The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Via EPIA SP13000 based mini-media center

Posted by Deliverator on January 17th, 2006

My new Via Epia SP13000 arrived today. This is the 5th EPIA motherboard I have owned over the years and it is the fastest to date. The MII 12000 that powers the carputer comes close, but this new board edges it out in several ways. The SP 13000 has Via’s latest generation EDEN processor clocked at 1.33 ghz and is the first Via Mini-ITX system to support DDR 400 memory. All previous systems ran on slower PC133 or DDR 266. The SP 13000 also features 2 SATA ports (in addition to 2 eide ports). Given the small places people try to cram mini-itx boards, the nice thin cables used by SATA is a very welcome change from trying to deal with big fat eide ribbon cabling. The SP13000 also features USB 2.0 and Firewire, although the board only has two backplane mounted USB ports and all other ports are offered as pin headers only. Given the increasingly universal use of USB for connecting to virtually all peripherals, it would have been nice if they had included a few more USB ports on the backplane.

I installed my new SP13000 motherboard along with 512 MB of Kingston DDR 400 into my existing media center case and did a fresh install of XP and all the fixings. Along the way I updated the bios to 1.07, which I am happy to note adds support for 1280*768 resolution. The picture looks fabulous on the Hitachi 32″ now. I broke in the new system by playing some high resolution + high bitrate XVID encoded videos. The system handled playback like a champ and didn’t come close to pegging the CPU. I need to perform some additional upgrades, though before I am ready to call this project done. Here is what I have in mind:

– The existing single platter hard drive is lacking in capacity and voom. Will probably replace with 250 GB SATA drive from my main desktop and upgrade the desktop drive to a 400-500 GB SATA drive, likely one of the Seagate 7200.9 series drives.

– Replace existing case with a mini-itx case that can support a PCI card or two via a riser.

– Get a PCI 802.11g card with a decent external antenna to replace the Orinoco USB 802.11b client adapter I am currently using. I recently installed a Linksys WAP54G in G only mode upstairs and I just need a good G client adapter to go with it. I have pretty much decided trying to do streaming on a .11b link is a pain in the ass. NO, I CAN’T/WON’T RUN CABLE.

– Install recently purchase slimline DVD-RW

– Mount all gear out of sight.

– Set up software on minimedia to automatically download all Tivo content and de-drm it. Get .11G client adapter for Tivo to improve transfer rates (currently still on a WET11 bridge).