Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | July 20, 2013 - 03:29 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, dccp847dye, nuc, SFF, pcn, wi-fi
Intel recently posted a Product Change Notification (PCN, number 112432-00) regarding one of its first NUC bare-bones systems, model number BOXDCCP847DYE. The PCN seeks to address the overheating issues that several hardware review sites encountered when performing large file copies across the network using the built-in Wi-Fi card. Intel has reportedly found a solution by adding a 9.5mm thermal pad to the underside of the top cover. The thermal pad will make contact with the mSATA SSD and facilitate heat transfer from the drive into the metal chassis.
The overheating problems spotted by PC Perspective (in our review) and other tech sites lead to system freezes and restarts. When transferring large amounts of data across the network, the built-in mPCI-E Wi-Fi card would heat up, and because the SSD is mounted just above the Wi-Fi card, the system would lock up or crash when the SSD overheated. Thus, Intel’s workaround is to improve the cooling of the SSD such that it (hopefully) will no longer overheat and users will not have to resort to buying a USB Wi-Fi dongle or running an Ethernet cable to the switch.
According to the PCN, the solution works and system retailers should expect shipments of the BOXDCCP847DYE with upgraded cover to arrive as early as August 1st. Notably, Intel is planning to ship out all pre-modification inventory before moving onto shipping updated bare-bones systems. It may be some time before consumers can be sure they are getting the updated model. In the meantime, users can always opt to use one of the many third party NUC cases that take full advantage of passive cooling techniques.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 14, 2013 - 11:51 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: utilite, ubuntu, silent, SFF, linux, fanless, cortex-a9, compulab, arm, Android
CompuLab has announced a new fanless, small form factor PC called the Utilite. This new PC comes from the same company that engineered the MintBox, MintBox 2, and Fit PC series. The Utilite is a low-power desktop PC powered by a quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor and runs either Ubuntu Linux or Google’s Android operating system.
The upcoming Utilite measures 5.3” x 3.9” x 0.8”(135 x 100 x 21mm) and consumes anywhere between 3W and 8W of power depending on the particular hardware configuration. It is designed to be a quiet desktop replacement with plenty of IO.
CompuLab will provide single core, dual core, and quad core CPU SKUs. Specifically, the Utilite is powered by a Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor that is clocked at up to 1.2 GHz. Users will be able to further configure the system with up to 4GB of DDR3 1066 MHz memory and a 512GB mSATA SSD. Storage can be further expanded using Micro SD-XC cards (maximum of 128GB per card). The GPU in the SoC is compatible with OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 as well as OpenVG 1.1 and OpenCL EP. It is capable of hardware decoding multi-stream 1080p video in a variety of common formats.
Wireless functionality includes an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi card and Bluetooth 3.0.
The Utilite has a dark gray case with silver front and rear bezels.
The front of the Utilite PC features the following IO options in addition to the power button and indicator LEDs.
- 1 x USB OTG (Micro USB)
- 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
- 1 x Micro SD card slot
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks (line in, line out)
The rear of the PC hosts:
- 1 x DC power input
- 1 x Wi-Fi antenna
- 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jacks
- 2 x HDMI video outputs
According to fanless PC guru FanlessTech, CompuLab will be releasing the ARM-powered Utilite mini PC next month with a starting price of $99 and a variety of SKUs with varying amounts of CPU cores, memory, and storage. The Utilite PC is a bit on the expensive side, but this is a system for industrial and enterprise use as well as consumers, and Olivier from FanlessTech notes that build quality should be on par with those goals/industry aims.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 12, 2013 - 02:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zotac, zbox, SFF, Nano, Ivy Bridge, Intel, hd 4000
Zotac has announced three new ZBOX Nano SKUs that utilize Intel’s 3rd Generation “Ivy Bridge” processors and HD 4000 processor graphics. The new SKUs include base and PLUS models of ID63, ID 64, and ID65 mini PCs.
The tiny PCs continue to use the ZBOX Nano form factor of approximately 5 x 5 x 1.8 inches. The front of the small form factor (SFF) PC holds two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader, two audio jacks, LEDs, and a power button. The rear of the ZBOX Nano PCs features an external antenna for Wi-Fi along with the following IO.
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 1 x eSATA
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
The PC comes with a VESA 75/100 mount for wall mounting or attaching to the back of a monitor.
Internal specifications include an Intel Core i3 3227U (dual core at 1.9GHz), Core i5 3337U (dual core at 1.9GHz base, 2.7GHz turbo), or Core i7 3537U (dual core at 2.0GHz base, 3.1GHz turbo) processor depending on the specific SKU. The base barebones ZBOX Nano PCs support a single DDR3 SO-DIMM (up to 8GB 1600MHz) and a single 2.5” hard drive.
Zotac’s ZBOX Nano Plus units bundle in 4GB of DDR3 and a 500GB hard drive. Zotac also includes a “nanoRAID” adapter that will allow users to switch out a traditional 2.5” storage drive for two mSATA drives. The adapter supports RAID 0 and RAID 1 options as well.
Pricing and availability for the new ZBOX Nano SKUs has not been announced yet, but the mini PCs should be up for sale soon.
The decision to release new models with Ivy Bridge processors instead of Intel's latest Haswell CPUs is a bit strange, but the SFF PCs have likely been in the making and testing phase for a while. I expect Haswell-powered versions to be released at some point in the future but for now the Ivy Bridge models will offer up more performance than previous ZBOX Nano units.
Akasa has debuted a new passively cooled chassis for Intel's NUC platform called the Newton. The new chassis measures 154mm x 150mm x 47mm and does double duty as both a case and passive (fan-less) heatsink for the Intel processor soldered onto the NUC motherboard.
Specifically, the Akasa Newton case can support the Intel D33217GKE or DCP847SKE NUC (Next Unit of Computing) motherboard, depending on whether you want an Intel Core i3-3217-U or a Celeron 847-U respectively.
The Akasa Newton case supports all of the IO of the NUC boards, including a single USB port on the front, and two USB ports, two HDMI outputs, and one Gigabit Ethernet port. The case also has two antenna jacks for the mini-PCIe WI-Fi card and a DC power in jack.
The case is entirely matte black with a brushed aluminum front bezel and curved corners. The boxy case comes with a VESA mount for attaching to the back of monitors or using a wall mount. The top of the case is finned to increase the surface area and aid in cooling the CPU.
Overall, it looks like a decent NUC chassis for a silent, passively cooled system. The Akasa Newton is available now for 50 Euros (including VAT).
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