Subject: Motherboards | January 17, 2015 - 10:22 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SFF, nuc, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel
Bay Trail-M has been at the heart of several interesting micro-PC products in the past few months, but the limitations of the SoC have thus far kept these ultra-low power devices from becoming serious PC contenders. New products with AMD APUs look promising, and we will see how they perform once they become available. Meanwhile, Intel might be changing the mini-PC landcape soon with a new motherboard form-factor.
It doesn't have a name but the 5.5" square board looks like a smaller version of a thin mini-ITX design, with flush mounted DIMM slots and support for M.2 SSD storage. SemiAccurate is reporting that "it will support up to 16GB of DDR3L, an M.2 SSD and 2.5″ HD, 4x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, GbE, audio, and Wi-Fi". A mini-ITX board on the other hand, though slightly larger at 6.7" x 6.7", has the advantage of supporting full-size GPUs (except the thin-mini variant). But when size and power consumption are the primary concern the lack of PCIe expansion is less important, and this sub-ITX board offers socketed CPU support rather than a soldered BGA solution, permitting customization and potentially offering a more desktop-like upgrade path.
No word on availability of the prototype board from Intel, which the report said was seen at this year's CES. It would make sense that Intel has learned from their experience with the NUC and created a smaller form-factor, but it remains to be seen whether such a product will enter the retail channel or become an OEM part.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 12, 2015 - 04:22 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: phanteks, mini-itx, micro-atx, Enthoo Mini XL, enclosure, dual-motherboard, cases
Phanteks has introduced a computer enclosure with a new form-factor they are calling “super micro ATX”, a large alternative to standard mATX designs that has the advantage of supporting two complete systems within a single case.
The second motherboard is supported via their ITX upgrade kit, and as the name indicates the second system must be built on the mini-ITX platform. While this might appeal to a very small market there is a need for running discrete systems for some users, and this design is certainly an interesting alternative to running two boxes. How it handles heat dissipation is a good question, but considering the “extreme cooling” capacity of the case - with up to 14x 120mm or 8x 140mm fan mounts - there would be plenty of room for a pair of AIO solutions to keep the CPU heat outside of the enclosure.
The mini-ITX board is installed at the top (Image credit: cowcotland.com)
The enclosure’s dimensions are (WxHxD) 260mm x 550mm x 480mm (10.24” x 21.65” x 18.90”), and the feature list includes:
- Dual removable hard drive cages
- 2x removable Drop-N-Lock SSD brackets
- Fully equipped with dustfilters (1x top, 1x front, 2x bottom)
- Removable top panel for easy fan installation and dust filter cleaning
- Compartment for fan installation in top panel
- Clean cable management using Phanteks' preinstalled Hoop-N-Loop cable ties
- Mod friendly structure uses screws NOT rivets
- 10 color abient lighting controller
- 2x USB 3.0, microphone, 3.5mm audio jack
Two backplates! (Image credit: cowcotland.com)
For full specs see the product page at the Phanteks site. Pricing is not listed and searching for the product at the usual places doesn’t turn up any listings as of this morning.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 9, 2015 - 09:02 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: mini-itx, enclosure, Deepcool, ces 2015, CES, cases
Deepcool has announced a couple of new mini-ITX enclosures, and they are anything but average.
The Deepcool Tristellar (Credit: Legit Reviews)
First we have one of the wildest looking enclosures at I’ve ever seen (other than the In Win D-Frame mini), and it looks very much like an Imperial shuttle (ROTJ, anyone?). With three sections connected to a central hub, the Tristellar has the look of some sort of spacecraft, and would appear at first glance to be rather complicated to build in (though I'd love to find out first-hand).
Exploded view of the Tristellar (Credit: Legit Reviews)
The enclosure was featured as the basis of an upcoming gaming system from CyberPower, and it would indeed house a capable gaming machine with support for mini-ITX motherboards, full-size graphics cards, and standard ATX power supplies.
The second case is a little more conventional on the surface, but again we have a design that is quite a departure.
