Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 9, 2016 - 02:16 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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!).
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).
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.
Introduction and Case Exterior
The Define Mini C is the micro-ATX variant in Fractal Design's excellent Define series, and this compact chassis is nearly as small as some of the mini-ITX cases we've looked at in recent months. The advantages of micro-ATX for a small form-factor build are undeniable, including added expansion slots (and multi-GPU support), and more robust power delivery for greater CPU flexibility including AMD socket AM3/AM3+ support.
I freely admit to being a small form-factor enthusiast myself, and as much as I like mini-ITX, there are times when micro-ATX just makes sense. I mentioned AMD compatibility above, but even if you're building with Intel there are reasons to consider mATX. One of these is Intel's enthusiast platform, as X99 requires at least a micro-ATX board for quad-channel memory and greater PCIe flexibility. (Naturally, at least one mITX X99 board is available, but this is limited to a pair of memory slots and - of course - has just one PCIe slot.)
As soon as I unpacked the Define Mini C, I knew it would make a perfect home for the EVGA X99 Micro2 motherboard I had on hand. This micro-ATX board makes a compelling argument for the smaller form-factor, as very little is lost vs. full ATX. The Mini C (which sounds like the name of a mini-ITX product, but Fractal's mITX variant is the called Nano S - which I reviewed a few months back) should make a great home for a powerful compact system. Let's get started!
Subject: Motherboards | October 1, 2016 - 11:20 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Zen, micro ATX, Excavator, Bristol Ridge, b350, amd, AM4
Thanks to a recent leak over at Bodnara.co.kr (which has since been taken down), pictures emerged online that give a first look at an AMD socket AM4 motherboard using the mid-range B350 chipset. The Gigabyte B350M-DS3H is a Micro ATX motherboard supporting Bristol Ridge processors at launch and Zen-based processors next year.
The mid-range AM4 board has a very simple layout that leaves little mystery. There are no large heatsinks and no northbridge thanks to AMD moving most of the connectivity to the SoC itself. In fact there is only a small passively cooled chip in the bottom right corner (the B350 chipset) that between the SoC and it can offer up PCI-E 3.0, SATA 6.0, USB 3.1, USB 3.0, NVMe SSD, and DDR4 memory support. This post outlines how the duties are split between the processor and southbridge.
The B350M-DS3H is powered by a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS and Gigabyte is using a seven phase VRM to power the processor and memory. The board hosts a 1331 pin AM4 socket up top with four DDR4 slots to the right. The CMOS battery is placed just above the PCI-E slots in a position that Morry would be proud of (so long as your CPU cooler is not too massive). Below that are two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (electrically x16/x4 or x8/x8), a single PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, and a NVMe M.2 (PCI-E) slot. The bottom right corner of the board hosts six SATA 6 Gbps ports.
Rear I/O on the AMD motherboard includes:
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x PS/2
- 3 x Video Outputs
- 1 x VGA
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 3.1
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 3 x Audio Jacks
Several websites are reporting that AMD will be unleashing the floodgates of socket AM4 motherboards using the A320 and B350 chipsets in October (it is saving the launch of the enthusiast X370 chipset for next year alongside Summit Ridge). I have to say that it is nice to see an AMD motherboard with updated I/O which is a nice change from the ancient 990X AM3+ platform and even the FM2+ motherboards which were newer but still .ot as full featured as the competition.
- AMD Officially Launches Bristol Ridge Processors And Zen-Ready AM4 Platform
- Report: AMD Socket AM4 Compatible with Existing AM2/AM3 Coolers
- AMD Zen Architecture and Performance Preview
- AMD Introduces 7th Generation APUs: Bristol Ridge Takes Center Stage
Prefer your GTX 1060 to arrive packaged in a full system? Overclockers UK can do that with the Titan Neutron
Subject: Systems | July 19, 2016 - 06:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gtx 1060, gainward, GTX 1060 Dual, micro ATX, Overclockers UK, Titan Neutron
Gainward chose a confusing name for their new card, the GTX 1060 Dual, which seems to refer to either the two fans or the two slots it occupies; it is not a secret SLI version. The Micro ATX system is built in a Raijintek Styx Classic case with a Core i5-6400, 8GB DDR-4 2400MHz and strangely a hybrid 1TB Seagate 7200rpm drive with and 8GB MLC cache. On the other hand the packaging material includes some Haribo candies. Kitguru tested it out for performance as well as sound, being a Micro ATX system after all and found that for the price of £900 it was not a bad deal at all. Check out the Overclockers UK Titan Neutron if you are on that side of the pond, or keep the specs in mind if you are shopping around over here in North America.
