Small Form Factor Intel NUC PCs coming in October for under $400

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2012 - 12:16 AM |
Tagged: ssd, small form factor, SFF, nuc, Ivy Bridge, Intel, htpc

Earlier this year, Intel showed off a small motherboard and processor combination that piqued the interest of many enthusiasts and attendees. The rather oddly named Next Unit of Computing (NUC) PC was originally intended to power digital signage, kiosks, and embedded systems (car PC anyone?). However, in response to the interest shown by enthusiasts, the x86 chip giant has decided to bring the super-small form factor computers to retail.  

The Next Unit of Computing PC’s main attraction is its small size: the motherboard is tiny, measuring a mere 4” x 4.” For reference, the mini-ITX standard is a 6.7” x 6.7” motherboard, and VIA’s Pico-ITX form factor boards measure 3.9” x 2.7.” In that respect, the NUC is not the smallest PC that you can build, but it will be the fastest – and by a significant margin thanks to the bundled Ivy Bridge CPU.

While i3 and i5 editions were allegedly designed, currently Intel is only bringing the i3 to the retail market. Specifically, the CPU powering the NUC will be an Intel Core i3-3217U Ivy Bridge processor, and it will be soldered onto the motherboard. That particular CPU is a 1.8GHz dual core/four thread part with 3MB cache, and Intel HD 4000 graphics (there is no Turbo Boost functionality). Not bad for a small form factor PC!

Intel SFF NUC Computer.jpg

Image credit: PC Pro.

The boards will have two SO-DIMM slots for RAM, an mSATA port for an SSD, and a mini-PCIe slot for a Wi-FI card. Intel is making two versions of the NUC motherboard that will differ only in IO. One motherboard will have 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 HDMI output, and 1 Thunderbolt port. The other board will have 3 USB 2.0 ports, 2 HDMI outputs, and one Gigabit Ethernet jack. Intel believes that the Thunderbolt-equipped model will be more popular with consumers while the Gigabit-Ethernet and dual HDMI model will be used more by businesses.

Intel is reportedly sourcing several chassis designs for its custom form factor motherboard (there are at least two cases at present), and you will be able to build out a barebones system with one of the custom cases, integrated heatsink, and power supply. Additionally, when spec'ed out with the Intel i3-3217U CPU, 4GB of RAM, Wi-Fi card, and a 40GB Intel SSD, the company expects the entire NUC computer to cost around $399 in the US. The parts will be available for purchase in October, according to Engadget.

Hopefully, we will see OEMs take this form factor and make something cool with it. It's not clear which specific OEMs will be first to bring pre-built systems to market but they should be coming in the future.

Personally, I’m a big fan of small form factor computers, and despite the odd “NUC” name I’m excited to see where Intel takes this platform. If you were looking for a small but powerful computer to drive your next project, it might be worth keeping an eye on the NUC. What do you think of this sub $400, approximately 5” (with case) PC?

Read more about SFF and HTPC components at PC Perspective.

Source: Engadget

Arctic's stylish new Trinity powered HTPC

Subject: Systems | August 31, 2012 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: trinity, SFF, htpc, Arctic MC101, amd, a10-4600m

There is a lot to like about the Arctic MC101 HTPC, from the brushed aluminium exterior to the Trinity based quad core A10-4600M and HD7660M graphics core that comes with the A10.  Bjorn3D thought it was rather strange that the system ships without a remote control but thankfully it does have an IR sensor so a Windows Media Centre type remote will work perfectly.  Connectivity is quite good, USB 3.0, combo USB 2.0/eSATA port, a headphone jack and a 4-in-1 memory card reader, along the front and sides.  The back panel has even more, TV antenna, an audio out port, a line-in jack, SPDIF audio out, 4 USB 2.0 ports, two more USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-out and an ethernet port.  At ~$750 it will set you back a bit to purchase and after reading Bjorn3D's review you may be willing to spend it.

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"Arctic’s latest home entertainment system user an AMD A10-4600M APU, bringing a powerful combination of CPU and GPU in a tiny little box. Packed with WiFi, TV Tuner, 8GB RAM, and 1TB of storage, the MC101 brings us plenty of power for our media needs and is also able to deliver decent gaming performance."

