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Review: VIA Artigo Pico-ITX Builder Kit A1000

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Is That Steam In The Cloud?

Say you needed a small PC with low power requirements to install inside a car or even inside a PCs drive bay. Well, friend, you should consider $300 VIA’s Artigo Pico-ITX. This tiny thing out-minis the Mac Mini and can run fast enough to put some of your older PCs to shame.


The Pico is an ultra-lightweight compact PC marketed to hobbyists and PC enthusiasts alike. It’s about half the size of a DVD-Drive and will even fit in a spare 5.25” drive slot – it even has the necessary mounting holes). Exact measurements are 5.9 x 4.3 x 1.8 inches (15 x 11 x 4.5 cm) and it weighs around one pound.

Suffice it to say, the unit is tiny for a functional PC. The Pico-ITX has 4 USB ports, a power button (with proper click action), power & HDD indicators, audio jacks, a standard VGA connector and standard Ethernet port; all within a vented high luster black case. There are also a slew of cables to connect up any other things you may need like a ps2 keyboard or DVD-Drive. The overall construction feels solid.

Our review unit came with a hard drive, RAM and embedded OS, but you will need to supply those separately for the retail units. There’s just the right amount of space for a standard 2.5” IDE hard drive and one memory module (uses SO-DIMM DDR2 533 MHz module). The maximum supported memory is 1GB – not much by today’s standards, but enough to run most applications.

Once connected, the system booted up into Windows CE Embedded 6.0 in around 15 seconds – not bad. Sadly, Windows CE 6.0 just doesn’t cut it unless you need a super light weight OS. Getting XP installed was a pain, but it can be done without a CD. Linux is also supported. VIA’s support website mentions that Vista is unsupported at this time – but considering the overall spec for this, performance would be abysmal. Noise levels were negligible.

Built around a VIA Esther (C7) CPU clocked at 1 GHz the Pico can accomplish many smaller tasks just fine. Geekbench rating for this kit was 384. Note: I wouldn’t use this to recode video, but it’s perfect as a mini media center for a car or for a home web server. One of the most attractive features is the low power consumption. With power consumption around 13 Watts (20W loaded) the Pico will cost less than $25 to run non-stop for a year.

Bottom Line
While this is not going to break any compute records, it is a solid platform to build upon.

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