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Fanless Nano-ITX Motherboard Reviewed

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the small-and-quiet-isn't-a-bad-way-to-start dept.

36

TheEagleCD writes "The first look at the fanless EPIA-N8000E Nano-ITX motherboard has just hit the internet. While some skeptics commented that this board is only 'for those who like VIA or want an even smaller footprint than a nano-notebook,' others say that 'the size, heat output and noise levels alone will recommend it to many projects.' It will be interesting to see how the market really receives this first Nano-ITX motherboard which is the de-facto successor of the Mini-ITX form-factor which made a strong statement by being seen on many company booths at this year's CeBIT."

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So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14975316)

how much can I overclock this puppy?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14975406)

Not enough to play Far Cry, to be sure.

Embeded use (3, Funny)

Gattman01 (957859) | more than 8 years ago | (#14975445)

I've always wanted to run Linux on my coffee mug. And I can use the heat from the CPU to keep the coffee warm.

Re:Embeded use (4, Funny)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 8 years ago | (#14975615)

even better, you could write a script that regulates the load on the processor to keep your drink at a given temperature!

Re:Embeded use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14979049)

...and use http://dindinx.net/hotbabe/ [dindinx.net] to display the heat/load on your mug...

Re:Embeded use (2, Informative)

Noishe (829350) | more than 8 years ago | (#14978521)

Too bad an embedded coffee mug wouldn't heat a cup of coffee.. A coffee maker uses around 1000 watts of energy, and a mug warmer about 100 or 200 watts.

An AMD Geode embedded processor uses 14 Watts for the fastest one, and 0.9 Watts for the "El Cheapo"

Assuming that all of the Watts is put towards heat, You'd need over 8 of the 'spensive ones to keep your coffee warm.

When they will deliver (3, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14975483)

OK, fine, when it will hit http://www.linitx.com/ [linitx.com] or http://www.icp-epia.co.uk/ [icp-epia.co.uk] or some other place where I can actually buy it. Or this is expoware same as their SMP Eden platform. I have been waiting for them to ship it for god knows how long now as it is exactly what I need to build a cost/power effective SMP development/testing rig for the developers where I work now.

Re:When they will deliver (1)

syukton (256348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14975808)

or some other place where I can actually buy it

Some other place like eBay [ebay.com] ?

Re:When they will deliver (3, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14975875)

In stock at Logic Supply [logicsupply.com] . In the UK, Mini-ITX.com [mini-itx.com] claims to have limited supplies on hand.

  -Charles

Re:When they will deliver (1)

bjpirt (251795) | more than 8 years ago | (#14979338)

Thanks,
I've been waiting for these to hit for ages. Can't wait to try it out. I guess I was kind of resigned to the fact that they would never be released.
Cheers,
BJPirt

Re:When they will deliver (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14981979)

hmm mini-itx.com seem to only have the epia nl pin header only versions

not that thats nessacerally a bad thing.

Nice review -- didn't mention CPU (1)

woolio (927141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14979088)

I read the review a bit quickly, but NOWHERE, i repeat NOWHERE did they even mention what CPU it had or how fast it was... (Athough they seemed awfully concerned about the exact height of the heatsink to the millimeter)

I wonder who took the photos....and wrote the article....

Re:Nice review -- didn't mention CPU (1)

default luser (529332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14981180)

They figure you'll look up that information, their biggest concern was spacing out a three page review over ten pages.

That said, Via normally names their boards with a number that is 10x the CPU speed. The board is named the N8000, so that would indicate 800 MHz, like all the 130nm passive MiniITX boards. The benchmarks agree [epiacenter.com] .

It's really quite sad that NanoITX only uses the old crappy CN400 chipset with the older 130nm Nehemiah core. I mean, the 90nm rev still sucks, but at least they can clock it higher, and at least the bus isn't holding it back. You would think after all this delay they'd be able to put their new C7 platform in NanoITX form-factor.

800 MHz on a CN400 chipset is about the performance of a PII 350.

Neato! (2, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14975614)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these.. in a single ATX tower!

What - Again ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14975824)

VIA promised these several years ago - great concept but you could not find them for love or money. If you ask any of your local ITX suppliers to quote a price and availability all you'll get are blank stares.

When the appear on the market as something people can buy they will be a great thing. Until then, what a wank.

