Small form factor cases and the push to Mini ITX designs took a dramatic journey during 2013 as the popularity of the smaller PC once again became a popular trend. Though a company like Shuttle, that hardly exists in the form it did in 2004, was the first PC hardware company to really drive home the idea of an SFF system design, many other players have released compelling products helping to strengthen it as one of the unique possibilities for enthusiast PCs.
Even better, though a Mini-ITX based platform could mean limited options for hardware and performance, with companies like ASUS, EVGA, BitFenix and others in the mix, building an incredibly fast and powerful gaming machine using small hardware is not only easy but can be done at a lower price than you might expect.
One entry that found its way to our offices this December comes from Silverstone in the form of the Raven Z, RVZ01 case. This case includes unique features and capabilities including the ability to support nearly any high end graphics card on the market (dual slot or single), space for larger heatsinks and even liquid coolers along with a home theater friendly look and style. Oh, and it's
the same almost the same design that Valve used for its beta Steam Machines as well. (Update: Turns out the size of the Steam Machine is actually a fair bit smaller than the Silverstone RVZ01.)
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | December 4, 2013 - 12:02 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: uppercase, msi, mini-itx
MSI is calling these products, "Mini, but Mighty". These components are designed for the mini-ITX form factor which is smaller than 7 inches in length and width. Its size makes it very useful for home theater PCs (HTPCs) and other places where discretion is valuable. You also want these machines to be quiet, which MSI claims this product series is.
The name is also written in full uppercase so you imagine yourself yelling every time you read it.
The MSI Z87I GAMING AC Motherboard comes with an Intel 802.11ac (hence, "GAMING AC", I assume) wireless adapter. If you are using a wired connection, it comes with a Killer E2205 Ethernet adapter from Qualcomm's BigFoot Networks (even small PCs can be BigFoot). Also included is an HDMI 1.4 output capable of 4K video (HDMI 1.4 is limited to 30Hz output at 2160p).
Good features to have, especially for an HTPC build.
The other launch is the GTX 760 GAMING ITX video card. This card is a miniature GeForce 760 designed to fit in mini-ITX cases. If your box is a Home Theater PC, expect it to run just about any game at 1080p.
No information on pricing and availability yet. Check out the press release after the break.
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: General Tech | June 27, 2013 - 02:07 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: H87, zotac, haswell, mini-itx, mini ITX, 802.11n, msata
Zotac has announced a new H87ITX-A-E motherboard, which is a mini-ITX form factor board for Intel's latest generation "Haswell" 4th Generation Core processors. The board is designed for small form factor systems and should enable some low power PCs for HTPC, DVR, home server and desktop tasks.
The board has a unique layout. Zotac has placed four SATA III 6Gbps ports, a single Mini-PCI-E slot, one mSATA (6Gbps) connector, and hte PCH at the top of the board where the CPU socket would traditionally be. The LGA 1150 CPU socket sits just above the single PCI-E x 16 slot and between the VRMs and two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 16GB RAM). There are also headers for four additional USB 2.0 ports and two additional USB 3.0 ports. Zotac is bundling a pre-installed 802.11n Wi-Fi card in the Mini-PCI-E slot.
The Zotac H87 Mini ITX Wi-Fi series board has robust IO that includes:
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 5 x Analog audio jacks
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF
- 2 x Wi-Fi antennas
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x DVI
The Mini-ITX motherboard appears to be available in Japan via Amazon's Japanese site, but US pricing and availability are still unkown. From the specifications though, it looks like a capable motherboard that is worth keeping an eye on. If the price translation is accurate, the board may be around $150 when it hits US shores, though that is not the official MSRP (which could change).
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 6, 2013 - 10:31 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: evga, minibox, mini-itx, gtx titan, gk110, gaming, computex, computex 2013
First shown off at CES 2013, the EVGA Minibox is a small form factor chassis for Mini-ITX systems that can accommodate large graphics cards. EVGA has managed to enable users to pack a lot of hardware into this tiny form factor chassis. As a demonstration of the case's capabilities, the company showed off the latest version using a full system build with Core i7-4770K and GTX TITAN interals at Computex this week in Taipei.
The Minibox chassis itself is a dark brushed metal case with two USB 3.0 ports on the front IO and space for a slot loading optical drive. The MiniBox chassis further features a motherboard tray that supports Mini-ITX boards, two 2.5" SATA hard drive bays – and best of all – enough room to install full size GPUs. In order to support lengthy graphics cards, EVGA is including a small form factor 500W power supply that is mounted on the floor of the case..
HEXUS reporters spot the EVGA Minibox at Computex 2013. Look how small it is!
There will be at least two SKUs of the Minibox, depending on whether you want to go with air or water cooling. According to Bit-Tech.net, the air cooled version will use two 92mm fans in the top of the case and one 80mm fan for the bottom-mounted PSU. The water cooled SKU will be slightly larger but have enough room for a water cooling radiator (likely 240mm). Beyond that, details are scarce, but the air cooled version is said to be available as soon as next month with water cooled options becoming available later this year.
