Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 11, 2018 - 02:50 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: CES, CES 2018, Silverstone, PSU, power supply, 80 Plus Platinum, 1000W, 1200w, 140mm, atx, compact, SFF
SilverStone's Strider Platinum lineup now includes 1000 and 1200 watt models with a depth of only 140 mm. These are both fully modular ATX PSUs, and 80 Plus Platinum certified.
The compact 140 mm depth is popular with small form-factor builds - and sometimes a requirement for a fully modular PSU like this depending on the enclosure. The power density is obviously getting really high for 2018, and 1200W is likely the highest you will find at 140 mm.
Pricing and release dates have not been revealed just yet for either power supply.
Subject: Systems | January 8, 2018 - 09:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Tinker Board 3, tinker board, small form factor, SFF, PN40, PB40, mini PC, Chromebox 3, Chromebox, CES 2018, CES, asus
ASUS has four new small form-factor devices on display at CES, with mini-PC hardware as well as a new Chromebox 3 and Tinker Board 3. We start with the mini-PCs:
ASUS PB40 mini PC
“The ASUS PB40 mini PC offers unparalleled connectivity with up to six USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C™ ports and a flexible I/O port design with VGA/DP/COM/HDMI support. Its metallic chassis houses the latest 8th Generation Intel Pentium® Silver processor for powerful performance. The PB40 is also offered in a fanless design with Intel Celeron® processors for completely silent operation. In addition to its compact design, the PB40 supports optional stackable modules such as optical drives to provide space-saving versatility for a wide range of usage scenarios.”
ASUS PN40 mini PC
“Powered by 8th Generation Intel Pentium Silver and Celeron processors, the new ASUS PN40 mini PC features a sliding bottom case design for easy upgrades. Compact and lightweight, it measures 114 x 114 x 49mm and weighs just 1.54lbs. With a wide range of connectivity options including USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C for fast data transmission, and a changeable I/O port for VGA or COM support, the PN40 is ideal for both home entertainment and business solutions.”
Next we have the third-generation Chromebox, ASUS's Chrome OS mini-PC:
ASUS Chromebox 3
“ASUS Chromebox 3 is the latest addition to the ASUS Chromebox family and is powered by an 8th Generation Intel Core processor and DDR4-2400 memory for faster, smoother and more energy-efficient performance. It is equipped with a versatile USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port for quick data transfers, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi and Gigabit LAN for faster streaming along with DisplayPort and HDMI connectivity for 4K UHD playback of your favorite videos.”
Finally we have the new Tinker Board S, with "S" clearly meaning storage here as this new Tinker Board adds 16GB of onboard eMMC. This should make getting a project started that much easier as the previous design only offered a memory card slot, requiring a microSD card of at least 8GB.
ASUS Tinker Board S
“The new Tinker Board S features 2GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage, while retaining the same board size and component placement as the original Tinker Board.”
Availability for all of these products - PB40, PN40, Chromebox 3, and Tinker Board S - is expected in the first half of 2018, with pricing to be announced at launch.
Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2017 - 09:20 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zotac, zbox, SFF, kaby lake refresh, Kaby Lake R
Zotac recently launched two new small form factor PCs under its Zbox brand – the Zbox MI660 nano and MI640 nano – powered by Intel's latest "8th Generation Core" Kaby Lake Refresh processors. Both computers utilize the same platform and have the same specifications save for the processor SKU. The Zbox MI660 nano (and MI640 nano) measure 5" x 5" x 2" (13cm x 13cm x 5.1cm) and feature an all black chassis with a flat vented top panel, round corners and sharp angled edges around the bottom. The PCs also have vents along the left, right, and bottom so no matter how it's mounted it should not have any problems getting proper airflow.
Zotac is using Kaby Lake R processors in these SFF PCs. Specifically, the MI660 is powered by a quad core (eight thread) Intel Core i7-8550U clocked at up to 4 GHz while the MI640 uses the Core i5-8250U clocked at up to 3.4 GHz (this chip is also a quad core). Both processors are 15W (configurable TDP up to 25W) 14nm+ chips that feature Intel UHD 620 graphics clocked at up to 1.1 GHz on the i5-8250U and 1.15 GHz on the i7-8550U. Zotac's new Zboxes also have two DDR4 SODIMM slots for up to 32GB of 2400 MHz memory and a single 2.5" bay for a SATA hard drive. Notably, there is no support for the ever-popular M.2 solid state drive here.
