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Via Launches a New Mini-ITX System

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-kiddin'-why-back-in-the-day dept.

Upgrades 162

primesuspect writes "Coming in close to the 10th anniversary of the format and billed as a 'motherboard for digital home media DIY enthusiasts,' VIA have paired their Nano X2 1.4ghz dual-core CPU with their VX900 chipset to produce an intriguing addition to their mini-ITX lineup." Mini-ITX, to my pleasure, has never gone completely away: witness the (slow, but not stopped) flow of news at Mini-ITX.com.

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Oh VIA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052218)

If you ask me Mini-ITX really should've lost out to Mini-DTX

VIA? fantastic! (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052222)

What chipset problems have already been identified? What else is likely to go wrong?

I keep thinking of building a "media center[sic]" computer with TV card but there always seems to be some horrible flaw in any setup I consider. Is there an exception yet?

Re:VIA? fantastic! (2)

owlstead (636356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052492)

Maybe because you responded so fast, but as long as you don't show a list of features you require, you are not going to get much useful response.

They have just brought this one to the market, it is unlikely to feature a full set of bugs. That said, the VIA chipsets have always had quite a strong feature set. It amazed me that the Atom boards did trash the VIA EPIA in sales. The VIA EPIA chipset especially was way way way better than what the Intel chipsets had to offer (and then came nVidia, of course.)

The processor was not that fast, but I've still got this nice fanless board with PCI, SATA and DVI lying around (they were way too late introducing DVI though, don't know what it is with those legacy ports either).

Re:VIA? fantastic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052636)

The main reason that the Atom board trashed the VIA is that the Atom boards work, the VIA's do not. I have tested eight different VIA boards and the are not stable with Linux (or Windows). Its as simple as that, if you want a ply computer to test some unimportant stuff on, go for the VIA by all means... but If you are looking for any kind of sane uptime, go for the Atom every time!
(I have had only one Atom n270 (Intel board) board fail (out of twelve) and it was due to a blown cap... after 1.5years of constant runtime without a SINGLE problem!)

Re:VIA? fantastic! (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052510)

What chipset problems have already been identified? What else is likely to go wrong?

I keep thinking of building a "media center[sic]" computer with TV card but there always seems to be some horrible flaw in any setup I consider. Is there an exception yet?

I'm guessing the VIA failmode is it doesn't support VDPAU. VDPAU offloads video codec decoding to the video card, so probably a pentium-75 could play 1080p as long as its got a good enough card.

Get a zotac zbox with nvidia onboard card. Talk about a boring install, compared to ye olden days. Open the box, stick in a small silent SSD (I'm using less than 4 gigs at this time). I believe I stuck 2 gigs ram in there too. Set up for Debian netboot, which in my case was enable ethernet boot on the zbox, add it's mac to DHCP and friends, boot and install plain vanilla Debian. Reconfigure the zbox to stop netbooting and boot off its internal drive. Install NVIDIA drivers, add the debian multimedia repository, apt-get install the stuff you need for a mythtv FE, modify the files necessary to auto-log-you-in-and-dump-you-into-mythtv and you're done. Configure mythtv in "config" "setup" "tv" and have it use vdpau for all playback. I believe I burned about two hours on it from cutting the cardboard box open to watching TV recordings. It helps that I've automated all the system-wide config work in Puppet, I had to manually install the nvidia drivers but stuff like my ratpoison and autologin and all that was all handled by the Puppet. This was circa 6 months ago times may have changed.

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052558)

Oh I forgot a step, ssh in remotely and "alsamixer" to turn the volume up on the PCM and main / front / whatever audio output. I'm using SPDIF optical out and outta the box that was muted. No problemo, turn it on in alsamixer, and configure mythtv I think in the "general" menu to output sound out the spdif.

I found if I enable "upconversion" to 5.1 sound the upconverter gets wildly freaked out probably for about 5 seconds every hour, just enough to really annoy me, so I don't upconvert.

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052618)

Good stuff, ta.

Re:VIA? fantastic! (2)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052650)

I'm guessing the VIA failmode is it doesn't support VDPAU. VDPAU offloads video codec decoding to the video card, so probably a pentium-75 could play 1080p as long as its got a good enough card.

