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VIA seems to have a steady stream of new EPIA boards coming in all sorts of configurations and one of the latest models is the TC10000. As with many of the other EPIA boards it’s based on the 1GHz C3 core and the CLE266 chipset, but the TC10000 is very different from the rest of VIA’s range.
At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that this is an MII10000 board due to the PC Card and Type II CompactFlash slots, but these are optional, although ICP who supplied us with the review sample ships all its TC10000 boards with these as standard. The main feature of the TC10000 is its 12V DC-DC converter which means that it is powered by an external 12V source. Although an external power supply doesn’t ship with the board, ICP stocks a suitable unit for £22.33. Now, you could use any regulated 12V source as long as it can deliver 60W of power, as anything less won’t allow you boot the system up.
The TC10000 also features a connector for LVDS add-on modules, something that I know that many EPIA users have been wanting some time for, although it still seems to be impossible to get hold of the LVDS module that fits in the connector. There are different modules that can be attached, but there seems to be most interest in the option for DVI output.
Another peculiarity of the TC10000 is the memory slot located at the bottom of the motherboard - it’s an SO-DIMM slot, which you generally only see in notebooks. This means that you have to buy more expensive laptop memory, although as the EPIA boards only use PC2100 a 512MB SO-DIMM would only set you back about £10 more than a normal DIMM.
Around the back are two PS/2 ports, a single D-SUB and serial port as well as two USB 2.0 ports and an Ethernet port for the onboard 10/100Mbit LAN. This is also where the audio connectors are, which consist of a stereo output, a line in and a microphone connector. The PC Card and CompactFlash slots are also accessed here and the blanking plate has cut-outs for them to fit through. There is of course still a single PCI slot available for any further upgrades, such as a second network card in the case you want to use the TC10000 as a Firewall or Internet sharing type device.
What is missing compared to the MII10000 is 5.1-channel audio and FireWire, not to forget the lack of TV output and S/PDIF, but these features aren’t always needed.
There are also connectors on the board for four additional USB 2.0 ports, a second serial port, a parallel port and most importantly a combined 12 and 5V power output. A special cable is supplied that provides power for up to three devices, as it has two standard Molex connectors and a floppy drive style connector. The drawback to this is that you can’t connect any device that draws a lot of power and it is suggested that you use a laptop style optical drive with this board as it uses less power than a full size optical drive.