Introduction: The HTPC Slims Down
There are many reasons to consider a home theater PC (HTPC) these days, and aside from the full functionality of a personal computer an HTPC can provide unlimited access to digital content from various sources. “Cord-cutting”, the term adopted for cancelling one’s cable or satellite TV service in favor of streaming content online, is gaining steam. Of course there are great self-contained solutions for streaming like the Roku and Apple TV, and one doesn't have to be a cord-cutter to use an HTPC for TV content, as CableCard users will probably tell you. But for those of us who want more control over our entertainment experience the limitless options provided by a custom build makes HTPC compelling. Small form-factor (SFF) computing is easier than ever with the maturation of the Mini-ITX form factor and decreasing component costs.
The Case for HTPC
For many prospective HTPC builders the case is a major consideration rather than an afterthought (it certainly is for me, anyway). This computer build is not only going into the most visible room in many homes, but the level of noise generated by the system is of concern as well. Clearly, searching for the perfect enclosure for the living room can be a major undertaking depending on your needs and personal style. And as SFF computing has gained popularity in the marketplace there are a growing number of enclosures being introduced by various manufacturers, which can only help in the search for the perfect case.
A manufacturer new on the HTPC enclosure scene is a company called Perfect Home Theater, a distributor of high-end home theater components. The enclosures from P.H.T. are slick looking aluminum designs supporting the gamut of form-factors from ATX all the way down to thin mini-ITX. The owner of Perfect Home Theater, Zygmunt Wojewoda, is also the designer of the ultra low-profile enclosure we’re looking at today, the T-ITX-6.
As you can see it is a wide enclosure, built to match the width of standard components. And it’s really thin. Only 40mm tall, or 48mm total including the feet. Naturally this introduces more tradeoffs for the end user, as the build is strictly limited to thin mini-ITX motherboards. Though the enclosure is wide enough to theoretically house an ATX motherboard, the extremely low height would prevent it.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | March 21, 2013 - 01:52 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: galileo, newton, akasa, nuc, case, thin mini-itx
FanlessTech recently spotted two new fan-less and small form factor cases from Akasa ahead of the official launch. The Akasa Galileo and Akasa Newton are compatible with thin Mini-ITX and Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) motherboards respectively.
Both cases are constructed of aluminum, have VESA mounting holes, and double as a fan-less heatsink for your components. The Galileo is 37mm thick and can cool processors rated up to a 35W TDP. The Newton is a small case with fins around the sides to increase surface area (for better cooling capability), and aesthetic flair.
According to Fanless Tech, the two PC cases will be officially unveiled at Computex in Taipei, Taiwan this summer. There is no word on pricing or when they will be available for purchase, however.
Subject: Motherboards | February 22, 2013 - 03:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thin mini-itx, mini ITX, gigabyte, AIO
Gigabyte recently launched two new motherboards that conform to the Thin Mini-ITX specification. This new spec is essentially Mini-ITX but keeps heatsinks and rear IO height to a minimum--allowing for thinner All-In-One PCs and HTPC chassis. The two new boards are the GA-H77TN and GA-B75TN, and they support Intel Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processors, SODIMMs, and mSATA SSDs. Considering the boards measure a mere 17cm x 17cm and are 2.5cm high, it is a lot of power in a small package (I can hear Josh laughing on the podcast next week already).
The GA-H77TN (rev. 1.1) motherboard is based on the Intel H77 chipset while the GA-B75TN (rev. 1.1) is based on the Intel B75 chipset. They boards are fairly similar, but the cheaper B75 chipset does not support as many SATA 6Gbps ports. Both boards use laptop-style DDR3 SODIMM memory at up to 8GB of dual channel DDR3 1600 and either an Intel Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processor. Also, both thin mini ITX motherboards include a PCI-E 3.0 x4 expansion slot (up to 25W), mini PCI-E slot, and mSATA expansion slot.
The motherboards also include support for Intel’s onboard CPU graphics (ie. HD 4000) and Realtek ALC887 audio codecs. The video oputs include HDMI 1.3, DisplayPort, and LVDS, with DisplayPort providing support for up to 2560x1600 resolutions. The onboard audio chip can support 7.1 channel audio, but only when using the front panel audio.
Rear IO on both the GA-H77TN and GA-B75TN includes;
- 1 x DC-input
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet jack
3 x Video outputs
- 1 x HDMI 1.3 @ 1920x1200
- 1 x DisplayPort @ 2560x1600
- 1 x LVDS
- 4 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x audio jacks (line in/out)
The Gigabyte GA-H77TN has two SATA 6Gbps ports, two SATA 3Gbps ports, and one mSATA port. On the other hand, the GA-B75TN supports a single SATA 6Gbps port, three SATA 3Gbps ports, and one mSATA port.
The two thin mini-ITX motherboards should be available for purchase soon, but there is no word on a specific release date. While currently listed as out of stock on Newegg, the site does provide a hint at pricing. The GA-H77TN has a price of $125 while the GA-B75TN is retailing for approximately $110. Thin Mini-ITX cases are somewhat rare, but the form factor can certain enable some neat designs and the more motherboards avaialble, the more likely it is that new thin chassis will be developed.
The full press release is below: