Subject: Systems | January 8, 2016 - 10:39 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: zotac, Skylake, SFF, passive cooling, mini PC, Intel Core i5, fanless, CES 2016, CES
While there were both passive and actively-cooled systems on display in Zotac's suite at CES, one of the most interesting was a new fanless computer in a larger form-factor than previous C-series mini-PCs - and it's powered by an 6th-gen Intel Core i5 6300U processor.
“The ZBOX C Series returns with an Intel Skylake CPU while delivering the same silent performance in an all new ZBOX size. More processing power, more entertainment and more productivity is contained within. The new C Series also support USB 3.1 Type-C, perfect for connecting to new gadgets and more bandwidth.”
Here are the specifications:
- CPU: Intel Core i5-6300U processor (dual-core up to 3.0 GHz)
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics 520
- Storage: 1x 2.5-inch SATA 6.0 Gbps bay
- RAM: 2x DDR3L-1600 SoDIMM slots (up to 16GB supported)
- USB: 2x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
- Networking: Dual Gigabit LAN, 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
- Video output: DisplayPort, HDMI
Previous 'nano' systems in the C-series have offered VESA mounting, and this new system is no exception. A completely fanless system, this unit was quite heavy in hand but should pose no issue for most larger displays.
Networking includes dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and 802.11ac Wi-Fi
No specifics on pricing or release date just yet.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Systems | January 7, 2016 - 06:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SFF, gigabyte, GA-Z170N-Gaming 5, i5-6600K, G.Skill Trident Z, GTX 970
The Tech Report has a bit of a soft spot for what they refer to as Breadbox builds, aka SFF systems and recently one of their members built a brand new system. Hidden in the tiny EVGA Hadron Hydro case is a watercooled i5-6600K, a tiny Gigabyte GTX 970 GV-N970IXOC-4GD, 16GB of DDR4 and two OCZ Vector 180 SSDs all installed on a Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 mini-ITX board. The installation went well though the EVGA Hadron Hydro has a bit of a personality to it which you can read about in the full article right here.
"Our Editor-in-Chief has always had a soft spot for Mini-ITX systems with big performance, and Gigabyte, OCZ, EVGA, G.Skill, and Logitech were happy to help him build a Breadbox system with some high-octane parts. Here's how he put it all together."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Building An Intel Xeon E3 v5 "Skylake" Linux System @ Phoronix
- Vibox Defcon 3 Red Gaming PC @ eTeknix
- MSI GT80S 6QF Titan SLI w/ Desktop GTX980's @ Kitguru
- Diamond Multimedia STREAM2TV WPCTV3000 Miracast, iPlay, & DLNA Endpoint @ MissingRemote
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 3, 2015 - 04:38 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: water cooler, SFF, mini-itx, liquid CPU cooler, H5SF, cpu cooler, Corsair H5 SF, corsair
Corsair has launched the ultra-compact liquid cooler from their Bulldog chassis as a standalone product, and it's a unique solution for mini-ITX CPU cooling.
Originally announced at this year's Computex as part of the Bulldog DIY system, this low-profile liquid cooler is designed to allow users of some of the smallest mini-ITX systems to not only keep their CPU's cool, but even allows some serious overclocking with up to 150 W of thermal dissipation. The design uses a blower-style fan that pushes air accross a compact radiator, and the entire unit is only 84 mm high for use in spaces that wouldn't ordinarily be able to support a powerful CPU cooler.
Corsair provides this chart comparing performance against SFF air coolers
"Further expanding Corsair’s best-selling Hydro series line of liquid CPU coolers, the H5 SF is Corsair’s first liquid cooler designed specifically to meet the thermal demands of small form factor PCs. Easy to install and just 84mm tall, the H5 SF is compact enough to fit inside the most confined PC case, yet still offers up to 150W of heat dissipation, enough to cool today’s demanding high-end CPUs with overclocking headroom to spare.
The all-new design fits directly on top of any Mini-ITX motherboard with no need to attach the H5 SF to any external fan mounts or brackets, maximizing compatibility across a wide range of Mini-ITX and small form factor cases. A high-performance copper cold plate efficiently draws heat away from the CPU, where it’s then transferred into the integrated 120mm x 40mm radiator and exhausted by the H5 SF’s low-noise tuned 120mm blower fan. What’s more, the H5 SF’s blower fan also draws air over other heat producing motherboard components such as VRMs and chipset heatsinks, helping to keep your whole system cool.
Fully compatible with Corsair’s Obsidian Series 250D, Carbide Series Air 240, and Graphite Series 380T cases, the H5 SF is also critical to Corsair’s upcoming Bulldog chassis, allowing the new case to deliver low-noise, 4K living room gaming without compromising CPU choice. Now enthusiasts can take advantage of Bulldog’s H5 SF cooling for themselves and fit even the most demanding of CPUs, into the smallest of cases."
The mounting system is unique, with a bracket that attaches inline with the screws securing the mini-ITX motherboard, requiring no additional contact with the enclosure. It's a clever idea that permits the installation of this liquid solution wherever an air cooler of up to 84 mm is possible.
Here are the specifications from Corsair:
- Socket Support: AMD: AM2, AM3, FM1, FM2, Intel LGA: 115X, 1366
- Cold Plate Material: Copper
- Radiator Material: Aluminum
- Radiator dimensions: 167mm x 40mm x 57mm
- Total cooler height: 84mm
- Fan dimensions: 120mm x 32mm
- Fan speed: 1000 - 1800 RPM
- Fan airflow: 12 - 24 CFM
- Fan pressure: 2.5 - 8.3 mmH2O
- Fan noise level: 36 - 42 dB(A)
- Tubing: Low-Permeability Tubing
- Warranty: Five years
The H5 SF carries an MSRP of $79.99, and this cost (which is in keeping with Corsair's existing 120 mm pricing) seems pretty reasonable considering the unique implementation and thermal capability. Available starting today, the H5 SF is already listed for sale on Newegg.com for the $79.99 MSRP.
Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2015 - 05:51 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: shuttle, SFF, broadwell-u, M.2, mini PC
Shuttle, once the king of compact PCs, is jumping right into the think of the tiny PC market with its new XPC Nano (NC01U) series, a half liter broadwell-powered black and gold affair. The XPC Nano boxes measure 5.55 x 5.55 x 1.14 inches, and while they are vesa mountable, the chassis design is nice enough to leave in the open as well.
The mini PCs feature two USB 3.0 ports and a SD card slot on the front panel, an old-school RS-232 port on the left side, and the following ports on the back.
- 1 x Mini DisplayPort
- 1 x HDMI
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 1 x Audio combo jack
Inside, Shuttle is using Intel’s Broadwell U processors and there are options from Celeron 3205U up to the Core I7 5500U. This chip is cooled by an allegedly “whisper quiet” heatpipe cooler. There are two DDR3L memory slots for up to 16GB RAM, a 2.5” (7mm) drive slot, and one M.2 port for a solid state drive. It further comes with 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
The XPC Nano systems will come pre-loaded with Windows 10 Home. The base model starts at $279 and there is a $10 mail in rebate if bundled with a keyboard and mouse from Shuttle’s website.
The base SKU with a Celeron 3205U (1.5GHz) and 2GB RAM is currently available for $275.77 on Newegg. The higher end models do not appear to be for sale yet, but should be soon. Product specifications can be found here (PDF)
Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2015 - 12:47 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, hdmi stick, hdmi, chromebit, chrome os, asus, arm
Small form factor PCs are big this year, and Google is about to get into the game with its own HDMI dongle PC running Chrome OS. Google has partnered with Asus to release the Chromebit CS10 which is now avaialble for $85.
The small stick PC weighs 75 grams (2.6 ounces) and will come in black, orange, and eventually blue colors. The Chromebit is about the size of a flash drive with an HDMI port on one end, DC power input on one side, and a single USB 2.0 port on the other end. A removeable cap protects the HDMI output. It is small enough that you can toss it into a bag or tuck it behind a monitor or kiosk permanently. Asus includes an AC power adapter (18W, 1.5 amps) and a flexible HDMI connector (or a short extension cable depending on the region) along with velco stickers in the box.
The Chromebit CS10 is powered by a quad core Rockchip 3288-C SoC featuring four ARM Cortex A17 CPU cores and a Mali T624 GPU. The SoC is paired with 2GB of LPDDR3 memory and 16GB of eMMC storage. Connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios along with the USB 2.0 port. Users can hook up a bluetooth keyboard and mouse and use the USB port for extra storage, or hook up even more devices using a USB hub.
So far, reviews are positive and generally state that (for example) while the Rockchip ARM processor is no racehorse, it is good enough for basic web browsing, media streaming, and document editing.
Of course, the Chromebit runs the Chrome web browser, but it also can run any of the apps from the Chrome Web Store including Netflix, Office, and any number of free games. Asus is aiming the Chromebit at digital signage, kiosk, thin clients for schools, and for on-the-go travelers.
The Chromebit CS10 is available soon (it is listed as out of stock on Newegg and has not shown up on Amazon or other sites yet) for $85 in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Taiwan. Business customers can further purchase the ability to use the Chromebit in a locked down single-app kiosk mode for $24 per user, per year from CDW.
- Intel Compute Stick Review
- Kangaroo is a Pocket-Sized Battery-Powered Windows 10 PC
- Google Chromecast coverage
Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2015 - 01:44 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, cubi n, SFF, fanless, Braswell, Intel Braswell
MSI will soon add a new small form factor PC to its Cubi lineup with the fanless Cubi N. Powered by an Intel “Braswell” SoC, the Cubi N is a silent PC capable of 4K video playback that fits in the palm of your hand.
Unlike the original Cubi bare-bones (which used a Broadwell Celeron), the Cubi N is fanless and uses a heatsink and a stylized wavy mesh case design for passive heat dissipation. The mini PC measures 116mm x 112mm x 44.47mm and is all black with rounded corners. The diagonal cut is gone from this model with the power button being in the front-left top corner instead.
Before diving into the internals, MSI has included two USB 3.0 ports and a combo headphone/mic audio jack on the front panel and HDMI, VGA, RJ45, and an additional two USB 3.0 ports on the back of the Cubi N.
Not bad, but not the most extensive I/O and the VGA output is a bit of an odd choice (though at this point it should be essentially free to add).
Internally, MSI is using an Intel “Braswell” Celeron N3150 SoC with Intel HD Graphics. This SoC (6W TDP) is a four core 1.6 GHz part that can boost up to 2.08 GHz with 2MB L2 cache and HD Graphics with 12 execution units. Users can add up to 8GB of DDR3L memory along with a single mSATA SSD and one 2.5” hard drive (though this makes the PC a bit taller at 55.5mm). The Cubi N comes with an Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi card plugged into an M.2 slot.
The Cubi N will come in black or white and will be generally available as a bare-bones system. According to FanlessTech, pre-configured models will also be available including a version with a 32GB mSATA SSD, 2GB RAM, and Windows 10 Home for $249. MSI is allegedly also working on bare-bones models based around the Braswell Pentium N3700 (2.4 GHz burst) and a cheaper Celeron N3000 processors.
The fanless SFF Cubi N is not yet available for purchase, but it should be coming soon for under $400 all-in (adding storage and memory, more if you want a non-Home version of Windows).
