VIA EPIA-M Platform

Aron Schatz
March 2, 2003
Mini-ITX is a very small form factor. VIA tries to fit a multimedia system into a motherboard that is a bit bigger than a jewel case. The performance is another story, though.

Page 1: Intro, Box, Parts


Since the first introduction of the Eden platform, I have always been intrigued by what the little mini-ITX system can do. Recently, VIA has launched their M series of EPIA board specifically target for multimedia applications such as streaming audo and dvd watching. This product remains a mystery, though. VIA can do so much better and hopefully they will with the C3-2 CPU. Read on.


<center>EPIA Box</center>

The reason everyone reads my reviews is because of this section right here. I'm not joking... (...,.....). Yeah, anyway, if you wanted to pick this buy this thing, you'd realize just how small it is. When I got it, I didn't really expect it to be THAT small, but I was surprised. Again, let's see what on the inside of the box.

<a href="">Go here for the full specs on the motherboard</a>.


<center>EPIA Parts</center>

Here we have all of the parts that came in my box. We've got a nice expanded port option bracket that gives an extra 2 USB 2.0 ports and 2 firewire ports. The manual is good, and VIA didn't skimp on the backplate nor the IDE cables. What they did skimp on was the driver CD! I was pretty pissed when I didn't get it, I really didn't want to waste a CDR just to get the network card working to get the rest of the drivers. I hope that everyone else got driver CDs though.

<center>EPIA Usb</center>

This is the bracket up close. I like how it gives you an extra 2 USB 2.0 ports as well as firewire. I don't have any firewire products, but I do have many USB things. I'm glad to see a 'multimedia' motherboard have enough ports for my devices.

<center>EPIA Board</center>

Here we have the board in all its tiny splender. As you can see, there is a bunch of stuff going on with this board in such a tight area. The thing with the fan on it is the embedded 933Mhz C3 CPU. The other silver heatsink is on the northbridge. You get a single DDR Ram slot and a single PCI slot. The board has pretty much everything on it, which is a good and bad thing. The good side is that nothing is needed to make the system work, the bad thing is that most of the included stuff isn't 'mainstream' enough to be really practical. You still have the standard dual IDE ports and a single floppy connection. There are a bunch of extra headers for USB and firewire on the board, which you'll use for the extra bracket. This board is basically all VIA, except for the LAN.

<center>EPIA Ports</center>

You get an impressive array of ports to do what you like with. Lan, video, S-video out, TV out, sound, 2 USB 2.0, and the normal dual PS/2 ports. A parrallel and serial ports are also included. That's more ports than you see on full sized boards.

<center>EPIA Pepsi EPIA uATX</center>

Here we have a size comparison of the boards. The first one is with a can of Diet Pepsi, which I drank right after. And the next one is with a normal Micro ATX board. The EPIA even dwarfs the uATX board.

That's what the parts have to offer, so let's get down to the testing.


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