SilverStone's small and portable SG12 SFF case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 26, 2015 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: SFF, micro-atx, mini-itx, SG12, Silverstone

The SilverStone SG12 is an SFF case which dreams big, built for Mini-ITX through Micro-ATX motherboards it is still large enough to fit a GPU over a foot long.  Overall it is 266x210x407mm (10.5x8.3x16") in size, still small enough to fit in a living room or cart around with you thanks to the built in handle but large enough to fit high end components.  Bjorn3D installed an i7-4790K on an ASUS Z97M-PLUS with a GTX 970 powered by a SilverStone SST-ST55F-G PSU which is about 40mm shorter than the majority of PSUs.  For a cooler they used the SilverStone SST-ST55F-G, the 140x82x139mm size comes close to the maximum size you can fit into the case.  Check out their full review here.

sg12-1024x1024.jpg

"Here at Bjorn3D we are no strangers to the SilverStone brand. They have been creating awesome cases, power supplies, coolers and more since 2003, and we have been fortunate enough to take a look at many of their offerings over the years. Early on in their history, they created the Sugo series of cases, a line which caters to those that wish to build a small form factor PC."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: Bjorn3D

Need a heatsink but have less than 75mm of clearance? Reveen can do that!

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 13, 2015 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: reeven, brontes, SFF

Reveen has not made a name for providing high end coolers for heavy overclockers, instead they focus on impressively short coolers for small systems.   The Reeven Brontes, including the fan, is a mere 105x59x114mm (4.1x2.1x4.5") and a skinny 325g in weight.  The heatsink will mount on any modern motherboard including the new LGA1151 and the PWM fan will allow you control over the speed if noise is a concern.  Modders-Inc rather liked the cooler, sure it will not cool a CPU with a 140W TDP but can certainly handle low powered CPUs in SFF cases.  One caveat, the 100mm may be hard to replace if it starts to have issues as it is not a common size.

brontes05.jpg

"You cannot really judge how capable a CPU cooler is just by looking at it. If it well-made enough, even size can be deceptive which is good news for those who do not want the bulk of a tower style cooling solution and prefer to save some vertical space, although the question still remains."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: Modders Inc

Another look at Shuttle's DS57U barebones SFF system

Subject: Systems | August 10, 2015 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: Celeron 3205U, DS57U, shuttle, SFF

Madshrimps have just wrapped up testing the Intel Celeron 3205U powered Shuttle DS57U, a SFF system which can be mounted to the back of a monitor with VESA or placed beside your monitor in the included stand.  The presence of two serial ports, WOL and resume after power outage mean this little system could also be used in industrial or POS duties.  It is worth noting that this system only supports 1.35V SODIMMs, make sure to choose the proper RAM to avoid disappointment.  Check out the full review here; if you like the case but not the CPU there are i3, i5 and even an i7 model for you to consider.

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"Shuttle has built the DS57U inside a proven chassis, which takes quite little space and succeeds to cool the internal components without the need of extra fans; one of the case laterals is acting like a huge heatsink and in this case it only remains warm even when the system is stressed to the max."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Source: Mad Shrimps

$110 Intel Compute Stick With Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Coming Soon

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2015 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: Z3735F, ubuntu 14.04, SFF, linux, Intel, compute stick

Intel is giving Linux some love with a new Compute Stick equipped with Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS coming out this week for $110. This new model comes with less RAM and intrernal storage along with a $40 price cut versus the previous Compute Stick (which comes with Windows 8.1 With Bing). 

On the outside, the new Linux-equipped Compute Stick (STCK1A8LFC) is identical to the existing SKU (read our review here) with its flash drive form factor, Intel logo, and small vents along the top and sides. Ports on the Intel STCK1A8LFC include one HDMI, one Micro USB port for power, one Micro SD card slot for storage, and a single full size USB 2.0 port for peripherals.

Intel Compute Stick STCK1A8LFC With Ubuntu 14.png

The Compute Stick is powered by an Intel Z3735F processor that is actively cooled by a tiny fan. This chip is a 22nm Bay Trail part with four CPU cores and Intel HD Graphics. The CPU has a base clock of 1.33 GHz and a maximum turbo clockspeed of 1.83 GHz. This SoC is paired with 1GB of DDR3L memory and 8GB of internal flash eMMC storage. There is also an 802.11b/g/n wireless radio with Bluetooth. The table below compares these specifications to the alternative Compute Stick with Windows.

  Compute Stick (Ubuntu) Compute Stick (Windows)
CPU Z3735F Z3735F
RAM 1 GB 2 GB
Storage 8 GB 32 GB
Price $110 $150
Model # STCK1A8LFC STCK1A32WFC

The STCK1A8LFC with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS will be available later this week from all the usual online retailers with an MSRP of $110.

