Subject: Systems | August 17, 2016 - 04:37 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: UHD, SFF, IDF 2016, idf, gigabyte, gaming, brix
While wandering around the exhibit area at this year’s Intel Developers Forum, I ran into our friends at Gigabyte a brand new BRIX small form factor PC. The BRIX Gaming UHD takes the now-standard NUC/BRIX block shape and literally raises it up, extending the design vertically to allow for higher performance components and the added cooling capability to integrate them.
The design of the BRIX Gaming UHD combines a brushed aluminum housing with a rubber base and bordering plastic sections to create a particularly stunning design that is both simple and interesting. Up top is a fan that pulls air through the entire chassis, running over the heatsink for the CPU and GPU. This is similar in function to the Mac Pro, though this is a much more compact device with a very different price point and performance target.
Around the back you’ll find all the connections that the BRIX Gaming UHD supplies: three (!!) mini DisplayPort connections, a full size HDMI output, four USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.1 connection, two wireless antennae ports, Gigabit Ethernet and audio input and output. That is a HUGE amount of connectivity options and is more than many consumer’s current large-scale desktops.
The internals of the system are impressive and required some very custom design for cooling and layout.
The discrete NVIDIA graphics chip (in this case the GTX 950) is on the left chamber while the Core i7-6500HQ Skylake processor is on the left side along with the memory slot and wireless card.
Gigabyte measures the size of the BRIX Gaming UHD at 2.6 liters. Because of that compact space there is no room for hard drives: you get access to two M.2 2280 slots for storage instead. There are two SO-DIMM slots for DDR4 memory up to 2133 MHz, integrated 802.11ac support and support for quad displays.
Availability and pricing are still up in the air, though early reports are that starting cost will be $1300. Gigabyte updated me and tells me that the BRIX Gaming UHD will be available in October and that an accurage MSRP has not been set. It would not surprise me if this model never actually saw the light of day and instead Gigabyte waited for NVIDIA’s next low powered Pascal based GPU, likely dubbed the GTX 1050. We’ll keep an eye on the BRIX Gaming UHD from Gigabyte to see what else transpires, but it seems the trend of small form factor PCs that sacrifice less in terms of true gaming potential continues.
Subject: Systems | August 16, 2016 - 08:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, nvidia, Lenovo, Killer Networking, Intel, IdeaCentre Y710 Cube, GTX 1080, gaming, gamescom, cube
Lenovo has announced the IdeaCentre Y710 Cube; a small form-factor system designed for gaming regardless of available space, and it can be configured with some very high-end desktop components for serious performance.
"Ideal for gamers who want to stay competitive no matter where they play, the IdeaCentre Y710 Cube comes with a built-in carry handle for easy transport between gaming stations. Housed sleekly within a new, compact cube form factor, it features NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX graphics and 6th Gen Intel Core processors to handle today’s most resource-intensive releases."
The Y710 Cube offers NVIDIA GeForce graphics up to the GTX 1080, and up to a 6th-generation Core i7 processor. (Though a specific processor number was not mentioned, this is likely the non-K Core i7-6700 CPU given the 65W cooler specified below).
Lenovo offers a pre-installed XBox One controller receiver with the Y710 Cube to position the small desktop as a console alternative, and the machines are configured with SSD storage and feature Killer Double Shot Pro networking (where the NIC and wireless card are combined for better performance).
- Processor: Up to 6th Generation Intel Core i7 Processor
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home
- Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080; 8 GB
- Memory: Up to 32 GB DDR4
- Storage: Up to 2 TB HDD + 256 GB SSD
- Cooling: 65 W
- Networking: Killer LAN / WiFi 10/100/1000M
- Video: 1x HDMI, 1x VGA
- Rear Ports: 1x USB 2.0 1x USB 3.0
- Front Ports: 2x USB 3.0
- Dimensions (L x D x H): 393.3 x 252.3 x 314.5 mm (15.48 x 9.93 x 12.38 inches)
- Weight: Starting at 16.3 lbs (7.4 kg)
- Carry Handle: Yes
- Accessory: Xbox One Wireless Controller/Receiver (optional)
The IdeaCentre Y710 Cube is part of Lenovo's Gamescom 2016 annoucement, and will be available for purchase starting in October. Pricing starts at $1,299.99 for a version with the GTX 1070.
Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2016 - 10:04 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, mini-stx, mini-pc, H110M-STX, asrock
The motherboard within ASRock's DeskMini mini-PC kit has been released as a standalone product, and this H110M-STX motherboard offers Intel processor support up to 65W in its 5" x 5" Mini-STX form-factor.