No NVIDIA GPU, but it does have this (FTA):

...and the VX900 “Media System Processor” features the ChromotionHD 2.0 video engine, offering hardware acceleration for VC1, H.264, MPEG-2 and WMV9 HD formats at up to 1080p.

Not sure what the state of that chipset being supported in Linux is, though.

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052740)

Not sure what the state of that chipset being supported in Linux is, though.

Also not "just" linux but the unique intersection of the driver, the kernel, the OS install, the mythtv distribution...

I donno if "VX900 .... ChromotionHD 2.0 video engine" is old and common enough that even Debian Stable works with it, or if you're going to be compiling.

There is a wide range from "install stable and it just works" to "welcome to kernel level debugging" although both are theoretically "linux supported"

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052824)

By "supported in Linux", I mean there exists a kernel driver for it (whether it's built-in, or you'd have to roll your own kernel to include support for it). Once you're at that point, I'm sure it's somewhat trivial for the developers of XBMC, MythTV, etc to include support for it.

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053474)

Supported by Linux? Does it even work well enough in Windows that those guys would be interested in using it. Otherwise, really robust Linux support is kind of a moot point. If it can't deliver, then it doesn't matter really.

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053128)

Not only does it not support VDPAU. But is that a PCI slot I see?

DDR3, 2 sata ports and a PCI SLOT! WTF is wrong with you.

Re:ION (not ION2) (2)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053370)

Get a zotac zbox with nvidia onboard card.

Yawn... yeah, wake me up when someone finally starts selling the pico-ITX nVidia ION reference design
http://www.anandtech.com/print/2688 [anandtech.com]

I did replace my tower Linux server with one of those Zotac mini-ITX IONs in a shoebox PC last year. Thanks to the GPU, I can even use it to do some light web browsing, and view videos like you say.

Too bad Intel dorked up ION2, with the 1x PCIe GPU bottleneck.

I've played with the fit-PC too, but with the crap Intel GPU with proprietary driver binary blobs, it's pretty useless. Other parts of the chipset (like the sata controller) is also problematic on older linux distros.
http://www.fit-pc.com/web/ [fit-pc.com]

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

kirbysuperstar (1198939) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052532)

I used a Fusion (E350, I think?) mobo to build one for my older sister and it's been pretty great. Mind you it's using Windows 7 Media Center because Myth didn't (might still not) support XVBA.

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

David Greene (463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052770)

I used the same to build an IVI system for my car and I agree, it's a great setup!

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053116)

XBMC does, unless she wants to use it as a DVR.

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

kirbysuperstar (1198939) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053352)

She does. That was the main point of making it, actually.

Re:VIA? fantastic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052694)

What chipset problems have already been identified? What else is likely to go wrong?

LOL, it's VIA, that isn't bad enough?

Why do you need a TV card? The world is going streaming my friend.

The best setup is a media box connected to a NAS backend. Put the NAS in a ventilated closest or somewhere you can't hear it. Either buy a pre-made media box (Applet TV, WD TV, etc) or build a nice silent one using components. As long as you don't use anything with a VIA or ATI/AMD chipset then you're good to go.

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053498)

> Why do you need a TV card? The world is going streaming my friend.

Cable monopoly bandwidth caps.

Don't have to worry about that sort of thing with more Jurasic types of video delivery.

Re:VIA? fantastic! (1)

csumpi (2258986) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053542)

I can't speak for VIA, I have an Intel Atom based bookshelf unit that runs http://xbmc.org/ [xbmc.org] on http://archlinux.org/ [archlinux.org] as a media center, remote controlled using the XBMC android app.

It plays full HD over HDMI (audio also through HDMI). I didn't run into any issues with installation. It also holds backups and serves as network storage. It's awesome.

Here's the link to the unit I have on newegg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856176008 [newegg.com]

Linux support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052252)

Ha ha ha ha... Just kidding! (I wouldn't touch VIA for Linux, until they clean up their track record.)

But is there a single compelling reason for this over an E-350 solution? ... or an Atom solution?

Re:Linux support? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052274)

What the fuck is any of this shit? You need a computer, you go to Best Buy.

Re:Linux support? (4, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052386)

Unfortunately Best Buy kind of sucks for this sort of machine. Even when they did have the Revos, they tended to hide them so people didn't discover that you could compute with a $200 device rather than a $500 one or $1000 one.

