Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 15, 2014 - 12:49 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF case, SFF, mini ITX, micro ATX, aerocool
A Taiwanese company called Aerocool Advanced Technologies (with a US disivision known as Aerocool US) recently unboxed a cube-shaped computer case that is both colorful and practical. The new Xpredator Cube joins the existing Xpredator lineup as a small form factor (micro ATX or mini ITX) option that comes in Red, Black, Orange, White, and Green color options for $125.90.
Measuring 280x418x412mm, the Xpredator Cube has a futuristic design with lots of sharp angles. Large “shell like” adjustable vents align along the top of the case along with a storage compartment and the front Io panel. The front of the case is dominated by a large mesh intake vent with angled sides and a single 5.25” bay. The left side features a side panel window that shows off the top half of the case (motherboard area).
Front IO on the Xpredator Cube includes two USB 3.0 ports, two audio jacks, a power button, and two fan speed dials for the built in fan controller (maximum of 15W per channel).
The aesthetics are welcome, but the internals are where the small form factor cube shines. The new Xpredator series case is divided into two main compartments. A horizontal divider holds the horizontally mounted removable motherboard tray. The tray matches the external color of the case while the rest of the case internals (minus the tool-less drive rails) is black. It features a CPU cutout and multiple rubber grommets to facilitate cable routing. The case has four exposed PCI slots that can support graphics cards up to 320mm in length (or 345mm with the front case fan removed). The case can accommodate tower coolers up to 187mm tall or an internally mounted water cooling radiator up to 280mm (sans optical drive). Alternatively, the case has two water cooling grommets to support a larger external radiator.
Bundled cooling include a 200mm front intake fan (800 RPM, 53.4 CFM, 26.5dBA) and a single 140mm exhaust fan (1200 RPM, 5948 CFM, 27.6 dBA). From there, users can add up three additional 140mm fans. The top of the case has angled vents that can be opened or closed with a slider on the left edge.
The bottom half of the case has space for a vertically mounted power supply and a tool-less hard drive bay that can hold three 3.5” or 2.5” drives. The case has a vent on the right side of the case for the power supply fan along with a removable magnetic dust filter. In addition to the hard drive bay, users can fit two 2.5” solid state drives under the 5.25” bay.
Aerocool further includes rubber pads for the power supply and hard drives to reduce shock which is nice considering the LAN party readiness of this case.
The new case was not available for purchase at the time of writing, but it should be for sale soon with a MSRP of $125.90.
The Aerocool Xpredator Cube looks to be a nice looking, easy to build in case. I’m looking forward to the full reviews of course, but if it holds up to the specifications it should be a popular small form factor option!
Subject: Motherboards | March 6, 2014 - 02:44 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mini ITX, micro ATX, Kabini, GCN, FS1B, biostar, AM1
Biostar has officially launched three new AM1 platform motherboards that support AMD's latest Kabini-based desktop SoC. The new Biostar hardware falls under the new AM1M series and includes the micro ATX AM1m-HP board and two mini ITX boards: the AM1MH and AM1ML.
All three boards feature a FS1B SoC socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, two SATA III 6Gbps ports, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (running at x4 speeds), one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, Gigabit Ethernet, and 5.1 channel audio. The micro ATX AM1M-HP adds a legacy PCI slot to the mix. In an interesting twist, Biostar has oriented the memory horizontally above the FS1B socket rather than vertically and to the right of the socket.
Rear I/O on the AM1M-HP and AM1MH boards includes:
- 2 x PS/2
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x VGA
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x RJ45 (GbE)
- 3 x analog audio
The other mini ITX board (the AM1ML) has the same rear IO configuration minus the HDMI video output.
Biostar has not released pricing or availability information, but the boards should ship sometime in mid-April.
Subject: Motherboards | March 6, 2014 - 01:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, mini ITX, micro ATX, Kabini, FS1B, asrock, AM1
ASRock has joined the AM1 Platform fray with three of its own FS1B socketed motherboards: the AM1B-M, AM1B-ITX, and AM1H-ITX. The new motherboards come in Mini ITX and Micro ATX form factors that support all of Kabini’s I/O options including USB 3.0, SATA III, and PCI-E 2.0 connections.
The two mini ITX motherboards (the AM1B-ITX and AM1H-ITX) feature a FS1B SoC socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, four SATA III 6Gbps ports, and a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot running at PCI-E 2.0 x4. ASRock is using two SATA III ports from the Kabini SoC and two SATA III ports from an ASMedia ASM1061 chipset. Both boards utilize the Realtek RTL8111GR NIC to provide gigabit Ethernet.
The AM1H-ITX board builds upon the features of the AM1B-ITX by adding a mini PCI-E connector. While the AM1B-ITX uses a 5.1 channel Realtek ALC662 chipset, the AM1H-ITX uses a 7.1 channel ALC892 chipset that supports both analog and optical S/PDIF outputs.
