ASUS Announces GeForce GTX 970 DirectCU Mini: More Mini-ITX Gaming Goodness

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 29, 2014 - 09:57 AM |
Tagged: pcie, PCI Express, nvidia, mini-itx, GTX 970, graphics card, geforce, directcu mini, DirectCU, asus

ASUS has announced a tiny new addition to their GTX 970 family, and it will be their most powerful mini-ITX friendly card yet with a full GeForce GTX 970 GPU.

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Image credit: ASUS

The ASUS 970 DirectCU Mini card will feature a modest factory overclock on the GTX 970 core running at 1088 MHz (stock 1050 MHz) with a 1228 MHz Boost Clock (stock 1178 MHz). Memory is not overclocked and remains at the stock 7 GHz speed.

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The GTX 970 DirectCU Mini features a full backplate. Image credit: ASUS

The ASUS GTX 970 DirectCU Mini uses a single 8-pin PCIe power connector in place of the standard dual 6-pin configuration, which shouldn’t be a problem considering the 150W spec of the larger connector (and 145W NVIDIA spec of the 970).

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Part of this complete mITX gaming breakfast. Image credit: ASUS

The tiny card offers a full array of display outputs including a pair of dual-link DVI connectors, HDMI 2.0, and DisplayPort 1.2. No word yet on pricing or availability, but the product page is up on the ASUS site.

Manufacturer: In Win

Introduction: Caged Beast

The D Frame Mini from In Win is a wild-looking, wildly expensive case that defies convention in many ways.

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First of all, calling the In Win D Frame mini an enclosure is a bit of a stretch. The design is part open-air case, part roll cage. Of course open air cases are not a new concept, but this is certainly a striking implementation; a design almost more akin to a testbench in some ways. When installed the components will be more open to the air than otherwise, as only the sides of the frame are covered (with panels made of tempered glass).

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The most noticeable design aspect of the D Frame mini are the welded tubes that make up the frame. The tubes are aluminum and resemble the frame of an aluminum bicycle, right down to the carefully welded joints. Around the perimeter of the frame are rather sizable soft plastic/rubber bumpers that protect the enclosure and help eliminate vibrations. Due to the design there is no specific orientation required for the enclosure, and it sits equally well in each direction.

There is support for 240mm radiators, virtually unlimited water cooling support given the mostly open design, and room for extra-long graphics cards and power supplies. The frame looks and feels like it could withstand just about anything, but it should probably be kept away from small children and pets given the ease with which fans and other components could be touched. And the D Frame mini is extremely expensive at $350. Actually, it’s just kind of extreme in general!

Continue reading our review of the In Win D Frame mini enclosure!!

Corsair's Carbide Series Air 240, dual chambered to reduce heat and increase free space

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 18, 2014 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: SFF, mini-itx, micro-atx, corsair, carbide series air 240

Corsair's new Air 240 is a decent choice for a high end Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX system as it is 15.6" x 10.2" x 12.6" (397 x 260 x 320 mm ) which is enough to squeeze in a larger sized GPU although not deep enough for most high end air coolers.  A self contained LCS is not a bad idea as the case ships with three 120mm fans and can fit another three 120mm fans and a pair of 80mm fans for air coolers, or up to a 240mm radiator instead if that is your preference.  The drive cages are all tool-less and strategically placed to give you more room for other components, it will be a tight squeeze for your hands while installing your system.  The Tech Report were impressed with the case and while it did lack some extra features like a fan controller it is worth the impressively low price, currently $90.

Ryan did a video review of this case back in August if you want a more visual overview.

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"The Carbide Series Air 240 is a small-form-factor case with an interesting dual-chamber design. We loaded it up with our Casewarmer system and took it for a spin."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Introduction: The Core Series Shrinks Down

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Image credit: Fractal Design

The Core 1100 from Fractal Design is a small micro-ATX case, essentially a miniature version of the previously reviewed Core 3300. With its small dimensions the Core 1100 targets micro-ATX and mini-ITX builders, and provides another option not only in Fractal Design's budget lineup, but in the crowded budget enclosure market.