VIA (1)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14975867)

"this board is only 'for those who like VIA"

I didn't know that VIA actually had a following. Last I checked, there were two groups of people who used their stuff: those who tolerated it and those who didn't know any better.

I got a bad taste in my mouth with their AMD K6-2 chipsets (Apollo MVP?) and continued to have lackluster experiences with their mobo chipsets straight up through Socket A. As someone who prefers to use AMD (more bang for the buck) I've been sticking to nVidia nForce chipsets for the past couple of years. I don't plan to give VIA another chance any time soon, unless maybe I see something from VIA get favored by a lot of serious review sites.

Re:VIA (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14976140)

I was fully agreeing with you (well, perhaps except small detail that I'm on SiS - perhaps not top performers (hmm..except PCI bandwith), but stable & reliable) up until the ending. AFAI remember, VIA _was_ getting favorable reviews during SocketA days. Even though their chipsets were often quite...shitty.
At least I learned that you can't trust, when buidling computer for actual use, reviewers who build a machine from minamal number of standard components, run some benchmarks...and that's it.

Re:VIA (1)

Palle04 (962875) | more than 8 years ago | (#14977199)

looks like you guys missed the last 3 years. ;)

Re:VIA (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14978254)

Well, VIA still didn't get their act together when it comes to PCI... (as for PCIe - I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if the only reason they're doing good is because AMD gave them working implementation and said "use it!")

Why (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 8 years ago | (#14978950)

Would you do this? WHYYYYY?

okay, yeah, you would think you could trust them /sarcasm off

DVI and Dual Ethernet not included... (1)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14975942)

What is with the VGA port? Are they that much more expensive than DVI? It seems that basically all boards with integrated graphics have this failing, and it is extremely annoying. While a DVI-VGA adapter is about $5, this choice alone excludes a huge chunk of the market.

Another thing which most of these SFF boards lack is dual ethernet, or at least gigE. So much for routers, file servers, and networked DVR's.

Oh well, while I am wishing for the impossible, why not remove the BIOS and add a serial console port as well.

Re:DVI and Dual Ethernet not included... (1)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14976058)

What is with the VGA port? Are they that much more expensive than DVI? It seems that basically all boards with integrated graphics have this failing, and it is extremely annoying. While a DVI-VGA adapter is about $5, this choice alone excludes a huge chunk of the market.

Nope. The N-series has those ports you see but the NL-series has no ports, just headers. That includes an adapter for an LVDS or DVI connection. There is a miniPCI slot on bottom if you want to install a wireless card or something else miniPCI. The boards already include MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and crypto accelerators along with video (inc. an HDTV converter), audio (S/PDIF), USB 2.0 and ethernet (10/100).

Re:DVI and Dual Ethernet not included... (2, Informative)

xiao_haozi (668360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14976853)

I agree with you Kono. I have been watching mini boards and anticipating this nano board for a while now with a couple of cool projects in mind but am always bothered by the fact that there is an abundant lack of dual lan. I understand that with mini boards you can use a pci version or here the mini-pci...but what if you need that for another component of the system. I guess I have always just thought of these being used in projects that would really fall heavily on a network backbone (e.g. server, router. etc) as you mentioned and don't really understand the need for multiple video outputs (composite, s-video, and vga) when you still only have a single ethernet port. I guess you could always go with a usb workaround?!

Via IS listening to you, even if they move slow (1)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14978983)

What is with the VGA port? Are they that much more expensive than DVI?

Yup, seems annoying since I'd think that if someone wants a tiny system then they'd opt for an LCD panel and the analogue port is just wasted electronice. However there is the NL board that at least does away with the bulky 15-pin VGA port, though a small header connector and the DAC circuitry are still there.

Another thing which most of these SFF boards lack is dual ethernet, or at least gigE.

Actually Via and most other Mini-ITX board makers offer at least one model of board equipped with dual ethernet--the EPIA PD series of boards all have scads of ports--including 2 ethernet ports. VIA pushed these for use as point-of-sale terminals (because they also have a whole bunch of RS-232 and USB ports for communication with all those POS gadgets like cash drawers, credit/debit PIN pads, pole displays and so on) but they are also popular choices for fancy routers.

In addition to the nano boards, some C7-based mini-ITX boardsd have also trickled out onto the market and theseare allequipped with a single gigabit ethernet port. VIA is planning to come out with a Luke-based replacement for the PD boards that'll run faster and may be available with at least one of the two ethernet ports capable of gigabit. VIA is being notoriously vague about its schedule but it is included in their 2006 product catalogue so I guess they're at least hoping for release inthen ext few months...