Beyond the mini ITX boards, ASRock is launching the micro ATX AM1B-M. This board features the FS1B Kabini SoC socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots (16GB @ 1600MHz), two SATA III 6Gbps ports, a PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (running at x4), and a PCI-E x1 slot. The board further offers Gigabit Ethernet and 5.1 channel audio. Noticeably absent is the additional ASMedia chipset that adds two SATA III ports.
Additionally, the three boards have internal headers for extra USB ports and TPM security chips (the exact configuration of which depends on the specific board). The table below breaks down the basic differences between the boards.
|ASRock AM1B-M||ASRock AM1B-ITX||ASRock AM1H-ITX|
|Memory||2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz)||2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz)||2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz)|
1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16 (@ x 4)
1 x PC-E 2.0 x1 (@ x 1)
|1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16 (@ x 4)||
1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16
1 x mPCI-E
|Storage||2 x SATA III||
2 x SATA III from Kabini SoC
2 x SATA III from ASMedia ASM1061
2 x SATA III from Kabini SoC
2 x SATA III from ASMedia ASM1061
|Audio||Realtek ALC662||Realtek ALC662||Realtek ALC892|
As with the other AMD hardware partners, ASRock has not released pricing or availability information. You can expect the micro ATX to be the cheapest of the bunch, with the two mini ITX boards commanding a slight premium for their reduced size and bolstered I/O options. The boards with four SATA III ports would make for great home server options by not requiring a PCI-E card to connect more than two SATA drives. The boards will support Athlon and Sempron branded AMD Kabini SoCs, and the combination of a board and SoC will cost approximately $60 according to AMD.
While the AM1 Platform is restricted to single channel memory (a Kabini memory controller limitation) versus Bay Trail's dual channel memory support, the AM1 Platform offers SATA 6Gbps and a GCN-based graphics part. Bay Trail may have a leg up in memory bandwidth and TDPs, socketed Kabini offers more storage bandwidth and graphics performance. I'm interested to see how the two platform stack up, and what the new boards are able to do.
Subject: Motherboards | February 28, 2014 - 01:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, A58, Kaveri, FM2+, micro ATX, atx
MSI has launched three new low cost FM2+ motherboards based around AMD's budget A58 chipset. The new boards include an ATX form factor MSI A58-G41 PC Mate and two micro ATX boards: the A58M-E35 and the A58M-E33. The boards are compatible with AMD's Richland, Trinity, and Kaveri APUs and support PCI-E 3.0. The cost savings come from using the A58 chipset which drops support for SATA III 6Gpbs and USB 3.0. The boards further have smaller heatsinks and fewer overclocking features. Despite the restrictions, the new MSI A58 FM2+ motherboards still incorporate MSI's OC Genie 4, Click BIOS 4, and Command Center technologies along with the company's Military Class 4 hardware components.
The MSI A58-G41 PC Mate is an ATX form factor board with an FM2+ CPU socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, six SATA II 3Gbps ports, two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, two PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, and three legacy PCI expansion slots. Rear IO on this board includes two PS/2 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, a single Gigabit LAN port, three analog audio jacks, and three video outputs (HDMI, VGA, and DVI).
The Micro ATX A58M-E35 also has an FM2+ socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, and six SATA II ports, but the expansion slot layout is scaled down. There is a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, and one PCI slot. Rear IO on this board is identical to the A58-G41 board above (six USB 2.0, two PS/2, one GbE port, three audio, and three video outputs).
Finally, MSI's lowest-end A58M-E33 is a Micro ATX board similar in layout to the A58-E35, but with fewer port options. The expansion slot and memory slot configuration stays the same as the E35, but there are two fewer SATA II ports (four total) and two fewer USB 2.0 ports on the rear IO panel. Speaking of I/O, the board is similar to the E35 except that it lacks a DVI video output and two USB 2.0 ports.
MSI has not yet released exact pricing, but expect these boards to be well under $100, and the two micro ATX variants to be closer to the $50 mark based on prices of the higher-end A78 and A88 chipset-based motherboards. All three will be available for purchase later this year.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 7, 2013 - 05:28 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mini-itx, mini ITX, micro ATX, anidees, aluminum case
Anidees (roughly translates to "ideas" in English) recently launched a new PC case for micro ATX or mini ITX motherboards called the AI-4B. It is a steel and aluminum chassis measuring 429 x 186 x 420mm (HxWxD) and weighing 6.06 kg. Its design is somewhat similar to the company's previous AI-6 mid-tower case and includes curved edges and a black textured exterior. The front of the case is covered by a door that can be made to hinge from the left or right side, depending on user preference. Behind the door is a large mesh vent with removable dust filter that holds two 120mm Nano Tech fans (which come bundled with the case).
The front IO is located on the top of the case and includes two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and two analog audio jacks (mic and headphone).