Re:Linux support? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053500)

You need to go to Fry's Electronics (West Coast, California thing) and you'll see them on the shelf. I bought an Artigo A1100, I wanted to make a sort of low cost linux media out of it. Love the form factor. Unfortuneatly Via refuses to make working linux video drivers for it, so I Ioaded it with Windows XP. You can use the chrome9 OSS offering, but you'll miss out on some essential hardware acceleration and some 3D stuff.

Re:Linux support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052282)

You should be able to fit several hundred of these into an E-350 [wikimedia.org] .

Re:Linux support? (1)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052722)

Just like bandwidth in a station wagon, the best computing power comes from a van full of mini-ITX systems?

Re:Linux support? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052346)

I used an EPIA motherboard for a settop box for ages, til the case died. I liked it, it had a built-in S-Video out and a PCI slot for my tv card. Bolted right up to my TV & my sat feed. It was only a 900 HHz motherboard, but it worked.

Re:Linux support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052646)

... how can the case die?

Re:Linux support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052922)

In case you really want to know, it was a murder case of case murder.

Re:Linux support? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052858)

I wouldn't touch VIA, irregardless of the OS. If VIA manufactored cooling, it would catch fire.

Excess ports (1, Insightful)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052268)

It looks good, but it would be nice to see the legacy ports ditched (serial, PS2 and VGA) and focus on current connectors. It would be nice to see display port or mini display port on there.

Re:Excess ports (1)

slaker (53818) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052538)

RS232 is still handy for some home AV applications. Older TVs and projectors are more likely to have VGA than either DVI or HDMI, and I don't see a problem with a dedicated port for a keyboard and mouse, especially given how common PS/2 devices are.

More USB ports would be better (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052702)

There are plenty of cheap adapters for ps2 and serial that work over USB. For those of us without weird needs, more USB ports would be welcome. HDMI and DVI with a VGA adapter would be useful.

Re:Excess ports (2, Funny)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052828)

especially given how common PS/2 devices are.

How common they are? You can't even buy them anymore. They are not made. That you have boxes of them that you can't bring yourself to throw away does not make them common.

Re:Excess ports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053064)

Seriously? I just bought a few keyboards that were PS/2 2 months ago from Newegg.

Re:Excess ports (2)

slaker (53818) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053098)

You can't? I buy them pretty regularly. If you build and sell systems, there's still a price premium for USB vs. PS/2 input devices. I'd rather buy a quality Logitech keyboard with a PS/2 plug on the end than some crappy generic that just happens to be USB. The sets I'm using these days have a PS/2 keyboard and a USB mouse and I think I pay under $75 for a box of 10 new ones.

Re:Excess ports (1)

metalgamer84 (1916754) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053146)

Our brand new Dell Optiplex 790's have PS/2 ports on them...I don't get it. The last model that we used that had PS/2 ports were the Optiplex GX270's *shudder*. From the GX280 to the Optiplex 755, none of those had PS/2 then out of the blue, PS/2 ports on the 790's. These are all SFF chassis. We just laughed and shook our heads when I pulled the first one out of the box.

Re:Excess ports (3, Funny)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053456)

Can I mod +0? +1 for insightful and -1 for "Dick"?

Re:Excess ports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053528)

especially given how common PS/2 devices are.

How common they are? You can't even buy them anymore. They are not made.

Er.... sorry, but you clearly don't have a *clue* what you're talking about.

I work for a computer retailer and I know for a fact they order and regularly sell PS/2 keyboards along with the USB ones.

The wholesale (and our retail) price is pretty much the same give or take a few pence, and we sell plenty of them (i.e. they're *not* some esoteric low-volume or old-stock item that we have a couple of for very occasional customers- they're the same mass-produced membrane mediocrities at the same price and selling in similar quantities to their USB siblings).

Mice, OTOH... not so much. (Come to think of it, they still sell PS/2 KVMs). Still, if you think PS/2 devices are dead, you clearly don't know much.

Re:Excess ports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053034)

This is why I still come to slashdot. The fingerpainters over at engadget see no use for VGA or serial.

Well, HDMI is nice. very pretty. Easy to set up. But if it doesn't like what you're trying to do you get locked out.That's why you want VGA included. DVI is good, but less common.

Personally, I'd like this thing to have usb 3, but for under a 100 bucks I would be happy with all the ports they do give me. Looks like a fun little machine.

