Watch Ken and Allyn (eventually) build the Geeek A50 ITX chassis

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2018 - 04:40 PM |
Tagged: sffpc, SFF, itx, i7-8086k, geeek, b350-i, a50

Apropos of nothing, we decided to turn the studio cameras on this Friday morning and livestream our assembly of the Geeek A50 Mini ITX chassis for an upcoming review.

Join us as we build, and rebuild the chassis from in all of it's aluminum extrusion and acrylic panel glory while answering questions from the chat room along the way. Just try not to be too frustrated when we obviously are messing it all up.

Source: Geeek

ASRock's X299-ITX/ac, tiny and flexible

Subject: Motherboards | January 22, 2018 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: itx, asrock, x299-itx/ac, Intel, SFF

ASRock's X299-ITX/ac is a decent choice to build a tiny system with, offering a wide variety of features as well as the ability to trim some of them off if you do not need them.  There are two removable PCBs, one which holds the SATA ports as well as a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 header while the second carries the LAN chips, a USB hub and your M.2 slots.  There may be cases in which removing one or the other makes room for other equipment in your enclosure, with the option to add them back later on.  You can see how the ~$400 board performs at TechPowerUp

board_front.jpg

"ASRock's X299-ITX/ac is that mini motherboard for Intel's X299 platform that takes all that is good and shoves it into a board smaller than a shoebox. With a triplet of M.2 ports and dual LAN chips, plus Wi-Fi, there's almost nothing missed, other than some PCIe slots, making this board an engineering feat only ASRock could accomplish."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: TechPowerUp

Biostar's ITX Ryzen motherboard in action; the X370GTN

Subject: Motherboards | June 19, 2017 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: itx, ryzen, biostar, Racing X370GTN, SFF

Barely the size of a Threadripper CPU, the Racing X370GTN ITX motherboard is a decent platform to build a Ryzen powered SFF system on.  Biostar kept the design fairly simple, to keep the costs down on this motherboard but don't worry, they did include RGB headers for 5050 RGB LED light strips and you can set up your personalized light show using the Racing GT utility.  Even with the compact design, Hardware Canucks were able to fully populate the two DIMM slots even with a Prolimatech Mega Shadow cooler installed, they did discover that users of AiO watercoolers will have to ensure to rotate the cooler to ensure the tubing does not block the closer DIMM however.  The M.2 slot has been relocated to the back of the motherboard due to the size constraints of the board which did not impact performance.  Pop by to take a look at this ~$110 motherboard if you are in the market for an ITX Ryzen system.

X370GTN-15a.jpg

"ITX motherboards have finally arrived for AMD's Ryzen and in this first review we look at Biostar's brand new Racing X370GTN. Can its diminutive size belie its true performance?"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

MSI's wee AERO ITX family of NVIDIA graphics cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 16, 2017 - 03:35 PM |
Tagged: msi, AERO ITX, gtx 1070, gtx 1060, gtx 1050, GTX 1050 Ti, SFF, itx

MSI have just release their new series of ITX compatible GPUs, covering NVIDIA's latest series of cards from the GTX 1050 through to the GTX 1070; the GTX 1080 is not available in this form factor.  The GTX 1070 and 1060 are available in both factory overclocked and standard versions.

ITX series.png

All models share a similar design, with a single TORX fan with 8mm Super Pipes and the Zero Frozr feature which stops the fan to give silent operation when temperatures are below 60C.  They are all compatible with the Afterburner Overclocking Utility, including recordings via Predator and wireless control from your phone. 

The overclocked cards run slightly over reference, from the GTX 1070 at 1721MHz boost, 1531MHz base with the GDDR5 at 8GHz to the GTX 1050 at 1518MHz boost, 1404MHz base and the GDDR5 at 7GHz.  The models which do not bear the OC moniker run at NVIDIA's reference clocks even if they are not quite fully grown.

