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.
Xi3 Corporation recently announced a new small form factor computer with the Xi3 Z3RO Pro. The new PC features a blue and silver chassis in typical Xi3 styling. It measures 1.9 x 4.9 x 3.6 inches, which is about the size of a small paperback book.
Inside the chassis, the Xi3 Z3RO Pro features a dual core processor clocked at 1.65GHz with 2MB L2 cache, a GPU with 80 shader cores, and 4GB of DDR3 memory. Further, Xi3 will include between 16GB and 1TB of internal storage. The system will reportedly operate on a mere 15W.
Rear IO on the Xi3 Z3RO Pro includes four combination eSATA/USB 3.0 ports, a single Gigabit Ethernet jack, and two video outputs. It has one combination HDMI and DisplayPort output and one mini DisplayPort port.
The low-power system is available for pre-order now. It will officially launch in the second quarter of 2013 for around $399. The Xi3 Z3RO Pro ships with OpenSUSE 11.2 Linux, but the X86-64 compatible hardware will support other desktop operating systems like Linux Mint and Windows 8. Unfortunately, Xi3 was vague on the processor being used, but an AMD APU of some sort is a good bet.
Subject: Systems | January 10, 2013 - 05:52 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, SFF, revolt, ibuypower, gaming pc, ces 2013
The boutique PC vendor iBUYPOWER announced a new small form factor gaming computer at CES 2013. The new Revolt gaming PC features a custom white and black chassis with tweaked ventilation and a customizable lighting system. The Revolt comes in one of three base flavors, upon which you can customize to add a better GPU, more memory, additional storage or a caching SSD, a faster processor, and a closed loop liquid cooling system (the top-end option is the NZXT Kraken with 140mm radiator) for the CPU. iBUYPOWER will even overclock the system for you up to 20% for a fee ($49).
The systems come with a plethora of USB ports, two USB 3.0 ports, dual DVI outputs, analog audio jacks, S/PDIF, SD card slot, and PS/2 port. In that respect, it is definitely more PC than the console that the small form factor case would leave admirers of your AV setup to believe. You can add up to 1TB of mechanical storage, an Intel Core i7-3770K processor, and a single GTX 680 4GB graphics card on the top end with all customizations.
While the system uses mini-ITX motherboards, users are able to otherwise use full size components which does leave room for upgrades. The one big compromise is the power supply in that the upper limit from iBUYPOWER is a 500W “server class” unit that is smaller than traditional ATX power supplies that enthusiasts are used to. And that generally means smaller fans that can be noisy.
The table below details the base specifications of the three Revolt gaming PC SKUs. Each build can be customized from there.
|Revolt R320||Revolt R550||Revolt R570|
|Processor||Core i3-3220||Core i5-3550P||Core i5-3570K|
|RAM||4GB DDR3 @ 1600 MHz||4GB DDR3 @ 1600 MHz||4GB DDR3 @ 1600 MHz|
|Graphics||Intel HD 2500||NVIDIA GTX 650 1GB||NVIDIA GTX 660 2GB|
|Motherboard||ASRock B75M-ITX||IBP-Z77E/S||ASRock B75M-ITX|
|Optical||Sony slot loading DVD||Sony slot loading DVD||Sony slot loading DVD|
The Revolt is up for pre-order now and is expected to ship sometime in February 2013. The Revolt R320, R550, and R570 gaming computers start at $499, $649, and $899 respectively.
You can find more photos and specifications on the Revolt product page.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 22, 2012 - 01:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: fractal design, Node 304, mini-itx, dtx, SFF
Fractal Design's Node 304 SFF case is 250 x 210 x 374 mm (9.8" x 8.2" x 14.7") and thanks to the removable HDDs you can actually fit larger sized GPUs in the case, though the biggest will be blocked by the PSU. Cooling comes from a pair of front mounted 92mm fans and a 140mm in the rear, all attached to a fan controller to help you manage the noise levels. HiTech Legion puts the MSRP of this case at $89 which is very impressive for a SFF case with this many features, especially the six HDD bays, but wish that the case was properly compatible with Micro-ITX PSUs to give even more space for a high end GPU.
