Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2013 - 10:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, Intel, htpc, haswell, gigabyte brix, gigabyte
Gigabyte recently updated its BRIX line of small form factor PCs to include Intel Haswell processors, 4K display support, and additional IO port options. The new BRIX systems measure 29.9mm x 107.6mm x 114.4mm and feature a chassis constructed of anthracite aluminum with a glass top panel. The new BRIX PCs come in four SKUs, each of which comes with an Intel Haswell processor of i7, i5, i3, or Celeron varieties.
The BRIX PCs come with the case, a small Gigabyte motherboard, an Intel CPU, and a wireless module with 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 radios. Users can choose their own mSATA SSD, DDR3 SO-DIMMs (two per system, up to 16GB), and operating system. The front panel of the Haswell-powered BRIX PCs includes two USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack that doubles as an optical S/PDIF output.
The back panel of the BRIX system includes:
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RT8111G NIC)
2 x Video outputs:
- 1 x Mini-DipslayPort
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DC-in
- 1 x Kensington Lock
Internally, the BRIX PCs have one Mini-PCI-E slot, one mSATA slot, and two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots. The Mini-PCI-E slot is used by the pre-installed Wi-Fi module, however. Processor options include the Intel Celeron 2955U, Core i3-4010U, Core i5-4200U, and Core i7-4500U. At the high end, the i7-4500U is a dual core CPU with HyperThreading, 4MB cache, and clockspeeds of 1.8GHz base and 3.0GHz turbo. The i5 also has turbo boost, but only up to 2.6GHz. The Core i3-4010U has HyperThreading but no Turbo Boost while the Celeron is stripped of both Turbo Boost and HyperThreading. The chart below lists all the processor specifications.
|Processor||Core i7-4500U||Core i5-4200U||Core i3-4010U||Celeron 2955U|
|Cores / Threads||2 / 4||2 / 4||2 / 4||2 / 2|
|Clockspeeds||1.8 GHz to 3.0 GHz||1.6 GHz to 2.6 GHz||1.7 GHz||1.4 GHz|
The new Haswell-powered Gigabyte BRIX PCs include the GB-BXCE-2955, GB-BXi3-4010, GB-BXi5-4200, and GB-BXi7-4500. Unfortunately, the company has not yet released pricing or availability for the SFF devices. More informtation on the Haswell models can be found on this Gigabyte microsite.
Read more about the Gigabyte BRIX platform and how it compares to the competition here.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 29, 2013 - 09:21 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mini ITX, htpc, elite 130, cooler master
Cooler Master recently released the Elite 130 Mini ITX case, which is an update to the existing Elite 120. The Elite 130 measures 9.4” x 8.1” x 14.9” (240mm x 205mm x 377.5mm) and will be available for under $50.
The Elite 130 weighs 6.8 pounds and is constructed of a steel alloy body with a polymer mesh front panel. The all black chassis has a mesh front panel with IO on the left and a single 5.25” drive bay. There is an 80mm vent on the right panel and a vent (without a fan) on the left side panel. The rear of the case features two PCI slots and a single rubber grommet for water cooling or USB 3.0 pass through cables. The case supports standard ATX power supplies through the use of an extension bracket. The PSU sticks out slightly from the back of the case and a vent on the case’s top panel allows for the power supply to pull in cool air from the outside rather than from the case internals.
Front IO on the Cooler Master Elite 130 includes two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks.
Internally, the Elite 130 supports a single 5.25” drive, two 3.5” hard drives, and a single solid state drive mounted in a side bracket. Alternatively, users can forgo an optical drive in favor of having three total 3.5” drives or four total 2.5” drives.
The case comes pre-installed with a 120mm intake fan and users can add a single 80x15mm fan on the right side panel. Users can swap out the front intake fan for water cooling radiator.
The Elite 130 supports Mini ITX motherboards, graphics cards up to 13.5,” CPU coolers up to 2.5” tall, and power supplies up to 180mm long.
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | August 9, 2013 - 01:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, asus cube, google, google tv, htpc
With the release of the Google Chromecast streaming USB stick it seems apropos to revisit Google's other foray into the HTPC business, Google TV. Specifically it is the ASUS Cube up for review at Bjorn3D which will be offered as an example. At less than 5" a side it is a tiny device with HDMI input and output, an pair of USB 2.0 connectors, an ethernet port and a connector for an IR sensor for the remote. It does have wireless connectivity to help keep down on the clutter if you install it somewhere noticeable. Inside you will find a 1.2 GHz Marvell Armada 1500 chip, 1GB of RAM and 2GB of user accessible storage. There are a variety of apps to help you find streams to watch and is certainly easier to set up than a full HTPC. At $125 is is more expensive than the Chromecast but it is also more powerful, see how in the review.