Re:Excess ports (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053682)

RS232 is still handy for some home AV applications

Actually, it's handy for most high-end AV applications. Most of the AV switchers, high end AV receivers, and TVs and such have RS-232 inputs so they can be controlled by commands.

The reason for this is so home-control systems like Crestons and such can control and set up the devices as necessary. So they have a boatload of RS-232 ports to control devices with.

For lesser home theatres, you use a Harmony.

Re:Excess ports (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052550)

Please keep the vga or at least a dvi so and route a vga though that. A lot of people have older hdtv's without hdcp so vga is the best option for 1080i if you have to deal with drm.

Re:Excess ports (1)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052800)

The solution to that problem is to avoid DRM.

Re:Excess ports (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053190)

If you are using content with the ICT enabled, and a system that supports ICT, you're going to have the same quality issues with VGA as you would HDMI.

Re:Excess ports (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052578)

It would be nice to see the legacy ports ditched ... VGA) and focus on current connectors.

Why? My less than a month old new 1080p high def monitor only has VGA input. No displayport or mini-displayport or DVI input. Well I guess I could try the HDMI input...

Re:Excess ports (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053208)

DVI ouptuts work just fine with HDMI inputs.

Where does the audio go? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053578)

DVI ouptuts work just fine with HDMI inputs.

Unless your TV's HDMI input doesn't have a corresponding analog audio input next to it. Fortunately, the HDMI 2 input on my 32" Vizio does have stereo audio in, for I guess precisely this reason.

Re:Excess ports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052806)

Do not ditch the serial port! Have you never wanted to grab a spare connector and solder something up to one? If not, turn in your geek card, now. It's the easiest port to homebrew stuff off.

Re:Excess ports (1)

naasking (94116) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052908)

Seriously. Ditch the old computer ports and put in some composite and component video ports. Every motherboard for "media centers" lack these basic video connectors.

VGA is component (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053606)

VGA is component. It's RGB and not YPbPr, but it's still component. It's been on every PC since the 1990s, and nowadays it's on every TV too. I guess they omit composite because the chipset would have to downscale everything to 480i, but there are $40 VGA-to-composite adapters on sewelldirect.com.

Re:Excess ports (5, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053134)

A lot of ITX stuff is used in industry.
PS/2 KVMs are cheap and common as dirt. RS-232 can go much farther than USB and is also super common. Some machine tools still run DOS it is realtime and makes sense for some dedicated controllers and use the Centronics port to interface to hardware.

Imagine that you have a perfectly good $20,000 CNC machine that has a blown controller.... Nice to have a simple pop in replacement. It is all about the market you are in. You still see RS-232, PS/2, and VGA on server motherboards a lot for the same reason.

Actually the only thing I would rather see is the serial port be brought out to an internal header like the printer port is.
Here is a link to how to build your own IR receiver to use with LIRC http://www.lirc.org/receivers.html [lirc.org]
And one for transmitters as well http://www.lirc.org/transmitters.html [lirc.org]

Re:Excess ports (3, Informative)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053660)

You still see RS-232, PS/2, and VGA on server motherboards a lot for the same reason.

We just put in a bunch of new equipment for airline shared use situations. Almost all the peripherals... keyboard, card swipers, boarding pass readers, printers, etc... run on serial connections. Even after all these years, RS-232 is the go-to connection for stuff that has to be up 24/7.As the vendor put it "Hey, it's a clean technology, it works, and airlines will keep using it until someone comes up with something better". You could say the same thing about VGA and PS2 connections. Businesses don't like change when it comes to their gear.

Via is a stable as Nitrogen-Trioxide. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052422)

I have thrown away way too much money on VIA mini-itx crap. people claim that they are stable but the crash like crazy. A friend who use windows and VIA claimed that they were stable... after some probing (I was wondering how his machines were stable while my Linux boxes crashed on close to a daily basis) I was told "Well it reboots now and then but apart from that they work perfectly!". One mans idea of stability is NOT the same as another's. I now use Intel Atom on all my small machines, show me a VIA machine with an uptime of 400+ days and I will eat my n270!

Re:Via is a stable as Nitrogen-Trioxide. (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052612)

Depends what you use.

I still have an original EPIA board that's still running after MANY years of use in a school, then used as a project-kit for myself (it outlived the school's age at which they replace). Never once witnessed a crash on it in its entire life (it's currently booting Linux 2.4 off a CF card, I think - been so long since I needed to fiddle, I don't even remember).

