Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2013 - 02:22 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, mintbox 2, mintbox, linux mint, linux
Last year, CompuLabs and the developers behind the Linux Mint operating system put together a small form factor PC called the MintBox. It seems that the project was successful enough to warrant a updated offering, because specifications were recently posted online for the MintBox 2. The MintBox 2 is a router sized, passively cooled PC that will be available later this year for $600.
The new MintBox 2 reportedly offers up to four-times the performance of the original MintBox Pro. Internal specifications will include an Intel Core i5 3337U processor clocked at 1.8GHz base (2.7GHz max turbo), 4GB of RAM (8GB max), a 500GB mechanical hard drive, and a NIC with two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The fan-less system is tiny, at 7.5" x 6.3 " x 1.57" (19 x 16 x 4cm). It will be available on Amazon for $599.
Where the original MintBox Basic and MintBox Pro scored 1,077 and 1,615 in the Geekbench benchmark, the upcoming MintBox 2 scored 7,541. In addition to the extra performance, CompuLabs is also extending the warranty period from 1 year on the original MintBox PCs to 5 years for the MintBox 2.
The MintBox 2 will come pre-installed with the latest Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" operating system.
A small Linux Mint logo is surrounded by four USB 2.0 ports on the front of the device. Exact rear IO specificaitons has not yet been released, but if last year's model is any indication, users can expect more USB 2.0 ports, a couple of USB 3.0 ports, eSATA, digital display outputs, and an eSATA port.
More information can be found on the Linux Mint blog.
Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2013 - 01:28 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, m8, Lan Box, computex 2013, case, bmw, asrock
New PC cases seem to be popular at Computex this year, and ASRock may have just blown away the small form factor competition with its compact BMW Group-designed “M8” chassis.
The new “M8” case was designed by a BMW Group consultancy firm called DesignworksUSA. They have created a compact metal case that will be right at home at a LAN party or on many enthusiasts' desks. The case is a large square with cut-off corners and indented side panels. It is designed to show off the PC internals with a large octagonal side window, and can be stood upright or laid out horizontally. Carrying handles are integrated into the corners as well, making it easier to carry to LAN parties. The front of the case includes the “A-Command” button which is basically a large home theater-style volume control dial with an integrated OLED screen. The dial can adjust audio volume and fan speeds while the OLED display reports on system temperature, time, and usage (presumably HDD or CPU activity indicators).
The case has a rather clean and sharp look that shows a bare metal side and a glossy black front panel. The BMW Group has added red accents to the front panel and side windows. In an interesting twist, according to the press release, the side panels are magnetic which enables easy access to the internals.
The small form factor (SFF) M8 case will be used by ASRock to create a custom gaming PC. The internal specifications have not yet been announced, however.
This is definitely a unique design that is likely to be popular among the enthusiast and gamer crowd. You can find more photos of the M8 case on the BMW Group website.
What do you think of this BMW-inspired PC chassis?
Subject: Systems | May 28, 2013 - 06:22 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF case, SFF, passive cooling, nimbus, heastink, fanless, cpu cooler, cirrus7
German PC manufacturer Cirrus7 has launched a new small form factor (SFF) PC called the Nimbus that uses slices of aluminum that do double duty as both a case and a passive CPU cooler (heatsink).
The Nimbus PC features an Intel DQ77KB motherboard and low-power Intel processor along with configurable DDR3 and mSATA storage options. The base model will come with 4GB of DDR3 and a 60GB mSATA SSD. CPU options include the Intel G1610T, G2020T, Core i3-3220T, i3-3470T, i5-3570T, and i7-3770T. From there you can add up to two 7mm 2.5” hard drives (or SSDs) and increase the amount of RAM (for a higher price, of course).
The Intel DQ77KB board supports vPro and KVM over IP on systems with the Core i5 or higher processor. It has the following external IO options:
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 2 x Intel Gigabit LAN
- 2 x Audio jacks (green jack is dual purpose, mini-TOSLink compatible)
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DisplayPort
The SFF PC comes preloaded with either Ubuntu 13.04, Ubuntu 12.04, or Windows 8 (depending on your choice at checkout).
Check out more photos of the Nimbus at FanlessTech.