The Minibox looks to be one of the better Mini-ITX cases out there (although the price is still unknown), and should be popular among enthusiasts wanting a small box that does not sacrifice gaming potential.
Subject: Motherboards | June 4, 2013 - 03:12 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ROG, mini-itx, mini ITX, maximus vi impact, maximus vi, computex 2013, computex, asus
ASUS held a Republic of Gamers press conference earlier today that focused on new product announcements for its ROG brand. Among the new ROG gear was the company's first Mini-ITX ROG motherboard with the ASUS Maximus VI Impact motherboard.
This board may be tiny, but it is packed with features and overclocking-friendly hardware! This Mini-ITX motherboard is clad in the red and black ROG color scheme and features ASUS' Impact Power add on card that takes the VRMs and other electrical regulation hardware up off of the mainboard and into a separate add in card above the CPU. This Impact Power riser card includes a 8+2 digital power phase for both the CPU and memory. The board also includes a SupremeFX Impact sound card and a mPCIe Combo II card. The SupremeFX Impact module uses ELNA audio capacitors and features a headphone amplifier and 115dB SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio). Further, the mPCIe Combo II card provides a NGFF (think of this as next-generation mSATA) slot as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless radios.
Apart from the bundled ASUS cards, the board provides a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, two DDR3 memory slots, four SATA 3 ports, and (of course) the LGA 1150 CPU socket ready to accept an Intel Haswell processor. The board comes with a standard 24-pin ATX and 8-pin CPU power connectors.
The rear IO panel includes:
- 2 x HDMI
- 1 x S/PDIF
- Impact Control and BIOS reset buttons
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 1 x eSATA
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 1 x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
- 3 x Audio jacks (via SupremeFX sound card)
ASUS has not yet announced pricing or availability for this Mini-ITX Maximus VI Impact motherboard, but it looks like a solid board and I am anxious to see how well it overclocks!
Also read: ASUS Z87 Motherboard Lineup Preview @ PC Perspective.
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: General Tech | May 22, 2013 - 06:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: fractal design, mini-itx, case, Node 304
Fractal Design is launching a new version of its existing Node 304 computer chassis. The new Node 304 White comes in white and supports Mini-ITX motherboards. The case measures 250 x 210 x 374mm and weighs 4.9kg.
The Node 304 is constructed of aluminum and has a white painted exterior. There are two mesh air vents on either side of the case as well as two 92mm Silent Series R2 fans working as front intakes behind filters to keep dust out of the case. Front IO includes two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks. The rear of the case features two expansion slots, a space for an ATX power supply, and a single 140mm Silent Series R2 exhaust fan.
Internally, the Node 304 White can fit standard ATX power supplies, a Mini-ITX motherboard, and up to six 3.5" or 2.5" hard drives. Alternatively, with two of the hard drive mounts removed, the case can accommodate graphics cards up to 310mm in length.
It is a minimalist design,but one that works well. Airflow should not be a problem even for high-end components, and the inclusion of the three fans, filters, and a fan controller is nice to see. The case will be available in July with an MSRP of $89.90 in the US and 69.90 EURO in Europe.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 26, 2013 - 12:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: noctua, nh-l9a, hsf, cooler, mini-itx, low profile cooler
Noctua, an Austrian company known for its high-end air CPU coolers has announced that it will be offering up alternatvie mounting kits to users of its low profile NH-L9a cooler that have incompatible motherboards. Certain mini-ITX motherboards that place components on the back of the motherboard around the processor socket are incompatible with the company’s existing SecureFirm 2 mounting kit because the backplate cannot be installed.
The new alternative mounting system for the NH-L9a CPU cooler uses Noctua’s NM-APS3 spacers that go in place of the standard backplate. The spacers go in between the motherboard and screws, but are small enough to not run into any components installed in the area normally reserved for a CPU backplate. Two such boards that Noctua has found to be incompatible are the mini-ITX AsRock FM2A75M-ITX and AsRock FM2A85X-ITX.
Users with an incompatible motherboard and NH-L9a cooler can obtain the alternative mounting kit for free by contacting Noctua’s customer service line and providing them with a proof of purchase (scan, photo, or electronic invoice) receipt for both the Noctua cooler and an incompatible motherboard. Additionally, Noctua will be including both the standard SecureFirm 2 and alternative mounting kits in the retail NH-L9a cooler box from now on.
It is nice to see Noctua continuing its tradition of good customer care. They many not be as popular as other cooler vendors in the US but it seems they are a company willing to go the extra mile for its enthusiast customers.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
The Z77N-WiFi is GIGABYTE's latest edition to the Mini-ITX lineup. Although the board is not as packed with features as some of the other enthusiast-minded mini-ITX boards, GIGABYTE did some interesting things with the board layout to space components out on the board more evenly. The Z77N-WiFi even comes standard with dual-Realtek GbE NICs and an Intel 802.11n-based WiFi mPCIe card. We put the board through our normal gamut of tests to see how well this mighty mite sized up with its full-sized brethren. The Z77N-WiFi board comes with an equally reasonable retail price at a mere $129.99.