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EPIA MII 12000 Review
Posted on May 18, 2004 Jump to:

Fan Noise and Cooling

EPIA M10000 "Fansink"

The M 10000 introduced a new CPU fan, larger CPU heatsink and a new double heatsink arrangement cooling the Northbridge and for the first time, the Southbridge. The fan is a 12V BI-Sonic BS401012M with a maximum airflow of 6.48 CFM, noise level of 24.5 dB, rotating at 5000 rpm. This fan is used on all the boards tested. VIA have tried other fans in the past, and have stuck with this one - so we can only assume that this is the quietest 40mm fan they can find.

The Bi-Sonic fan spins quietly, fairly quickly, and quieter than the average 80mm case fan - in keeping with the EPIAs "near silent computing" philosophy. However most fans do get louder over time - a rheostat such as the Zalman Fan Mate can slow down troublesome fans and lower their noise levels with no adverse effects.

Power Consumption

Power consumption for all the boards increases under heavy load, i.e. at 100% CPU utilisation. This would normally occur when playing back tightly compressed video such as DivX or XviD, or during a Linux compilation or OS installation. Due to their similar design, all the CLE266 boards run at about 16W when idle increasing to up to around 28W under load. As a rule of thumb, subtract around 3W for the passively cooled Eden versions of the boards, and add 3W for boards with the Ricoh CardBus daughterboard.

Remember this is for the entire motherboard - compare and contrast with an Athlon or Pentium CPU consuming 70-90W alone. Low power consumption is central to VIA's philosophy - it means reduced heat generation, which means in turn reduced cooling required, which leads to quieter and smaller PCs, which makes for a better working environment.

Overclocking

Many of today's CPUs are capable of being overclocked. Athlons and Celerons can often be driven far beyond their rated speed, and many owners now overclock their CPUs as a matter of course. This of course generates more heat, which isn't really in keeping with the EPIA design philosophy. We had to try though. The C3 stores its multiplier setting on the MSR level within internal registers, i.e. alterable in software for the life of your operating system session. If you go too high don't worry - the multiplier setting will default to factory values on the next reboot. FSB settings aren't alterable in the BIOS - not in the right direction anyway.

We tried to alter our Nehemiah multiplier (default settings are 7.5 x 133MHz) using WCPUID - but it wouldn't budge using our version of the software. Shame - it worked for the "Classic" EPIAs. In theory it would be possible to take a lead pencil to the bridges atop a Nehemiah C3 after ripping off the heatsink - this of course is a hugely warranty invalidating procedure. And every time you try it, a kitten dies.

EPIA Linux Support*

We're still not Linux experts here at Mini-ITX, though we're slowly getting better. Our RedHat 9 EPIA CL firewall has been running without a hitch or reboot for many months now, and was a painless install. XFree86 Video drivers are on the CDs for Mandrake 9.0, RedHat 7.3, 8.0, 9.0, and SuSE 8.1. Most other features will work immediately with a well supported Linux distribution. There are several decent guides around (such as this one), and never underestimate the awesome powers of google.

*Feel free to add to this section Alan...

EPIA Video Resolutions -->


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