In order to keep the hardware cool, Cirrus7 has opted for an all-aluminum enclosure that is built around and over the motherboard in a fin-spacer-fin pattern. Each aluminum fin is 12mm high and the height of the system can be varied by adding or reducing the number of fins used. For example, using all fins allows Cirrus7 to support higher TDPs like the Core i7 3770T. Alternatively, if you are just using an i3-3220T, you could get by with a smaller (and lighter) case/heatsink. Notably, judging by the hands-on photos over at FanlessTech, the Nimbus does not use a copper CPU block which may have reduce the heatsink's effectiveness. That, or maybe Cirrus7 expects that they have slapped enough aluminum fins on the system that it doesn't matter much (heh). Also note that the case is not completely sealed, so although it is passively cooled, it is definitely not water or dust proof. Beyond that though, the case looks nice and the system would make a nice silent backup server, router, or HTPC!
The Nimbus will be available towards the end of June in Germany and Europe, with worldwide shipping available upon request. The system starts at €499 for the base model which is approximately $640 USD (before shipping). That price includes the case, processor, motherboard, RAM, and mSATA drive. Cirrus 7 has stated that Haswell-based models of the Nimbus will be available at some point, but are not expected until around the end of 2013 at the earliest.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 25, 2013 - 02:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SFF, Obsidian Series 350D, obsidian, corsair
Fremont, California — April 25, 2013 — Corsair, a worldwide designer and supplier of high-performance components, today announced the Obsidian Series 350D High Performance Micro ATX PC case. Available with a solid or windowed side panel, the Obsidian Series 350D brings unprecedented expansion and cooling options to smaller, more portable, high-performance PCs.
Like larger cases in the premium Obsidian Series line, the Obsidian Series 350D sports a clean, black, brushed-aluminum styling. The case is also designed for fast and neat builds with tool-free access and drive installation as well as an innovative cable routing system.
The Obsidian Series 350D case supports both Micro ATX and mini ITX motherboards and has plenty of interior space for liquid CPU cooling, dual 3.5” hard drives, dual 2.5” SSDs, dual 5.25” drives, and dual full-length graphics cards. It also has five expansion slots and five fan mounting points with room for two 240mm radiators. The front panel provides convenient access to USB 3.0 and audio connectors.
“The Obsidian 350D’s versatile expansion options give builders the ability to pack a lot of performance into a smaller form factor,” said Thi La, Senior VP & GM of Memory and Enthusiast Component Products at Corsair. “Its stylish, compact design makes it a perfect high-performance PC case for smaller living spaces or for gaming LAN parties.”
The MSRP is $109.99.
The WindForce 450W GPU cooler was not the only piece of hardware Gigabyte showed off at its New Idea Tech Tour event in Berlin, Germany. The company also detailed a new small form factor PC called BRIX. The Gigabyte BRIX computer is set to compete with Zotac's Nano and Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) PCs. There is no word on pricing or availability, but GIgabyte did delve into specifications of the tiny desktop PCs.
Computerbase.de was on hand at the New Idea event in Berlin.
The Gigabyte BRIX PC is similar to Intel's NUC with a small motherboard, Intel CPU, mSATA connector for storage, Mini PCI-E slot for a Wi-Fi card, and a small case. The BRIX system is slightly smaller than both the NUC and Zotac's Nano systems, though the BRIX motherboard itself is a bit larger than the NUC's. The BRIX motherboard measures 100 x 105mm and the case with internals measures 114.8 x 108 x 29.5mm and weighs 404 grams.
Internal specifications on the BRIX include an Intel ultrabook-class processor with sub-17W TDPs, two SO-DIMM slots (a maximum of 16GB at 1600MHz), one mSATA port, and one Mini PCI-E slot. The BRIX further comes with a Wi-Fi card and VESA mount. Processor options include:
- Intel Celeron 1007U
- Intel Core i3-3227U
- Intel Core i5-3337U
- Intel Core i7-3537U
The top-end Core i7-3537U gives you a dual core processor with hyper-threading clocked at 2GHz and 3.1GHz max turbo and 4MB cache. Pretty impressive for such a tiny PC!
The Gigabyte BRIX features a single USB 3.0 port on the front of the glossy black case. Rear IO includes an additional USB 3.0 port, one HDMI port, one DisplayPort video output, and a single Gigabit LAN port.
The Gigabyte BRIX looks to be a decent system that will give Zotac and Intel some needed small form factor competition. Here's hoping Gigabyte will allow custom cases, as I would love to see a passively-cooled option!