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The price level for the Core 1100 has fluctuated a bit on Amazon since I began this review, with prices ranging from a high of $50 down to a low of just $39. It is currently $39.99 at Newegg, so the price should soon stabilize at Amazon and other retailers. At the ~$40 level this could easily be a compelling option for a smaller build, though admittedly the design of these Core series cases is purely functional. Ultimately any enclosure recommendation will depend on ease of use and thermal performance/noise, which is exactly what we will look at in this review.

Continue reading our review of the Fractal Design Core 1100 case!!

Author:
Manufacturer: MSI

Mini-ITX Sized Package with a Full Sized GPU

PC components seem to be getting smaller.  Micro-ATX used to not be very popular for the mainstream enthusiast, but that has changed as of late.  Mini-ITX is now the hot form factor these days with plenty of integrated features on motherboards and interesting case designs to house them in.  Enthusiast graphics cards tend to be big, and that is a problem for some of these small cases.  Manufacturers are responding to this by squeezing every ounce of cooling performance into smaller cards that more adequately fit in these small chassis.

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MSI is currently offering their midrange cards in these mini-ITX liveries.  The card we have today is the GTX 760 Mini-ITX Gaming.  The GTX 760 is a fairly popular card due to it being fairly quick, but not too expensive.  It is still based on the GK104, though fairly heavily cut down from a fully functional die.  The GTX 760 features 1152 CUDA Cores divided into 6 SMXs.  A fully functional GK104 is 1536 CUDA Cores and 8 SMXs.  The stock clock on the GTX 760 is 980 MHz with a boost up to 1033 MHz.

The pricing for the GTX 760 cards is actually fairly high as compared to similarly performing products from AMD.  NVIDIA feels that they offer a very solid product at that price and do not need to compete directly with AMD on a performance per dollar basis.  Considering that NVIDIA has stayed very steady in terms of marketshare, they probably have a valid point.  Overall the GTX 760 performs in the same general area as a R9 270X and R9 280, but again the AMD parts have a significant advantage in terms of price.

The challenges for making a high performing, small form factor card are focused on power delivery and thermal dissipation.  Can the smaller PCB still have enough space for all of the VRMs required with such a design?  Can the manufacturer develop a cooling solution that will keep the GPU in the designed thermal envelope?  MSI has taken a shot at these issues with their GTX 760 Mini-ITX OC edition card.

Continue reading our review of the MSI GTX 760 Mini-ITX Graphics Card!!

Is it an Acura NSX or a Maserati; Corsair's Graphite 380T

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 5, 2014 - 02:14 PM |
Tagged: mini-itx, mini ITX, graphite, corsair, 380t

You have seen Ryan's video review by now but you can also check out a different review of Corsair's Graphite Series 380T.  The so called drink cooler case was tested with an A10-7850K and an MSI A88XI AC motherboard which unfortunately blocked some of the bolt holes that would have attached the Cooler Master Seidon 120V so be sure to install any coolers which require a custom back plate before mounting the motherboard.   The radiator did fit in the side mounting points as it could not be placed in the front or back, something else to keep in mind if building a system in this tiny little cube of 8.2" x 10.3" x 11.1" (356 x  292 x 393 mm).  To complete The Tech Report's Casewarmer a GTX 660 Ti, SSD and Cooler Master V550 PSU were installed, all of which remained at decent temperatures under load and thanks to the integral fan controller did so without producing ridiculous amounts of noise.  If you are wondering about the handle, it did not feel at all strained when being carried even with all components installed.

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"Corsair's Graphite Series 380T is a supercar-themed Mini-ITX case designed for the PC enthusiast. Does it live up to its billing? We loaded it up with our Casewarmer build to find out."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Author:
Manufacturer: Corsair

Little. Yellow. Different.

Corsair just can't help themselves, they just can't stop building new cases. Obsidian, Carbide, Graphite; the obsession is never ending it seems. That's good news for enthusiasts though as Corsair's entries to the case market have almost always been high quality. Today's official launch of the Graphite 380T, available in yellow, black and white color schemes, brings yet another entry to the Mini-ITX form factor. It's a market that has been getting a lot of attention lately and one that requires more careful thought in design.

