This is a very impressive little board. It has all the features you wish for and some more. The only negative point we could find is the small 4cm fan. It's too loud, but you need to cool the Northbridge heatsink, especially when you are using onboard graphics for playing some older games. At least there are some quieter aftermarket fans available which should solve that problem. Due to the quite packed board you may run into troubles with third-party cooling solutions. The thermal management will reduce the noise of the boxed cooler which will suffice. Also, the need for SO-DIMM is no disadvantage because prices for notebook-memory are quite close to desktop memory. Our OCZ 2GB PC2-6400S kit is available for around €30, while a similar 4GB kit costs around €60.
If you need more performance you can still put in a Phenom X4 65W CPU. We hope next year AMD will introduce a 45nm 45W Phenom X4, which will be much more appealing.
This board is a top selling board for J&W in the Japanese and South-Korean market and is available for $150, which roughly translates to €130. But besides the high price, this is the first high-end mini-ITX solution available and we can't find any reason why not to buy it. Unfortunately, it will be hard to buy in Europe or the U.S., but we hope J&W can expand its distribution network soon.
AMD Athlon 64 2000+:
Clocked only with 1GHz, this CPU is enough for POS-systems, office and Internet. Playing a 720p movie-file is not possible without a stutter effect. The same CPU with 1.30GHz would manage to cope with it. AMD has the Athlon 64 2650e which clocks at 1.60Ghz, if you want to play 720p content with software codecs. Playing some older games with the integrated graphics of the 780G board is out of the question, but at least it is a step ahead for AMD compared to their Geode offerings. With GPU accelerated VC-1 and h264 playback, the AMD package is worth considering for any HTPC solution.
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3400e:
This CPU kicks the life out of any Atom and Nano CPU currently on offer. Of course, it's no match for Core desktop CPUs, but there aren't any other ITX boards in the market which could do the same as the board we tested. So, we think you have no alternative if you look for a HTPC machine where you can play a game once in a while. Of course, HD content is no concern, 720p just plays fine. We don't have a 1080p file, but we assume even using a software codec should not cause a problem. Putting in a decent mid-range card such as a HD4670 you can turn off your big tower and save some energy. Yes, Intel should be scared about this 22W TDP CPU, because in the ITX market they have nothing to compete against it.