VIA Artigo: A Pico-ITX System

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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

Comparable System sound files:

FINAL THOUGHTS

In Artigo, VIA is trying to offer basic functionality in a very tiny, power efficient package. For the most part this goal was achieved. The 1GHz C7 processor, slow by modern standards, gets simple tasks done, but high definition video playback and any sort of multitasking is out of the question. Power consumption was very good and its size and weight are unmatched for the moment. It's amazing what VIA managed to pack into such a small space.

If you discount its form factor, Artigo loses much of its appeal. Compared to Atom-based solutions like Asus's Eee desktop and netbook, its deficiencies are all too apparent. Both Eee's are quieter, faster, and more functional than the Artigo, while consuming similar amounts of power. When you boil it down, its usefulness is ultimately a function of its size — if you have no need or cannot take advantage of its tiny footprint, there are many better choices.

We would have had a much more favorable opinion if the Artigo simply had a better, quieter cooling solution. Given its size, mrely adequate performance can be tolerated... but a high noise level is unforgivable to us, whether the system is large enough to double as a coffee table or small enough to fit in your pocket. Its high price is also difficult to swallow — at $300 it is similarly priced to an Eee Box or 9" Eee PC, but it lacks a hard drive, RAM and an operating system. Filling out the system with the required hardware increases the total cost of the system by about $70. Add an additional $100 if Windows XP is your operating system of choice.

If there is to be a future version of the Artigo, VIA needs to utilize their new Nano processor — said to be a better performer than Atom — to have any hope of battling nVidia's Ion platform (although the Ion's pricing is still a bit of a mystery). An updated IGP with hardware acceleration for modern high definition video formats is also a must-have to be a serious competitor against Ion.

VIA Artigo 1000A Pico-ITX Builder Kit
PROS

* Very tiny
* Excellent power efficiency
CONS

* Loud fan, difficult to quite or replace
* Incapable of rendering H264, VC1, and x264 encoded HD video
* Poor performance
* High price

Our thanks to VIA Technologies, Inc. for the Artigo 1000A Pico-ITX Builder Kit sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
mCubed HFX Micro S13 system: Atom 330, Silenced
Dell Studio Hybrid: Small, Stylish... but Quiet?
Anitec's SPCR-certified SilenT3 PC
Intel D945GCLF m-ITX: Atom For The Desktop
Asus Eee Box B202: An Atom-based mini PC
Tiny, Silent and Efficient: The picoPSU
mCubed's HFX mini: Fanless HTPC "heatsink case"

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