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Source: Bjorn3D

Intel's take on the all-in-one PC

Subject: Systems | August 13, 2012 - 05:13 PM |
Tagged: SFF, mini-itx, Intel, DH61AG, all-in-one

Intel's thin Mini-ITX is the same length and width as a regular mini-ITX board at 6.7" x 6.7" but it sports a thinner port cluster and horizontally stacked SO-DIMM memory slots to allow it to slip into a smaller place, perfect for an all-in-one build.  That is why when you look at the system you will be hard pressed to see the case, as the motherboard is built right into the monitor.  Unlike some other all-in-one systems, this one is user serviceable and to an extent is also upgradeable.  If you are wondering how it performs then all you have to do is check out The Tech Report and all will be revealed.

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"Today, we're going to be spending some quality time with an all-in-one PC based on Intel's Thin Mini-ITX standard. The individual parts are all available at retail, and the resulting machine is slim, slick, and surprisingly straightforward to put together."

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ZOTAC announces ZOTAC ZBOX with NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M

Subject: Systems | August 8, 2012 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox id84, SFF, htpc, gt 520M, atom d2550

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Two new ZOTAC ZBOXes were announced today, both with an Atom D2550 and an NVIDIA GT 520M 512MB inside.  The ID84 Plus ships with memory and a hard drive already installed, the non-Plus version is at a lower cost as you must provide your own DDR3 and 2.5" drive, either hard or solid depending on your preference.

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As you can see below, the reason that ZOTAC specifies VESA compliant mounting holes is so that you can attach your ZBOX directly to the back of a monitor.  With the right OS you can get support for a touchscreen, making your own all in one PC with very little in the way of wiring or peripherals.  For external storage and other devices, you will be glad to know that there are a pair of USB 3.0 ports to allow you to quickly move large files back and forth between the ZBOX and your external storage solution.

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No word on pricing

HONG KONG – Aug. 8, 2012 – ZOTAC International, a global innovator and channel manufacturer of graphics cards, mainboards and mini-PCs, today delivers a new ZBOX with NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M graphics processing. The new ZOTAC ZBOX with NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M graphics incorporates class-leading features and stunning visuals to form a perfect home theater PC.

“We’re pleased to inject the power of NVIDIA GeForce graphics to our award-winning ZOTAC ZBOX for users that demand energy-efficiency with a graphics kick,” said Carsten Berger, marketing director, ZOTAC International. “The new ZOTAC ZBOX with NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M graphics delivers phenomenal high-definition video playback capabilities to make it the perfect home theater PC as well.”

The new ZOTAC ZBOX with NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M graphics is available as a barebones or with memory and hard drive preinstalled. Operating systems such as Windows 7 (x86 and x64) and OpenELEC are fully compatible with the new ZOTAC ZBOX with NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M graphics to transform the system into an everyday casual use PC or outstanding home theater PC capable of high-definition video playback.

It’s time to play with the new ZOTAC ZBOX with NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M graphics.
General details

  • ZOTAC Delivers New ZBOX with NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M Graphics Processing
  • ZOTAC ZBOX with NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M
  • Intel Atom™ D2550 (1.86 GHz, dual-core)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M w/512MB DDR3
  • DVI & HDMI outputs
  • ZOTAC ZBOX ID84 Plus
    • 2GB DDR3
    • 320GB 5400RPM HDD
  • ZOTAC ZBOX nano ID84
    • 2 x 204-pin DDR3-1066 SO-DIMM slot
    • Support 2.5-inch SATA HDD
  • 2 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports
  • 4 x High-Speed USB 2.0 ports (2 on back panel, 1 on front, 1 on top)
  • Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi & Bluetooth 3.0 technologies
  • Bundled MCE-compatible remote w/ USB IR receiver
  • Bundled VESA75/100 mount
  • Bundled MCE-compatible remote w/ USB IR receiver

