A little bit of power for a little bitty system

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 8, 2019 - 04:39 PM |
Tagged: modular psu, corsair, SFX, SF450, 450W, SFF

SFX PSUs are great for small form factor builds, at 4" long it will fit into those smaller systems and in the case of this SF450 from Corsair, the 17" long cables allow you to cleanly route them through the chassis.  This is an updated model, you can find the previously released SF450 still on the market and unfortunately for the 2018 model, it is about $30 cheaper. 

Is there anything to the updated model which justifies the increase in price? Check out [H]ard|OCP's full review for the answer.

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"The Corsair SF450 SFX is, as you might have guessed from the "SFX" part number, a computer PSU built specifically with small form factor systems in mind. Corsair promises high power density along with "low noise," which are two qualities that many SFF builders are likely looking for. It also brings has Platinum level efficiency and is fully modular."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASRock Launches DeskMini A300 Barebones Mini-STX PC Supporting AMD CPUs

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2019 - 02:01 AM |
Tagged: SFF, ryzen, mini-stx, barebones, asrock, APU, amd, AM4

ASRock is launching a new small form factor barebones system later this month that incorporates what the company claims Is the first Mini STX motherboard for AMD’s Zen-based processors (primarily APUs) using the AM4 socket, a tiny case, and optional accessories. The DeskMini A300 and A300W are barebones PCs where you are responsible for adding your own CPU, RAM, and storage. Measuring 155 x 155 x 80mm (approximately 6.1” x 6.1” x 3.15”), the 1.92-liter PCs sit somewhere between an Intel NUC and a Mini ITX build. The DeskMini A300 case is all black with subtle rounded corners, a stylized front panel, and ample square mesh ventilation grills along the top, left side, and back. Up front sits two audio jacks (mic/headphone), one USB 3.1 Type-C, and one USB 3.1 Type-A (both USB 3.1 Gen 1 / 5Gbps) and two USB 2.0 ports can be added via an optional front panel add-on using a header on the motherboard. Around back ASRock’s A300M-STX motherboard offers up one USB 3.1 (5Gbps), one USB 2.0, one Gigabit Ethernet, and three display outputs (one each of HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort). There is also a DC-in jack for power with the kit using a 19V 120W power brick.

ASRock DeskMini A300 Barebones PC Mini STX AMD AM4 Ryzen.png

Inside the case the DeskMini A300 uses the ASRock A300M-STM motherboard with measures 5” x 5”. While not the first Mini STX motherboard for AMD processors (Mini STX is generally an Intel form factor), it is reportedly the first for newer AMD chips using the AM4 socket. The board supports up to 65W CPUs and will generally only be used with APUs that have their own integrated graphics as this motherboard lacks a PCI-E x16 slot for installing a dedicated GPU. Granted, an enthusiast might well be able to use a CPU only Ryzen processor and sacrifice a M.2 slot to add in a GPU but then you would need a bigger case and at that point it might be easier to just go Mini ITX (Note that some Mini STX motherboards do support external graphics via MXM slots but those mainly mobile focused GPUs can come at a hefty premium). In any event, the AM4 socket is paired with two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots (up to 2933 MHz), two Ultra M.2 2280 slots for NVMe storage, one M.2 Key E for wireless modules, and two SATA 3 6Gpbs ports (RAID 0 and 1 are supported). ASRock sells an optional 65W CPU cooler, but if you plan to add your own height is limited to 46mm.

Audio is handled by the Realtek ALC233 codec/chipset while networking is handled by the Realtek RTL8111H NIC for wired and the Intel AC-3168 Wi-Fi for wireless (on the A300W SKU).

The DeskMini A300 barebones PC is slated for release later this month starting at $119 which gets you a tiny SFF motherboard, case, and power supply. Tom’s Hardware was able to get a hands-on look at the case and motherboard at CES and took several photos of the kit. It is an interesting product utilizing Mini STX and is nice to see an AMD option in this middle ground form factor.

Looking at the photos, the second M.2 slot as well as the CMOS battery being on the underside of the motherboard may prove to be rather inconvenient (it’s not clear if that case has a motherboard cutout for those areas or not). Using vertical SO-DIMM slots shouldn’t be a problem airflow wise in this case though and should be a bit sturdier than the angled approaches long term. Storage and other I/O seems decent especially considering this system uses the lower-end A300 chipset.

Hopefully reviewers (and modders!) will be able to get their hands on the small form factor hardware soon. What are your thoughts?