The interior of the case is also all black. Features include five PCI slots, support for a top-mounted ATX PSU, and space for two 5.25" drives and four 3.5" drives. Other features include cable clips to aid in cable management, anti-vibration rubber mounting options for the fans and hard drives to reduce noise, and optional sound dampening material.
The Anidees AI-4B supports graphics cards up to 318mm in length and CPU coolers up to 168mm tall. Cooling options include two 120mm fans in the front and a single 120mm fan in the rear of the case. Anidees packs in three 120mm Nano Tech fans, which come pre-installed. The fans are connected to a fan controller (located under the front IO panel) that will run the fans at one of three selectable speeds.
The new Micro ATX chassis is available now in Europe for 79.90 Euros or 79.99 pounds (UK). The SKU with sound dampening material is 10 Euros or 10 pounds more at 89.90 Euros or 89.99 pounds. These prices translate to approximately $103 for the base model or $115 for the model with sound dampening material. The AI-4B is available now from Caseking or Amazon in Europe. Direct US availability and pricing has not yet been announced, but if it really strikes your fancy it should be possible to import it for a slight premium and shipping costs via Amazon or other retailers.
Subject: Motherboards | January 9, 2013 - 07:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, micro ATX, mATX, fm2, ces 2013, CES, APU, amd, a85xma-p33
MSI announced a new micro ATX motherboard at CES this week. Aimed at supporting AMD’s APUs, the MSI A85XMA-P33 is a socket FM2 motherboard that is replacing the company’s existing A75MA-P33 motherboard. The new A85XMA-P33 is nearly identical to the previous board, but it uses AMD’s A85X chipset rather than the A75.
The A85XMA-P33 features the FM2 socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, and six SATA 6 Gbps ports. It also has one legacy PCI slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, and a single PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot.
Rear IO on the micro ATX motherboard includes two PS/2 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports (plus an additional 2 via motherboard header), three (6 channel) audio jacks, and a gigabit Ethernet port. Display outputs include a single DVI and a single VGA connector.
Other features include a five phase VRM and a UEFI BIOS. No official pricing has been announced yet, but you can expect it to be around the $70 mark. MSI has posted more photos and specifications on its website.
Read more about micro ATX motherboards at PC Perspective.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Systems | September 17, 2012 - 01:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: micro ATX, llano, htpc, gigabyte, GA-A55M-DS2, amd, a8-3870K
If you are on a tight budget and can't afford the cost of a Llano based notebook, or simply just don't want a mobile PC then Legit Reviews can help you out with their new system build guide. For just under $300, shipping included, they will show you how to set up an A8-3870K based system on Gigabyte's GA-A55M-DS2 motherboard, 4GB DDR3-1333 and an OCZ Vertex Plus R2 60GB SATA II SSD along with an optical drive and a micro ATX case. It won't win any overclocking awards but it has enough outputs to make a decent HTPC system and will handle light gaming duties thanks to the integrated graphics on the A8-3870K
"Are you looking to build a budget PC, but have a limited budget to work with? We have had a number of readers and businesses that we consult with looking for new systems that will save power and be faster than the systems they currently have. When we started to look into low cost Do-It-Yourself (DIY) systems we found that you could easily build an AMD Llano system for less than $300. And when we say under $300 we mean with shipping included! You would think that for under $300 we would have to cut corners and use knock off brands, but that is not the case here. We are using the top of the line AMD A8-3870K APU and an OCZ Vertex Plus R2 60GB Solid-State Drive (SSD) into this system. The one corner that we did cut is..."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Giada Mini PC i35G Review @ Madshrimps
- Midrange System Buyer's Guide @ AnandTech
- DinoPC Predator Extreme 3570K OC @ Kitguru
- Building the 2012 AnandTech SMB / SOHO NAS Testbed @ AnandTech
- HP Pavilion 23-1000z Review @ TechReviewSource
- Vizio CA27-A1 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Lenovo IdeaCentre K430 Review @ TechReviewSource
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of Gigabyte
PC gaming is alive and well and hardware vendors are working to create unique features in their product lines to entice this niche audience. Gigabyte has always had a soft spot for gamers who want the best components for their LAN rigs so they can own their friends in any game genre they choose to play. Gigabyte has broadened their product line to include performance gaming mice, keyboards, and PC cases. They also have a line of "G1-Killer" motherboards that Gigabyte claims is designed with 3D gaming in mind. One of their latest boards in the G1-Killer series is the G1.Sniper M3, and just happen to have a sample that we are reviewing today.
Courtesy of Gigabyte
The G1.Sniper M3 was designed into a micro ATX form factor that sports Intel's latest Z77 Express chipset and supports the third generation of Intel's LGA 1155 "Ivy Bridge" processors. It is challenging to pack enough performance features and overclocking options onto a micro ATX footprint, but Gigabyte's G1.Sniper M3 has broken the code in this department. This $180 board includes a digital power phase design with auto voltage compensation, dual UEFI BIOS, and an onboard Creative Sound Core3D quad-core audio processor for rich, high-definition audio.