Computerbase.de has further details on the Gigabyte BRIX PC as well as a gallery of photos from the event.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 14, 2013 - 06:11 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: PSU, Silverstone, SFX ST45SF-G 450W, SFF, 80 Plus Gold, modular psu, SFX PSU
If you are looking to power a small form factor system and need a fully modular PSU in order to get it into a tightly packed case as well as high efficiency the SilverStone SFX ST45SF-G 450W is a decent choice. It is Fully modular and is an SFX PSU, which as you might remember from Lee's review means that it lacks a -5V rail, not a necessary feature in today's systems. [H]ard|OCP granted an award to this PSU, not because it is the best 450W PSU available, which is not, but because it is the best fully modular SFX PSU they have seen and they realize sacrifices have to be made in a PSU which is barely able to fit an 80mm fan inside. Check out the full review to see if you think this PSU is worth the price premium or if you might just consider a larger PSU for your HTPC.
"Silverstone is one of our favorite computer power supply builders as the company has a tremendous track record when it comes to high quality and quiet power for our desktop systems. Today we look at something a bit different in terms of scale, a PSU pushing 450 watts of power in a package half the size with its sights on the SFF market."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- NZXT Hale90 V2 1000 Watt Power Supply Review @ Pro-Clockers
- be quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 1000 Watt PSU Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Cooler Master Silent Pro Platinum 1000-Watt 80 PLUS Platinum @ Tweaktown
- Silverstone Strider Gold ST65F-G 650 W @ techPowerUp
- Infinity 500W Power Supply - Bargain Hunt @ Funky Kit
- Fractal Design NEWTON R3 1000W @ kitguru
- PC Power and Cooling Silencer Mark III 750W @ Funky Kit
- Seasonic Platinum Series Fanless 460 W @ techPowerUp
- NZXT Hale90 V2 1000W Power Supply Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Enermax Triathlor FC 550W/650W Power Supply Review @ Pro-Clockers
- Seasonic G Series 550W SSR-550RM Power Supply Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: Systems | March 5, 2013 - 04:16 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: shuttle, SFF, PC, Intel, ds47, celeron
If various sources are to be believed, Shuttle will be launching a new small form factor PC in April called the DS47. The new PC will be powered by an Intel Celeron 847 processor and features a fan-less design.
The Shuttle DS47 measures 200mm x 29.5mm x 165mm and weighs in at 2.05 kg. The internals include a motherboard with UEFI BIOS, dual core Intel Celeron 847 processor clocked at 1.1 GHz (2MB cache, 18W TDP), HD 2000 processor graphics, up to 16GB of RAM via two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots, and a 2.5” HDD or SSD. The motherboard supports SATA 3 6Gbps, and there is space for a single laptop-sized internal drive. The system also includes a Mini-PCI-E slot for half-size cards and a mSATA port for an SSD.
For such a small PC, it packs quite a bit of port options. The Shuttle DS47 includes the following external IO:
- 1 x SD card reader
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet jacks
- 2 x RS232 connections
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI
- 2.1 channel analog audio output
The DS47 has a nice feature set, and the dual Ethernet ports opens up the possible applications. Thanks to the DS47 opting for the Celeron over an Atom processor, it could easily operate as a file server, NAS, firewall, router, HTPC, or simply a low power desktop computer for example.
Pricing will be where the DS47 succeeds or fails as it aims to strike a balance between the Intel NUC and Atom-powered PCs. Unfortunately, there is no word on just how much this SFF PC will cost. It is rumored for an April launch, however so expect to see official pricing announced shortly.
Read more about small form factor systems at PC Perspective!
Subject: Systems | March 4, 2013 - 04:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SFF, htpc, zotac, zbox ad06 plus, E2-1800
Zotac's ZBOX AD06 plus puts some graphical zip into a tiny package using an AMD E2-1800 1.7GHz and 2GB MHz DDR3-1333 with 320GB of local storage on a 5400RPM HDD. They've included a VESA mount so it is quite possible to attach this device to the back of a display and control most functions with the included remote control. Heat should not be an issue, when displaying 1080P clips it only pulls 16.8W, 27.7W when under full loads such as transcoding. The benchmark results that TechPowerUp saw might not measure up to a full desktop system but they are certainly at the top of the pile when it comes to similar systems. You can expect to pay just under $300 for the full system when it becomes available, or about $200 without RAM or HDD if you happen to have some handy.