It would have been nice to keep the 2GB of RAM even if Intel could not cut the price as much. There is always Micro SD for more stoage, but the 1GB of RAM is going to be somewhat limiting even for a Linux OS which typically can be made to run much leaner than Windows. It is nice to see Linux getting a design win and being bundled with the portable PC. If you need more RAM from your Compute Stick, you will need to buy the more expensive Windows version – at $150 – and install Linux yourself, however.

Source: Intel

Asus Launches New Mini ITX Motherboards With Braswell-Based Intel Celeron Processors

Subject: Motherboards | July 4, 2015 - 10:52 PM |
Tagged: SFF, mini ITX, fanless, Braswell, Airmont, asus

Asus has introduced two new small form factor motherboards featuring soldered Intel “Braswell”-based Celeron processors. The Asus N3150I-C and N3050I-C are Mini ITX form factor boards with decent connectivity and lower power draw with the processor options topping out at 6 watts.

Asus Braswell-Based Celeron Mini ITX Motherboards N3150i-c and N3050i-c.jpg

The two SFF motherboards are essentially the same, with the main difference being the bundled processor (see below). The boards have 24+4 pin ATX power inputs, two full-size DDR3 memory slots, two SATA 6 Gbps ports, a single PCI-E 2.0 x4 slot (open ended), and one mini PCI-E connector. The Intel processors on both boards are passively cooled by a large rectangular gold-colored aluminum heatsink.

The rear of the board includes the following I/O ports.

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x RS232
  • 3 x Audio outputs

The N3150I-C board uses an Intel Celeron N3150 while the N3050I-C uses an Intel Celeron N3050. Both chips are 14nm and based on the newer Airmont architecture. These “Braswell” chips have incremental improvements in CPU performance and more significant graphics performance boosts with the inclusion of up to 16 execution units.

Specifically, the N3150 is a quad core chip clocked at 1.6 GHz base to 2.08 GHz burst with Intel HD Graphics (12 EUs up to 640 MHz) and a 6W TDP. On the other hand, the Celeron N3050 is a dual core chip – also with a 6W TDP – clocked at 1.6 GHz base and 2.16 GHz burst paired with Intel HD Graphics (12 EUs) clocked at up to 600 MHz.

These new boards could be used as the base for a NAS box, home media server, or a router and wireless AP by using those PCI-E and mPCI-E slots. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, however.

Source: Asus

AMD's Small Form Factor Project Quantum PC Is a Dual Fiji Powerhouse [Updated]

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 16, 2015 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, SFF, Fiji, E3 2015, E3, dual fiji, amd

AMD revealed a new liquid cooled small form factor PC called Project Quantum during an E3 livestream today.

AMD Project Quantum with Dual Fiji.JPG

On the outside, an angled dual compartment aluminum case with rounded edges houses the processing hardware in the bottom and all the cooling components in the top part. AMD is using liquid cooling for the processor and graphics with the tubing running up the center column joining the two pieces together to a radiator or radiators. Red LEDs light up the center column while Radeon R9 branding sits in the bottom left corner. 

AMD Project Quantum.JPG

While at first glance that Radeon R9 branding might be unassuming, it is actually referring to AMD's latest Fiji architecture. That's correct, Project Quantum is part of the Fiji product family and is, in fact, powered by two AMD Fiji-based graphics procesors!

Update: AMD has posted a behind-the-scenes video on the development of Project Quantum which you can watch below.

In the video, AMD reveals that they are using a modified ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard (thanks to djotter in the comments for pointing that out) which means that Project Quantum is using an Intel Haswell processor in addition to the two Fiji-based GPUs. AMD has removed all of the rear IO connectors save two USB 3.0 ports and an Ethernet jack. They have also moved the 8-pin CPU power connector to the back panel of the board next to the USB ports. My guess is that they did this for cable management and height restriction reasons within the bottom compartment. Specifically, from the CAD render shown in the video, it appears that the AMD graphics card sits horizontally on top of the motherboard which meant that at least some of the rear IO ports had to be removed or relocated.

AMD Project Quantum PSU.jpg

Another bit of information from that AMD video is that Project Quantum is using what looks like an external power supply. The power brick connects to the system over a single cable to an internal board. This board provides power to a Pico PSU that is plugged into the ATX 24-pin connector on the motherboard and provides power to the AMD branded Solid State Drive (SSD) as well as the motherboard and CPU 8-pin connectors (which have both been modified to right angles for height and cable management reasons). The internal power board that connects to the socket at the back likely also powers the Radeon graphics card via PCI-E connectors, but it is difficult to tell from the photo (it is that red PCB towards the top of the photo).