Best quote in the article (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14975955)

Windows requires the use of a floppy for RAID drivers; this board has no connector for a floppy drive. Thus, if you want to use Windows and RAID:

There are three solutions to installing Windows on this board: 1) Use a USB floppy drive; 2) Set the SATA mode to IDE in the BIOS (change it from RAID); 3) Install Linux instead.


Heh.

Re:Best quote in the article (2)

xiao_haozi (668360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14976818)

I also thought that was funny. I especially chuckled at the end when they mentioned a con of lacking windows drivers. I don't remember how many times I had to reread that aloud as I am used to the exact opposite statement.

Re:Best quote in the article (1)

Palle04 (962875) | more than 8 years ago | (#14981292)

They mentioned the lack of driver support for the chipset. There are no mpeg2 and mpeg4 drivers for the cn400 chipset available under windows.

Re:Best quote in the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14977924)

You can install windows with non-standard raid drivers without a floppy by mucking around with the windows install cd in a process called slipstreaming (for example see http://www.maximumpc.com/2005/01/how_to_slipstre.h tml [maximumpc.com] or google). I had to learn this when I was setting up a shuttle PC with an Intel RAID controller (no floppy, no windows install support for controller). Of course this solution requires another machine already running to make the cd. Setting up a DIY computer without another working computer around (with internet access) would be pretty damn hard. Thankfully linux and livecd are around.

DVI instead VGA (1)

wysiwia (932559) | more than 8 years ago | (#14976015)

I wonder how long vendors still can sell boards of any size without a DVI plug. I'm just buing a Asus A8N-VM CSM because it's the only reasonable board with a DVI in its class (and without chip set cooler).

I might go one day with an ITX board but DVI is a killer argument for me.

O. Wyss

Re:DVI instead VGA (2, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14976076)

Then go with an NL-series instead of an N-series. Same basic board, just no connectors (only headers). It also has a connector for an LVDS or DVI daughtercard ($35-40 extra).

fanless, how? revealed. (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14976142)

Look at these photos:

VIA Luke CoreFusion 1.0GHz

A Luke processor is obviously only lukewarm, and as result doesn't need a cooler.

Re:fanless, how? revealed. (1)

scsirob (246572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14979629)

But that contradicts the Core Fusion part..
It takes quite a lot of heat to cause fusion inside the core..

Too Expensive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14978764)

at around USD400 each in unit quantities. Any guess as to when the price will come down to a more reasonable value (such as $200)?

Nice! (1)

tetabiate (55848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14979379)

I was searching something like this to replace my noisy Opteron biprocessor box. However, is the processor x86-compatible? I mean, can I run standard x86 code on it? I don't care about the driver support since I don't use Windows very often.

Re:Nice! (1)

default luser (529332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14981424)

Sure, it is an x86 processor, based on the Winchip.

Let me just put this in perspective for you:

For anything other than MPEG2 or MPEG4 viewing, or encryption, this processor will perform like a PII 350 or slower. Imagine running Gnome or KDE on a PII 350 with a TINY (64k) L2 cache, and you'll come to understand just how much this chip sucks.

Via claims that their philosophy is low-power computing, but the real deal is Via does not want to pay their design team to completely redesign the Winchip. The Winchip is not even a real superscalar processor: it only has one integer unit, and one floating-point unit. Think of it as a highly-optimized 486, with performance much closer to 1 Instruction Per Clock.

It wasn't a bad design way back when the Pentium ruled the roost, because the Pentium typically executed one instruction per cycle. It was pretty rare to keep both instruction pipes on the Pentium filled, even with a decent optimized compiler. But then the P6 came along with support for out-of-order execution, making the Winchip obsolete overnight.

The sad thing is, modern processors like the Athlon 64 and Pentium M can compete with the Nehemiah on power usage AND performance. You can take any Athlon 64, clock it to 1.0 GHz and 0.8-1.0v, and it will have twice of the performance of any Nehemiah processor and use less power. You can do even better with the Pentium M, which supports voltages as low as 0.7v.

Your noisy Opterons, for instance, can probably be underclocked and undervolted, and you can potentially cool them passively (if they are of the 90nm variety).
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