"The Zotac ZBOX AD06 utilizes the newest generation of AMD APUs, while the Plus model comes fully configured with a 320 GB hard drive and pre-installed memory."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Zotac ZBOX ID83 Plus Mini PC Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Gateway SX2380-UR318 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Sapphire EDGE VS8 Barebones Model @ Kitguru
- High-End Meets Small Form Factor: GeForce Titan in Falcon Northwest's Tiki @ AnandTech
- iBuyPower Revolt System Review: Closing the Boutique and Opening the Store @ AnandTech
- PCSpecialist Vanquish Z11 @ Kitguru
- Building a DIY All-in-One PC with GIGABYTE's H77TN Thin Mini-ITX @ Tweaktown
- Apple Mac mini (2012) @ Hardware.info
Subject: General Tech | February 10, 2013 - 12:45 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, Raspberry Pi, camera, arm
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been working on offering a camera attachment for Raspberry Pi boards for some time now. The developers began with a 41MP sensor, but have since moved to a smaller (and cheaper) camera with a 5MP sensor. That particular model is nearly complete and should be available for purchase sometime this spring, according to the developers.
The Raspberry Pi camera will be $25 which aligns itself well with the recently released Model A Raspberry Pi computer (which is also $25). The PCB hosting the camera module measures 20 x 25 x 10mm, while the camera module itself measures 8.5 x 8.5 x 5mm. It connects to the Raspberry Pi board via a flat cable into the CSI port below the Ethernet jack.
The $25 camera is capable of capturing HD video as well as stills. It uses the Omnivision OV5647 sensor and a fixed focus lens. The 5MP sensor is capable of capturing still photos with a pixel resolution of 2592 x 1944 and up to 1080p video. While the developers are still working on the kinks to ensure that it the camera can do this, the sensor itself is capable of 1080p30, 720p60, and 640x480p90 video capture. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has stated that at least the 1080p30 capture mode is working.
Interestingly, the Raspberry Pi ISP hardware can support two cameras, but the PCB only provides a single CSI connector (so no 3D image capture using two cameras). The Raspberry Pi Foundation is providing this little CSI camera as an alternative to USB cameras. While it is possible to use USB cameras with the Raspberry Pi, USB driver overhead and USB bandwidth issues specific to the Raspberry Pi limit the performance that you can get out of USB cameras. The $25 CSI camera add-on bypasses the USB interface in favor of the CSI port that feeds into the image processing parts of the ARM SoC.
The developers have not released an exact weight measurement, but have described it as being rather lightweight--making it ideal for use in drones, weather balloons, and other flying projects. For more information, the developers have set up a forum thread to answer questions and keep interested users updated on the project status.
Subject: Systems | February 6, 2013 - 10:55 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbmc 12, SFF, openelec 3.0, htpc, arctic
Arctic has released a small form factor PC that comes pre-installed with the recently-released XBMC 12 media center software. The Arctic MC001-XBMC is available in the United States and Europe. It measures 161 x 40 x 266mm with the PC attached to the stand. The MC001-XBMC comes in black or white and should fit easily into your AV rack.
The HTPC can be used to playback a variety of music and video file formats and can also be used as a network attached storage (NAS) device. On the software side of things, it comes pre-loaded with XBMC 12 “Frodo” and Openelec 3.0. It can act as a media center and television PVR.
The HTPC is powered by a dual core Intel Atom D525 processor clocked at 1.8GHz, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5430 with 512MB of GDDR3 memory, 2GB DDR3 1333MHz system memory, and a 1TB laptop hard drive (5400 RPM). Networking is handled by a Gigabit Ethernet controller and a 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi radio.
The front of the system includes an IR receiver, two USB 3.0 ports, two audio jacks (headphone/mic), and a card reader. The back of the MC001-XBMC features the following IO options.
- 6 x analog audio jacks
- 1 x S/PDIF optical audio output
- 1 x VGA
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
- 5 x USB 2.0
- 1 x DVB-T connector for the ATSC tuner
- 1 x DC power jack (19V, 60W)
The XBMC 12 UI is a Windows Media Center alternative, and while setting up TV recording features requires additional software and is more difficult to setup it is otherwise a decent media center experience. Users can control the HTPC using the included infrared remote or via apps on Android or iOS smartphones.
The MC001-XBMC comes with a two year warranty and has an MSRP of $229 US or EUR 199. It is no speed demon by any means, but the SFF system is plenty of hardware to playback up to 1080p video files.
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