"Asus Cube is the device that features latest Google TV OS that want to be part of your living room entertainment setup. With a good design, an unique remote, and $139 price tag, can it push Google TV further where others may have failed? Let’s find out."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Ebode VLHD30 Full HDMI Wireless Audio/Video Sender System Review @ Madshrimps
- Hauppauge HD PVR2 Gaming Edition Plus @ Kitguru
- Streacom ST-FC8B EVO Mini ITX Case @ NikKTech
- Zotac Zbox Nano Plus: A mini with more @ Hardware.info
- Intel NUC DCCP847DYE @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte Brix review: compact mini PC @ Hardware.info
Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2013 - 07:57 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thermalright, low profile, htpc, cpu cooler, axp-200
Thermalright recently released the AXP-200, a new low profile CPU cooler suitable for HTPCs and other systems with CPU HSF hieght restrictions. The AXP-200 is the successor to the existing AXP-100, and is available in Europe for €50 Euros, which is approximately $67 USD.
Thermalright’s AXP-200 measures 150mm x 140mm x 73mm including the bundled TY-14013 140mm fan and weighs 475 grams (~1.04 lbs). Features include a nickel plated copper base plate that connects to an aluminum heatsink with 49 fins via six soldered 6mm nickel plated heatpipes. Thermalright logos are etched onto the heatpipe caps and fan shroud. Speaking of the fan, it is rated at 700-1300 RPM, 64.52 CFM, and a maximum of 30.6 dBA.
Interestingly, the AXP-200 comes with a TY-150 mounting frame that allows it to support a150mm TY-150 fan instead of the bundled 140mm model.
The cooler supports all of the latest CPU sockets including:
- 775, 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011
- AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2
The low profile AXP-200 is available now in Europe for €50 and will hopefully hit the US soon. It should be a decent little cooler for your next HTPC or mini-ITX desktop build, though it is on the pricier side of things.
Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2013 - 03:01 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smart tv, Samsung, media streaming, live tv, htpc, cloud dvr, boxee
Earlier this week, set top box maker Boxee was acquired by Samsung in a deal worth approximately $30 million. The Korean company will retain all 45 Boxee employees as well as hold the rights to Boxee assets. Samsung plans to put the Boxee team to work on improving the user experience of its own Smart TVs. Unfortunately for Boxee users, the company announced on its website yesterday that it will be discontinuing its Cloud DVR service on July 10th.
Samsung's new "key talent and assets" from Boxee will work on improving the software used in Samsung's internet-connected Smart TVs. Smart TVs have become rather common, but much like the built-in 3D features, consumers may have a TV with Internet connected functionality but many do not utilize these features. The Boxee team will work on improving the interface, and hopefully with Sasmsung's muscle behind the team it will be able to offer enticing media functionality without running into rights issues with the big media companies, which Boxee has run into in the past.
Other than the brief announcement from Boxee and a couple of short quotes from Samsung to the BBC, details on the deal, the Boxee team's future involvement and road map on Boxee-inspired software are scarce. On one hand it is sad to see a small startup being bought out. On the other hand, it seems like it really takes a big company with lots of resources to make inroads into the living room, especially where TV and video is concerned due to media companies and cable companies (and in Comcast's case, both) fighting vigorously against these Internet streaming boxes. Hopefully Samsung realizes what it has and takes advantage of its new talent to make its Smart TVs better! In the meantime, there is always Roku to look to for alternative streaming boxes or XBMC and WMC for fully-fledged home theater PCs.
What do you think about the Boxee acquisition and the future of so-called "Smart TVs?"
Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 04:50 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vivopc, vivomouse, htpc, computex 2013, computex, asus
ASUS unleashed a barrage of product announcments at its opening keynote at Computex 2013 in Taipei, Taiwan earlier today. Two of the products shown off in slide form at the event were the HTPC-oriented VivoPC and VivoMouse. After the event, ASUS posted a press release that went into a bit more detail on the two devices. However, while the company has provided specifications and a tentative Q3 2013 release date, it has not yet announced pricing information.