The Pentower enclosure (Credit: Legit Reviews)
The upright Pentower enclosure seems to borrow from the design of the latest-gen Mac Pro (albeit in a less cylindrical fashion), but is not built upon the Mac’s cooling design (in which the CPU and GPU are directly connected to the large central heatsink). Such a design seems ideal for this enclosure shape, but Deepcool has implemented their own air cooling system here.
The Mac Pro’s thermal design (Credit: Apple, Inc)
With the Pentower standard components can be used and installation should be relatively easy since “after the shell is removed, all of the panels and trestles are exposed (and) users can install units directly without uninstall(ing) any other part of the case“, according to the press release.
There is no listing for the Tristellar or Pentower cases on the Deepcool website as of today, and naturally pricing and availability have not been announced.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Introduction, Specs, and First Impressions
BitFenix has been making enclosures for the PC market since 2010 (with the massive Colossus E-ATX case), and came to prominence a couple of years later with the introduction of the Prodigy enclosure. While the company has expanded to produce power supplies and peripherals they are still primarily a case manufacturer, as evidenced by the now 31 different models on their product page. Not content to iterate on their existing designs, BitFenix has consistently introduced new chassis ideas for different form-factors and needs.
We reviewed the Colossus Micro-ATX case back in March, and it is again an enclosure built for the venerable micro-ATX form-factor that we’re looking at here. Quite the opposite of the Colossus Micro-ATX's squat design, the Pandora is smooth and very slim.
In the world of computer cases there are many variations, but they are mostly boxes with splashes of style and the occasional window. Companies like In Win are at the opposite end of the spectrum, but the design choices for a case with commitment to artistic intent often entail a considerable price tag, and In Win consistently prices itself out of the mainstream market. So what about the middle ground? Enter the BitFenix Pandora. It boasts eye-catching looks, a slim design that seems even more so given the curved panels, and even has a color LCD screen that can be programmed with the image file of your choice!
The Pandora features a programmable color LCD display, to which I affixed this incredible logo
I don’t want to dissolve into meaningless superlatives, but the Pandora is a striking design. When it was shown at Computex earlier in 2014 it was listed as a mini-ITX enclosure, and while it definitely supports mini-ITX motherboards it is the final product’s micro-ATX support that we focus on in this review. And while it would have been large as a mini-ITX enclosure the Pandora is fairly small as an mini-ATX case, most notably due to that slim profile. This comes at a price, as there won’t be as much room for storage with such a narrow width (and those looking for any optical drive support must look elsewhere). And speaking of price, while the "core" version of the case starts at around $110, this version with programmable display is currently selling for just under $160. Steep, but not outrageous either.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 23, 2014 - 01:16 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: wall mount, Steam Machine, PC-05S, mini-itx, Lian Li, enclosure, cases, aluminum case
Techspot posted a review of the unreleased Lian Li PC-05S case over the weekend, and as you can see it’s a lot more interesting than the generic name might suggest.
The case features aluminum construction (of course - it’s a Lian Li!) and a tempered glass side to showcase the build. And what better way to show off a build than hanging it on the wall like a picture? Well, the reviewer didn’t show this but the case is described as a “wall mountable open-air chassis” by Lian Li on their site. Overall, Techspot liked the PC-05S and called it “a beautiful case that is well-designed inside and out”.
Looks great on a desk!
At just over 14 lbs (without components) this will require some planning to mount on a wall. The dimensions (WHD) are 15.1” x 18.3” x 5.8”, and it has a similar layout to Steam Machine cases like the SilverStone RV01 which we reviewed back in January. Like the RV01, the PC-05S requires a mini-ITX motherboard and orients the GPU at a 90° angle (via an included ribbon adapter) to fit in such a slim enclosure. The PC-05S also requires an SFX power supply (such as the SilverStone SX600-G we reviewed recently) and supports 240mm radiators.
Many more photos and full specs are available on the main product page, and the Lian Li PC-05S is slated for a February 2015 release. The cost? $319.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 16, 2014 - 01:36 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form factor, SFF, ncase, mini-itx, m1, enclosure, case, aluminum case
The NCASE M1 once famously posed next to a can of soda, and the rest is (unlicensed) history...