"The exponential evolution of gaming graphics shows no signs of abating. We have already seen a plethora of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 cards (most recently from MSI), our first taste of the more modestly specified GTX 1060 comes installed in a complete system from Overclockers UK, the Titan Neutron Micro-ATX Gaming PC."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- ECS LIVA Core Mini-PC @ techPowerUp
- PC Specialist Hyperion Master @ Kitguru
- Fierce PC eSports Imperial Overlord @ Kitguru
Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 15, 2014 - 12:49 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF case, SFF, mini ITX, micro ATX, aerocool
A Taiwanese company called Aerocool Advanced Technologies (with a US disivision known as Aerocool US) recently unboxed a cube-shaped computer case that is both colorful and practical. The new Xpredator Cube joins the existing Xpredator lineup as a small form factor (micro ATX or mini ITX) option that comes in Red, Black, Orange, White, and Green color options for $125.90.
Measuring 280x418x412mm, the Xpredator Cube has a futuristic design with lots of sharp angles. Large “shell like” adjustable vents align along the top of the case along with a storage compartment and the front Io panel. The front of the case is dominated by a large mesh intake vent with angled sides and a single 5.25” bay. The left side features a side panel window that shows off the top half of the case (motherboard area).
Front IO on the Xpredator Cube includes two USB 3.0 ports, two audio jacks, a power button, and two fan speed dials for the built in fan controller (maximum of 15W per channel).
The aesthetics are welcome, but the internals are where the small form factor cube shines. The new Xpredator series case is divided into two main compartments. A horizontal divider holds the horizontally mounted removable motherboard tray. The tray matches the external color of the case while the rest of the case internals (minus the tool-less drive rails) is black. It features a CPU cutout and multiple rubber grommets to facilitate cable routing. The case has four exposed PCI slots that can support graphics cards up to 320mm in length (or 345mm with the front case fan removed). The case can accommodate tower coolers up to 187mm tall or an internally mounted water cooling radiator up to 280mm (sans optical drive). Alternatively, the case has two water cooling grommets to support a larger external radiator.
Bundled cooling include a 200mm front intake fan (800 RPM, 53.4 CFM, 26.5dBA) and a single 140mm exhaust fan (1200 RPM, 5948 CFM, 27.6 dBA). From there, users can add up three additional 140mm fans. The top of the case has angled vents that can be opened or closed with a slider on the left edge.
The bottom half of the case has space for a vertically mounted power supply and a tool-less hard drive bay that can hold three 3.5” or 2.5” drives. The case has a vent on the right side of the case for the power supply fan along with a removable magnetic dust filter. In addition to the hard drive bay, users can fit two 2.5” solid state drives under the 5.25” bay.
Aerocool further includes rubber pads for the power supply and hard drives to reduce shock which is nice considering the LAN party readiness of this case.
The new case was not available for purchase at the time of writing, but it should be for sale soon with a MSRP of $125.90.
The Aerocool Xpredator Cube looks to be a nice looking, easy to build in case. I’m looking forward to the full reviews of course, but if it holds up to the specifications it should be a popular small form factor option!
Subject: Motherboards | March 6, 2014 - 02:44 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mini ITX, micro ATX, Kabini, GCN, FS1B, biostar, AM1
Biostar has officially launched three new AM1 platform motherboards that support AMD's latest Kabini-based desktop SoC. The new Biostar hardware falls under the new AM1M series and includes the micro ATX AM1m-HP board and two mini ITX boards: the AM1MH and AM1ML.
All three boards feature a FS1B SoC socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, two SATA III 6Gbps ports, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (running at x4 speeds), one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, Gigabit Ethernet, and 5.1 channel audio. The micro ATX AM1M-HP adds a legacy PCI slot to the mix. In an interesting twist, Biostar has oriented the memory horizontally above the FS1B socket rather than vertically and to the right of the socket.