Source: MSI

Jonsbo Will Release SFF VR2 mATX Case In Black, Silver, and Red

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 9, 2016 - 02:16 AM |
Tagged: SFF case, SFF, OEM, ODM, micro ATX, jonsbo, itx

Jonsbo, an OEM based in Hong Kong that also does ODM designs for other brands (such as Newegg’s house brand Rosewill) has announced a new Micro ATX chassis called the VR2. The upcoming small form factor case measures 14.9” x 9.4” x 15.8” and is constructed using an SGCC (cold rolled steel) frame along with 3mm thick aluminum-magnesium alloy body panels and 5mm tempered glass side panels on both the left and right sides. The case comes in black, silver, and red.

Jonsbo VR2 SFF mATX Case_Red.jpg

The SFF VR2 case uses a vertical motherboard design that places the rear IO, power supply input, and PCI slots at the top of the case. The cable clutter is hidden by the top panel of the case and cables are routed out of the back of the case. The vertical mounting design allows for larger graphics cards (up to 12.6" / 320mm) to be installed along with standard ATX power supplies up to 250mm long. Further, while we are on measurements, CPU coolers can be up to 190mm tall.

Further, the motherboard tray can hold either ITX or Micro ATX motherboards with four external PCI slots available for expansion cards.

Cooling is handled by two 120mm fans in the bottom and a single 120mm fan up top. Airflow is going to be restricted with this design, but according to Jonsbo the cooling setup will generate positive pressure and bring in enough cool air to keep things running smoothly even with the single exhaust fan that does not have a direct outside vent above it (we will have to see if reviews confirm these claims, of course!).

Jonsbo VR2 Silver SFF MATX Case Internals.jpg

The outside of the case is kept simple with subtle curved edges, rounded case feet, and clean front and top panels sans vents. There are two USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen 1) ports and two 3.5mm audio jacks nestled in the bottom right corner and a single silver power button in the top left corner of the front panel. Other than that, even the vents are hidden from view. The red version in particular is quite attractive. The left and right sides of the case feature tempered glass to show off your components as well as your awesome cable management behind the motherboard tray (it's not a rat's nest back there right?? heh).

Jonsbo VR2 Silver SFF MATX Case Cable Management.jpg

Internally, the Jonsbo VR2 has a motherboard tray with a very large CPU cutout and cable routing grommets along the bottom edge. This actually works out well except for perhaps the CPU power connector (the grommets are close to the bulky 24-pin and GPU inputs though). A modular power supply is a must though if you want a clean build though; there is no space to easily hide away unused cables.

The case has room for a total of four 2.5" drives and a single 3.5" drive with the 3.5" and two 2.5" SSDs in the main compartment and two SSD mounts behind the motherboard tray.

It is an interesting case from a company that I had not heard of before. More photos and specifications can be found on the company's website.

It is not clear whether we will see the Jonsbo branded version in the US soon or if we will have to wait for a US company to pick up the design and sell it under their own brand (or import it I suppose). Pricing and availability have not been announced yet, but hopefully more information will be released next month at CES.

Source: Jonsbo
Author:
Manufacturer: Sapphire

Big Things, Small Packages

Sapphire isn’t a brand we have covered in a while, so it is nice to see a new and interesting product drop on our door.  Sapphire was a relative unknown until around the release of the Radeon 9700 Pro days.  This was around the time when ATI decided that they did not want to be so vertically integrated, so allowed other companies to start buying their chips and making their own cards.  This was done to provide a bit of stability for ATI pricing, as they didn’t have to worry about a volatile component market that could cause their margins to plummet.  By selling just the chips to partners, ATI could more adequately control margins on their own product while allowing their partners to make their own deals and component choices for the finished card.

r9_285_itx_01.jpg

ATI had very limited graphics card production of their own, so they often would farm out production to second sources.  One of these sources ended up turning into Sapphire.  When ATI finally allowed other partners to produce and brand their own ATI based products, Sapphire already had a leg up on the competition by being a large producer already of ATI products.  They soon controlled a good portion of the marketplace by their contacts, pricing, and close relationship with ATI.