Re:Via is a stable as Nitrogen-Trioxide. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052790)

Back in my days writing Windows drivers for add-on boards we ended up detecting VIA chipsets and turning off all features other than basic PCI, because anything complex like AGP never worked right; after that it was stable, just substantially slower than it should have been.

Not socketed (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052426)

Both the CPU and chipset are not socketed. If the CPU fails, you're out the entire board, unless you have truly l33t skills and equipment handy. That makes the motherboard an even bigger single point of failure.

Re:Not socketed (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052502)

Yes but at $89, that is cheaper to replace it twice in a few years than replace the chip in an AMD or Intel board.

Re:Not socketed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052506)

Both the CPU and chipset are not socketed. If the CPU fails, you're out the entire board, unless you have truly l33t skills and equipment handy. That makes the motherboard an even bigger single point of failure.

By the time it breaks you'll be able to buy a brand new one for less than you bought the entire computer for, most likely.

Who the fuck replaces a CPU, anyway? You usually change the motherboard by the time your CPU breaks, if it ever does.

Re:Not socketed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052544)

In close to 20 years I've never seen a CPU fail in normal use.

Seen some destroyed with stupid overclocks/cooler failures back before overheat protection and a fair few got tossed because of bent pins but none 'just died' in a way that would make the lack of a socket matter.

Re:Not socketed (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053124)

The only times I have seen a CPU fail is when the motherboard failed and took out the CPU with it.

I've been able to repair every bent pin I've come across.

Re:Not socketed (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052548)

Yeah, I've got tons of those lying around here. All processor/chipset failures. Seriously, it would be more practical to put the high powered capacitors in sockets if you are worying about that kind of thing.

There will be more processors that die because they were not connected properly to motherboards or fans than any other reason. And if it breaks, anybody but the real enthousiast will toss away the broken motherboard anyway.

Re:Not socketed (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052582)

Just what the hell do you do to destroy a low-power CPU in an embedded device and not take the motherboard with it?

-- Someone who's managed many thousands of machines over the last 15 years and NEVER, repeat NEVER, had to replace a CPU on its own (whether for faults or upgrades). I can count the instances I've had to change a motherboard on my fingers, too, and mostly because of crappy capacitors and faulty external ports. And every time, it was age that killed it and it wasn't anywhere near practical to source a replacement board that took the same CPU vs just buying something twice as powerful for the same price.

Almost every laptop in the world has a built-in CPU that's almost impossible to change and nobody seems to suffer from that. Personally, I find the whole socket idea ridiculous and think *everything* should be like the Mini-ITX - rarely is there an opportunity where you deliberately *don't* buy the top-of-the-range CPU that will fit on a particular motherboard and then later, when you do want to upgrade, you upgrade JUST the CPU on its own (if there's even a compatible one still being produced by then!).

My first PC (a 386 with 1Mb) had a case that literally opened at the touch of a button and lifted up on gas-struts so you could fiddle inside because you had to all the time. The last 5 years, I've just got a huge pile of expansion cards and RAM modules salvaged from old PC's and stock that I've never once had the chance to use to upgrade or revive a machine. I honestly can't remember the last time I fitted an expansion card of any time but think it may have been a PCI card. The last time I put a CPU in a socket? About 8 years ago when a 5-year-old PC managed to completely dry-out its heatsink compound and it needed reapplying (and ran for another 4 years without any problems).

Socketed CPU's aren't a problem that needs solving any more, and when you do want to upgrade it'll be cheaper to buy a whole new board + CPU with the latest redesign of the damn socket anyway. Hell, I've specified 100's or 1000's of pounds of equipment over the last few years and never once considered (or really cared) what socket anything used - it's just not necessary.

Re:Not socketed (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052716)

I posted a negative review as well, but there is one thing to be said about failing motherboards: most of the time the enclosures of mini-itx systems are of course tiny. So tiny that you must test the enclosure with the motherboard to see if it works. You can get new motherboards (if you are lucky, this is one of the few *new* ITX boards from VIA in a while), but there is a serious chance that it simply won't fit. And with ITX, the enclosure may be *more expensive* than the whole motherboard + CPU.

Re:Not socketed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052658)

From link: "VIA have already begun selling the VE-900, and those of you in the US you can pick one up from the VIA online store for $89 which seems a not unreasonable price given what’s on offer."