The ASUS VivoPC is a small form factor HTPC clad in an angular brushed aluminum textured chassis. It measures 190 x 190 x 36.2mm and is large enough to accomodate a single 3.5" or 2.5" hard drive. The hard drive and memory can be easily replaced and the PC serviced by lifting up the (lockable, via a switch on the back) lid. It will come equipped with an as-yet-unnamed Intel processor with integrated processor graphics (likely Haswell, since ASUS did not mention a SKU or series and Intel has not had its keynote yet), DDR3 memory, and an 802.11ac wireless radio. It is unclear whether or not ASUS intends to sell both barebones and fully-configured SKUs, but as mentioned previously at leas the memory and HDD or SSD can be purchased seperately.
Rear IO options include:
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 1 x SD card slot
- 1 x RJ45 LAN
- 1 x S/PDIF
- 2 x Audio jacks
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x VGA
- 1 x Power button
- 1 x top cover lock switch
ASUS' preferred input method is, of course, their own recently-announced VivoMouse accessory, which is a large remote-control sized mouse with a large circular touchpad. The mouse has a 1200 DPI sensor and the touchpad supports 3-point multi-touch. It operates over the 2.4GHz RF frequency band, which is nice to see as it eliminates the need for an IR sensor and line of sight to the VivoPC box. The ASUS VivoMouse measures 135 x 78 x 25.5mm.
Personally, I think that I would rather have a WMC remote (such as the remote with qwerty keyboard and mini-trackpad on one side and media controls on the other that was Allyn's hardware pick on the podcast awhile back) with hardware buttons, but I have to admit that the VivoMouse at least looks stylish and people that also run Windows apps on their HTPCs might find having a large multi-touch touchpad useful.
Pricing has not yet been announced, but ASUS has stated that users should expect both the VivoPC and VivoMouse accessory to be available sometime in Q3 2013.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Computex 2013 coverage!
Subject: Systems | May 31, 2013 - 07:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: htpc, mini-itx
Building a mini-ITX system that is small enough to be attached to the back of a monitor or hidden with your stereo components takes a bit more thought than assembling a full ATX system. It is not just about the size of the components you are purchasing, heat dissipation is much more important in a small system especially if it will be located somewhere that does not have great air circulation. TechSpot has put together a guide for those thinking of building such a system, using the Akasa Euler Case as the housing and powered with a Core i5-3470T. As you can see from the picture below, the final system is smaller than an HD7970.
"The idea behind the Thin Mini-ITX form factor, besides the obvious which is to create seriously compact computers, is also to allow for DIY all-in-ones (think of little PCs you can attach to the back of your monitor). Having that said, we don't fully intend to go the all-in-one route in this article, but are aiming to build a powerful Thin Mini-ITX system that can be used in the office or at home as a media PC.
This is what our finished system should look like: extremely compact, powerful, and near silent operation, as in no-moving-parts silent. For less than $700 including a 256GB SSD, we believe you'll love what the final product will look like."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Sapphire Edge HD4 @ Bjorn3D
- Streacom F7C EVO HTPC Chassis @ eTeknix
- Fractal Design Node 605 Silent HTPC Case Review @ Legit Reviews
- Leawo Total Media Converter Ultimate @ Benchmark Reviews
- Samsung BD-F7500 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Analogix Semiconductor SlimPort Cable (HDMI Adapter) @ Tweaktown
Subject: Systems | May 8, 2013 - 03:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: htpc, zotac, zbox id88, zbox id89
HONG KONG – May 8, 2013 – ZOTAC International, a global innovator and leading manufacturer of graphics cards, mainboards and mini-PCs, today supercharges the ZBOX mini-PC with desktop Intel Core i5 and i3 processors for outstanding performance that can match and outpace larger full-size desktop PCs. The new 3rd Generation ZOTAC ZBOX with Intel Core Processors ushers in a new era of performance to the mini-PC form factor.
“Users demanded the same performance as larger desktop PCs from our ZBOX but the small size made it virtually impossible to deliver the same performance as desktop PCs. After many months of engineering and fine tuning, we came up with a solution that enables us to install desktop LGA1155 socket Intel Core i5 and i3 processors without sacrificing size, noise or power consumption that will make our end users very happy,” says Carsten Berger, senior director, ZOTAC International.
Users have two choices of processor with the 3rd Generation ZOTAC ZBOX with Intel Core Processors. Casual users seeking great performance for everyday computing can opt for the dual-core Intel Core i3 3220T-equipped ZBOX ID88 series while more demanding users can step up to the Intel Core i5 3470T-equipped ZBOX ID89 series.