Subject: Systems | October 28, 2015 - 05:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zotac, Magnus EN970, SFF, GTX970M, zbox
Zotac's ZBOX series has evolved from a small device that let you browse the internet and play some online games with modest requirements to the latest Magnus EN970 which is a full fledged gaming PC that is smaller than your average laptop. The small size of the Magnus limits the power of the CPU you can use, this model comes with a low power Core i5-5200U but the graphics card makes up for it. The EN970 branding implies that this has a mobile GTX 970 installed, which is technically true but if you are expecting equivalent performance to a desktop GTX 970 you are in for a bit of disappointment. The GTX970M performs more on par with a GTX 960 but calling it a 960M would not be completely accurate either; expect good performance at 1080p which is what your TV likely runs at. That is the expected use for this PC and a dead giveaway is the four HDMI out that the Magnus provides which is a connection far more common on TVs than DisplayPort is.
"Mini-PC’s usually come with a lot of compromises due to their small size. They for example rarely are fit for any serious gaming. The Zotac Magnus EN970 though is different. It still is a small mini-PC, although not as small as some of the other Zotac mini-PC’s we have reviewed, but it comes with a discrete graphics chip, a GTX960 (or more exact a variant of the GTX970M), which means it suddenly becomes a viable gaming machine for your TV."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Checklist to Build a Gaming PC @ Hardware Secrets
- TechPowerUp 120 Hz Build Guide @ techPowerUp
- Shuttle XPC Nano Barebone NC01U Review @ Madshrimps
- Beelink GTQ 4K Android Media Center @ Benchmakr Reviews
Subject: Motherboards | October 9, 2015 - 06:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, SFF, ROG, motherboard, mini-itx, Maximus VIII Impact, lga1151, asus
ASUS has announced their latest mini-ITX offering in the Republic of Gamers series, and the Maximus VIII Impact motherboard packs an outrageous number of features into one formidable little 6.7-inch square. In fact, short of the second PCIe slot afforded the larger mATX form-factor, the newest Impact board looks to be every bit as powerful as the recently released Maximus VIII Gene motherboard.
"To push performance even further, Maximus VIII Impact has a full-scale voltage-regulator module (VRM) dubbed Impact Power III vertically-mounted onto the tiny board, allowing you full access to digital power management for ultra-precise and stable overclocks with your processor and memory. ROG has also managed to squeeze in 5-Way Optimization auto-tuning and Pro Clock technology so you can get the most out of your 6th Gen. Intel processor and overclocked DDR4 memory which goes up to 4133MHz or higher."
Let’s check out the specs on this new Impact board:
- CPU: LGA1151 socket for 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron processors
- Chipset: Intel Z170 Express
- Memory: Dual-channel memory architecture
- 2x DIMM, max. 32GB DDR4-4133(OC) non-ECC, un-buffered memory
- PCIe Slot: 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (supports x16 mode)
- Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics Processor
- HDMI 1.4b
- Intel InTru 3D/Quick Sync Video/Clear Video HD Technology/Insider
- Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac supports dual frequency band 2.4/5GHz; MU-MIMO
- Bluetooth: V4.1, 4.0LE
- USB: 2x USB 3.1 ports (1 Type-A and 1 Type-C) powered by Intel USB 3.1 controller; 6x USB 3.0 ports (2 at mid-board)
- Storage: 1x U.2 port (PCIe x4, 32Gb/s), 4x SATA 6Gb/s ports. Supports Intel Smart Response Technology
- LAN: Intel® I219-V Gigabit LAN with Anti-surge LANGuard, ROG GameFirst Technology
- HD Audio: SupremeFX Impact III
- ROG SupremeFX 2015 High Definition Audio Codec
- ESS® ES9023P DAC with Hyperstream™ Architecture
- 2Vrms Headphone Amp into 32-600 Ohms
- SupremeFX Shielding Technology
- Optical S/PDIF output at back panel
- Sonic Studio II; Sonic Radar II; Sonic SenseAmp; DTS Connect
- Fan headers: 2x 4-pin onboard; 3x 4-pin on daughter card
- Form Factor: Mini-ITX, 6.7" x 6.7" (17 cm x 17 cm)
Update, 10/11/15: The ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Impact motherboard is now available at Newegg.com for $248.99.