AMD Radeon R9 Quantum Dual Fiji SFF Prototype.jpg

Interestingly AMD has switched out the power and USB 3.0 headers with right angle models and removed the blue ASRock heatsinks covering the VRMs and PCH. AMD is instead using two large waterblocks to cool the components on the motherboard and graphics card. A large radiator and pump sit in the top compartment cooled by an 180mm Enermax Apollish fan. The 180mm radiator should result in quieter, or at least less annoying, fan noise since the large fan can spin slower while moving similar amounts of air as smaller fans paired with 120 or 140mm radiators. Using a single large radiator for both the CPU and GPU is an interesting choice here, and I think a correct one.

AMD Project Quantum Waterblocks.jpg

A rendering of the water loop layout on Project Quantum. Image from AMD with annotations by Aibohphobia.

It was actually djotter and Aibohphobia in the comments who spotted the Pico PSU and provided an example. (I did not notice that in the video initially, so thanks for pointing that out!)  This power brick and tiny Pico PSU setup would certainly help to explain how AMD was able to make Project Quantum so thin (though an external PSU isn't necessarily a bad thing). The Pico PSU does suggest that the dual Fiji GPUs may be closer to lower end R9 Nanos than two high end Fury Xs (heh) or maybe some other yet unannounced cut-down Fiji chip entirely.

(End of update)

Update 9:30PM:

During the PC Gamer E3 Twitch stream, AMD CEO Lisa Su showed off Project Quantum, and Ken was able to snap a photo of the back panel.

AMD Project Quantum Rear IO.JPG

Project Quantum has, from left to right, a single power input (see above), two analog audio jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet jack, four USB 2.0 ports, and a single horizontal PCI slot. A Radeon R9 graphics card is installed in this slot and features three DisplayPort and one HDMI 1.4 video outputs. We still do not know all the specs of this card, but is is Fiji-based and supports LiquidVR along with AMD's other features including FreeSync and Frame Rate Target Control.

(End Update 9:30PM)

Beyond that, we do not know many details on Project Quantum. From the other announcements around Fiji today, particularly the R9 Nano and R9 Fury X, this little machine is going to be a powerhouse with impressive power efficiency and performance per watt – especially for its size!

Of course, pricing and availability were not discussed at the event. Stay tuned to PC Perspective as we get more details closer to its official release!

Source: AMD

Computex 2015: Corsair Shows SF600 SFX Power Supply

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 6, 2015 - 08:51 AM |
Tagged: small form factor, SFX, SFF, SF600, PSU, power supply, corsair, computex 2015, computex

Corsair has shown its first SFX form-factor PSU at Computex, the SF600.

corsair_sf600.jpg

Image credit: Tom's Hardware

True to its name the SF600 is a 600W PSU, and it features a fully modular design and will carry an 80 PLUS Gold certification. According to the report from Tom's Harware Corsair is using a 92 mm fan with the SF600, slightly larger than the 80 mm fans found in standard SFX power supplies, but smaller than the 120 mm fans that SilverStone has been using in its SFX-L form-factor PSUs.

corsair_sf600_2.jpg

Image credit: Tom's Hardware

This PSU was secretly powering the new Corsair Bulldog living room PC, also shown at Computex. Naturally there was no announcement on pricing or availability for this new PSU, but we'll keep you posted if anything official is announced.

Computex 2015: Fractal Design Launches Mini ITX Node 202 Case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 4, 2015 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: SFX PSU, SFF, node 202, mini ITX, HTPC case, fractal design, computex 2015, computex

Fractal is showing off several new products at Computex, but the one that caught my eye was the new Node 202 which is a small form factor Mini ITX case perfect for the living room. The thin case is all black with a metal texture finish, rounded corners, and diagonal ventilation grilles along the sides and top. The 10.2 liter capacity case measures 377mm x 88mm x 332mm (including case feet) and can accommodate SFX power supplies, Mini ITX motherboards, and a dedicated graphics card.

Fractal Design Node 202.jpg

The front of the case has two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks in the bottom left corner next to the power button. Large filtered vents are located on the right, top, and bottom of the case while the left side has a thin grill along the bottom. Needless to say, there is plenty of room for airflow and the case would do well with both air cooled and fanless systems. Users can mount the case horizontally or vertically using an included stand. Interestingly, the Node 202 divides the case into two separate chambers to isolate the graphics card from the CPU, motherboard, and power supply to facilitate cooling.

Internally, the Node 202 has room for a Mini ITX or Thin Mini ITX motherboard with CPU coolers up to 56mm tall, a 130mm SFX power supply, and a dual slot graphics card up to 310mm in length. Users can install up to two 120mm fans in the GPU chamber. Storage support tops out at two 2.5" hard drives or solid state drives (SSDs).

Fractal Design Node 202 Internals .jpg

Fractal Design is also offering a version of the Node 202 bundled with its Integra SFX 450W power supply. The 80+ Bronze power supply will come with custom length cables and connectors designed specifically for the Node 202. It is covered by a 3 year warranty.