Related:

Source: ASRock
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction, Specifications, and Design

The LIVA Z2 is another in the line of fanless mini systems from ECS, and this one offers up to an Intel Gemini Lake Pentium N5000 processor, which is the configuration of our review unit. The N5000 is a 4-core, non-HyperThreaded part with a 6W TDP (4.8W SDP). The system can support up to 8GB of DDR4L SO-DIMM memory across two slots, and eMMC storage comes onboard in capacities of either 32GB or 64GB.

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The first thing you might notice about the Z2 is that it is quite a bit taller than the previous LIVA designs we've seen, with the LIVA Z and Z Plus about half of the height of this new Z2. The added height allows for an optional 2.5-inch hard drive or SSD to be installed, which can be used either in place of or in addition to the onboard eMMC storage (there are no M.2 slots available).


Specifications:

  • Platform: 
    • Intel Pentium N5000
    • Intel Celeron N4100
    • Intel Celeron N4000
  • Memory: 2x SO-DIMM, Up to 8GB DDR4
  • Storage:
    • eMMC 32GB/64GB
    • Support 1x 2.5” SATA HDD
  • Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 1x Digital Mic
  • LAN: 1x Gigabit LAN
  • USB:
    • 3x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A Ports
    • 1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C Port
    • 2x USB 2.0 Ports
  • Video Output:
  • 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x HDMI 1.4
  • Wireless: Intel WiFi 802.11ac & Bluetooth 4.2
  • Dimensions: 132 x 118 x 56.4 mm
  • VESA: Supports 75mm / 100mm
  • Power Adapter: Input AC 100-240V, Output DC 19V / 3.42A
  • OS Support: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Accessories:
    • 1x Power adapter
    • 1x VESA Bracket
    • 6x VESA Mount Screws
    • 2x HDD Screws(Optional)
    • Quick Guide & Driver DVD

Pricing and Availability: $200 - $250 MSRP ($250 as reviewed); USA availability TBD

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Continue reading our review of the ECS LIVA Z2 fanless mini-PC!

Silverstone's Lucid, logical choice for an small enclosure?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 16, 2018 - 04:18 PM |
Tagged: Silverstone, lucid LD01, tempered glass, SFF

The Lucid LD01 from Silverstone is designed for small form factor builds as the largest motherboard it can fit is microATX.  That small size does not preclude decent cooling, you can install a pair of 120/140mm fans at the front and top, as well as additional single 120/140mm fans at the bottom and the rear, or similar sized slim radiators. TechPowerUp liked the look of the tempered glass outside as well as the many included features such as the GPU bracket but they would have like the USB-C plug to support USB 3.1 Gen 2. 

You can see the finished build in their review.

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"The Lucid LD01 from Silverstone tries to ditch the plastic and move to a mix relying heavily on steel and tempered glass for an understated high quality look and feel. It clearly caters to those who'd like to transcend the classic use of steel and plastic panels and want simple but effective, functional designs and features. "

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Source: TechPowerUp

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

EVGA Launches SuperNOVA GM SFX Power Supplies

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 4, 2018 - 11:27 PM |
Tagged: evga, EVGA SuperNOVA, SFX, SFX PSU, SFF

EVGA has launched a new line of small form factor power supplies under the SuperNOVA GM series. The new power supplies are available now in 450W, 550W, and 650W models all of which are rated at 80 PLUS Gold efficiency ratings with all Japanese capacitors and built in safety technologies for OCP, OVP, OTP, OPP< SCP, and UVP protections.

EVGA SuperNOVA GM SFX PSU.jpg

The single rail (up to 54.1A on the 12V rail) power supplies utilize Active PFC (power factor correction) and DC-to-DC conversion for the 3.3V and 5V supplies. EVGA’s SuperNOVA GM PSUs are all fully modular and support SLI with two 8-pin PCI-E connections on the 450W PSU and four 8-pin PCI-E power connectors on the 550W and 650W models. A single 92mm double ball bearing fan keeps the small form factor power supply cool while the Auto ECO mode keeps fan noise at a minimum with the fan spinning down completely up to 30% load, then ramping to ~18 dBA up to around 70% load and then ramping up to 37 dBA at 100% load (for the 650W power supply).

EVGA’s SuperNOVA GM SFX power supplies come with a 7+2 year warranty (7 year base warranty plus an additional two years for a limited time according to EVGA). The GM power supplies come with a AC power cable, PSU tester, and SFX-to-ATX adapter bracket.

The power supplies are available now for $109.99 for the 450W model, $119.99 for the 550W PSU, and $129.99 for the 650W power supply. Looking around online, pricing seems to be in line with the competition at these wattages, at least when considering the premium for the SFX small form factor designs.

Source: EVGA

Introduction and Case Exterior

Corsair's new Crystal Series 280X RGB enclosure brings tempered glass and lighting effects down to the size of the company's previous micro-ATX Carbide Air 240 case (reviewed here back in 2014), creating a high-end take on this compact dual-chamber design. Beyond the stylish appearance an important question presents itself: can the Crystal 280X RGB offer sufficient airflow for good cooling with all of those glass panels? We will find out!

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There is no more pervasive trend in the world of PC hardware than RGB lighting, and with the Crystal Series of enclosures Corsair adds the one component you will need to see as much of that colorful lighting as possible: glass, glass, and more glass. Yes, no fewer than three panels of the tinted, tempered glass variety adorn the 280X RGB, with the side, front, and top of the case covered - or, with the front and top, partially covered. About a third of the front is a solid panel, as is a third of the top, and this serves to help illustrate from the exterior that we are actually looking at a dual-chamber design.

Not so 'micro' ATX?

There are those who feel that an enclosure's internal volume must be low to qualify as "small form-factor", and that can certainly be argued; consider this design (like that of the Air 240), then, a compact take on the larger cube-like dual-chamber case that started with the Carbide Series Air 540 which we reviewed way back in 2013. As you will see, the ease with which a clean-looking build can be completed in such a case, and the ample storage and fan support, help mitigate the size. This case is wide for its height, though the rear chamber allows for the easy installation of a full-size ATX power supply, simultaneous installation of two standard hard drives and another three SSDs, and plenty of room for cable management.

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Continue reading our review of the Corsair Crystal Series 280X case!

Sapphire Shows Off New 5x5 Ryzen V1000 Platform for Embedded Systems

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2018 - 05:55 PM |
Tagged: SoC, SFF, sapphire, ryzen v1000, ryzen embedded, ryzen, APU, amd

Sapphire Technologies is now partnering with AMD to offer up a new small(ish) 5"x5" form factor system for embedded applications featuring AMD's Ryzen Embedded V1000 SoC APUs. The Sapphire FS-FP5V is a 5.8"x5.5" motherboard that pairs the V1000 SoC with Zen CPU cores and Vega GPU with dual channel DDR4 3200 MHz SODIMM memory slots, two M.2 slots, a single SATA 3 port, dual Ethernet, and four DisplayPort outputs supporting up to four 4K displays.

Sapphire 5x5 Ryzen V1000.jpg

The 5x5 motherboard uses a V1000 APU that is soldered to the board though the website does not specify which model Sapphire is using. The V1000 series includes APUs ranging from 12W to 54W with up to four (Zen) cores / 8 threads, a Vega-based GPU with up to 11 CUs, 2MB L2 cache, and 4MB shared L3 cache. The SoC further has AMD's PSP security processor and support for dual 10GbE though Sapphire's board only uses two Gigabit NICs (Realtek RTL8111G). Realtek chips are also used for the four channel audio solution (ALC262). The M.2 2280 can operate in PCI-E 3.0 x4 or SATA modes while the smaller M.2 2242 slot uses PCI-E x1 and can accommodate Wi-Fi cards or smaller SSDs. The FS-FP5V board also features serial RS232 and GPIO support and the motherboard is powered by a single 19V DC input.

Rear I/O includes two USB 2.0 ports (there's also one on the front), one USB 3.1 Type-C, four DisplayPort outputs, two RJ-45 GbE jacks, and a single audio output.

Sapphire plans to sell its new 5x5 board to system integrators as well as directly through their website. A video from AMD shows off the board as well as examples from Sapphire partners of SFF cases and 2x2 display walls. The new platform is aimed at video gaming systems (think casinos, arcades, and video gambling machines in bars), digital signage, large display walls, point of sale systems, and medical imaging (high resolution display outputs for medical scanning and diagnostics devices). There is no word on pricing or availability, but if you are interested there is a form you can fill out to get more information. It is nice to see AMD getting some design wins in the SFF space even if its not in consumer products yet (it's time for an AMD NUC competitor).

Update: Tom's Hardware managed to get their hands on some pricing details which show Sapphire will offer four models that vary by Ryzen Embedded processor used including:

  • Ryzen Embedded V1202B (2 core / 4 thread + Vega 3)  for $325
  • Ryzen Embedded V1605B (4 core / 8 thread + Vega 8) for $340
  • Ryzen Embedded V1756B (4 core / 8 thread + Vega 8) for $390
  • Ryzen Embedded V1807B (4 core / 8 thread + Vega 11) for $450

The first two options are 12W to 25W TDP SoCs while the latter two are 35W to 54W processors. The V1202B is clocked at 2 GHz base and up to 3.6 GHz. Moving up to the V1605B gets two more cores at an every so slightly higher 2.06 GHz base and moves from Vega 3 to Vega 8 graphics (though still at the same 1,100 MHz clockspeeds). Stepping up to the V1756B gets a processor with a much higher 3.25 GHz base but hte same maximum boost and graphics as the V1605B. Finally, moving to the flagship V1807B SoC gets an APU clocked at 3.35 GHz base and 3.8 GHz boost with Vega 11 graphics clocked at 1,300 MHz. The boards will reportedly be available later this year (relatively soon) while the UDOO Bolt will be available next year at similar price points. In all the Sapphire board seems like a decent deal for setting up a homelab or media box (though I wish the storage situation was better) while the UDOO Bolt board is aimed more at developers and makers with the inclusion of Aruino pinouts and eMMC storage (The UDOO appears to top out at the V1605B chip as well.)

