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Scoop on VIA's next gen mini-ITX: multimedia-rich EPIA-M

VIA will soon be releasing a new generation of mini-ITX boards called the EPIA M -- 'M' for multimedia. Preliminary tips suggest that "this new EPIA M series is a Babe!"

The CLE266 chipset apparently makes a huge difference for DVD playback. Basically it's the same marvelously tiny layout as the current boards (one of which we reviewed back in May), but with USB2.0, 1394, smooth DVD playback, a better TV out, LAN, DDR266 and 6 channel surround sound. It also has better graphics than the Trident Blade on the PLE133. In short, it addresses all the shortcomings of the current EPIA for home PCs.

EPIA M sounds perfect for the role of living room entertainment center PC being pushed by Microsoft (and Intel) these days -- and can easily be packaged into a virtually silent case. EPIA M boards are scheduled to be shown at the VIA Technology Forum in Taipei this year (October 8-9, 2002).

Zalman releases the ZM80-HP and ZM50-HP

We reported on Zalman's new VGA coolers in an

earlier story

. Zalman's web site is now announcing that the ZM50-HP and ZM80-HP have officially been released. In related news, Zalman also announced the official release of their new CNPS 5700D-Cu Intel P4 cooler.

Quieting the new dual-proc PowerMacs

Apparently, Apple's new dual-processor G4 PowerMacs are so loud that they have earned the nickname, "WindTunnel". Abbott Schindler has built a functional acoustically insulated enclosure that, according to Abbott, dampens the noise significantly. Dimensions, a parts list and photos are all included.

360 Watt Fanless ATX PSU

At this German site, www.deltatronic.info, they build/sell a 360 Watt(!!) Fanless ATX PSU with Active PFC. It is a serious looking device covered with heatsinks, sort of like a macho car power amp. The bad part is that it's 295 Euro's!

Deltatronic also offer a serious liquid-cooled version of the aluminum cool & quiet drive sandwich idea written about by MikeC. Again, with grooved ribbed heatsinks on the top & bottom as well as side rails, the device looks like a high end car amp.

The site is in German; Google does an OK translation.

Sudhian Media reviews Lex System SFF PC

Sudhian Media has posted a review of the Lex System, a small form factor box utilizing chips from VIA and Intel. Because of an external power supply, these units can be run silently, especially when combined with a VIA C3 800 or similar chip. On the downside, the Lex systems require their own, proprietary FlexATX motherboards, so upgrade options are limited.

Vantech "Stealth" 3-fan PSU: PREview

We don't usually do previews, but the Vantec rep was so insistent on a quick review that I felt compelled to give her what wanted, at least on a small scale. So here is SPCR’s first preview, being written less than an hour after its delivery by UPS, and only half an hour after first powering it up on the testbench.
The accompanying photo was taken with the Vantec VAN420A in front of a mirror so that you can see it really does have three 80mm fans.

AMD Thoroughbred "B" Catches P4, Runs Cooler?

Stories today in virtually all the major hardware sites about the new Thoroughbred "B" XP 2400+ and 2600+ restablish AMD as the speed holder in the processor race against archrival Intel. The new XP models are faster, more overclockable and produce less heat per clock cycle than the first Thoroughbreds. The higher efficiency was apparently achieved by moving to 9 layers of interconnects (from 7) and copper (instead of aluminum). The XP2100+ at 1800MHz produces 67.9W, almost exactly the same as the 68.3W of the new 2600+ running 333MHz faster!

Still, the CPU surface is 40% smaller than with the earlier Paomino XP, and there is no helpful heat spreader as in the Intel Pentium 4 and the coming AMD Hammer.

VIA's Mini-ITX Projects Page now Live

VIA's Mini-ITX projects page is now live at their main web site. Some mind boggling car projects are featured -- min-itx PCs in model cars & REAL cars, the latter with flat screen monitors in the middle of the dash.

Zalman ST300BLP "Black Box PSU Mod" at Frostytech.com

Frostytech has done a very "extreme" mod on an early model Zalman PSU. Definitely attractive, but does this help the acoustics?

Serial ATA benefits for PC Heat/Noise

We've reported here on Seagate's Serial ATA Barracuda hard drives, but given scant attention to the benefits of the new interface. Dell provides a good overview of these benefits, which includes:

- backward compatibility with ATA
- higher potential dtata flow rates (150~600MB/sec)
- low cost
- improved data bobustness

For PC silencers, however, the single most interesting aspect of Serial ATA is the replacement of "the wide Parallel ATA ribbon cable with a thin, flexible cable that can be up to 1 meter in length."

It doesn't take a great deal of imagination to consider what this means:

- Less cable clutter, leading to improved airflow and reduced air turbulence noise.
- The option to place hard drives in an external case optimized for low noise and good cooling (without spending an arm and a leg on external USB drives), which would also have the benefit of lowering the total heat in the main CPU box.

We're already working on our external drive caddy. :)

Installing Debian Woody on an Eden EPIA VE1000

SPCR reader dbri has posted a set of instructions on installing the latest release of Debian (Woody) on a VIA Eden VE1000 system in the SPCR Forums.

SPCR announces new forums!

We are pleased to announce our new-and-improved User Forums. Offering many new features, as well as increased ease-of-use, we think you'll find these new forums a big step up from the old system.

Posts and user accounts from the old system were, for the most part, preserved during the upgrade, but there were a few quirks and snags that we ran into. For complete information about the upgrade, please read our announcement in the Site News forum.

JMC’s new 92x32mm Single-Fan Cooling Solution

JMC Products, a manufacturer of thermal cooling solutions, today introduced the 9232-12V DC fan, designed to cool an entire computer chassis. The 9232-12V has been effectively applied with a passive heatsink and baffling system to direct air through the heatsink and out of a dual or single processor workstation. The fan can also cool power supplies in a similar method.

The 9232-12V can be thermally controlled for low noise (20 dBA) at low speed. Consuming little power at high speed, it cools a system with an impressive 82 CFM, running at 4000 RPM. (But not quietly at that speed!) Available now for OEM & dstributors in low, medium and high speeds at $5 to $6 depending on features, speed, and quantities. For more info, visit www.jmcproducts.com.

Vantec Stealth PSUs Coming Soon

Vantecusa.com is getting ready to release a new series of Stealth Power supplies that are supposed to be powerful and very quiet. It's good to see another manufacturer recognizing the noise issue. The noise stats cited suggest they will actually be quieter than the top ranked ones on our Recommended PSUs, but we'll have see how the measurements were made. They do have three fans, after all...

MSRP & noise ratings for these product are:
420W -- $129 -- 18 dBA
470W -- $139 -- 20 dBA
520W -- $149 -- 22 dBA

Vantec USA anticipates delivery of review units by the end of this month and shipment to distributors shortly thereafter. Hopefully, they will send over some samples for us to review.

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