Subject: Editorial | February 9, 2017 - 10:50 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: podcast, Zen, Windows 10 Game Mode, webcam, ryzen, quadro, Optane, nvidia, mini-stx, humble bundle, gddr6, evga, ECS, atom, amd, 4k
PC Perspective Podcast #436 - 02/09/17
Join us for ECS Mini-STX, NVIDIA Quadro, AMD Zen Arch, Optane, GDDR6 and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison, Josh Walrath, Jermey Hellstrom
Program length: 1:32:21
Podcast topics of discussion:
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
1:14:00 Zen Price Points Leaked
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Allyn: Low cost OBD II scanner
Subject: Motherboards | February 8, 2017 - 10:15 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form factor, SFF, PCI-E 3.0, MXM, motherboard, mobile gpu, mini-stx, H110-STX-MXM, asrock
ASRock has announced a new mini-STX motherboard with an interesting twist, as the H110-STX MXM motherboard offers support for current MXM (version 3.0b, up to 120W) mobile graphics cards.
Like the ECS H110 motherboard featured in our recent Mini-STX build, the ASRock H110-STX MXM is based on the LGA1151 socket (though CPU TDP was not in the source post), offers a pair a DDR SODIMM slots for up to 32GB of DDR4 notebook memory. Storage support is excellent with dual SATA ports and M.2 SSD support. Importantly, this ASRock board uses PCI Express 3.0 on both the MXM (PCIe 3.0 x16) and M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4) slots. Display output capability is excellent as well, quoting the TechPowerUp post:
"Display connectivity includes one HDMI port that's wired to the CPU's onboard graphics, a second HDMI port wired to the MXM slot, a full-size DisplayPort wired to the MXM, and a Thunderbolt port with mini-DisplayPort wiring to the MXM."
There are some roadblocks to building up a gaming system with this motherboard, not the least of which is cost. Consider that compatible MXM 3.0b options (with a recent GPU) are hundreds of dollars from a place like Eurocom (a GTX 980M is around $800, for example). Naturally, if you had a damaged gaming notebook with a usable MXM GPU, this board might be a nice option for re-purposing that graphics card. Cooling for the MXM card is another issue, however, though harvesting an MXM card from a notebook could potentially allow implementing the existing thermal solution from the laptop.
Look closely and you will see a Z270 product name in this ASRock photo
Update: We now have full specifications from ASRock's product page, which include:
- Socket LGA1151 for Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron (Kabylake)
- Supports MXM Graphics Card (Type-B , Up to 120W)
- Supports DDR4 2400MHz, 2 x SO-DIMM, up to 32GB system memory
- 1 x HDMI (4K@60Hz), 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, 1x Mini-DisplayPort
- 3x USB3.0 Type-A, 1x Thunderbolt 3 with USB 3.1 Type-C
- 1x M.2 (Key E), 2x M.2 (Key M)
- 1x Intel i219V Gigabit LAN
- DC 19V / 220W power input
Of note, the chipset is listed as Z270, though the product name and primary motherboard photo suggest H110. The H110-STX MXM is part of ASRocks industrial motherboard offerings (with signage and gaming the mentioned applications), and includes a 220W power supply. Pricing and availability were not mentioned.
Mini-STX is the newest, smallest PC form-factor that accepts a socketed CPU, and in this review we'll be taking a look at a complete mini-STX build that will occupy just 1.53 liters of space. With a total size of just 6.1 x 5.98 x 2.56 inches, the SilverStone VT01 case offers a very small footprint, and the ECS H110S-2P motherboard accepts Intel desktop CPUs up to 65W (though I may have ignored this specification).
PS3 controller for scale. (And becuase it's the best controller ever.)
The Smallest Form-Factor
The world of small form-factor PC hardware is divided between tiny kit solutions such as the Intel NUC (and the host of mini-PCs from various manufacturers), and the mini-ITX form-factor for system builders. The advantage of mini-ITX is its ability to host standard components, such as desktop-class processors and full-length graphics cards. However, mini-ITX requires a significantly larger enclosure than a mini-PC, and the "thin mini-ITX" standard has been something of a bridge between the two, essentially halving the height requirement of mini-ITX. Now, an even smaller standard has emerged, and it almost makes mini-ITX look big in comparison.
Left: ECS H110S-2P (mini-STX) / Right: EVGA Z170 Stinger (mini-ITX)
Mini-STX had been teased for a couple of years (I wrote my first news post about it in January of 2015), and was originally an Intel concept called "5x5"; though the motherboard is actually about 5.8 x 5.5 inches (147 x 140 mm). At CES 2016 I was able to preview a SilverStone enclosure design for these systems, and ECS is one of the manufacturers producing mini-STX motherboards with an Intel H110-based board introduced this past summer. We saw some shipping products for the newest form-factor in 2016, and both companies were kind enough to send along a sample of these micro-sized components for a build. With the parts on hand it is now time to assemble my first mini-STX system, and of course I'll cover the process - and results - right here!
Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2016 - 10:04 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, mini-stx, mini-pc, H110M-STX, asrock
The motherboard within ASRock's DeskMini mini-PC kit has been released as a standalone product, and this H110M-STX motherboard offers Intel processor support up to 65W in its 5" x 5" Mini-STX form-factor.
Image credit: ASRock
Specifications from ASRock:
- Supports LGA 1151 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors up to 65W TDP
- Supports Dual-Channel DDR4 SO-DIMM 2133
- Graphics output: D-Sub, HDMI, DisplayPort
- ALC283 Audio Codec
- 2x SATA3, 1 M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4)
- 3x USB 3.0 (Type-A & Type-C from front I/O; 1 from rear I/O)
- 3x USB 2.0 (2 from onboard header; 1 from rear I/O)
- Intel Gigabit LAN
- 1x M.2 (Key E for WiFi + BT module)
Like thin-Mini-ITX motherboards the H110M-STX requires an external 19v power adapter. ASRock recommends a 120W adapter for 65W CPUs, while 35W Intel CPU builds can manage with a 90W adapter.
Image credit: ASRock
As to availability/price, this has yet to appear in the usual e-tail channels in the U.S., with no results currently on Amazon or Newegg. ASRock's larger H110-ITX board sells for $69.99, so this may give us an indication of where pricing might be - though the smaller STX form-factor could increase cost.
Image credit: ASRock
A sub-mITX form-factor might seem a bit unnecessary, but the smaller board does provide builders with a way to create their own mini-PC boxes with upgradable processors. Naturally, one would need an enclosure for this tiny motherboard, and the only one I have seen thus far came from SilverStone's booth at CES - though ready availability for all products in this newest form-factor is still an issue.
Subject: Motherboards | January 13, 2016 - 07:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form factor, SFF, mini-stx, LGA 1151, Intel H110, ECS, CES 2016, CES
ECS has entered the brand new Mini-STX market with their H110SU-02 motherboard, one of our first looks at a motherboard based on Intel's 5x5 concept for a sub-mITX form-factor.
The ECS H110SU-02 (Image credit: Maximum PC)
As you can see this tiny motherboard offers a standard LGA 1151 socket for Intel processors up to 65W, and uses SoDIMM memory (DDR4). The board only offers one SATA port, with a pair of M.2 slots in a stacked configuration for both full-length (2280) SSDs and the shorter (2230) cards such as wireless network adapters.
- Platform: Intel H110/B150 chipset
- CPU: LGA1151 socket for Intel i3/i5/i7/Pentium/Celeron Processors (65W)
- Memory: 2x SO-DIMM DDR4 slots
- Storage: 1x M.2 Slot (2280); 1x SATA
- Networking: RJ45; 1x M.2 Slot (2230) for Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 4.0 card
- USB: 1x USB 3.1 Type-C; 2x USB 3.0 ports
- Audio: 3.5 mm combo jack
- Power Supply: DC-in 19V, 90W
- Dimensions (W x D) 140 x 147 mm
Mini-SFX vs. Mini-ITX comparison (Image credit: Maximum PC)
Maximum PC posted this video with their overview of the motherboard:
With no PCI Express slot and the limitation of a 65W processor (which eliminates current high-end models such as the Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K, both at 91W) this is targeting a different audience than those choosing mini-ITX for a small gaming rig, for example. Still, there will undoubtedly be a number of applications for a system of just over 5 inches square; though Intel's existing NUC platform provides essentially the same experience in a smaller package, minus the socketed desktop CPU support, of course.
No details were given on pricing or availability.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 12, 2016 - 02:20 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form factor, Silverstone, SFF case, mini-stx, Intel 5x5, enclosure, CES 2016, CES
SilverStone had an early enclosure on display at CES for the upcoming Mini-STX standard, the tiny form-factor introduced with Intel's "5x5" motherboard (which we first reported on almost exactly one year ago).
The simple black metal enclosure (as yet unnamed) looked and felt like a production unit, but we are still in the early stages with the first mini-STX motherboards being announced only this week. No details were given on when it would be available for purchase, or exactly how much it will cost.
It is interesting to note the enclosure's I/O, which should indicate the standard for the new motherboards. On the front panel we had openings for a standard USB and Type-C port, and 3.5 mm audio; around back there were two more USB ports, LAN, DisplayPort, and HDMI. To the left of the HDMI port you can see the power input for the external power supply, as mini-STX will have a lot in common with the thin mini-ITX standard. (Thin mini-ITX optionally supported internal PSUs, but given the space constraints it looks like the mini-STX boards will be using a laptop style power supply.)
The tiny Mini-STX enclosure fits easily in one hand
We will await any official announcement of this (and any other) upcoming mini-STX enclosure from SilverStone.