Subject: Motherboards | April 15, 2015 - 03:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: z97, SFF, gigabyte, GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5
You could argue that the Z97 chipset is not the freshest but for serious gamers that are on a budget and for whom space is at a premium the $130 Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-GAMING 5 is a smart choice. Four memory slots which support up to DDR3-3100, four PCI-e slots, an M.2 PCIe slot and even a SATA Express port mean you can support newer technology without breaking the bank, especially if you plan incremental upgrades. It also has onboard Realtek ALC1150 7.1 surround sound with support for the Creative X-Fi MB3 and a swapable TI Burr Brown OPA2134 OP-AMP along with S/PDIF out also make this a good board for a fledgling sound artist. Check out the full review at Modders Inc; you don't have to be big nor expensive to provide a long list of features.
"Long are the days of the SUPER TOWER chassis being the king of the gamers den, in the past few years the SFF (Small Form Factor) has taken over the market. This is not only due to the compact size of mATX and ITX but that both form factors are continuing to squeeze performance into every bit of their tiny …"
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer, The Thriller With The Killer @ Bjorn3d
- Gigabyte Z97X-SLI Motherboard Review @ OCIA
- ASUS X99-A Motherboard Review @HiTech Legion
- ASUS X99-A @ eTeknix
- MSI 970 GAMING AMD AM3+ Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 8, 2015 - 01:17 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thin mini itx, SFF case, SFF, mini ITX, fanless, akasa
Akasa recently introduced two new fanless Mini ITX cases under its Euler brand. The new Euler T and Euler M are all aluminum enclosures that cool up to 35W processors passively using an aluminium heatsink and the case’s own surface area to dissipate heat.
Both cases are black with a brushed metal texture and “diamond edge” finish around the front panel. The top and sides of the small form factor cases use a fin array design that benefits the passive cooling feature. Front IO includes a circular power button and two USB 3.0 ports.
The Akasa Euler T chassis. The Euler M (not pictured) is slightly larger).
The Euler T represents a refinement of the existing Euler S chassis with support for three 2.5” drives. The case measures 245 x 215.5 x 68.5mm. It is built with Thin Mini ITX motherboards in mind. It can be paired with an optional external power supply up to 150W.
Akasa’s Euler M case is deeper measuring 245 x 274.5 x 68.5mm. The case supports regular sized desktop memory modules and Mini ITX motherboards. Thanks to its larger size, it supports four 2.5” drive bays. The Euler M has an internal DC-to-DC power adapter and can be paired with an optional external 80W power supply.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 4, 2015 - 11:24 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: shuttle, SFF, fanless, core i7-5500u, Broadwell
The Shuttle DS57U is a new small form factor fanless PC packing Intel’s latest Broadwell processor. The Shuttle 1.3L chassis (7.9" x 6.5" x 1.5") is all black and sits vetically on raised feet. Vents run along the top of the case and the vertical design along with a large heatsink lets them offer a fanless design.
External I/O includes:
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 2 x RS232
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x HDMI
- 2 x Analog audio
- 1 x SD card reader
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet (Intel i211 and i218LM)
The PC can be attached to the back of a monitor stand or to the wall using its VESA mounting holes.
Internally, the Shuttle DS57U comes with up to an Intel Core i7 5500U processor which is a 15W dual core part with Hyper Threading clocked at 2.4GHz base and 3GHz max turbo, 4MB cache, and Intel 5500 graphics clocked at up to 950MHz. It is a barebones PC which means that users have to add their own storage, memory, and operating system. Users can add two laptop DDR3 SODIMMs (16GB max), a single 2.5” drive, and a two Mini PCI-e devices (an 802.11n wireless module comes pre-installed in the half-height slot).
The Shuttle DS57U would make for a silent home PC, media server, or an extremely overpowered home router (heh). Its feature set also makes the DS57U suited for commercial and industrial applications. The fanless Broadwell PC is available now in Europe for 192 euros (approximately $220 USD). There is no word on when it will hit this side of the pond, but its introduction is a promising start to other fanless Broadwell systems hitting the market.
Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2015 - 04:41 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, nuc5i7ryh, nuc, Intel, broadwell-u, Broadwell
We recently reviewed a new small form factor NUC PC from Intel powered by Broadwell. That i5-powered NUC5i5RYK will soon be joined by an even higher end Broadwell NUC (NUC5i7RYH) equipped with an i7-5557U CPU and Iris 6100 graphics.
According to FanlessTech, this slightly thicker NUC will come as a barebones system with a processor, motherboard, and wireless card pre-installed in a case with customizable lids (to add NFC, wireless charging, or other features). Note that, unlike the Broadwell i5 version we reviewed, this model supports 2.5” SSDs.
External I/O includes:
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports (one charging capable)
- 1 x Audio jack
- 1 x IR sensor
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45
- 1 x Mini HDMI 1.4a
- 1 x Mini DisplayPort 1.2
Internally, the NUC5i7RYH is powered by a dual core (with Hyper-Threading) i7-5557U processor clocked at 3.1 GHz base and 3.4 GHz turbo with 4MB cache and 28W TDP. The processor also features Intel’s Iris 6100 GPU which our own Scott Michaud estimates it at 48 execution units and 845 GFLOPS of performance. He further speculates that it gets to a similar level of theoretical performance as the Intel Iris 5100 graphics (used in Haswell CPUs) using more (but lower clocked at up to 1050 MHz) shaders.
The Iris 6100 GPU is likely to be the highest processor graphics we will see with Broadwell-U. It supports 4K resolutions at 24Hz as well as video decode (though apparently not hardware accelerated) of VP8, VP9, and H.265 (HVEC) via wired displays or over Intel’s WiDi wireless display technology. Further, the GPU supports DirectX 12 in its current iteration as well as OpenGL 4.3 and OpenCL 2.0.
Internal connectivity includes support for two DDR3L SODIMMs (up to 16GB), a single 2.5” solid state drive, one M.2 SSD, an Intel Wireless AC 7265 card (802.11ac+BT), a NFC header, and a header for two USB 2.0 ports.
Intel has not released pricing, but expect it to hit at least $500 since the i5 version without Iris graphics has an MSRP of $399. It is slated to arrive soon with a launch window of Q2 2015.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 26, 2015 - 05:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: corsair, Carbide Series, Air 240 High Airflow, MicroATX, mini-itx, SFF
Corsair designed the Carbide Series Air 240 High Airflow for small motherboards but left enough room to fit fair sized add in cards and coolers. The case is 397 x 260 x 320mm (15.6 x 10 x 12.6") and will hold GPUs up to 290 mm in length and a cooler of up to 120mm as well as a full sized ATX PSU. [H]ard|OCP installed two GTX 280's with no issues and had no problems installing several popular AiO watercoolers either. Even with just air cooling it would seem that Corsair's Direct Airflow Path is much more than just a marketing gimmick and kept the components at reasonable temperatures even after heavy loads. It certainly earned the Gold Award it received and for less than $100 it deserves to be on your short list of tiny cases to consider purchasing.
"Are you in the market of a case for that new Mini-ITX or MicroATX PC build? Corsair today shows off its Carbide Series Air 240 High Airflow MicroATX and Mini-ITX PC Case. It's big, it's black, and it will remind you the the Borg. OK, maybe it is not that big, but big enough to allow mATX fans plenty of room for cooling and hot dual GPUs."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Fractal Design's Define R5 case @ The Tech Report
- Raijintek Metis Classic Computer Case @ Benchmark Reviews
- Fractal Design Core 2300 @ techPowerUp
- In Win 703 @ Legion Hardware
- Thermaltake Core V51 Case Review @ Hardware Asylum
- Thermalright Silver Arrow ITX @ techPowerUp
- Phanteks PH-TC14S Dual-Tower Review: Conflict-free CPU Cooling? @ Modders-Inc
- Phanteks PH-TC12LS CPU Cooler @ Modders-Inc
- Reeven Justice (RC-1204) @ eTeknix
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 16, 2015 - 11:04 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SFF, nvidia, mini-ITX GPU, mini-itx, gtx 960, graphics, gpu, geforce, asus
ASUS returns to the mini-ITX friendly form-factor with the GTX 960 Mini (officially named GTX960-MOC-2GD5 for maximum convenience), their newest NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 graphics card.