Source: ZOTAC

Podcast #211 - MSI HD 7870 HAWK, Building a Gaming PC from 1999, a Llano SFF System Build and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 26, 2012 - 02:16 PM |
Tagged: SFF, retro, podcast, nvidia, llano, kepler, Intel, amd, 7870 Hawk, 7870, 1999

PC Perspective Podcast #211 - 07/26/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the MSI HD 7870 HAWK,  Building a Gaming PC from 1999, a Llano SFF System Build and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 0:53:21

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. PCPer moving to pcper.com/live
  3. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  4. http://pcper.com/podcast
  5. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  6. Quakecon - Hardware Workshop @ pcper.com/workshop (August 4th, 2012, 2pm CT)
  7. Join me this weekend at Fry's!!
    1. Fry's Electronics, 1077 East Arques Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:05:10 MSI R7870 HAWK Review
    2. 0:13:00 Gaming like it's 1999
    3. 0:18:10 Enermax Platimax 1000w PSU Review
    4. 0:18:50 AMD Llano System Build Article
  1. 0:21:20 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  1. News items of interest:
    1. 0:22:15 ECS Pre-announced AMD AMP Memory profiles
    2. 0:25:10 New passive CPU cooler can handle 100w
    3. 0:27:15 ARM, TSMC to Produce 64-bit Processors With 3D Transistors
    4. 0:30:20 Falcon Ridge to double Thunderbolt performance
    5. 0:31:40 Drobo Thunderbolt prices
    6. 0:35:10 Radeon HD 7990 delayed again probably
    7. 0:36:35 New Dawn Demo from NVIDIA
    8. 0:40:00 Check out this cool DX11 demo video
    9. 0:44:15 Intel and AMD financials
  1. Closing:
    1. 0:45:20 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week

      1. Ryan: Zoom Handy Recorder H4n
      2. Jeremy: Hand knit beer coozy
      3. Josh: GET A DAMN SSD ALREADY
      4. Allyn: Samsung Cloud Gaming Beta (almost)
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Quakecon coverage at pcper.com/workshop. Hope to see you there!
  5. Closing/outro

Video Version:

 

Hardkernel Launching Quad Core ODROID-X Android Computer

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2012 - 08:53 AM |
Tagged: SFF, Samsung, linux, hardkernel, Exynos 4, computer, arm

If you are an Android developer and have been itching to get your hands on some high end, quad core hardware, than Korean company HardKernel may have just what you’re looking for. The new ODROID-X is an Android developer board (meaning it comes as just a single board computer sans case or accessories. For $129 plus shipping and customs fees, you can have a 90 x 94mm PCB with a Samsung Exynos 4412 ARM Cortex-A9 quad core at 1.4 GHz (1MB cache), Mali 400 GPU, 1GB RAM, and runs on a 5V, 2A power adapter.

Hardkernel ODROID-X.jpg

IO for the ODROID-X includes headphone and microphone jacks, six USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet, SDHC card slot, 50-pin GPIO connector, UART serial connector, MIPI-CAM camera connector, HDMI, and a power jack. In other words, it is extremely expandable. It is capable of outputting 1080p video over HDMI when using the H.264 video codec thanks to dedicated hardware acceleration. Hardkernel will happily sell you accessories but you would likely be better off buying it from a local retailer or online shop that is in-country to avoid the extra shipping and customs fees. The power jack and other ports are standard, so there aren’t any worries there. Android 4.0 ICS is reportedly available for download, though no word yet on when the newly announced Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" OS build will be up on the site.

Thanks to the Samsung Exynos 4, you definitely have more oomph than the 700 MHz ARMv7 in the Raspberry Pi, though this board isn’t nearly as small (and costs about four times as much). If you need the extra horsepower, this may be worth considering at this price but be sure figure out the import taxes and shipping for your location to figure out what it will really cost you to get your hands on. Read more about the ODROID-X's specifications over at the Hardkernel website.

