VIA VE-900 Mini-ITX Mainboard Review
While setting the VE-900 up for testing, I catered to its Mini-ITX form factor, but also made sure that the mainboard would be used to the fullest. I'm not sure I know anyone else who has paired 8GB of RAM up with a Mini-ITX motherboard.
The main recommended use of the VE-900 is in the home theater, so one of the things I really want to check with this board is whether or not it has the ability to play back 1080p video without any stuttering. I also wanted to briefly examine the VE-900's 3D abilities, power consumption, and the number crunching behind the Nano X2 CPU. Below is the components I used for teseting:
- Via VE-900
- 8GB (2x4GB) Patriot DDR3-1066 RAM
- Gigabyte GZ-SPIM51-P0B Mini-ITX Case and 65W Power Supply
- Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB SATA Hard Drive
- Asus 24x DVD+/-RW SATA Drive
I decided to use VLC as my movie player for these tests, as it has support for most video formats out-of-the-box. I figured the best formats to test high-definition video playback would be MKV, H.264, and YouTube. I've had poor experiences with video playback on low-power processors in the past, but was really hoping that the VE-900 would pull through. The unfortunate part about these playback tests is that during the time of this writing, the only video recorder I had access to was currently broken. With that, trust us on these!
I started with an H.264 file I found at this website. Like most high-definition clips, it was rather large in size (roughly 120MB for about two minutes of video). After the download completed, I queued the file up in VLC and hit play. While VLC wasn't in fullscreen mode, the video looked a little choppy. After switch to fullscreen so that video was no longer scaled, playback smoothed out and looked just as good as it would on my Core i7 machine.
I moved on to the MKV file next, choosing a movie trailer from those available on DivX's website. The results mimicked those of the H.264 playback: slightly choppy when the video was scaled, but smooth sailing in fullscreen mode.
I honestly wasn't sure what to expect while attempting to play a 1080p video from Youtube. Flash has always had performance issues in Linux (amongst other operating systems), so I didn't have high hopes for being able to play a 1080p clip. Two of my favorite trailers that can be found in 1080p on Youtube are Tron: Legacy and the Dark Knight. Unable to choose which I wanted to play back, I opted to play both.
Youtube defaults to 360p playback, which worked as expected. Switch to 1080p and fullscreen lead to a little more buffering, but sure enough video playback was smooth. I will note here that I had programs installing in the background, and the video did get a little choppy whenever there was a reasonable amount of hard drive activity occurring.
I was impressed. I never would have been able to play these files on an Intel Atom-powered system without the help of a discrete graphics solution (read: higher power consumption!). We'll post an update on this as soon as we get our grubby hands on a working video camera!
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