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.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 19, 2013 - 07:03 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC-Q28, PC-Q27, mini-itx, Lian Li, aluminum case
PC Chassis manufacturer Lian-Li has launched two new mini-ITX cases that will be available next month. The PC-Q27 and PC-Q28 are both brushed aluminum cases that accommodate a single graphics card, a mini-ITX motherboard, at least one case fan, and several hard drives.
The PC-Q27 is the smallest of the two cases at 7.8” x 11.8” x 9.4.” The case is constructed of aluminum and the outside features a black or silver brushed aluminum finish. The front of the case features a single 5.25” optical drive bay, a LED-lit power button, and two USB 3.0 ports on the right side of the case. Internally, the PC-Q27 case uses Lian-Li’s rail motherboard mounting system for mini-ITX boards. It can host a single graphics card up to 195mm in length, two 3.5” hard drives, and one 5.25” drive. The case is cooled by a single 120mm bottom-mounted fan when the hard disk drive bay is removed. To facilitate airflow, the case has vents along the bottom and rear of the case. The case is held up by case feet to allow the fan to pull in cool air.
Meanwhile, the PC-Q28 is a bit larger and wider at 8.9” x 12” x 13.5.” IT also comes in a silver or black brushed aluminum design. This case is the successor to Lian-Li’s PC-Q18. It can hold a mini-ITX motherboard, a single GPU up to 290mm in length, and up to seven 3.5” hard drives. The mini-ITX case features two removable hard drive cages and two fans. There is a single 140mm fan located on the bottom of the case that acts as an intake (and includes a dust filter to keep the case internals clean), and one 120mm exhaust fan on the top of the case. The outside of the case features four case feet to lift the case off the ground, rounded corners, and a simple front panel that host a power button and 5.25” drive bay. The right side of the case hosts two USB 3.0 ports and two analog HD audio jacks.
Both of Lian-Li’s new mini-ITX cases will be available sometime in May. The smaller PC-Q27 has an MSRP of $78.99 while the PC-Q28 will cost $118.99.
Read more about the Mini-ITX form factor at PC Perspective!
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 3, 2013 - 10:14 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, mini-itx, gtx 670, GK104, directcu mini, asus
ASUS has finalized the design for its Kepler-based DirectCU Mini graphics card. The new card combines NVIDIA's GTX 670 GPU and reference PCB with ASUS' own power management technology and a new, much smaller, air cooler. The new ASUS cooler has allowed the company to offer a card that is a mere 17cm long. Compared to traditional GTX 670 graphics cards with coolers at approximately 24cm, the DirectCU Mini is noticeably smaller.
The DirectCU Mini features a GTX 670 GPU clocked at 928MHz base and 1,006MHz boost. It also has 2GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit bus. The card requires a single 8-pin PCI-E power connector. Video outputs include two DVI, one DisplayPort, and a single HDMI port. The ASUS cooler includes a copper vapor chamber and a single CoolTech fan. According to ASUS, the DirectCU Mini is up to 20% cooler and slightly quieter than previous GTX 670 cards despite the smaller form factor.
This new card will be a great addition to Mini-ITX-based systems where saving space anyway possible is key. It is nice to know that gamers will soon have the option of powering a small form factor LAN box with a GPU as fast as the GTX 670. Even better, water cooling enthusiasts will be happy to know that the card still uses a reference PCB, meaning it is compatible with existing water blocks made for the current crop of GTX 670 cards.
Pricing and availability have not been announced, but the small form factor-friendly GPU is now official and should be coming sometime soon.
Subject: Motherboards | March 8, 2013 - 06:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: roundup, motherboards, mini-itx, celeron 847, APU, amd e-450
While high end motherboards and processors tend to get the most attention from enthusiasts, sometimes less is better (*waits for Josh to stop laughing on the podcast). More often than not seen integrated in small form factor OEM boxes, there are a few motherboards out there that come as a bare board and integrated processor to be the basis of low power desktops, network devices, and home theater PCs. Both Intel and AMD have hats in the low power game, and Hartware.de has pitched four such low power boards against each other. The MSI C847MS-E33-847 and Biostar NM70I pack Intel Celeron 847 CPUs, The Zotac D2550-ITX WIFI hosts an Intel Atom D2550 processor plus a NVIDIA GT 610 IGP, and the ASUS E45MI-M Pro is powered by an AMD E-450 APU.
Hartware.de puts several low power boards into the thunderdome to see which one(s) reign supreme.