On the outside, the Zbox MI660 nano and MI640 nano feature a total of five USB 3.0 Type A ports, two USB 3.1 (presumably USB 3.1 Gen 1) Type C ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two audio jacks, one SDXC card slot, one HDMI 2.0, and one DisplayPort 1.2 port. Zotac claims that the PCs are capable of outputting 4k60 video and the Kaby Lake R processors should support the DRM needed to stream videos at that resolution. In addition to the wired network connections, the SFF PCs also support 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 and there is a standard port on the back for an external antenna.
These little machines will likely be more popular with business users, but they may also do well as family PCs for doing homework in common areas or pulling HTPC duties in the living room as well. If you are interested in the performance of Kaby Lake R, Ken did a review of two notebooks powered by the Core i7-8550U that the MI660 uses here.
- Whose is longer, AMD's Ryzen Mobile or Intel's Kaby Lake-R?
- A Look at Intel 8th Generation Mobile Quad-Core Performance
- The Coffee Lake Story: Intel Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8400 Review
- The Intel Core i7-7700K Review - Kaby Lake and 14nm+
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 25, 2017 - 03:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zotac, gtx 1080 ti, SFF, water cooler
Zotac finally made its watercooled GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm Mini official last week. A card that was first teased at Computex, the ArcticStorm Mini is a dual slot with metal backplate and full cover water block that has been significantly shortened such that it can fit into many more cases including Micro ATX and some Mini ITX form factors. Specifically, the ArcticStorm Mini measures 212mm (8.35”) x 164mm (6.46”) and uses a custom shortened PCB that appears to be the same platform as the dual fan air cooled model.
The star of the ArcticStorm Mini is the full cover waterblock with nickel plated copper base and a tinted acrylic top cover. According to Zotac the waterblock uses 0.3mm micro channels above the GPU to improve cooling performance by moving as much heat from the GPU into the water loop as possible. There are ports for vertical or horizontal barb orientation though I would have loved to see a card that routed the water cooling in and out ports to the rear of the card rather than the side especially since this is aimed at small form factor builds. The water block can accommodate standard G1/4” fittings and Zotac includes two barbs that support 10mm ID (inner diameter) tubing in the box. A metal backplate helps prevent warping of the PCB from the water cooling which can be rather hefty.
While there is no RGB on this card, Zotac did go with an always on white LED that along with the gray and silver colors of the card itself are supposed to be color neutral and allow it to fit into more builds (as opposed to Zotac’s usual yellow and black colors). Around the front are five display outputs including: DVI-D, HDMI 2.0b, and three DisplayPort 1.4 connections.
Out of the box, the GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm Mini comes with a modest factory overlock that pushes the GP102’s 3,584 CUDA cores to 1506 MHz base and 1620 MHz boost. The 11GB of GDDR5X remains clocked at the stock 11 GHz, however. (For comparison, reference clocks are 1480 MHz base and 1582 MHz boost.) The graphics card is powered by two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors and enthusiasts should be able to push it quite a bit further than the out of the box clocks simply by increasing the power target as we saw in our review of the 1080 Ti, and barring any silicon lottery duds this card should be able to clock higher and have more stable clocks than our card thanks to the liquid cooler.
As is usual with these things, Zotac did not reveal exact pricing or availability, but with the full sized GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm already selling for $809 on Amazon and $820 over at Newegg, I would expect the little SFF brother to sell for a bit of a premium beyond that, say $840 at launch with the price going down a bit with sales later.
It would have been nice to see this be a single slot card, and giving up DVI would be worth it, but you can’t have everything (heh). I am looking forward to seeing the systems modders and enthusiasts are able to cram this card (or two) into!
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 an 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, dual M.2 slots (one on the rear as well as the riser card), 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.
Subject: Systems | October 3, 2017 - 05:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zotac, zbox, Magnus EN1080K, GeForce GTX 1080, i7-7700, SFF, water cooler
The newest Zbox from Zotac is also the most powerful one they have made, which does make it a bit of a different beast than other Zotac SFF products. With an i7-7700 paired with a GTX 1080, along with 16GB of DDR4-2400 and a WD Black 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD the Magnus offers more power than you find in many a mid-range system. The heat produced in the tight confines of the system, 8.9x8x5" (23 x 20 x 13cm), is handled by a custom built watercooling system which cools both the CPU and GPU. This does make the system significantly larger than previous Zbox products and it is much more power hungry, with two power adapters required to run it. The Tech Report loved the performance but did encounter some significant issues with the Zbox, which they overcame with quick and effective support from Zotac. Check this one out for the impressive build design as well as it's impressive gaming abilities.