Rear I/O on the AM1M-HP and AM1MH boards includes:
- 2 x PS/2
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x VGA
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x RJ45 (GbE)
- 3 x analog audio
The other mini ITX board (the AM1ML) has the same rear IO configuration minus the HDMI video output.
Biostar has not released pricing or availability information, but the boards should ship sometime in mid-April.
Subject: Motherboards | March 6, 2014 - 01:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, mini ITX, micro ATX, Kabini, FS1B, asrock, AM1
ASRock has joined the AM1 Platform fray with three of its own FS1B socketed motherboards: the AM1B-M, AM1B-ITX, and AM1H-ITX. The new motherboards come in Mini ITX and Micro ATX form factors that support all of Kabini’s I/O options including USB 3.0, SATA III, and PCI-E 2.0 connections.
The two mini ITX motherboards (the AM1B-ITX and AM1H-ITX) feature a FS1B SoC socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, four SATA III 6Gbps ports, and a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot running at PCI-E 2.0 x4. ASRock is using two SATA III ports from the Kabini SoC and two SATA III ports from an ASMedia ASM1061 chipset. Both boards utilize the Realtek RTL8111GR NIC to provide gigabit Ethernet.
The AM1H-ITX board builds upon the features of the AM1B-ITX by adding a mini PCI-E connector. While the AM1B-ITX uses a 5.1 channel Realtek ALC662 chipset, the AM1H-ITX uses a 7.1 channel ALC892 chipset that supports both analog and optical S/PDIF outputs.
Beyond the mini ITX boards, ASRock is launching the micro ATX AM1B-M. This board features the FS1B Kabini SoC socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots (16GB @ 1600MHz), two SATA III 6Gbps ports, a PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (running at x4), and a PCI-E x1 slot. The board further offers Gigabit Ethernet and 5.1 channel audio. Noticeably absent is the additional ASMedia chipset that adds two SATA III ports.
Additionally, the three boards have internal headers for extra USB ports and TPM security chips (the exact configuration of which depends on the specific board). The table below breaks down the basic differences between the boards.
|ASRock AM1B-M||ASRock AM1B-ITX||ASRock AM1H-ITX|
|Memory||2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz)||2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz)||2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz)|
1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16 (@ x 4)
1 x PC-E 2.0 x1 (@ x 1)
|1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16 (@ x 4)||
1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16
1 x mPCI-E
|Storage||2 x SATA III||
2 x SATA III from Kabini SoC
2 x SATA III from ASMedia ASM1061
2 x SATA III from Kabini SoC
2 x SATA III from ASMedia ASM1061
|Audio||Realtek ALC662||Realtek ALC662||Realtek ALC892|
As with the other AMD hardware partners, ASRock has not released pricing or availability information. You can expect the micro ATX to be the cheapest of the bunch, with the two mini ITX boards commanding a slight premium for their reduced size and bolstered I/O options. The boards with four SATA III ports would make for great home server options by not requiring a PCI-E card to connect more than two SATA drives. The boards will support Athlon and Sempron branded AMD Kabini SoCs, and the combination of a board and SoC will cost approximately $60 according to AMD.
While the AM1 Platform is restricted to single channel memory (a Kabini memory controller limitation) versus Bay Trail's dual channel memory support, the AM1 Platform offers SATA 6Gbps and a GCN-based graphics part. Bay Trail may have a leg up in memory bandwidth and TDPs, socketed Kabini offers more storage bandwidth and graphics performance. I'm interested to see how the two platform stack up, and what the new boards are able to do.
Subject: Motherboards | February 28, 2014 - 01:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, A58, Kaveri, FM2+, micro ATX, atx
MSI has launched three new low cost FM2+ motherboards based around AMD's budget A58 chipset. The new boards include an ATX form factor MSI A58-G41 PC Mate and two micro ATX boards: the A58M-E35 and the A58M-E33. The boards are compatible with AMD's Richland, Trinity, and Kaveri APUs and support PCI-E 3.0. The cost savings come from using the A58 chipset which drops support for SATA III 6Gpbs and USB 3.0. The boards further have smaller heatsinks and fewer overclocking features. Despite the restrictions, the new MSI A58 FM2+ motherboards still incorporate MSI's OC Genie 4, Click BIOS 4, and Command Center technologies along with the company's Military Class 4 hardware components.