As it turns out, the results are nearly in line with what one might expect. The Atom D2550-powered system was the slowest, the APU and ASUS motherboard was the fastest, and the Celeron was somewhere in the middle. The AMD E-450 APU used the most power, and the system was one of the most expensive, however. Interestingly, the Atom system was not all that much more power efficient than the Celeron despite the lower performance and weaker hardware. The Celeron 847 chip had decent CPU performance, and mid-range power and some of the best thermals. All of the configurations were able to playback media, but the AMD system gave the most fluid results.
If you are in the market for low power system parts, the review is worth checking out.
Here are some additional Motherboard reviews from around the web:
- GIGABYTE Z77N-WiFi Mini-ITX @ TweakTown
- ASRock Z77 Pro4-M LGA 1155 @ HardOCP
- Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 FM2 @ PC Perspective
- ASRock's Z77E-ITX Mini ITX @ The Tech Repot
- ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 @ OCaholic
I'm pleasantly surprised at all the Mini-ITX motherboards being made lately.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 17, 2013 - 03:51 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ncase, mini-itx, mini ITX, m1
We love us some mini-ITX products that enable us to build powerful PCs and HTPCs in smaller chassis and using smaller footprints than traditional ATX and even MicroATX designs. We have reviewed several mini-ITX motherboards including EVGA's Z77 Stinger and even a couple of mini-ITX based pre-build computers like AVADirect Mini Gaming PC and the Digital Storm Bolt. All of these products showcase the capability to get incredible computing and gaming horsepower in a small design.
Recently I came across a thread in the /r/hardware sub-reddit discussing crowd funding for a new kind of mini-ITX chassis design. In what started as a discussion on the HardForum has resulted in a design ready for prototyping and tooling.
That is where the community comes in! The designers have started an Indiegogo.com project to help get funding from users like you and me to enable prototype units to be built and tested. I already tossed in a chunk of money from PC Perspective and I think once you see what they have designed you'll be interested as well.
The NCASE M1 is a new Mini-ITX case that raises the bar in performance, versatility, and design for SFF PC cases. With support for 12.5” GPUs, water or air cooling, and a variety of drive mounting options, the M1 offers unparalleled power and flexibility for its surprisingly small footprint, all wrapped in an elegant, minimalist aluminum exterior.
We've spent months perfecting the design using feedback from [H]ardForum community and Lian Li's engineers. Our goal is to take this design to production, and we need your help.
The next step before production is to test a prototype of the M1. The funding goal is the minimum we need to produce a prototype plus a small components budget to test fitment, thermals and noise.
The more funding we're able to raise, the more hardware configurations we'll be able to test for, which leads to a better product. If we achieve our funding goal, don't let it stop you from backing us! Every little bit will help make the M1 better.
Just look at the projected specifications and device support:
Dimensions: 240mm x 160mm x 328mm (250mm tall w/feet), 12.6L
Motherboard Support: Mini-ITX, Mini-DTX
Expansion Slots: 3
GPU Support: 12.5” (slot 1 & 2) or 11” (slot 3)
CPU Cooler Support: Up to 105mm tall; 120mm and 240mm radiators also supported
Drive Support: 3 x 3.5” HDD mounts; 3 x 2.5” drive mounts; 1 x slim slot-load optical drive mount
Power Supply Support: SFX or ATX (up to 140mm non-modular, or longer w/short GPU)
Fan Support: 2 x 120mm side & bottom mounts; 80/92mm bottom & rear mounts
Front Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, headphone and microphone
A chassis design that is built not just but a single engineer in Taiwan but rather by actual users that want to perfect a product based on the input from the community DIRECTLY - it is an incredible goal!
I have included some additional images below but you should make sure you head over to the Indigogo.com project page and learn about the NCASE M1 and contribute any amount you can to make this a reality. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future we'll be able to pick up one for ourselves and showcase it on PC Perspective!
Subject: Motherboards | February 5, 2013 - 06:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, Intel Z77, P8Z77-I Deluxe, mini-itx, lucid
The most instantly noticeable thing about the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe has to be the riser card sporting an array of capacitors and providing 8+2 power phase VRMs. What isn't as noticeable until you use the motherboard is the Intel SRT support, Lucid Virtu and the overclocking options available in the UEFI BIOS. Being a Mini-ITX board, the singly PCI Express x16 slot and dual memory slots are to be expected but the spacing is such that you should have no problems with full sized DIMMs or oversized GPUs, depending on the cooler and case you choose. The included dual Wi-Fi antennas are a nice bonus from ASUS as well. Drop by The Tech Report to see this board in action.
"The P8Z77-I Deluxe packs a lot of goodness into a tiny package. We take a closer look at the board's features, performance, and overclocking potential."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ECS NM70-I2 (V1.0) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- GIGABYTE Z77X-UD4H LGA1155 Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Gigabyte Force M7 Thor @ LanOC Reviews
- ASRock Z77 OC Formula Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- ECS Z77H2-A2X (v1.0) Review: "Golden" LGA 1155 Mainboard from the "Black" Series @ X-bit Labs
- MSI Z77 MPOWER Review: OC Certified LGA 1155 Mainboard from the Big Bang Series @ X-bit Labs
- Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 @ eTeknix
- ASRock Z77 Extreme3 @ X-bit Labs
- MSI Z77 MPower Review: The XPower’s Little Brother @ AnandTech
- BIOS Option Of The Week - DRAM Act to PreChrg CMD @ TechARP
- ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 for AMD Socket FM2 APUs @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 @ X-bit Labs
- BIOSTAR Hi-Fi A85W Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: Motherboards | February 3, 2013 - 05:09 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, mini-itx, htpc, asrock, APU, amd, A85X
Taiwanese motherboard manufacturer ASRock has shown off a new mini-ITX motherboard aimed at home theater PC (HTPC) users called the FM2A85X-ITX. The new motherboard uses AMD’s A85X chipset and supports the company’s latest Trinity accelerated processing units (APUs).
The FM2A85X-ITX motherboard features an AMD FM2 socket surrounded by two DDR3 DIMM slots (max of 32GB 1866MHz RAM), a PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, and seven SATA 6Gbps ports. A six phase VRM, two USB 3.0 headers, 8 channel audio chip, and RAID 0/1/10 support round out the package.
External IO on the mini-ITX motherboard includes:
- 1 x PS/2
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 1 x eSATA 6Gbps
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF
- 5 x Analog audio jacks
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x VGA
According to Tech Power Up, the new motherboard will cost around $110 USD. Thanks to the form factor, APU support, and multitude of storage connectivity options, the board would make for an excellent addition to a HTPC build!
Read about other mini-ITX motherboard options at PC Perspective!
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of EVGA
Sometimes, good things do come in small packages. The latest board on our test bench from EVGA proves that fact, the EVGA Z77 Stinger. The Z77 Stinger is a micro-ITX form factor board based on the Intel Z77 chipset, but don’t let its size fool you. This board is packed with features and delivers the performance that we’ve come to expect out of its full-size brethren. At a mere $199.99 base price, the EVGA Z77 Stinger would be at home in any enthusiast’s full tower case or HTPC build.
Courtesy of EVGA
Even with its small stature, the EVGA Z77 Stinger promises to pack some power. It features support for the following: SATA 2, SATA 3, eSATA, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 type devices; two different network types featuring an Intel GigE NIC and an Atheros Bluetooth adapter; PCI-Express x16 3.0 and m-PCIe ports; and HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.1a style video ports. With the addition of an m-PCIe adapter, the board can support onboard Wi-Fi as well.
Subject: Motherboards | December 3, 2012 - 04:51 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mini-itx, Intel, gigabyte, ga-c847n, ga-c807n, celeron 807
Gigabyte recently announced two mini-ITX form factor motherboards. In an interesting twist, instead of an AMD platform like many of the mini-ITX boards released this year, the Gigabyte GA-C807N and GA-C847N motherboards are based on the Intel NM70 chipset and come with integrated Intel Celeron 800-series processors.
Both motherboards come with Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable 4 Classic design and feature set. Two DDR3 (1333 MHz) DIMM slots, a single legacy PCI expansion slot, 5.1 channel audio controller, and a UEFI DualBIOS are all included features on the motherboards.
The GA-C807N has three SATA II 3Gbps ports and one SATA III 6Gbps port. It further includes an Intel Celeron 807 processor that features a single physical core clocked at 1.5GHz.
External IO on the GA-C807N includes:
- 2 x PS/2 ports
- 1 x Parallel printer port
- 1 x COM port
- 1 x VGA port
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet jack
- 3 x analog audio outputs
On the other hand, the Gigabyte GA-847N motherboard has two SATA II 3Gbps ports and one SATA III 6Gbps port. It also bumps up the processor to a dual core Celeron 847 clocked at 1.1Ghz.
External IO on the GA-847N includes:
- 2 x PS/2 ports
- 1 x Serial port
- 1 x VGA
- 1 x eSATA
- 1 x HDMI
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports
- 3 x Analog audio jacks
Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability of the two Mini-ITX motherboards. With that said, the GA-C847N in particular looks like a neat motherboard. The dual GbE ports would make it a good DIY router+firewall or server box. As far as the Gigabyte GA-C807N, the parallel printer port is an odd included feature, but otherwise it looks like a decent entry level Mini-ITX board+cpu combination.