"The Fractal Design Node 304 computer case brings style and functionality to the small computing market. The Node 304 features a modular design that allows easy configurability. Motherboard support includes mini-ITX and DTX compatibility. There are two expansion slots available. A total of six drives, either 2.5” or 3.5” can be installed. There is room for a full ATX PSU, up to 160mm in length. CPU coolers can be installed up to 165mm in height and GPUs up to 310mm in length (with adaptation). Fractal has included a cooling system with two front mounted 92mm Silent Series R2 hydraulic bearing fans and one rear 140mm Silent Series R2 hydraulic bearing fan. There is also a fan controller included with low, medium, and high settings. The front interface includes two USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5mm mic, and 3.5mm headphone connection."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Fractal Design Node 304 Case Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Corsair Carbide 200R @ Guru of 3D
- Corsair Carbide 300R Mid-Tower @ eTeckniz
- Cooler Master Storm Stryker Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Antec Take-4 Rackmount Chassis @ Tweaktown
- Thermaltake Armor Revo Snow Edition Chassis @ Bjorn3D
- Enermax Hoplite ST Mid-Tower @ Tweaktown
- Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 Midi Tower Review @ NikKTech
- BitFenix Recon and BitFenix Hydra Pro Fan Controller Roundup @ OCC
- NZXT Hue LED Controller @ Rbmods
- Spire TME III (TherMax Eclipse III) @ eTeknix
- Noctua NH-L12 L-Type Low Profile CPU Cooler @ eTeknix
Subject: Systems | November 17, 2012 - 03:59 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, PC, Lenovo, ideacentre q190, htpc
Lenovo recently launched a new small form factor PC with the IdeaCentre Q190. This small desktop measures 192mm x 155mm x 22mm and packs some hardware punch that handily surpasses the specs of traditional net-top computers. Exact hardware specifications have not yet been released, but the company has talked about the top-end model.
The IdeaCentre Q190 PC will have up to a 2nd generation Core i3 Intel Sandy Bridge processor, 8GB DDR3 memory, HD3000 integrated (processor) graphics, a 1TB hard drive, and a 24GB caching SSD. These specifications are, of course, for the top end model.
The IdeaCentre Q190 with the optional optical drive attached.
In addition, the Q190 can support a DVD writer or Blu ray optical drive that mounts on top of the PC, which adds a bit of depth but can still be mounted vertically with the supplied stand. Other optional accessories include a handheld wireless keyboard and mouse trackpad.
External IO includes an SDXC card reader, S/PDIF optical audio port, VGA video output, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, and a Gigabit Ethernet jack.
The Q190 will come preloaded with Windows 8, and an option for Windows 8 Pro. Lenovo is pushing the HTPC merits of the computer, and it will certainly do a serviceable job. It would also make for a nice low-power desktop system as well, and it looks nice enough to display on your desk.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190 will be available in January 2013 and will have a starting price of $349, with the top end model described above costing a bit more (the exact amount is as yet unknown).
Subject: Systems | November 7, 2012 - 05:04 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zotac, zbox ad06, zbox, SFF, htpc, barebones, APU, amd
Zotac has updated its small form factor ZBOX AD06 PC with a new AMD Accelerated Processing Unit that features a faster GPU portion and a dual core Zacate CPU that Zotac claims offers up to a 10% boost in performance versus the previous ZBOX.
On the outside, the ZBOX AD06 is approximately the size of a Mini-ITX motherboard, comes with a bundled VESA75/100 mount (to attach it to the back of your monitor), and features a number of ports. Internally, the ZBOX AD06 features an AMD E2-1800 APU with two CPU cores at 1.7GHz and a Radeon HD 7340 GPU. The “Plus” version bundles in 2GB of DDR3 memory and a 320GB hard drive, otherwise it is very much a bare-bones system that allows you to add your own storage.
External ports and connectivity options include:
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 1 x SD card reader
- 2 x analog audio jacks
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x S/PDIF optical audio output
- 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.0
The Zotac AD06 also features a bundled media center remote that will work with Windows Media Center or XBMC. And thanks to the more powerful APU, it should work well as a low-cost home theater PC. Unfortuantely, there is no word on pricing or when the AD06 or AD06 Plus will be available for purchase.
You can find the full press release below.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2012 - 12:16 AM | Tim Verry
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!
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?
Subject: Systems | August 31, 2012 - 02:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Arctic MC101-A10 Home Entertainment Centre @ Kitguru
- Mede8er MED1000X3D review - 3D media player without Android @ Hardware.info
- 128-inch silver screen for your viewing room @ Hack a Day
- Pivos XIOS DS Media Play! Android Media Player @ Tweaktown
Subject: Systems | August 13, 2012 - 05:13 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Cyberpower Fang III Black Mamba Review -the £4,000 system @ Kitguru
- LRDIMMs, RDIMMs, and Supermicro's Latest Twin @ AnandTech
- Dell Precision T1650 Workstation Review: Ivy Bridge Xeons Bring Performance @ AnandTech
- Palicomp Alpha Pulse Gaming PC @ Kitguru
- Guru3D Rig of the Month - July 2012