Other than the smaller size to allow compatibility with a wider array of small enclosures, the GTX 960 Mini also features an overclocked core and promises "20% cooler and vastly quieter" performance from its custom heatsink and CoolTech fan. Here's a quick rundown of key specs:
- 1190 MHz Base Clock / 1253 MHz Boost Clock
- 1024 CUDA cores
- 2GB 128-bit GDDR5 @ 7010 MHz
- 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x DVI output
No word on the pricing or availability of the card just yet. The other mini-ITX version of the GTX 960 on the market from Gigabyte has been selling for $199.99, so expect this to run somewhere between $200-$220 at launch.
ASUS has reused this image from the GTX 970 Mini launch, and so have I
The product page is up on the ASUS website so availability seems imminent.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 30, 2015 - 03:03 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: visionx, SFF, radeon, m270x, haswell, asrock, amd
ASRock has unleashed an update to its small form factor VisionX series. The new VisionX 471D adds a faster Haswell processor and dedicated Radeon mobile graphics to the mini PC.
The 7.9” x 7.9” x 2.8” PC chassis comes in black or silver with rounded corners. External I/O is quite expansive with a DVD optical drive, two audio jacks, one USB 3.0 port, one MHSL* port (MHL compatible port that carries both data and video), and a SD card reader on the front. Further, the back of the PC holds the following ports:
- 5 x Analog audio jacks
- 1 x Optical audio out
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet jack
- 802.11ac (2 antennas)
- 5 x USB 3.0
- 1 x USB 2.0
- 1 x eSATA
ASRock has gone with the Intel Core i7-4712MQ processor. This is a 37W Haswell quad core (with eight threads) clocked at up to 3.3GHz. Graphics are handled by the AMD Radeon R9 M270X which is a mobile “Venus” GCN-based GPU with 1GB of memory. The 28nm GPU with 640 cores, 40 TMUs, and 16 ROPs is clocked at 725 MHz base and up to 775 MHz boost. The PC further supports two SO-DIMMS, two 2.5” drives, one mSATA connector, and the above-mentioned DVD drive (DL-8A4SH-01 comes pre-installed).
The VisionX 471D is a “barebones” system where you will have to provide your own OS but does come with bundled storage and memory. Specifically, for $999, the SFF computer comes with 8GB of DDR3 memory, a 2TB mechanical hard drive, and a 256GB mSATA SSD (the ASint SSDMSK256G-M1 using a JMF667 controller and 64GB 20nm IMFT NAND). This leaves room for one additional 2.5” drive for expansion. Although it comes without an operating system, it does ship with a Windows Media Center compatible remote.
This latest addition to the VisionX series succeeds the 420D and features a faster processor. At the time of this writing, the PC is not available for purchase, but it is in the hands of reviewers (such as this review from AnandTech) and will be coming soon to retailers for $999 USD.
The price is on the steep side especially compared to some other recent tiny PCs, but you are getting a top end mobile Haswell chip and good I/O for a small system with enough hardware to possibly be "enough" PC for many people (or at least a second PC or a HTPC in the living room).
Subject: Motherboards | January 17, 2015 - 05:22 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SFF, nuc, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel
Bay Trail-M has been at the heart of several interesting micro-PC products in the past few months, but the limitations of the SoC have thus far kept these ultra-low power devices from becoming serious PC contenders. New products with AMD APUs look promising, and we will see how they perform once they become available. Meanwhile, Intel might be changing the mini-PC landcape soon with a new motherboard form-factor.