Subject: Motherboards | September 28, 2015 - 01:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, mini ITX, M.2, LGA 1151, Intel Skylake, asrock
ASRock (the Taiwan-based manufacturer currently owned by Pegatron) recently revealed its take on miniature Skylake motherboards with the Mini ITX form factor Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac.
The new SFF motherboard uses an 8-layer PCB with high quality Nichicon capacitors and the company’s Digi Power 8-phase power delivery feeding the LGA 1151 socket. The board has a red and black aesthetic with red VRM and Z170 chipset heatsinks, memory slots, and PCI-E slot adding a bit of flair to the otherwise all-black PCB and connectors. Very little space is wasted on this board save for the top edge. To the right of the CPU socket are two DDR4 memory slots (maximum 32GB at 4,000 MHz) and a single SATA Express connector. The Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac further features four SATA III 6 Gbps (in addition to the two ports used for SATA Express) ports.
Expansion slots include a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, a M.2 slot with four lanes of PCI-E 3.0 mounted on the underside of the board, and a half-size Mini PCI-E slot that is used for the pre-installed 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 card
ASRock is using an Intel Gigabit Ethernet NIC, a 2x2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi radio, and Realtek ALC1150 audio codec on this board. Keeping in line with the “Fatal1ty” theme, the board supports, using software, and adjustable USB polling rate on a certain rear port from 1 Hz up to 1,000 Hz with the default being 500 Hz.
On the back of the motherboard, it provides the following I/O options:
- 1 x PS/2
- 5 x USB 3.0
- 1 x USB 3.0 “Fatal1ty Mouse Port” (adjustable polling rate up to 1,000 Hz)
- 2 x USB 3.1 (one Type-A and one Type-C)
- Video outputs:
- 2 x HDMI (4K@60Hz)
- 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 3 x Analog audio ports
- 1 x Optical audio output
This board looks to be a solid base for a tiny gaming system (perhaps paired with the R9 Nano in a svelte living room friendly chassis even without going in for the Fatal1ty gamer-centric branding, if that's your thing. I am expecting this board to be priced competitively with or to come in slightly less than the Asus Mini ITX Z170 motherboard I wrote about yesterday. The audio and overclocking potential, at least in theory and bare specifications, appear to be a bit cut back on this board in comparison, but in exchange for that it's (hopefully slightly cheaper while still giving you most of the essentials. We'll have to wait for actual reviews where they are both put to the test to see for certain though!
For those curious, check out the manufacturer's page with photos and specifications as well as our previous coverage of the board from CES before we had the details on pricing and confirmation of 4K@60Hz HDMI and the Ultra M.2 slot support (and the user discussions).
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | September 26, 2015 - 10:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qotom, fanless, Broadwell, SFF
FanlessTech found quite a few models of small form factor PCs on Amazon and, while it's not listed in the specifications, some of the manufacturer Q&A responses state that they are fanless designs. Each of these devices are built around the Broadwell Core i7-5500U, but that might not even be the best part. Each PC has 4x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, and 2x Gigabit Lan. Dual LAN and Dual HDMI opens up quite a few possibilities for a cheap, silent PC, especially since it has a relatively high-performance processor.
Prices range from $360 to $444 for 2GB of RAM and 8GB up to 256GB of SSD storage (with several models between). A single 8GB RAM model, with a 256 GB SSD, is also available for $483. They also found one with an i3 processor, but you need to bring your own RAM, SSD, and WiFi. It does have the same port layout, four USB 3.0, two HDMI, and two gigabit LAN, but might make more sense to grab the Core i7 versions unless you already have DDR3L RAM and an SSD hanging around (or 2GB is insufficient and the 8GB model is out of your price range). At $221 USD plus these components, you probably will not be saving much to compensate for the drop in performance. You can also find some Core i5 models, too.
Quite a bit to consider, but I think that many would benefit from the thought.