Source: Ars Technica

A small case with big features from Silverstone

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 5, 2012 - 07:23 PM |
Tagged: Silverstone, Temjin TJ08-E Evolution, SFF, MicroATX

Silverstone's Temjin TJ08-E Evolution is a strange beast, with a 180mm fan and the ability to house full sized graphics cards but it is built for microATX boards.  That does make it perfect for some SandyBridge/SBE boards with multiple 16x PCIe slots that are of microATX design.  There is a fan controller, a removable motherboard tray and quite a few other handy features all of which netted a Recommendation from The Tech Report.  If you need a LAN box or just want a PC in a smaller case then you really should check this one out.

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"With an 180-mm intake fan and room for high-end video cards, Silverstone's Temjin TJ08-E Evolution looks well-equipped to take on mid-tower cases. Except it's a Micro ATX mini-tower. We take a closer look to see if size really matters."

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Dream big with this tiny Ivy Bridge and Kepler powered mini-ITX system

Subject: Systems | May 14, 2012 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: SFF, CoolIT Eco II 140, EVGA GTX 670 SuperClocked, i7-3770k

Legit Reviews didn't let a fear of overheating prevent them from building a very powerful Ivy Bridge based SFF PC that is a lot more than just an HTPC.  While a system with an EVGA GTX 670 SuperClocked card in it can handle HTPC duties it will only really shine when you game on it.  Thanks to a CoolIT Eco II 140 Liquid Cooler for the CPU and a conveniently placed intake fan to cool the GPU they fit the entire system inside a Cubitek Mini ICE ITX case.  It might have ended up costing just over $2500 but this is one compact gaming beast that can hit P8649 on 3DMark11!

LR_final-build.jpg

"Building a Small Form Factor Mini-ITX computer can be challenging, but it is worth the extra work as the end result can be amazing. We managed to stuff a ton of enthusiast grade hardware into a PC case that measures just 9.06" x 12.33" x 14.29" (WxHxD)! We still ran into a few minor issues here and there, but at the end of the day it all worked out and the system came out just how we wanted it to. Our dream mini-ITX system is ready for any task you want to throw at it!"

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

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Zotac's cute Zacate powered ZBox Nano-XS

Subject: Systems | May 9, 2012 - 06:34 PM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox nano-xs, SFF, htpc

Zotac's new ZBox Nano-XS is smaller than your average case fan, measuring only 4.17" x 4.17" x 1.46" (106mm x 106mm x 37mm) but is powerful enough you can stream video and even get some light game playing in on it.  The name is a bit misleading as it is powered by a dual core AMD E-450 with a HD 6320 giving it impressive graphics for its size and the 64GB Kingston mSATA SSD making the general performance of the system quite snappy.  Funky Kit does want you to be aware that this tiny PC ships without an OS so make sure that you are familiar with making a bootable USB drive with which to install your OS but apart from that they highly recommend the Nano-XS to anyone who needs a tiny PC.

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"The performance of the ZBox impressed me. It can't touch my high end desktop of course, but given the size and the price it is quite impressive. You can do some low end gaming, watch any videos you might want to regardless of their resolution and it snaps windows around and loads programs quite quickly, thanks to the SSD."

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Source: Funky Kit

Looking for a low power SFF system you don't have to build yourself? Try Lenovo's ThinkCentre M91p

Subject: Systems | April 24, 2012 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: silent, SFF, Lenovo, ThinkCentre M91p

Most people who want a small form factor PC at home are those who will build it themselves, but not everyone has the time or inclination to do so.  That is where systems like the Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p come in handy.   Powered by a 2.7GHz Core 5-2500S, a single 4GB DIMM of DDR3-1333 and a 500GB HDD it is not overwhelming in its abilities but certainly qualifies as a low heat and low noise machine.  Silent PC Review thought that this machine would be better for an office PC than an HTPC as the Intel HD3000 struggles with playback in some cases but are very glad to see the rare 2500S in a system as it is hard to purchase as a seperate item but is quite nice with a turbo speed of 3.7GHz.

SPCR_m91p.jpg

"The USFF version of Lenovo's ThinkCentre M91p packs a significant punch in a small package. Utilizing an Intel "S" low power processor and a 150W external AC power adapter, it's also incredibly energy efficient."

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