The MSI A58-G41 PC Mate is an ATX form factor board with an FM2+ CPU socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, six SATA II 3Gbps ports, two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, two PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, and three legacy PCI expansion slots. Rear IO on this board includes two PS/2 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, a single Gigabit LAN port, three analog audio jacks, and three video outputs (HDMI, VGA, and DVI).
The Micro ATX A58M-E35 also has an FM2+ socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, and six SATA II ports, but the expansion slot layout is scaled down. There is a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, and one PCI slot. Rear IO on this board is identical to the A58-G41 board above (six USB 2.0, two PS/2, one GbE port, three audio, and three video outputs).
Finally, MSI's lowest-end A58M-E33 is a Micro ATX board similar in layout to the A58-E35, but with fewer port options. The expansion slot and memory slot configuration stays the same as the E35, but there are two fewer SATA II ports (four total) and two fewer USB 2.0 ports on the rear IO panel. Speaking of I/O, the board is similar to the E35 except that it lacks a DVI video output and two USB 2.0 ports.
MSI has not yet released exact pricing, but expect these boards to be well under $100, and the two micro ATX variants to be closer to the $50 mark based on prices of the higher-end A78 and A88 chipset-based motherboards. All three will be available for purchase later this year.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 7, 2013 - 05:28 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mini-itx, mini ITX, micro ATX, anidees, aluminum case
Anidees (roughly translates to "ideas" in English) recently launched a new PC case for micro ATX or mini ITX motherboards called the AI-4B. It is a steel and aluminum chassis measuring 429 x 186 x 420mm (HxWxD) and weighing 6.06 kg. Its design is somewhat similar to the company's previous AI-6 mid-tower case and includes curved edges and a black textured exterior. The front of the case is covered by a door that can be made to hinge from the left or right side, depending on user preference. Behind the door is a large mesh vent with removable dust filter that holds two 120mm Nano Tech fans (which come bundled with the case).
The front IO is located on the top of the case and includes two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and two analog audio jacks (mic and headphone).
The interior of the case is also all black. Features include five PCI slots, support for a top-mounted ATX PSU, and space for two 5.25" drives and four 3.5" drives. Other features include cable clips to aid in cable management, anti-vibration rubber mounting options for the fans and hard drives to reduce noise, and optional sound dampening material.
The Anidees AI-4B supports graphics cards up to 318mm in length and CPU coolers up to 168mm tall. Cooling options include two 120mm fans in the front and a single 120mm fan in the rear of the case. Anidees packs in three 120mm Nano Tech fans, which come pre-installed. The fans are connected to a fan controller (located under the front IO panel) that will run the fans at one of three selectable speeds.
The new Micro ATX chassis is available now in Europe for 79.90 Euros or 79.99 pounds (UK). The SKU with sound dampening material is 10 Euros or 10 pounds more at 89.90 Euros or 89.99 pounds. These prices translate to approximately $103 for the base model or $115 for the model with sound dampening material. The AI-4B is available now from Caseking or Amazon in Europe. Direct US availability and pricing has not yet been announced, but if it really strikes your fancy it should be possible to import it for a slight premium and shipping costs via Amazon or other retailers.
Subject: Motherboards | January 9, 2013 - 07:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, micro ATX, mATX, fm2, ces 2013, CES, APU, amd, a85xma-p33
MSI announced a new micro ATX motherboard at CES this week. Aimed at supporting AMD’s APUs, the MSI A85XMA-P33 is a socket FM2 motherboard that is replacing the company’s existing A75MA-P33 motherboard. The new A85XMA-P33 is nearly identical to the previous board, but it uses AMD’s A85X chipset rather than the A75.
The A85XMA-P33 features the FM2 socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, and six SATA 6 Gbps ports. It also has one legacy PCI slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, and a single PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot.
Rear IO on the micro ATX motherboard includes two PS/2 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports (plus an additional 2 via motherboard header), three (6 channel) audio jacks, and a gigabit Ethernet port. Display outputs include a single DVI and a single VGA connector.
Other features include a five phase VRM and a UEFI BIOS. No official pricing has been announced yet, but you can expect it to be around the $70 mark. MSI has posted more photos and specifications on its website.
Read more about micro ATX motherboards at PC Perspective.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
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