A CPU socket is a pretty complex mechanical part today and not at all as cheap as the ordinary IC sockets.
The choice is pretty much between a board with a socket for $89 or a board in a CPU for $89.
Heck, I wouldn't be surprised VIA's internal cost for the CPU is less than what it costs them to buy a socket.

Re:Not socketed (1)

Onymous Hero (910664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052660)

Can you even get the CPUs separately? I doubt it.

Re:Not socketed (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052942)

Well, you can get the CPU separately - but it *only* comes in a BGA package. So, it does not fit into a socket, it can only be soldered directly to the motherboard.

http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/processors/nano/ [via.com.tw]

Atom CPUs are the same way - below a certain price point, it is pointless to waste the parts cost for a socket. (Rough cost for the CPU is probably $25, a socket would cost ~$10).

Re:Not socketed (1)

slaker (53818) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052680)

Most mini-ITX stuff is cheap enough to just toss if there's a problem. I have a few dual core Atom ITX systems out in the world. I paid $50 for the boards with CPU. Intel branded boards, even. There's nothing else with a reasonably current CPU available at that price point and if I bought one now I'm sure I'd get an incrementally faster Atom anyway. It's not worth getting bent out of shape.

Re:Not socketed (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052738)

The problem with mini-itx is that you might have to literally bend something out of shape to fit the new board into the same slot that the old one occupied ;)

Re:Not socketed (1)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052710)

The whole board is $89! That is less than one would pay for a CPU alone a couple of years ago.
So if a part of it breaks, you replace it with the cheap "motherboard of the day".
...and part of the reason for the low price is that the chips are not socketed.

Re:Not socketed (1)

naasking (94116) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052938)

The motherboard is always the point of failure in my experience. I've never wrecked a CPU. I suppose it's possible with overheating, but that's pretty much it.

Great form factor but where are the cases? (1)

mrtom852 (754157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052454)

As the title. So much design must go in to these boards but all of the cases look awful. :-(

Re:Great form factor but where are the cases? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052528)

Most of the time, people buy mini-itx because they don't want to see the computer. They want to hide them. If They wanted nice cases, they would have bought ATX cases.

Re:Great form factor but where are the cases? (4, Insightful)

Shadowmist (57488) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052642)

Most of the time, people buy mini-itx because they don't want to see the computer. They want to hide them. If They wanted nice cases, they would have bought ATX cases.

There are other considerations. Sometimes I want my computer to be quiet. Which is why my current box is an XCube. Another consideration is carbon footprint. If my needs don't require a giant case with lots of cooling and a loud fan, I'd rather save space and be more energy efficient with my needs.

XBOX HUEG (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053638)

Most of the time, people buy mini-itx because they don't want to see the computer. They want to hide them. If They wanted nice cases, they would have bought ATX cases.

Unless you want to hide the computer in plain sight, the way one would "hide" a game console, and don't want the computer to be XBOX HUEG.

Re:Great form factor but where are the cases? (1)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052570)

That is true. And who uses PS/2 nowadays anyway?

Re:Great form factor but where are the cases? (2)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052786)

I do. PS/2 is OK for keyboard and mouse, also PS/2+VGA KVM switches are much cheaper than USB ones and there is not much point in using USB for keyboard and mouse.

Re:Great form factor but where are the cases? (1)

michaelwigle (822387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052586)

Not sure what your taste in cases is but I found this one and thought it looked pretty clean and functional. http://www.mini-box.com/M350-universal-mini-itx-enclosure [mini-box.com]

Re:Great form factor but where are the cases? (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053012)

For those that don't follow links, its $40, pretty reasonable in that niche.

Save your appetite... (2)

niw3 (1029008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052496)

...for some raspberry pi.

VGA and PCI? (0)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052518)

What is this, 2001? Just remove that junk and give me some extra USB ports.

Re:VGA and PCI? (1)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052562)

*PS/2

Smaller is better... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052526)

Just like the government; which is why we should support Ron Paul.

Re:Smaller is better... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052964)

Why, is he small?

More SATA ports (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052664)

Are there any good, cheap, low-power Mini-ITX motherboard that have 4 (or 6) SATA ports instead of just 2? I've already filled my PCI slot, and I'd like to add some more SATA drives to make a RAID-5 array. As I understand it, I can't just hook up a SATA port multiplier to any old SATA port, the SATA controller has to support it.