The PSU-less Node 202 will have a MSRP of $79.99 while the Node 202 with bundled PSU will be $139.99. Both models will be available soon in the US.

Zotac's New R Series ZBOX PCs Support Two Drive RAID Configurations

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Storage | May 30, 2015 - 02:14 AM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox, SFF, raid, mini server, media server

Zotac recently launched a new line of tiny ZBOX PCs under the new R Series that support two drive RAID 0 and RAID 1 setups. The series currently includes the ZBOX 1323 and ZBOX R1531. Both systems can be mounted vertically or horizontally and strongly resemble the company's existing ZBOX computers. The top and bottom panels are black with a silver bezel around the sides. A Zotac logo sits in the corner and a large blue circle sits in the center of the top.

The front panel hosts two audio jacks, an SDXC ard reader, COM port, IR reciever, and power button. Around back, the ZBOX boasts two antennas for the internal wireless module, two Gigabit Ethernet jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, and DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs. A third USB 3.0 port sits along the top edge of this small form factor PC.

Zotac ZBOX_RI531-P.jpg

Internally, Zotac is using Intel processors, a small form factor motherboard with two SO-DIMM slots (up to 16 GB), a Mini PCI-E slot for the 802.11ac (plus Bluetooth 4.0) wireless card, and support for up to two 2.5" SATA drives. The motherboard supports RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD configurations for the SATA drives, and the R1531 SKU adds a mSATA slot for a third drive.

The ZBOX R1323 is equipped with a 11.5W dual core Intel (Haswell) Celeron 2961Y processor clocked at 1.1 GHz with 2MB cache and Intel HD Graphics clocked at up to 850 MHz. The ZBOX R1531 steps up to a 15W dual core (plus Hyperthreading) Broadwell-based Intel Core i3-5010U clocked at 2.1 GHz with HD 5500 graphics clocked at up to 900 MHz. 

Zotac ZBOX_RI531-P rear IO.jpg

Both versions will be offered as barebones systems and the R1531 is additionally be sold in a PLUS model that comes with a 64GB mSATA SSD and 4GB of RAM pre-installed.

The new ZBOX R Series PCs would make for a nice home server with a mSATA drive for the OS and two storage drives in a RAID 1 for redundancy. The Core i3 should be plenty of horsepower for streaming media, running backups, running applications, and even some light video transcoding. The included COM port will also make it suitable for industrial applications, but I think this is mostly going to appeal to home and small business users.

Zotac has not yet revealed pricing or availability though. Hopefully we are able to find out more about these mini PCs at Computex!

Source: Zotac

Braswell-Powered Intel NUCs Coming Soon

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 29, 2015 - 07:53 PM |
Tagged: Cherry Trail, SFF, pentium, nuc, Intel, celeron, Braswell, Airmont

Reports around the web along with this Intel PDF point to the official launch of a new low power NUC coming next month. The NUC5CPYH and NUC5PPYH are powered by Braswell-based Intel Celeron and Pentium processors topping out at 6W TDPs.

Intel NUC5CPYH and NUC5PPYH Braswell NUC Angled.jpg

These new NUC models have room for a motherboard, Braswell processor, a single laptop memory slot, a Mini PCI-E slot for the wireless module, and one 2.5" hard drive or SSD. There is no support for mSATA here which likely helped Intel cut costs (and as Olivier from FanlessTech points out mSATA support was dropped around the time of NUC 2.0). Further, unlike the lower power (4W versus 6W TDP) Braswell-based ASRock PC (which is also SFF but not a NUC), the two Intel NUCs are surely actively cooled by a fan.

On the outside of the compact PC, users have access to two USB 3.0 ports (one charging capable 5V/3A), a headphone/mic jack, infrared receiver, and SDXC memory card reader on the front. The rear panel hosts an additional two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, Gigabit LAN port, and optical audio output. The PC also has a Kensington lock port and is VESA moutable.

Intel NUC5CPYH and NUC5PPYH Braswell NUC Rear IO.jpg

Internally, Intel has opted for two of the highest power Braswell processors, the Intel Celeron N3050 and Intel Pentium N3700. Both are 14nm chips with a 6W TDP with Airmont CPU cores and Intel HD Graphics. The N3050 is a dual core part clocked at up to 2.16 GHz (1.6 GHz base) with 2MB cache and HD Graphics clocked between 320 and 600 MHz. The Pentium N3700 model on the other hand features four CPU cores clocked at up to 2.4 GHz (1.6 GHz base) paired with HD Graphics clocked at 700 MHz (400 MHz base).

Both the NUC5CPYH and NUC5PPYH will reportedly be available on June 8th starting at $140 and $180 respectively. This is an interesting price point for NUCs though it's popularity is going to heavily depend on the Braswell CPU's performance especially with Bay Trail-powered versions still on the market for even less (though with less performance).

Source: Maximum PC