It doesn't have a name but the 5.5" square board looks like a smaller version of a thin mini-ITX design, with flush mounted DIMM slots and support for M.2 SSD storage. SemiAccurate is reporting that "it will support up to 16GB of DDR3L, an M.2 SSD and 2.5″ HD, 4x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, GbE, audio, and Wi-Fi". A mini-ITX board on the other hand, though slightly larger at 6.7" x 6.7", has the advantage of supporting full-size GPUs (except the thin-mini variant). But when size and power consumption are the primary concern the lack of PCIe expansion is less important, and this sub-ITX board offers socketed CPU support rather than a soldered BGA solution, permitting customization and potentially offering a more desktop-like upgrade path.
No word on availability of the prototype board from Intel, which the report said was seen at this year's CES. It would make sense that Intel has learned from their experience with the NUC and created a smaller form-factor, but it remains to be seen whether such a product will enter the retail channel or become an OEM part.
Subject: Systems | January 2, 2015 - 11:50 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: zotac, zbox pico, zbox nano, zbox, SFF, mini-pc, EN860, E-Series, CI321, ces 2015, CES
As processors continue to shrink and power consumption dwindles to tablet-like numbers with the newest notebook computers, the mini-PC segment just gets more interesting. While the tiniest of these (ZBOX pico, ECS LIVA) might not be suitable for any heavy desktop use, ZOTAC is trying to cater to all needs with their new lineup for CES this year.
The ZBOX CI321 nano
First up is a new addition to the C-series mini-PC family, the ZBOX CI321 nano. This is powered by a dual-core Intel processor with dual Gigabit LAN, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and supports dual-channel memory. The CI321 nano is passively cooled for completely silent operation.
Next we have the next-generation ZBOX E-series gaming mini-PC:
The ZBOX EN860
The EN860 system adds G-SYNC support, multi display support (via DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI), and support for 4K @ 60 Hz (though at what kind of framerates we will have to wait and see).
A look at the back of the EN860
Finally we have the second edition of the tiny ZBOX pico, a mini-PC that resembles a small external hard drive:
The current-gen ZBOX pico
The new version of the pico is set to offer both AMD and Intel versions with dual-display support, Gigabit Ethernet, and USB 3.0.
No specifics on hardware components for these new ZBOX units just yet, but we'll keep you updated once the show begins and more details emerge.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Motherboards | December 16, 2014 - 04:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: z97, ECS, GANK, Z97I-Drone, mini ITX, SFF
We haven't seen an ECS DRONE board here since Morry reviewed the Z87GH3-A3X last January but the series is still alive. MadShrimps wrapped up a review of the newer ECS Z97I-Drone, a Mini-ITX board which should soon be available for under $100. The board will support DDR3-3000 and M.2 storage as well as being designed with 5-Phase PWM and ICY Chokes and other features that first appeared on higher end boards but are now available at the lower end as well. Since it is a Micro-ITX board there is only room for a single PCIe 3.0 16x slot which does limit the system somewhat but still performs up to spec. Check out the full review to see if this is a board you want to build a SFF system with.
"ECS does not disappoint with the release of the cheap ECS Z97I-Drone which allows installation of a powerful Haswell processor which can be paired with RAM up to 16GB and eventually a potent VGA card inside the provided PCI Express x16 slot; be warned however that using a beefy CPU cooler will likely cover the PCI-Express slot completely so we would recommend either sticking with the stock Intel cooler or adopting an all-in-one water cooling solution, which is so accessible these days."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock Z97 Anniversary Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- MSI X99S MPower @ Kitguru
- Asus A88X-Gamer @ Kitguru
- MSI B85M ECO Micro ATX Motherboard Review @HiTech Legion
- Gigabyte H81M-S2PH Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets