Subject: Motherboards | October 20, 2017 - 12:25 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X370-I Gaming, strix, small form factor, SFF, ryzen, motherboard, mITX, mini-itx, gaming, B350-I Gaming, amd, AM4
While Intel users have long enjoyed the option of a premium ASUS ROG mini-ITX experience, AMD Ryzen owners are now on equal footing with the annoucement of a pair of mITX gaming boards with premium features. ASUS has apparently been working on these for a while now, and they think they will be worth the wait.
"Mini-ITX boards are among the most difficult to produce. Their diminutive 6.7” x 6.7” dimensions leave little real estate for slots and ports, let alone the extra features that make ROG unique. We’re not willing to compromise your experience for a compact footprint, so it takes some time and creativity to make everything fit. But it’s worth the effort, because our new Strix X370-I Gaming and Strix B350-I Gaming motherboards for Socket AM4 raise the bar for small-form-factor Ryzen builds. They match the cutting-edge features of their full-sized siblings, including liquid-ready cooling and addressable RGB lighting, and they combine an M.2 SSD heatsink and amped-up audio on an innovative riser card."
The motherboards both feature a 6-phase VRM design, which ASUS says is the same as their full-sized AM4 motherboards, with memory support of up to DDR4-3600. One-click overclocking is provided via the ASUS "5-Way Optimization technology", which can calibrate fan curves in addition to tuning CPU speeds. Speaking of fans, there are three PWM fan headers, one of which is configured by default for a liquid cooling pump.
An interesting design choice was made in the interest of space, as the sound card (S1220A codec) and M.2 slot (PCIe Gen 3 x4) are part of a shared riser card:
"The Republic of Gamers has a history of working around Mini-ITX limitations by building up with additional circuit boards. Our Maximus Impact series made room for upgraded audio with a dedicated riser, and the Strix X370-I and B350-I Gaming go one step further with an M.2 Audio Combo card that contains both SupremeFX sound and M.2 storage. This small PCB is sandwiched between isolated heatsinks for an M.2 drive and the platform chipset, ensuring effective cooling without taking up too much space."
ASUS Aura Sync RGB lighting effects are on board, as is an 802.11ac Wi-Fi solution with 2x2 antenna and integrated Bluetooth. Connectivity includes a pair of USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports and four USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, Gigabit LAN, and multi-channel audio on the rear panel, with 4x SATA ports, the M.2 slot, and headers for both USB 3.0 and 2.0 onboard.
The ASUS ROG Strix X370-I and B350-I Gaming motherboards will "be available starting late-October in the United States with pricing to be released in the coming weeks" according to ASUS.
Introduction and Specifications
For Intel’s Z270 chipset ECS has a pair of motherboard options, with the ATX Z270-LIGHTSABER and mini-ITX Z270H4-I. We have a look at both of these offerings today.
The Z270-LIGHTSABER tries to live up to that name with customizable LED lighting around the board, which is controlled through the system setup. It boasts a 14-phase power delivery and all solid caps, and offers simplified overclocking through the ECS MIB X interface and Intel XMP 1.2 and 1.3 memory support. Additionally the LIGHTSABER offers comprehensive storage options with a PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot (Intel Optane is supported), U.2 port, and a full complement of SATA III ports. There is also a Killer E2500 NIC, and premium audio with a dedicated TI headphone amp, among the other features.
For its part the Z270H4-I packs many of the same features as its ATX cousin, though this mini-ITX motherboard only provides a 6-phase power design, and does not feature the LED lighting or dedicated headphone amp of the Z270-LIGHTSABER. It does provide the same full PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot with Intel Optane support, and while the Z270H4-I does not have a Killer NIC it replaces this with a pair including an Intel I-219V and Realtek LAN. The Z270H4-I also supports M.2 wireless cards and includes an optional pair of wireless antennae.
I installed my Core i7-7700K in both motherboards and in addition to some baseline benchmarks I tried out some casual overclocking and will provide general usage impressions with both boards.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 16, 2017 - 06:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tempered glass, PC-Q39, mini-itx, Lian Li
Lian Li have released an upgrade to the PC-Q37 with the new mini-ITX PC-Q39 with tempered glass side panel and a larger internal volume. The aluminium case will be large enough to fit a three slot GPU, with the extra width allowing a separated second chamber to house an ATX PSU of up to 160mm.
In addition to the PSU there is space for a pump and reservoir for watercooling as well as mounting points for two 3.5” and one 2.5” drive, allowing you to configure an unobstructed view of your components and he almost mandatory RGB LED lightshow which they produce. If you do chose to watercool, a radiator of up to 240mm can be mounted at the top while the bottom of the case will accommodate two 120mm fans or a single 140 fan.
The front panel has a minimalist design, the various connectors have been moved to the top of the case. There is now a USB 3.1 Type-C plug in addition to two USB 3.1 plugs, audio jacks and a power button. The shield at the top of the case is removable to make it easier to mount your fans or radiator as well as making it easy to clean.
The MSRP is $210 and it is available now at NewEgg and other fine retailers.
Click for the full PR.
Subject: Motherboards | May 31, 2017 - 09:34 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: x299, small form factor, SFF, motherboard, mini-itx, computex 2017, computex, asrock
ASRock was the only player in the mini-ITX Intel X99 motherboard space, and they are at it again with their X299E-ITX motherboard. This time around memory is not limited to a pair of desktop DIMMs as with the existing X99E-ITX/ac, as the new X299 board features quad-channel memory support thanks to a switch to SODIMMs.
The ASRock X299E-ITX Motherboard (Image credit: ComputerBase)
Among the specifications are support for 3200+ MHz DDR4, a PCIe Gen 3 x16 slot for graphics cards, networking via Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi and dual Intel NICs, a pair of USB 3.1 ports (Type-A and Type-C), six SATA 3 ports and a PCIe Gen 3 x4 compatible M.2 slot, and premium 7.1-channel audio with Nichicon capacitors. The X299E-ITX board also offers ASRock's 'Super Alloy' design and offers a 7-phase 'Digi Power' array for the LGA2066 CPU.
No word on pricing or availablity just yet, but if it follows the X99E-ITX/ac launch it should be somewhere near the $300 range. If you need mini-ITX and fancy the latest Intel enthusiast platform, this might be your best - and only - option.
Subject: Systems | May 30, 2017 - 02:18 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: zotac, PC, mini-itx, MEK, kaby lake, Intel Core i7, GTX 1080 Mini, GTX 1080, gaming, computex 2017, computex, computer
ZOTAC has introduces a new gaming brand at Computex, and along with it their first gaming PC. Have no fear, however, this gaming machine is quite compact from the mini-PC maker, as it is built around a mini-ITX motherboard and compact GPU.
"ZOTAC Gaming’s first gaming product, MEK Gaming PC, debuts at Computex Taipei. Built for gaming enthusiasts, it is powered by a ZOTAC GeForce® GTX 1080 Mini, 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processor and a low-profile CPU Cooler to deliver overwhelming performance for high-end gaming and premium entertainment. With a futuristic design, MEK marks the beginning of gaming products for a new brand, ZOTAC Gaming, focused on gaming products fit for all who Live to Game."
The GPU might be based on a smaller than the average PCB, but you are getting a full NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 courtesy of ZOTAC's own GTX 1080 Mini graphics card, which is just 8.3 inches long (and "the world's smallest GeForce GTX 1080," according to ZOTAC).
Other than the above quoted 7th-gen Intel Core i7 processor we don't have much information on the specifications for the upcoming MEK Gaming PC, but the images of the enclosure paint a promising picture for small form-factor gaming enthusiasts as it appears to be quite compact.
Subject: Motherboards | April 24, 2017 - 07:31 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X370GTN, small form factor, SFF, ryzen, racing, motherboard, mITX, mini-itx, biostar, B350GTN, amd, AM4
We covered news of BIOSTAR's upcoming mini-ITX motherboards for AMD Ryzen processors at the beginning of March, and now the company has made them official. The RACING X370GTN and B350GTN are "the world’s first mini-ITX motherboards for AMD AM4 platform", and both support up to 95W AM4 processors and DDR4 speeds up to 3200 MHz - though officially only up to 2667 MHz for Ryzen CPUs.
"BIOSTAR is thrilled to announce the latest addition to the growing mini-ITX family of BIOSTAR motherboards with the introduction of the world’s first mini-ITX motherboards for AMD AM4 platform and the first mini-ITX RGB LED-capable motherboards with AMD X370 and AMD B350 chipsets. BIOSTAR is pleased to welcome the new BIOSTAR RACING X370GTN and RACING B350GTN mini-ITX motherboards into the RACING Series family.
Both motherboards aim to deliver the best balance of form and function, delivering the full potential that the AMD AM4 platform offers especially with AMD RYZEN CPUs, all in a small package. The BIOSTAR RACING X370GTN and RACING B350GTN comes equipped with BIOSTAR 2nd-gen RACING features like 5050 LED Fun Zone with dual 5050 LED header for DIY customization, the BIOSTAR exclusive VIVID LED DJ with full RGB LED control that lets enthusiasts design their own system lighting with precise control. Together with that, BIOSTAR also adds performance and quality features for maximum system performance and stability."
Both motherboard models are identical (other than the chipset, of course)
The full specs from BIOSTAR for both motherboards are reproduced below:
|BIOSTAR Mini-ITX AM4 Motherboard Specifications|
|Form Factor||Mini-ITX (170 mm x 170 mm)|
|Chipset||AMD X370||AMD B350|
|CPU Support||AMD A-series APU / Ryzen CPU / NPU for Socket AM4
Maximum CPU TDP (Thermal Design Power) : 95Watt
|Memory||Support Dual Channel DDR4 3200(OC)/ 2933(OC)/ 2667/ 2400/ 2133/ 1866 MHz
Support Non-ECC & ECC Un-buffered DIMM Memory modules
2 x DDR4 DIMM Memory Slot
Max. Supports up to 32GB Memory
* DDR4 2667 for AMD Ryzen CPU
|Storage||4 x SATA3 Connector
Support SATA RAID: 0,1,10
1 x M.2 Key M 32Gb/s Connector, support M.2 type 2260/ 2280 SATA 6Gb/s & PCI-E Storage(on the back of the motherboard)
* M.2 (32Gb/s) : The bandwidth is depended on CPU, Ryzen is 32Gb/s ; APU & NPU is 16Gb/s
|LAN||Realtek RTL8118AS - 10/100/1000 Controller
Support Super LAN Surge Protection
|Audio||Realtek ALC892 8-Channel Blu-ray Audio
Support BIOSTAR Hi-Fi
|USB||1x USB 3.1 Gen2 (10Gb/s) Type-C port (1 on rear I/Os)
1x USB 3.1 Gen2 (10Gb/s) Type-A port (1 on rear I/Os)
6x USB 3.1 Gen1 (5Gb/s) port (4 on rear I/Os and 2 via internal header)
2x USB 2.0 port (2 via internal header)
|Expansion Slots||1 x PCI-E x16 3.0 Slot (x16 for Ryzen CPU only, NPU/APU run at x8 speed)|
|Rear I/O||1 x PS/2
1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C Port
1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Port
4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Port
1 x HDMI Connector, resolution up to 4096 x 2160 @24Hz or 3840 x 2160 @30Hz
1 x DVI-D Connector, resolution up to 1920 x 1200 @60Hz
1 x RJ-45 Port
5 x Audio Connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Port
|Internal I/O||1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Header
1 x USB 2.0 Header
4 x SATA3 6Gb/s Connector
1 x M.2 Key M 32Gb/s Connector, support M.2 type 2260/ 2280 SATA 6Gb/s & PCI-E Storage(on the back of the motherboard)
1 x Front Audio Header
1 x Front Panel Header
1 x CPU Fan Header
1 x System Fan Header
2 x 5050 LED Header
|OS Support||Windows 7 (x64), Windows 10 (x64)|
The rear I/O for both the X370 and B350 versions
As to pricing, BIOSTAR has set the MSRP for the RACING X370GTN at $129, with the RACING B350GTN at $109. A search of Amazon and Newegg does not show results for either board at time of press, but we should expect these in the retail pipeline soon.
Subject: Editorial | April 20, 2017 - 11:25 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: video, Z270X, tinker board, t-mobile, RX 580, radeon, podcast, Open BenchTable, mini-itx, logitech, keyboard, gigabyte, G413, DAN Cases, asus, A4-SFX
PC Perspective Podcast #446 - 04/20/17
Join us for Radeon RX 580 review, Open Benchtable and DAN cases, Intel Rumors and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg
Program length: 1:38:24
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Introduction and First Impressions
The A4-SFX takes the minimalist, full-length GPU capable mini-ITX chassis design down to stunningly compact dimensions, and does so with a precise all-aluminum build and refined industrial design. Created by the one-man company DAN Cases and funded on Kickstarter, the A4-SFX share the spirit of the crowdfunded NCASE M1 that preceded it, but takes even that tiny enclosure's dimensions down considerably. It is, as the company puts it, "the world's smallest gaming tower case".
What was omitted to bring the size down this far? Comparing the A4-SFX to the aforementioned NCASE M1 (an inevitability as both were crowd-funded and manufactured by Lian Li), the A4-SFX drops support for compact ATX power supplies in favor of SFX/SFX-L units, and CPU cooling is limited to a height of 48 mm, with no liquid cooling support. Many low-profile CPU coolers - including Intel’s stock design - fit this description, but the cooling limitation suggests stock CPU speeds are the tradeoff for such a compact case design.
So how compact is this case, exactly? The A4-SFX has a volume of just 7.25L compared to the NCASE M1 at 12.6L. Yet the A4-SFX can still house a powerful, gaming-ready system with standard components including a full sized GPU (up to 295 mm in length) and any mini-ITX motherboard and CPU.
Introduction and Specifications
The PC-Q17 WX is a compact, all-aluminum mini-ITX enclosure designed to appeal to gamers, and it features certification from ASUS ROG (Republic of Gamers). As with so many mini-ITX cases on the market there is room for a full-length graphics card, allowing the case to house a powerful gaming build.
The PC-Q17 WX is smaller than the mini-ITX cases I have looked at recently, with the trend for larger, micro-ATX sized designs prevalent in the last year or two. It is still quite a bit larger compared to the smallest designs on the market, with the NCASE M1 the smallest I have reviewed thus far. There is always an advantage in component support from a slightly larger case, and this case boasts full-length GPU and ATX power supply compatibity - though you will need a compact PSU to fit both of those concurrently (more on this later in the review).
As expected from Lian Li, this small chassis doesn’t just feature aluminum, it is all aluminum, making it ultra light with a premium feel. Getting to your components is easy thanks to side and top panels that simply snap in place with the company’s push pin style connectors, and there is a large acrylic window to show off your mini-ITX build. If you like its looks the only thing left is too see what fits inside and find out how it performs!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 16, 2017 - 09:34 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form factor, SFX, SFF, Portal, mini-itx, enclosure, case, bitfenix, aluminum
BitFenix has announced the Portal, which is one of the more interesting-looking chassis designs to hit the market in recent memory. Available in both black and white, and with or without a top-mounted window to show off your GPU (thanks to the inverted motherboard layout), the Portal is a sleek mini-ITX enclosure with a smooth, rounded aluminum exterior that is certainly a departure from typical case designs.
One of the design concepts made possible by SFX power supplies is a slimming down of the standard tower concept, which leaving component layout identical. In the case of this mini-ITX mini tower case from BitFenix, you might at first think you are looking at a larger case, but that PSU opening is in fact SFX, and the case is just wide enough to accommodate a standard PCIe graphics card.
A smaller mini-ITX case is often more challenging to work in, but here BitFenix has a clever solution with their dual-frame design:
"Designed for ITX Motherboards, the striking key component of the interior is the Dual Frame Design for easy access and quick installation. The inner chamber, equipped with enough space for high-end components, slides into the housing via a ball bearing runner design."
The external housing slimply slides off to reveal a standard chassis frame, allowing for easy component installation. Beyond the requirements of mini-ITX motherboard and SFX power supply, the Portal allows for CPU coolers of up to 125 mm, and full size graphics cards up to 300 mm long.
- Chassis Type: ITX Chassis
- Colors: Black | White
- Materials: Aluminum | SECC Steel | ABS | Transparent acrylic
- Motherboard: Mini-ITX
- CPU Cooler: Up to 125mm height
- Graphic Card Length: Up to 300mm
- Power Supply: SFX Form Factor
- Storage Capacity: 3.5" HDD x2, 2.5" HDD 1+2
- Cooling Capacity: Front 120mm x1 (included), rear 80mm x1 (included)
- Radiator Capacity: (Front) Up to 120mm x1
- Front I/O ports: USB 3.0 x2 | HD Audio Mic & Headphone
- Dimensions (with stand): (WxHxD) 247 x 395 x 411 mm (9.72 x 15.55 x 16.18 inches)
- Weight: 5.81 kg (12.81 lbs)
Cooling is another area that has received BitFenix's attention, as they have implemented what they call their "intelligent cooling solution" with the Portal:
"To cool the built-in hardware, the portal is equipped with air inlets at all four corners and the bottom of the housing. The air-permeable inner chamber is further equipped with included 120mm intake and 80mm exhaust fan, for a stable airflow for basic Office and Home Theater PCs."
The BitFenix Portal is available now for $139.99 with your choice of color and window option (product pages already up on Newegg.com).