Re:More SATA ports (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052872)

This is about the only one with 6 ports: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131732

I am using it in the Fractal Design Array case, running FreeNAS, and I'm extremely happy with it.

Re:More SATA ports (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052906)

Ion boards should have at least four, but they're not cheap.

Re:More SATA ports (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052954)

Jetway offers this one [logicsupply.com] . Not nearly as cheap as a vanilla Atom board with its single PCI slot stuffed full of storage controller; but it isn't a crowded field...

Re:More SATA ports (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052972)

newegg.com

Search for "supermicro atom". Some users report that you need the Supermicro case though for proper mounting. The D525 boards have six 3Gbs ports.

Re:More SATA ports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053004)

Had this problem a few months ago building a freenas machine. Best I could find at the time was a Jetway NF99FL-525, it has 6 SATA, bit pricey at £130 though.

Re:More SATA ports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053018)

Newegg power search is your friend. Not all listed here are "cheap". I have had good experience with the zotac boards. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=Property&Subcategory=446&Description=&Type=&N=100007623&IsNodeId=1&srchInDesc=&MinPrice=&MaxPrice=&PropertyCodeValue=731%3A13910&PropertyCodeValue=731%3A102957&PropertyCodeValue=731%3A129204&PropertyCodeValue=731%3A102838&PropertyCodeValue=731%3A16502&PropertyCodeValue=731%3A102841&PropertyCodeValue=757%3A20949

Re:More SATA ports (1, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053228)

"good, cheap, low-power Mini-ITX"
Do you want it to come with a pony? Good and cheap are usually mutually exclusive when it comes to new hardware.
Here is one with 6 SATA ports http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813182233 [newegg.com] but it is $199 and comes with two NICs which is great for servers.
Or you can get this one for only $139 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131732 [newegg.com]
Also six ports but only a single NIC and probably uses more power but is also faster.

Nano x2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052838)

Seriously, this is a very decent CPU, manages to do out of order processing (lolatom) and has VIA's padlock engine built in for all your crypto needs.

Anything new to the party? (2)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052950)

This chipset/cpu doesn't seem to bring anything which NVidia Ion 2 can't already do. Ion 2 coupled with a low powered Atom plays anything video using pretty much zero CPU, and it even bitstreams Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA to the receiver, on Linux and Windows. And it's proven and stable. NVidia know this stuff, VIA need to do better. I use a cheap ASUS S1-AT5NM10E (Shity name, good computer) for playback. Even my netbook have Ion 2 (Asus 1015PN), it also plays any video out there. So what will this bring we don't already have?

Re:Anything new to the party? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053672)

Desktop Atoms don't have speedstep activated son pretty much they stay at 1.6 or 1.8 Ghz all the time. That is a real killer for me.

VIA: Too much, too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052986)

That's great and all, but count me as someone who is now becoming quite indifferent to VIA nowadays. I appreciate that they brought the mini-ITX form factor to the light in the first place, but it seems nowadays they don't try so hard to put out a product to end users. If you can even find any of their dual core mini-ITX motherboards for purchase, you'll find a product that is way overpriced for what it offers. AMD and Intel manage to put something out there for a far more reasonable price.

Also, when exactly will the quad core motherboards come out? Of course, it could be that VIA will once again take its sweet time to release them, then ask too much once again. I don't think I'll be holding my breath.

Build your own tablet? (1)

Eggbloke (1698408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053100)

I have been thinking for a while that you could build your own tablet with one of these boards. Strap a touchscreen to one side and a battery to the other and install some tablet edition of Windows or Linux and it should work pretty well. Certainly more powerful than most tablets available today.
The only issue might be power consumption but it's quite a good trade off for performance and modularity. You could just use a bigger battery anyway.

Re:Build your own tablet? (0)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053186)

Strap a touchscreen to one side and a battery to the other and install some tablet edition of Windows or Linux and it should work pretty well.

Great sollution, If you can handle the smell of duct tape and white trash...

Re:Build your own tablet? (1)

ddd0004 (1984672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053396)

I just attached a LCD panel to the side of my ATX case with bailing wire. I hardly even noticed the additional 12 pounds and 7 inches of thickness. Plus, the necessary extension cord can double as a belt.

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