable to
find any reference to this on their respective web sites.
The EPIA-5000 integrated motherboard is a bold new product well suited for
its role as an inexpensive, quiet, small computing appliance. The potential
applications for this little machine are limited only by the imagination. In a Mini-ITX box with external power supply, it has the capacity to fit almost
anywhere, going quietly where no desktop PC has gone before. It is the only
real challenge to Transmeta's
Crusoe processor, which appears to be available only to OEMs. In our view, the fact that VIA's offering is almost a complete
system on a single board makes the EPIA-5000 and the EDEN platform undeniably
attractive for system integrators, OEMs and - with their availability on the retail market - just about anyone wishing to build
a small, quiet PC.
* * * * *
Much thanks and appreciation to VIA for providing us the review sample and for their assistance with relevant information.
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