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VIA EPIA N10000 Nano-ITX Review
Posted on Feb 10, 2006 Go to:

Connectors, Jumpers and Headers

EPIA N10000 Review

VIA have managed to pack a lot of connectors and headers into an extremely small space. The EPIA Ns have the following connectors:

One 200-pin SODIMM slot for a DDR 266, 333 or 400 memory module. This gives a practical upper memory size of 1GB, the largest SODIMMs currently available.

The 12-pin Nano-ITX power connector. Early prototypes of this board had a slightly larger 10-pin connector, amongst many differences.

One 40-pin IDE and one 44-pin IDE connector. Both channels support Ultra DMA 66/100/133. In case you're wondering, the type of connector we're all used to on a 3.5in Hard Drive is a 40-pin connector. 44-pin connectors are used on 2.5in laptop-style hard drives, often used in Mini-ITX systems (as well as laptops). Slimline optical drives use neither connector, they require an adapter (usually to 3.5in 40-pin format). We tested using a slimline optical drive as Master and 3.5in drive as Slave all on one 40-pin IDE cable with no DMA errors.

Case Connectors - somewhere to plug your Power and Reset switches, LEDs for Power, Hard Disk activity and Sleep mode (when the power is on but the machine is suspended), and a case speaker.

Two USB 2.0 Headers - to attach 4 additional USB 2.0 ports.

KBMS Header - to attach a PS2 Keyboard and/or PS2 Mouse.

Serial ATA Connector - the VT8237R chipset can support two *and* RAID, and the connectors are small - so why not have two?

LVDS/DVI Connector. This uses a larger 60 pin connector than the one used on previous EPIAs, though still requires a (no doubt elusive) LVDS-07 daughtercard to use it. Getting LVDS working and connecting to a flat panel with an EPIA Mini-ITX is actually fiendishly difficult and beyond the average user. It's not just a case of ripping out an LCD from a dead laptop and plugging it to the board. Cables need to be short, connectors are difficult to source and fiddly to work with, panels need to be backlit, the EPIAs are picky depending on their model and BIOS revision, and only certain panels will work at all anyway. If it's for a one off project, consider buying a new LCD monitor. Here's one we did earlier, despite all that. A DVI daughtercard connected onto here is the only hope for DVI on this revision of EPIA N board. Let's hope VIA make them available.

YPbBr Headers - 6 small pins that could give high quality Component TV output from this board. We're not sure if they will need an interface board of some description, or if a cable could be connected straight to them. Intriguing.

The VIP Video Interface Port Header is also interesting, potentially offering a direct route into the North Bridge for video capture - but only if somebody produces the additional hardware.

Jumpers for selecting between S/PDIF and RCA, and also between LVDS and DVI outputs on the LVDS/DVI connector. A third jumper allows you to clear the CMOS entirely back to default values. We can't begin to count how many systems this has solved problems for over the years. But remember kids - only ever move this jumper when the power is disconnected entirely from the board. Nasty things can happen if you don't. One jumper we would like to see on EPIA boards in future would be a CPU speed throttle. Often people want to underclock their machines to run them without fans or in a closed environment. VIA do have 533MHz and 800MHz versions of this board for that purpose, but (CPU yields aside) why not have just one, that can be stepped down in speed?

Finally, on the underside of the board is a Mini PCI connector. These have been used in laptops and embedded boards for some time to connect miniature (and usually more expensive) versions of anything you can think of that can be crammed into a PCI slot. And by "anything" we mean mainly Wi-Fi cards, but we have seen the odd video capture card at trade shows. Case manufacturers will need to allow some space underneath the board if internal expansion is required.

Temperature, Noise Levels and Power Consumption-->

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