Since this time ATI has been bought up by AMD and they no longer produce any ATI branded cards.  Going vertical when it come to producing their own chips and video cards was obviously a bad idea, we can look back at 3dfx and their attempt at vertical integration and how that ended for the company.  AMD obviously produces an initial reference version of their cards and coolers, but allows their partners to sell the “sticker” version and then develop their own designs.  This has worked very well for both NVIDIA and AMD, and it has allowed their partners to further differentiate their product from the competition.

r9_285_itx_02.jpg

Sapphire usually does a bang up job on packaging the graphics card. Oh look, a mousepad!

Sapphire is not as big of a player as they used to be, but they are still one of the primary partners of AMD.  It would not surprise me in the least if they still produced the reference designs for AMD and then distributed those products to other partners.  Sapphire is known for building a very good quality card and their cooling solutions have been well received as well.  The company does have some stiff competition from the likes of Asus, MSI, and others for this particular market.  Unlike those two particular companies, Sapphire obviously does not make any NVIDIA based boards.  This has been a blessing and a curse, depending on what the cycle is looking like between AMD and NVIDIA and who has dominance in any particular marketplace.

Click here to read the entire Sapphire R9 285 ITX OC Review!

Author:
Manufacturer: MSI

Mini-ITX Sized Package with a Full Sized GPU

PC components seem to be getting smaller.  Micro-ATX used to not be very popular for the mainstream enthusiast, but that has changed as of late.  Mini-ITX is now the hot form factor these days with plenty of integrated features on motherboards and interesting case designs to house them in.  Enthusiast graphics cards tend to be big, and that is a problem for some of these small cases.  Manufacturers are responding to this by squeezing every ounce of cooling performance into smaller cards that more adequately fit in these small chassis.

msi760_01.jpg

MSI is currently offering their midrange cards in these mini-ITX liveries.  The card we have today is the GTX 760 Mini-ITX Gaming.  The GTX 760 is a fairly popular card due to it being fairly quick, but not too expensive.  It is still based on the GK104, though fairly heavily cut down from a fully functional die.  The GTX 760 features 1152 CUDA Cores divided into 6 SMXs.  A fully functional GK104 is 1536 CUDA Cores and 8 SMXs.  The stock clock on the GTX 760 is 980 MHz with a boost up to 1033 MHz.

The pricing for the GTX 760 cards is actually fairly high as compared to similarly performing products from AMD.  NVIDIA feels that they offer a very solid product at that price and do not need to compete directly with AMD on a performance per dollar basis.  Considering that NVIDIA has stayed very steady in terms of marketshare, they probably have a valid point.  Overall the GTX 760 performs in the same general area as a R9 270X and R9 280, but again the AMD parts have a significant advantage in terms of price.

The challenges for making a high performing, small form factor card are focused on power delivery and thermal dissipation.  Can the smaller PCB still have enough space for all of the VRMs required with such a design?  Can the manufacturer develop a cooling solution that will keep the GPU in the designed thermal envelope?  MSI has taken a shot at these issues with their GTX 760 Mini-ITX OC edition card.

Continue reading our review of the MSI GTX 760 Mini-ITX Graphics Card!!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: EVGA

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-board.jpg

Courtesy of EVGA

The EVGA Z87 Stinger is EVGA's Z87-based answer for the small form-factor crowd. Sporting the micro-ITX form factor, the board is featured packed and offers support for the latest generation of Intel LGA1150-based processors. While its MSRP of $229.99 may seem large for its small stature, the Z87 Stinger's feature list makes it well worth the outlay.

