Thermaltake's new case proves that good things can come in small packages

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 26, 2011 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: SFF, mITX

The Thermaltake Element Q Mini-ITX case measures just 13" x 8.7" x 5.1" but still manages to have space for a DVD/BluRay drive along with the rest of the required parts of your PC, though you are going to have a hard time using anything but onboard graphics.  The price is also small, $65 for a miniITX case is a great deal, especially when it looks as good as teh Element Q.  For any sort of SFF or HTPC project this case is a great way to start; as The Tech Report proves in their recent review.

TR_ElementQ .jpg

"For just $65, Thermaltake's Element Q Mini-ITX chassis offers a 200W PSU, support for 5.25" optical drives, and subtle styling reminiscent of the Golf GTI. We take a closer look to see if this really is the PC equivalent of a hot hatchback."

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CASES & COOLING

When small is better, Wesena's ITX2 Mini-ITX HTPC Chassis

Subject: Systems | August 16, 2011 - 07:02 PM |
Tagged: Wesena, ITX2 Mini-ITX, SFF, htpc

The Wesena ITX2 Mini-ITX chassis is only 197x197×75mm (7.8"x7.8"x3") and is bundled with a small Media Center remote but no power supply, unfortunately.  Missing Remote loved the brushed aluminium look and were very impressed with the compact interior, there is no wasted space at all.  That does make things a little toasty inside during the burn in test using a Core i3-540, so be warned that a lower power chip is a good idea and makes sense for a machine that will strictly be used as an HTPC.  Take a look at the full review.

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"The quest for the perfect and smallest home theater PC (HTPC) is one that has gained momentum over the last few years. We have seen the proliferation of these small form factor (SFF) Mini-ITX cases first hand in our reviews of the Habey EMC-600B and another offering from Wesena, the ITX7 chassis. The Wesena ITX2 is essentially the little brother of the ITX7, sharing many similarities to it but in an even smaller enclosure. As with any device there are compromises made when making something small even smaller, but do the benefits along with the lower cost make the ITX2 the best option."

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HTPC

Zotac has zee box for SFF fans

Subject: Systems | August 11, 2011 - 11:47 AM |
Tagged: htpc, zotac, zbox, SFF

For those looking for a new nettop, the ZBOX HD-AD02 Plus is a new choice on the market. At a mere 7.4" x 7.4" x 1.7", it is easily hidden in any surroundings and with a list of connections including analog and optical audio out, HDMI, DVI, two USB 2.0 ports, ethernet, and most importantly two USB 3.0 and a single eSATA port.  With a 250GB HDD installed, that means you can have access to high speed external storage.  The system uses an AMD E-350 which means that not only will you be able to play HD video without worry you will be able to get some light gaming in as well.  Head on over to ThinkComputers to see the new ZBOX in action.

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"All-in-One PC’s have been getting quite popular over the past few years. When Intel released the Atom processor we really saw All-in-One PC’s become affordable. One of the most popular All-in-One series of PC’s is Zotac’s ZBOX. These really appealed to the SFF (Small Form Factor) and HTPC (Home Theater PC) crowd. Now Zotac is bringing AMD’s Fusion E-350 APU in to the ZBOX’s series. Today we will be taking a look at the ZBOX HD-AD02 Plus that packs the E-350 1.6GHz APU as well as integrated Radeon HD 6310 graphics, 2GB of DDR3, 250GB hard drive and WiFi. Let's take a look and see if it is the perfect SFF system for you!"

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Systems

Pick up the Habey EMC-600B HTPC case for under $100

Subject: Systems | June 24, 2011 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: SFF, mITX, htpc, case

One challenge when building an HTPC is finding an enclosure that won't end up being half of the cost of building the machine.  You could use a cheap SFF case but it will look a little gauche when sitting beside your other home theatre equipment.  Habey now offers a choice with a $70 case and 120W PSU combo that would blend seamlessly into a living room with the new EMC-600B.  There were compromises made in the design to keep the costs low, the most important of which is the lack of anywhere to put an optical drive which is exacerbated by the lack of any extra USB ports on the case.  If that doesn't completely deter you then check out Missing Remote's full review.

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"The Wesena ITX7, HDPlex H10.ODD and Vidabox vCase3 are all great cases with a direct focus on HTPC aesthetics and each has their pros and cons. The one con almost always present when discussing HTPC chassis is PRICE--SFF chassis with home theater A/V focused designs are frequently over the $100 price range, not including the power supply. What Habey is offering in their EMC-600B enclosure is a stylish aluminum SFF chassis for mini-ITX only that occupies a tiny footprint with a nice appearance to fit just as appropriately in your A/V stack as in your bedroom--and it includes a power supply, all for under $70."

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Systems

Habley Shows Off Small Atom PC Capable Of Playing Two 1080p HD Streams

Subject: Processors, Systems | June 12, 2011 - 08:57 PM |
Tagged: SFF, Intel, htpc, hd, DIY, atom

Habley has recently shown off a new small, embedded computer dubbed the SOM-6670E6XX. The new computer is the size of a post-it note; however, it sports an Atom E600 processor running at 1.0Gh as well as an integrated GMA600 graphics core. To be more specific, the motherboard in question measures 70mm x 70mm.

The CPU and GPU blend is able to support two displays and pipe two HD video streams to each. Using Media Player Class Home Cinema 1.5, the computer is able to play both a 1080p MPEG4 trailer of the X-Men First Class film and a HD FLV version of SpiderWic simultaneously. While playing both films, the CPU saw around 93% usage and 210 MB of RAM from the Windows Embedded 2009 operating system. Further, while playing an HD FLV film trailer while also watching an HD YouTube clip, the processor was again pegged at 93% usage; however, in this test the RAM usage was much higher, at 422 MB. The test system used, in addition to the SOM-6670, it consisted of a SOMB-073 Carrier board (which provides the various IO including video and audio output, mouse and keyboard input, and SATA ports), 1GB of on-board RAM, and a 5400RPM laptop form factor (2.5”) 120GB hard drive.

Including the two monitors, at 1280x768 (over HDMI) and 1920x1080 (SDVO) respectively, the system drew 18 watts during usage. You can see the test system of the small HD-capable computer in action in the video below. What uses do you have in mind for a micro-sized computer such as this?

Source: MaximumPC

Xi3 Announces The First Chrome OS Based Desktop PC

Subject: Systems | May 24, 2011 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: Xi3, SFF, PC, ChromeOS

ChromiumPC_photo.jpg

Xi3, the makers of a series of small form factor module based computers, is launching a Chrome OS based desktop computer which they have dubbed the ChromiumPC. The ChromiumPC will be based on similar "module" technology to that in their current Xi3 computers. They have broken the traditional motherboard down into three parts and fitted them into an aluminum chasis measuring "4.0- x 3.656- x 3.656-inches." The PC will use either a single or dual core 64-bit, x86 based CPU. The device is slated for a July 4th, 2011 release, and will be generally available in the second half of the year.

If this small form factor PC is priced right, it may prove to be a popular option for schools, businesses, and people wanting a second PC.  Are you interested in desktop PCs running cloud based operating systems?

Source: Xi3