"Zotac's Zbox Magnus EN1080K pairs Intel's Core i7-7700 CPU with a GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card in an impressively dense liquid-cooled package. We ran some of our favorite games on this system to see how it stacks up in the small-form-factor pantheon."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Return To The Asus Tinker Board: Have Six Months Changed Anything? @ Hack a Day
- Upgrade My PC Please! Ep 5: Dem Tings Wit Graphics @ Techspot
- Pairing CPUs and GPUs: PC Upgrades and Bottlenecking @ Techspot
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 13, 2017 - 07:29 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, nuc, kaby lake, Intel
Following last year’s Baby Canyon NUC kits, Intel is launching its Dawson Canyon NUCs powered by 15W Kaby Lake processors. Despite Dawson Canyon sounding more dramatic than Baby Canyon (which sounds more like a creek), the new NUCs are lower powered and ditch Iris Graphics and USB 3.1 Type C.
Specifically, Intel is launching six new models that will come in three flavors: barebones board, slim case kit, and a taller kit with room for a 2.5” drive. Each type of NUC kit will come with either a Core i3 or Core i5 processor. Dawson Canyon further supports Intel RST (Rapid Storage Technology) and Optane memory.
Processor options include the Core i3 7100U (2.4 GHz) and Core i5 7300U (2.6 GHz base, 3.5 GHz boost) which are both dual core processors with HyperThreading, 3 MB cache, Intel HD Graphics 620 GPUs, and 15W TDPs.
Internal I/O includes two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots, two M.2 slots (one full length (80mm) and one 30mm slot for Wi-Fi adapters such as the included Intel 8265 with is included in the kits with cases but not the bare board kits.), one SATA port, and headers for serial, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 ports.
External I/O consists of four USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and two HDMI outputs (one protected UHD).
Dawson Canyon NUCs will be available towards the end of the year (Q4’17) with pricing yet to be released. For the fanless, ahem, fans Fanless Tech reports that Simply NUC will be offering NUCs with custom fanless cases. These are likely to be cheaper than Baby Canyon and be popular with businesses wanting monitor mounted thin clients or low power workstations for office users that just need to run productivity applications.
Introduction and Design
The ECS LIVA Z Plus is a mini-PC with far more capable processors than the non-Plus variants of the current LIVA family, and we have for review a version with the top-end Intel Core i5-7300U CPU option, along with a 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM. These specs position the LIVA Z Plus against similarly-powered Intel NUC mini-PCs, and the LIVA has the advantage of being ready to go out of the box (just add an OS).
We recently took a look at the entry-level ECS LIVA mini-PC, which is a fanless device equipped with a low-power Intel Apollo Lake Celeron N3350 in its base configuration (as reviewed). The performance was merely 'okay' for most desktop computing, and that entry-level LIVA Z was more of a need-specific choice, useful for some applications such as a DIY router as it includes dual NICs in addition to the wireless networking on board. But I kept wishing I had more CPU power the entire time I was testing out the base LIVA Z, and the Plus version seemed like the perfect solution. There is just one catch: it isn't fanless. (Gasp!) Was this an issue? Was it even audible? How were thermals with a 15W Intel Core i5 processor inside such a small enclosure, even it is was being actively cooled? Read on to find out!
First, a look at the specs from ECS:
- Intel Kaby Lake Core i5-7300U SOC
- Intel Kaby Lake Core i5-7200U SOC
- Intel Kaby Lake Core i3-7100U SOC
- Intel Kaby Lake Celeron 3965U SOC
- DDR4 Up to 32GB
- 2x SO-DIMM Memory Slots
- Storage Support: 1x M.2 2242 SSD (SATA / PCIE)
- Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 1x Digital Mic
- LAN: 2x Gigabit LAN (1x Intel LAN)
- 3x USB 3.1 Gen1 Ports
- 1x USB 3.0 Type-C port
- Video Output:
- 1x HDMI Port (HDMI 1.4)
- 1x mDP Port
- Wireless: Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.0
- PCB Size: 115 x 111 mm
- Dimension: 117 x 128 x 33 mm
- VESA Support: 75 mm / 100 mm (bracket included)
- Adapter: Input AC 100-240V, Output DC 19V / 3.42A
- OS Support: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Windows 10
- 1x Power adapter
- 1x VESA Bracket
- 6x VESA Mount Screws
- Quick Guide & Driver DVD
- ECS LIVA Z Plus: $489 MSRP
Package contents are identical to that of the non-Plus LIVA, as we are presented with the LIVA Z Plus, power adapter, and VESA mount.
The LIVA Z Plus is externally identical to the LIVA Z, with the same complement of three USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, and 3.5 mm audio jack on the front, and dual NICs, HDMI 1.4, and mini DisplayPort on the back.
The side panels are also identical to the passively-cooled LIVA Z, with vented sides that in this case allow for intake and exhaust for the small internal fan.
If you think this LIVA Z Plus looks like the standard LIVA Z, you're right. Externally, the two are identical:
Next we'll take a look inside and then see how it performed with a few benchmarks.
Subject: Motherboards | June 28, 2017 - 01:44 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: gigabyte, mini ITX, b350, amd, AM4, raven ridge, SFF, ryzen
Gigabyte is joining the small form factor Ryzen motherboard market with its new GA-AB350N-Gaming WIFI. The new Mini ITX motherboard sports AMD’s AM4 socket and B350 chipset and supports Ryzen “Summit Ridge” CPUs, Bristol Ridge APUs (7th Gen/Excavator), and future Zen-based Raven Ridge APUs. The board packs a fair bit of hardware into the Mini ITX form factor and is aimed squarely at gamers and enthusiasts.
The AB350N-Gaming WIFI has an interesting design in that some of the headers and connectors are flipped versus where they are traditionally located. The chipset sits to the left of CPU socket above the 6-phase VRMs and PowIRStage digital ICs. Four SATA 6Gbps ports and a USB 3.0 header occupy the top edge of the board. Two DDR4 dual channel memory slots are aligned on the right edge and support (overclocked) frequencies up to 3200 MHz depending on the processor used. The Intel wireless NIC, Realtek Gigabit Ethernet, and Realtek ALC1220 audio chips have been placed in the space between the AM4 socket and the single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot. There is also a single M.2 (PCI-E 3.0 x4 32Gbps) slot on the underside of the motherboard. Gigabyte has also integrated “RGB Fusion” technology with two on board RGB LED lighting zones and two RGBW headers for off board lighting strips as well as high end audio capacitors and headphone amplifier. Smart Fan 5 technology allegedly is capable of automatically differentiating between fans and water pumps connected to the two fan headers and will automatically provide the correct PWM signal based on fan curves the user can customize in the UEFI BIOS. The motherboard is powered by a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS and while it does not have a very beefy power phase setup it should be plenty for most overclocks (especially with Ryzen not wanting to go much past 4 GHz (easily) anyway).
Rear I/O includes:
- 1 x PS/2
- 2 x Antenna (Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi + BT 4.2)
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps)
- 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps)
- 6 x Audio (5 x analog, 1 x S/PDIF)
- 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
- 1 x HDMI 1.4
- 1 x Realtek GbE
Gigabyte has an interesting SFF motherboard with the GA-AB350N-Gaming WIFI and I am interested in seeing the reviews. More Mini ITX options for Ryzen and other Zen-based systems is a good thing, and moving the power phases to the left may end up helping overclocking and cooling in smaller cases with tower coolers.
Unfortunately, Gigabyte has not yet revealed pricing or availability. Looking around online at its competition, i would guess it would be around $85 though.
- Biostar's ITX Ryzen motherboard in action; the X370GTN
- BIOSTAR Shows Mini-ITX AM4 Motherboard for AMD Ryzen
- ASRock's Fatal1ty X370 Gaming-ITX/ac Mini ITX Motherboard for Ryzen Coming Soon
- The AMD Ryzen 7 1800X Review: Now and Zen
- The Ryzen 5 Review: 1600X and 1500X Take on Core i5
Subject: Motherboards | June 19, 2017 - 01:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero @ Bjorn3D
- ASUS ROG Rampage V Edition 10 Review @ OCC
- ASUS MAXIMUS IX FORMULA @ techPowerUp