Date: December 13th, 2002
Article by: Burt Carver (Hardware
Reviewer & Newsposter)
Product was donated by: VIA Technologies
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Product Pictorials And Additional Information
The EPIA Motherboard arrived in a colourful box as shown below:
Included in the package was a wonderful assortment of goodies. From left
to right around the board we have the combination firewire / USB 2.0 bracket,
the standard case plug pattern, UDMA 133 and FDD cables, comprehensive
manual, and the driver disk.
Here is an excellent comparison, size wise, with a ATX board. Do keep
in mind that the board shown here, an MSI board would require several
add-in cards in order to achieve the same functionality as the EPIA.
Here is another image I took to give a real hands on feel for the scale
of this tiny board. Its pretty evident that this thing will fit where
no other full functioned board will go. If any representatives from PaperMate
are reading this review, the advertising is on us... this time.
Here is the back of the motherboard. The only thing missing as far as
I can tell is a modem jack... and who uses one of those anyways?
As shown before in the overall shot, here is the bracket supplied with
the motherboard. An enterprising person could probably disconnect the
bracket from the plugs, and modify a small case to incorporate these plugs
on the front panel.
This board incorporates several features aimed specifically at the emerging
set-top box / media computer market. The audio on the board can output
6 channels through the minijacks to a 5.1 computer speaker set up, or
send a digital signal out to your home theater receiver through the RCA.
This board is also extremely adaptable. The RCA can also double as a video
out if your television does not have a S-Video connector. This is accomplished
through an onboard jumper. Another feature of the audio is that VIA includes
a function that successfully blends two channel input into surround output.
The feature is called Magic 5.1 and is enabled through the 'advanced'
tab in the rear speaker volume configuration. Obviously this is not the
same as a true 5.1 audio source, but the output is acceptable and utilizes
The EPIA Board is powered by VIA CastleRock AGP graphics. It includes
an MPEG-2 decoder, 128-bit 2D and 64-bit 3D graphics engine with internal
AGP 8X and Alpha Blending. This is not a 3D powerhouse by any stretch
of the imagination, but serves well in the media arena. With hardware
decoding superior image quality is achieved, and less reliance on the
CPU to crunch the video stream. This translates into an image that rivals
consumer DVD players. On the next page of the review, we will run this
little darling through a 3dmark2001se test just to see how she does. But
remember, this motherboard is not intended for running Quake3 at 200fps.
This board is silent. The fan from about 3 feet away is difficult
to hear. Slap this motherboard in any case with a quiet power supply and
it wouldn't make a peep.
This product exceeds all the the most fully featured motherboards
out there in terms of connections. VIA has even included a plug on the
motherboard for connecting an LCD panel! The inclusion of onboard LAN,
Firewire and TV out just add value to this already smoking deal.
Benchmarks coming up next...
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