The M1 next to a can of some mystery drink that I've never seen before
Now the M1 is back for another round of pre-orders, with the price set at $185 for the microscopic, all-aluminum enclosure. The catch is that once again the enclosure ships directly from the OEM (Lian Li) in Taiwan, which means that import duty and taxes will be extra. Shipping this writer's abode in the province of the USA known as "Michigan" ranged from $30 for the slowest imaginable ocean freight, to a (comparatively) reasonable $55 for much faster air shipping.
Christmas is coming... Why not order 2? Or 5?
You may have been one of the (approximately) millions who read our review of this fantastic little enclosure, but just for old time's sake you can always read it again! The review features many photos of the case interior and exterior, as well as a some build examples to give readers an idea of what to expect before committing to the case sight-unseen.
Exploded view of the aluminum (or aluminium for our readers in the UK) construction
So what's different with the 3rd version? Here's the official change log from the hardforum page:
- Braces added to bottom corners of chassis for increased rigidity/decreased probability of wobbling
- 0.3mm decrease in side and front panel height
- Extra QC for wobbling & panel uniformity
- Changed model ID plate to read "V3.0" in place of "V2.0"
- SFX bracket raised 2mm and flange trimmed for better SFX-L support
- Additional motherboard standoffs added for compact mATX boards (226x173mm max w/SFX bracket)
- Slightly increased CPU cutout size
The M1's dimensions are just (HxWxD) 240mm x 160mm x 328mm, which translates to 9.45" x 6.30" x 12.91". The pre-order is currently open, but no offical word on when the newest production run will be finished and shipping just yet.
Subject: Systems | December 5, 2014 - 09:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: mini-itx, quiet computing, gaming machine
After finishing up their full sized quiet gaming system Silent PC Review upped the difficulty by shrinking the system down to a Mini-ITX board. The system recommendations do have one thing in common, the quietly powerful ASUS STRIX GTX 980 but that is about the only similarity. The i5-4690K is cooled by a Silverstone Argon AR03 and powered by a fanless Seasonic X-520 PSU. Kingston HyperX Genesis DDR3-1866 has a low profile to keep it out of the way in this small build and the M.2 SSD also takes up very little room. The motherboard they chose was the ASUS Z97I-PLUS and these components are all housed in the Rosewill Legacy W1-S. They offer many alternatives for each component, catch them all in the full review.
"A quiet system in a smaller form factor is our followup to the Quiet ATX Gaming Build Guide posted in the last couple of weeks. It is another high performance rig, but still quiet enough to be just about inaudible even atop your desk. Your family will never know that you're gaming on this machine unless your sound effects are on speakers and they can see the action on your monitor."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Falcon Elite-GT1 Assassin SE @ Kitguru
- Asrock M8 Z97-600W @ Legion Hardware
- ASRock Z97 M8 Barebones PC @ techPowerUp
Subject: Graphics Cards | November 29, 2014 - 02:57 PM | Sebastian Peak
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.
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.
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).
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.
Introduction: Caged Beast
The D Frame Mini from In Win is a wild-looking, wildly expensive case that defies convention in many ways.
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).
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!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 18, 2014 - 07:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- In Win D-Frame Mini - Mini-ITX @ [H]ard|OCP
- be quiet! Silent Base 800 @ techPowerUp
- be quiet! Silent Base 800 Chassis @ Kitguru
- Fractal Design Core 3300 Review @ OCC
- Elegance in Aluminum – Lian Li PC-A61 Chassis Review @ Techgage
- Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV @ Benchmark Reviews
- Aerocool Xpredator Cube Case @ Kitguru
- Antec P100 @ techPowerUp
- Deepcool Gamer Storm Maelstrom 120 @ techPowerUp
- Thermalright Macho Rev.B CPU Cooler Review @ NikKTech
- Xigmatek Gaia II CPU Cooler @ eTeknix