03-board-profile-1.jpg

Courtesy of EVGA

The EVGA Z87 Stinger board features a 6-phase power delivery system and an impressive 10 layer PCB. Additionally, EVGA designed the CPU socket with a higher amount of gold, as well as use of solid state capacitors throughout the board to ensure problem-free operation under all operational circumstances. The following features are integrated into the Z87 Stinger: 4 SATA 6Gb/s ports; 1 mPCIe/mSATA 6Gb/s port; 1 eSATA 6Gb/s port; an Intel GigE NIC; 1 PCI-Express x16 slot; on board power, reset, and BIOS reset buttons; BIOS Select switch; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

04-rear-panel.jpg

Courtesy of EVGA

Technical Specifications (taken from the EVGA website)

Performance

Based on Intel Z87 chipset

Memory

2 x 240-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 16GB of DDR3 (2666MHz+ in dual channel configuration)

Storage I/O

4 x Serial ATA 600MB/sec (4 Internal) with support for RAID 0 and RAID1

Expansion Slot

1 x16

Multi I/O

Audio connector (Line-in, Line-out, MIC)

Integrated Peripherals

6 Channel Creative Sound Core3D
1 x 10/100/1000 (Intel i217)

Form Factor

mITX Form Factor
Length: 6.7in - 170.18mm
Width: 6.7in - 170.18mm

Operating System Support

Windows 8 32/64bit
Windows 7 32/64bit
Windows Vista 32/64bit
Windows XP 32/64bit

Product Warranty

This product comes with a 3 year warranty. Registration is recommended.

Continue reading our review of the EVGA Z87 Stinger Mini ITX motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

board.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

The P8Z77X-I Deluxe is ASUS' high-powered answer to the small form factor crowd. Through some unique design decisions and an upright daughter-board, ASUS was able to cram a full 10-phase digital power delivery system into this board without sacrificing any other integrated components. It's nice to see a manufacturer step up and design a mini-ITX board in the same vein as its full-sized counterpart. We put the board through our normal gamut of tests to see how well this mighty Mini-ITX board sized up with its full-sized brethren. At a retail list price of $219, the P8Z77-I Deluxe needs to prove its worth against the full sized boards.

profile.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS designed a full 10 phases of digital power, housed in the board's upright daughter card sitting parallel to the CPU cooler. The P8Z77-I Deluxe with its high-end power plant is packed full of features, including SATA 2, SATA 3, e-SATA, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0 ports for storage devices. Networking capabilities include an Intel GigE NIC, a Broadcom dual-port 802.11n adapter, and a Broadcom Bluetooth adapter. The board also features a single PCI-Express x16 slot for graphics cards and other expansion cards.

rear-panel.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

Continue reading our review of the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard!

Podcast #230 - EVGA Stinger Z77 Mini ITX board, Our Holiday Gift Guide, Steam Box and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2012 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: Z77, valve, stinger, Steam Box, steam, podcast, pcper, itx, i7-4770k, haswell, gift guide, evga, Crysis 3, 4770k, video

PC Perspective Podcast #230 - 12/13/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the EVGA Stinger Z77 Mini ITX board, Our Holiday Gift Guide, Steam Box 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, Allyn Malventano and Chris Barbere

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:29:11

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. We are going to try Planetside 2 after the podcast!
  2. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:03:30 EVGA Stinger Z77 Mini-ITX Motherboard
    2. 0:06:45 Cutting the Cord Series
      1. Part 3 - Windows 7 Install and Setup
      2. Part 4 - Media Center Configuration
    3. 0:09:00 Seasonic G Series 360 watt PSU
    4. 0:11:30 PC Perspective Holiday Gift Guide!
  3. 0:40:15 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  4. News items of interest:
    1. 0:41:30 Transporter Private Storage
    2. 0:47:00 Intel will support sockets into foreseeable future as well
    3. 0:51:00 Crysis 3 will have advanced PC options
    4. 0:53:30 Valve Confirms the Steam Box is coming
    5. 1:06:15 Low power Atom chips for servers
    6. 1:10:20 ASRock Board with pass through for Thunderbolt
    7. 1:13:00 Haswell 4000 series CPUs will be 84 watt
  5. Closing:
    1. 1:16:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Lenovo X230 + Slice Battery
      2. Jeremy: ASUS VS229H-P Same in the US and Canada, though we get free shipping
      3. Josh: Intel 335 SSD for Cheap
      4. Allyn: iStarUSA BPU-126-SA
  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. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!