Image credit: ASRock
Specifications from ASRock:
- Supports LGA 1151 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors up to 65W TDP
- Supports Dual-Channel DDR4 SO-DIMM 2133
- Graphics output: D-Sub, HDMI, DisplayPort
- ALC283 Audio Codec
- 2x SATA3, 1 M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4)
- 3x USB 3.0 (Type-A & Type-C from front I/O; 1 from rear I/O)
- 3x USB 2.0 (2 from onboard header; 1 from rear I/O)
- Intel Gigabit LAN
- 1x M.2 (Key E for WiFi + BT module)
Like thin-Mini-ITX motherboards the H110M-STX requires an external 19v power adapter. ASRock recommends a 120W adapter for 65W CPUs, while 35W Intel CPU builds can manage with a 90W adapter.
Image credit: ASRock
As to availability/price, this has yet to appear in the usual e-tail channels in the U.S., with no results currently on Amazon or Newegg. ASRock's larger H110-ITX board sells for $69.99, so this may give us an indication of where pricing might be - though the smaller STX form-factor could increase cost.
Image credit: ASRock
A sub-mITX form-factor might seem a bit unnecessary, but the smaller board does provide builders with a way to create their own mini-PC boxes with upgradable processors. Naturally, one would need an enclosure for this tiny motherboard, and the only one I have seen thus far came from SilverStone's booth at CES - though ready availability for all products in this newest form-factor is still an issue.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 9, 2016 - 05:57 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thermoelectric, SFF, air cooling, TEC, mini ITX, phononic
An interesting cooling option for small form factor systems popped up in my email recently that is a new twist on an old technology. A company called Phononic has developed the Hex 2.0 which is a compact heatsink that pairs a tower air cooler with a TEC baseplate. At 810 grams and measuring 125 mm tall, the Hex 2.0 is Mini ITX friendly and is claimed to be competitive with closed loop water coolers with up to 240mm radiators (more on that below).
Hex 2.0 uses many of the same high quality components and design choices of traditional tower air coolers. A shrouded 92mm fan is sandwiched between two aluminum heatsinks with 40 fins each. There are eight 6mm heatpipes that pull heat from the hot side of the thermoelectric (TEC) cooler and dissipate the heat. The TEC (which has a copper baseplate) uses an electric current and two dissimilar conductors and the principle of electron transport to pull heat from the “cold side” of the cooler to the “hot side” of the cooler. That hot side then needs to be cooled, and Phononic has chosen to use a tower air cooler for the job (people in the past have also paired TECs with water loops). The TEC is the notable bit about the Hex 2.0, and is what allows the small heatsink to offer as much cooling performance as it does in such a small package.
Hex 2.0 has connections for a 4-pin CPU_Fan connector, Mini USB for software monitoring and control, and a 6-pin PCI-E power connector. The four pin controls the 92mm fan which typically idles at 1000 RPM but can max out at 2,650 RPM, 33 dBA, and 44 CFM. The Mini USB connects to the motherboard and users can use a dashboard application to monitor the cooler, choose a cooling mode (to balance noise and performance), and control the LEDs on the cooler. The 6-pin connector powers the TEC cooler which appears to be capable of drawing up to 35W of power. The fan is able to spin down to zero RPM when the processor is not under load as the TEC and heatsink is able to pull and dissipate enough heat without the fan though the exact point where it would need to turn on will depend on your case and its own airflow.
Interestingly, this product is already available and reviews have already been posted around the net. According to TweakTown, the Hex 2.0 does indeed compete with 120mm liquid coolers such as the Silverstone Tundra TD03 (which is a decent cooler that I’ve used before) and Antec Kuhler H20 1250 (I’ve not tested that one but Morry did a full review of it). When placed in “insane mode” and the fan is allowed to spin up to maximum RPMs, the Hex 2.0 thermoelectric cooler actually beats the 240mm Corsair H100i GTX in quiet mode. While it will be louder, that is pretty impressive to see a 92mm fan HSF up there in cooling performance with a much larger water cooler!
This cooler is nicely packaged in a silver aluminum and black nickel plated aesthetic. Cooling performance seems to make it a possible alternative cooling option for SFF builds that can give you similar cooling performance in a case where a pump and radiator would be difficult or impossible for fit. That’s the upside. The downside to this cooler is the price. At $149.99, this is going to be a tough sell though it is not entirely unexpected considering the niche nature of it. The 1 year warranty leaves a lot be desired as well, I would have liked to see something a bit longer especially at that premium price.
What are your thoughts on this pint sized TEC(h)?
Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 8, 2016 - 03:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Silverstone, TD03-SLIM, AIO, SFF
Silverstone's TD03-SLIM AIO cooler is designed to fit in anyone's case, and their budget as well. The radiator is a mere 153x120x22mm, a measurement which includes the fan and the tube is 310mm in length to allow you flexibility when placing it in your system. The size does mean that it cannot cool as effectively as larger AIO watercoolers and should not be used in overclocked systems, however it does operate more quietly than other coolers of similar size. Drop by Modders-Inc for a closer look.
"One of the good things about AIO CPU coolers is that you do not have to worry about component clearance for the most part on your motherboard. Since memory manufacturers have all but given up making sensibly sized RAM heatspreaders the standard, AIO's have become the cooler of choice for many."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- AIO Watercooler Challenge - 6 Way Round-up @ Kitguru
- Alphacool Eisbaer 240 Liquid CPU Cooler Review @ NikKTech
- Cryorig H5 Ultimate CPU Cooler Review: A Matter of Perspective @ Modders-Inc
- SilentiumPC Air Cooler Challenge – 6 Way Round-up @ Kitguru
- Cooler Master Hyper 212X @ techPowerUp
- Streacom FC10 Alpha Fanless Chassis Review @ NikKTech
- Cooler Master MasterBox 5 @ Benchmark Reviews
- Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Chassis Review @ Techgage
- be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 @ Kitguru
- BitFenix Pandora ATX @ techPowerUp
- Phanteks Evolv Tempered Glass Case @ Benchmark Reviews
Fractal Design has reduced their excellent Define S enclosure all the way down from ATX to mini-ITX, and the Define Nano S offers plenty of room for a small form-factor case.
Large mini-ITX cases have become the trend in the past year or so, with the NZXT Manta the most recent (and possibly the most extreme) example. Fractal Design's Nano S isn't quite as large as the Manta, but it is cavernous inside thanks to a completely open internal layout. There are no optical drive bays, no partitions for PSU or storage, and really not much of anything inside the main compartment at all as Fractal Design has essentially miniaturized the Define S enclosure.
We have the windowed version of the Define Nano S for review here, which adds some interest to a very understated design. There is still something very sophisticated about this sort of industrial design, and I must admit to liking it quite a bit myself. Details such as the side vents for front panel air intake do add some interest, and that big window helps add some style as well (and builders could always add some increasingly ubiquitous RGB lighting inside!).
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 6, 2016 - 08:03 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SX800-LTI, small form-factor, Silverstone, SFX-L, SFX, SFF, PSU, power supply, computex 2016, computex, 80 Plus Titanium
SilverStone introduced a 700W SFX-L power supply at CES in January, and with that SX700-LPT PSU now officially released the company has raised the bar again as no less than 800W is coming to the SFX-L form-factor.
Image credit: TechPowerUp
SilverStone's SX800-LTI not only offers a massive 800W, but does so with an 80 PLUS Titanium certification (!). The power supply pushes this massive wattage along a single +12V rail, and the SX800-LTI features a fully-modular design for a clean build. An added benefit to the SFX-L form-factor, other than the potential for these powerful designs, is the use of a 120 mm fan, which allows for much quieter operation under load compared to the smaller SFX variant.
Image credit: TechPowerUp
We are now approaching full ATX power with these SFX-L PSUs, and indeed the 800-850W range should be all most users would need for even a dual-GPU system (especially as we enter the era of 14-16nm GPUs with their lower power requirements).
No word yet on price or availability.
Subject: Systems | May 25, 2016 - 02:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: UK, SFF, quiet pc, nuc, iris, Intel Skylake, hd graphics
Quiet PC (a UK-based retailer for PCs and components) recently launched a small form factor fanless PC based on Intel’s Skylake NUC platform. The new PC is aptly named the Ultra NUC Pro 6 and combines an Intel Skylake-based Core i5 processor with a fanless chassis from Aleutia (the R50) that results in a quiet and stylish PC.
The understated case is built from a single block of aluminum using a CNC machine and 5-axis drill. It is primarily black although the center of the case reveals bare copper plates (that direct contact the CPU) used help facilitate cooling the 15W TDP Core i5-6260U CPU. The front panel hosts two USB 3.0 ports, an analog audio port, and IR receiver while the rear I/O includes two more USB 3.0 ports, one Wi-Fi antenna connector, Kensington lock, Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45), AC power, and mini DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4b video outputs.
Internally, you are able to configure this particular fanless NUC with either a Core i3 clocked at 2.3 GHz or a Core i5 clocked at 1.8 GHz base and up to 2.9 GHz Turbo Boost. Both 14nm chips have a 15W TDP and are dual cores with HyperThreading (2 core / 4 thread), but they differ in the GPU portion. The Core i3 hosts Intel HD Graphics 520 while the Core i5 has Intel’s Iris Graphics 540. Beyond the processor, users can configure the PC with up to 32GB of dual channel DDR4, a single M.2 form factor SSD (up to a 512GB Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD), and a pre-installed Wi-Fi module (Intel Wireless-AC 8260).
This new NUC measures 160 x 37 x 110mm and comes with a 2 year warranty. Quiet PC currently offers the base model at £575.83 (~$841.33) sans OS. The model with Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and Windows 10 Pro is £776.76 which translates to about $1135.23.
That is the major drawback of this nearly half liter PC: the price. Despite it’s neat industrial design, this PC is essentially priced out of the home market perhaps save for certain fanless enthusiasts like our friends at FanlessTech (hehe). Industrial customers that need a decently powerful PC without moving parts and an internal case that can gather dust, metals, wood, and whatever other factory and workshop conditions it might be subjected to would be interested in this however. Quiet PC further indicates that this fanless PC is aimed at marine and healthcare customers. Aleutia claims that at ambient temperatures of 21°C (69.8°F) the PC maxed out at 51°C (123.8°F) under 100% CPU load and the PC can be used in environments with ambient temperatures up to 50°C (122°F).
Do you think our friends on the other side of the pond have a nice quiet PC option or is the price of silence too much?
Also watch: Intel NUC5i5RYK SFF System Review - Broadwell NUC
Subject: General Tech | May 18, 2016 - 04:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Silverstone, Argon ar07, SFF
SilverStone's Argon series are specialized for systems built in small cases and where noise can be an issue. It measures 140x50x159mm, perfect for fitting into a smaller system and from [H]ard|OCP's testing we see the cooler produces 40.9db(A) maximum. This does mean the cooler is not for systems you plan to heavily overclock but the performance is good enough to support a minor boost if your HTPC needs a bit more power. Check out the full review here.
"The Argon Series AR07 CPU air cooler is billed by Silverstone as being, "For users looking for a no-nonsense top performing cooler without the premium price, the Argon AR07 is the perfect choice." Three heatpipes, some fins, and a 140mm fan is no-nonsense in our book, so how does it cool?"
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Silentium PC Fortis 3 HE1425 @ techPowerUp
- AMD FX 8350 Black Edition CPU and Wraith Cooler Review @ Neoseeker
- Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 240 @ Benchmark Reviews
- Thermaltake Lumi Color 256c @ Modders-Inc
- RIOTORO Prism CR1280 Review @ OCC
- Cooler Master Maker 5 @ eTeknix
Introduction and First Impressions
The NZXT Manta is a mini-ITX enclosure that boasts better than average room for components and cooling, and is packaged in a rather unusual, rounded design.
There is a reason for the Manta's somewhat bulbous appearance, and it's part of a recent trend in mini-ITX enclosure design; bigger is better. While you might think that mITX is all about fitting components into the smallest enclosure possible, there have been some recent examples of cases which expand the chassis to micro-ATX sizes (or above).
The Manta from NZXT is actually large enough to be a micro-ATX case, and its total volume exceeds their S340 enclosure; a full ATX design (!). So why on earth would you want a mini-ITX enclosure with that much volume? Three words: cooling, cooling, and cooling.
As you can see from NZXT's graphic above, the Manta's protruding top and front panels provide a the additional space needed to allow for thicker cooling setups.
Before we dive in for a closer look at the new Manta enclosure, let's take a look at the full specs from NZXT:
- Motherboard Support: mini-ITX
- Expansion Slots: 2
- Drive Bays
- Internal 3.5”: 2
- Internal 2.5”: 3
- Cooling System
- Front: 2 x 140/120mm (2 x 120mm included)
- Top: 2 x 140/120mm
- Rear: 1 x 120mm (Included)
- Radiator Support
- Front: Up to 280mm
- Top: Up to 280mm
- Rear: 120mm
- CPU Clearance: 160mm
- GPU Clearance: 363mm
- PSU Length: 363mm
- Power Supply Support: ATX
- External Electronics:
- I/O Panel LED On/Off
- 1x Audio/Mic
- USB 3.0
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 245 x 426 x 450mm (9.65 x 16.77 x 17.72 inches)
- Weight: 7.2 kg (15.87 lbs)
Our thanks to NZXT for providing the Manta enclosure for our review.
At first glance the Manta is a departure from the typical enclosure design. The rounded panels are built around a standard rectangular frame, so it's really quite conventional underneath.
The look from the front of the enclosure really shows off the rounded sides, and this will certainly not be everyone's favorite look - but anything beyond the norm tends be divisive in this market.