With a price of $139-149 depending on color, the Graphite 380T isn't a cheap case by most users descriptions but it is quite unique - both from the look and style as well as the implementation of components. You get a 3-speed fan controller as well as an interior dome light that adds a little character to an exterior that will already get a lot attention. And maybe some comparisons to a Dewalt portable worksite stereo.

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The front panel removes with a simple spring-loaded click release and acts as both air inlet and filter for the large 140mm fan included up front.

Continue looking through pictures of the Corsair Graphite 380T Mini ITX Case!!

Cooler Master Elite 110; a small case for a small price

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 21, 2014 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, Elite 110, Casewarmer, mini-itx

A few months ago Lee reviewed the $40 Cooler Master Elite 110 and with the recent resurgence of mini-ITX systems it is worth revisiting this case.  Measuring 8.2" x 10.3" x 11.1" (208 x 260 x 280 mm) it is a rather small enclosure which will lead to a crowded interior but a stylish looking and easy to place system.  As you are limited to a 3" tall heatsink The Tech Report opted to go with watercooling as you can just squeeze a 120mm radiator in; in this case the Seidon 120V.  The A10-7850K based "Casewarmer" was installed and with some tweaking The Tech Report managed to keep temperature and sound levels within a decent range but you should consider your cooling components with the knowledge that this case can get warm and loud without the right fans and heatsink.

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"Cooler Master's Elite 110 is a tiny case with a price to match. Is it a good value? We loaded it up with parts and ran it through our testing gauntlet to find out."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Author:
Manufacturer: Corsair

It's so cool, and so tiny

Corsair continues to march down the path of making a PC case for just about every user imaginable. At Computex this past June, Corsair announced the Carbide Air 240 case, which is a smaller version of the very popular (and well reviewed) Carbide Air 540. These unique cases include two separate compartments: one for the motherboard, CPU, and graphics card and another for the power supply, storage, and miscellaneous cable clutter. The result is a sleek cube-shaped form factor that is easy to build inside.

Available in both black and white (with UV resistant paint), the $89/99 case fits both Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX motherboards allowing quite a bit of component flexibility.

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A quick look at the front of the case shows the cube-like shape that both the Air 540 and Air 240 share, a form factor resulting from the dual-compartment design. The Corsair logo in the center can actually be rotated depending on the orientation of the case which itself can be rotated to allow the windowed case door to be the top of the case rather than the side.

Keep reading our overview of the Corsair Carbide Air 240 with plenty more photos and descriptions!!

Manufacturer: Cooler Master

Features and Specifications

Introduction

As the popularity and availability of small form factor PC components continues to grow, more companies are coming out with new enclosures that support this expanding market.  Today, we are taking a detailed look at Cooler Master’s latest entry into the mini-ITX arena; the Elite 110 case. It’s amazing just how powerful a PC can be built around one of the latest mini-ITX motherboards and how much hardware can be stuffed into a small cube. In addition to basic computing needs, the Elite 110 enclosure offers a great many expansion options, with support for overclocking, a high end graphics adapter, up to four HDD/SSDs, a full size ATX power supply, and even water-cooling; all inside a small ~10” cube!

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Cooler Master Elite 110 mini-ITX case key features:
•    Small footprint: 280 x 208 x 260 mm (11.1 x 9.2 x 10.3”)
•    Supports mini-ITX motherboard
•    Front mesh panel with vents on both sides and top
•    One 120mm intake fan in front (included) or one 140mm fan (optional)
•    Two 80mm fans on the side (optional)
•    Supports a 120mm radiator in front for water-cooling
•    Supports a standard length ATX PSU (up to 180mm)
•    Supports one dual-slot graphics card (up to 210mm length)
•    Supports up to three 3.5” HDDs / four 2.5” SSDs
•    External I/O panel with two USB 3.0 ports
•    Blue LED On/Off switch on front panel

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Specifications for the Elite 110 case (Courtesy of Cooler Master):

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Please continue reading our Cooler Master Elite 110 Case review!