The Intel Core i5 3470T processor adds Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 technology to intelligently increase clock speeds of individual processor cores up to 3.6 GHz depending on computing demands of the operating system and applications. Intel Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d) enhances virtualization capabilities on the Intel Core i5 3470T for superior performance for virtualization uses.
Intel HD Graphics 2500 graphics processing transforms the 3rd Generation ZOTAC ZBOX with Intel Core Processors into powerhouse HTPCs with Intel Quick Sync Video technology for lightning fast video conversions, Intel InTru 3D technology for stunning and smooth Blu-ray 3D playback with advanced audio technologies, and Intel Clear Video HD technology for hardware-accelerated high-definition video playback.
It’s time to play with the 3rd Generation ZOTAC ZBOX with Intel Core Processors.
ZBOX ID88 series
Intel Core i3 3220T (dual-core, 2.8 GHz)
ZBOX ID89 series
Intel Core i5 3470T (dual-core, 2.9 GHz, up to 3.6 GHz Turbo)
Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 technology
PLUS models available with preinstalled memory and hard drive
HDMI & DVI-I outputs
802.11n Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.0 w dual external WiFi antennas
Dual Gigabit Ethernet
High-amperage USB charging capable (yellow ports)
Bundled MCE-compatible remote w USB IR receiver
Bundled VESA75100 mount
Subject: Systems | April 24, 2013 - 06:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sapphire, htpc, edge VS8
Sapphire continues to improve their Edge mini-PCs, the VS8 sports an quad core A8-4555M @ 1.6GHz with HD 7600G, 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 500GB 2.5-inch SATA hard drive, not the most powerful GPU on the planet but more than enough for an HTPC. The entire system is 19.7x18.2x3.1cm, about the size of a 5.25" drive and has both WiFi and BlueTooth connectivity. For outputs you can choose between Mini Display Port and HDMI for video and optical and line out for audio as well as a line in if you need that connectivity. TechSpot really liked this machine but they would like to see a more expensive model with an SSD inside to really make the system snappy.
"While full-sized desktop computers are still around, tablets and smartphones have proven that technology has come far enough to essentially cram a fully capable computer into a space that is suitable for your pants pocket, a purse, or a small backpack. This idea of shrinking hardware hasn’t been overlooked by manufacturers as several now feature space-saving designs based on mobile hardware.
Such is the case with Sapphire’s new Edge VS8 mini-PC powered by AMD’s A8 APU. The system is hardly any larger than an external optical drive, while still packing 4GB of DDR3 memory, Radeon HD 7600G graphics, a 500GB SATA HDD, built-in support for Bluetooth 3.0 as well as 802.11 b/g/n wireless and a bevy of rear I/O connections."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- ASRock VisionX HTOC 321B Ivy Bridge mini-PC @ techPowerUp
- CompuLab Intense PC System Review: Fanless Ivy Bridge @ AnandTech
- Pivos XIOS DS Media Player @ Bjorn3D
- Pivos Xios DS Media Player Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Pivos XIOS DS Media Box @ Funky Kit
- Roku 3 Review @ TechReviewSource
- WD TV Play Review @ TechReviewSource
- Belkin @TV Plus review: TV always, everywhere @ Hardware.info
- Pivos Technology XIOS DS Media Play Smart TV Companion Review @ Madshrimps
Gaming on your Couch
Sometimes really unique products come across our door step and we just love to tell our readers about things that might normally fall outside the PC hardware field. The COUCHMASTER, essentially a piece of furniture made for gaming, is one of those items.
The COUCHMASTER, produced by a German company called Nerdytec, is a device built to help gamers use a mouse and keyboard while sitting on a couch and gaming in large screen environments. It has a pair of foam-stuffed side block that hold up a wood-constructed center panel that puts your mouse and keyboard at a comfortable angle.
Cable routing is made simple with Velcro removable panels under the keyboard and mouse and some versions of COUCHMASTER include a 4-port USB hub for connecting input devices, audio headsets, etc. The only that didn't work in our testing were external hard drives - just not enough power coming from the USB 3.0 connection through the include extension cable.
I played the entirety of Bioshock Infinite with the COUCHMASTER, and other than getting some odd looks from my wife, couldn't think of a more impressive and comfortable way to play PC games from a distance and without a standard desk setup.
I would love to see some changes like the addition of recessed drink holders on the sides, but otherwise, the only drawback to Nerdytec's COUCHMASTER is the price; it starts at $170 or so USD.
Check out the full video review posted below!!
UPDATE: The CouchMaster is now for sale in the US now!