Couldn't agree more with some of the things you wrote. Specifically:
No matter what benchmark is used, VIA's processors take a beating compared to even low-end offerings from Intel and AMD.
On the other hand, even the lowest-performance offerings from Intel and AMD are overkill for many â€” perhaps most â€” computing tasks, which is why VIA's offerings are viable at all. Performance alone is no longer king, and performance-per-watt is increasingly important. In this arena, VIA is a pace or two ahead of both of the big boys. The original C3 processor was designed with power efficiency as a primary design goal.
testing by other sites such as SFFTech has shown conclusively that the 1.2 GHz Eden processor falls far behind even the lowly Sempron when conventional benchmarks are used. On the other hand, such benchmarks do not yield much insight into whether the EN12000E is powerful enough; they merely show where it stands in relation to other products on the market. If all of the available products are powerful enough for the task at hand, the differences uncovered by the benchmarking are somewhat artificial.
And from your conclusion:
for a general purpose PC where the performance requirements are unpredictable, the EPIA is almost certain to run into the occasional task where a little more oomph would be appreciated.
Which highlights the very nature of these platforms:
Overall, the EN12000E seems best for a purpose-built system.
So long as the performance is up to that purpose, the EPIA can probably do it cheaper, cooler, more efficiently, and more quietly than an AMD or Intel-based system.
When it comes to mini-itx platforms, I'm rather fond of a quote from an epiacenter review, but which can be universially applied:
We'd advise buyers to be very clear on the way the board will be used, and plan software accordingly
Incidently, much of what you have implied is quite complimentary to what the founder of Centuar has previously stated
The idea I had, which actually was hard for people to accept could be successful, was, "Let's not try to make the world's fastest. Let's look at all the characteristics. Speed is one, cost is another, power consumption is another, footprint is another. And let's make something that wins on footprint size, cost, and power, and is fast enough to get the job done for 90 percent of the people but is not the fastest thing in the world."
The last 10 percent of performance is a huge cost. And not just the hardware side, but also in design complexity. So, in fairness, our parts are slower than Intel's. On the other hand, our parts are fast enough to get the job done for most people. Other than the marketing disadvantage of having slower parts, our parts perform quite well. And they have much lower power, and a much smaller footprint, and they cost much less. Those characteristics appeal to a number of applications.
So, that's our theme. The marketing guys don't like me to say "fast enough" performance, but you know, we're not as fast, head-to-head, as Intel is. But, we are fast enough to do 90 percent of the applications that are done, using a processor. Maybe even more than that.
Now some constructive criticism:
It worked perfectly for DVD playback
It would have been operating in software mode, as MPC's internal MPEG-2 decoder does not support offloading to the CN700 for hardware acceleration. In fact, currently, no app under a Windows OS is able to leverage this feature of this Via chipset.
With the former CN400 and CLE266 chipsets, to the best of my knowledge, only WinDVD and PowerDVD were able to exploit this feature on the Windows platform (although it is my understanding that PowerDVD 7 is a bit buggy in this respect) ... Perhaps configuring MPC to use either the Cyberlink or Intervideo filters would work for these older chipsets too, but I'm uncertain. Anyways, regardless, the hardware acceleration feature is currently a no show for the CN700 on Windows.
The flipside, of course, is that the seamless DVD playback operation (via software decoding) you observed helps affirm your question â€“ â€œwhether the EN12000E is powerful enough