(End of Update.)

Also read:

Source: AMD

Thermaltake Launches Engine 17 Cooler for SFF Systems

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 26, 2018 - 03:12 AM |
Tagged: thermaltake, SFF, LGA 1151, lga 1150, Intel

Following the release of the Engine 27 two years ago, Thermaltake is taking another stab at the Sandia Labs and CoolChip Technologies inspired air bearing metallic fan heatsink with the tiny Engine 17 cooler which, at a mere 17mm tall, is suitable for even the smallest SFF systems. The Engine 17 CPU cooler is compatible with the newer Intel 115x sockets (LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, and 1156). Measuring 95.1mm x 95.1mm x 17mm, the heatsink features a round nickel plated copper base that contacts the CPU IHS. A metallic PWM fan (9 CFM) with 40 blades spins at at 1,500 to 2,500 RPM while a thin layer of air acts as both a bearing and a heat exchange layer. A ring of 119 angled stationary fins surround the fan and help with cooling.

Thermaltake Engine 17 SFF 1U Cooler.jpg

The Engine 17 cooler has a notably small footprint with the entire cooler staying well within the bounds of the socket mounting holes and barely covering the VRMs in Thermaltake's demo images. There is definitely no need to worry about RAM compatibility with this cooler. The downside, of course, is that the size limits the processors it can cool. Thermaltake claims that the smaller Engine 17 cooler can cool up to 35W TDP processors and while it may not win any temperature feats, it should at least be fairly quiet (it is rated at 11 to 23 dBA). It would enable a very thin SFF system with an AMD Ryzen 5 2400GE or Ryzen 3 2200GE or Intel Coffee Lake T-series e.g. i7-8700T) CPU. Such a system could be used as a quiet and discreet home theater PC or game streaming endpoint or (as Thermaltake is playing up) in a 1U server for low power servers and networking devices.

The Thermaltake Engine 17 will be available soon though exact dates and pricing are still to be determined. It will likely be a bit less than the larger $47 Engine 27 cooler though.

Also read:

Source: Thermaltake

Computex 2018: Zotac's ZBOX Pico PI225 Still Tiny, Now Available

Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2018 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox, SFF, fanless, computex 2018, computex

First spotted at last year’s Computex, Zotac’s smallest ZBOX PC made an appearance again this year - and this time around it is actually available for sale and with detailed specifications available.

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The ZBOX Pico PI225 is a miniature computer approximately the size of a 2.5” SSD (it is a hair thicker though) measuring 95.4mm x 63mm x 8mm (3.76”x2.58”x0.31”) powered by a passively cooled dual core Intel processor. The all black PC features two USB Type-C ports, one micro USB port for power, and a micro SDXC card reader around the edges.the USB Type-C ports support USB 3.0 and DisplayPort with one display output adapter included in the box to drive a HDMI display. Speaking of displays, the PI225 can reportedly drive a single display at up to 4k@30Hz.

Internally the ZBOX PC is powered by a dual core Intel Celeron N3350 clocked at 1.1 GHz, Intel HD Graphics 500, 4GB LPDDR3 memory, and 32GB eMMC storage. While it would have been nice to see a refresh at this year’s Computex to Gemini Lake or something this older Intel SoC is based on the Apollo Lake architecture. Also note that it comes with Windows 10 Home x64 pre-installed so most of that 32GB internal storage will not be available out of the box. Further, the mini PC has an internal antenna and radios for 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.

This small form factor PC is aimed at digital signage and kiosks, but at a current price of $179 including a valid Windows license it is within reach of consumers as well. The passively cooled PC could be useful as Plex endpoints for media streaming or a very cheap portable, and silent audio recording PC (don’t expect any fancy audio editing on this dual core heh but it may be just enough to work with your usb mixer and other accessories and record onto a SDXC card. I’m sure there are plenty of other possible uses for such a small PC that is a full x86-64 PC alternative to single board computers like the Raspberry Pi, odroids, et al.

What are your thoughts on Zotac’s Zbox Pico?

Also read:

Source: Zotac