MSI's wee AERO ITX family of NVIDIA graphics cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 16, 2017 - 08:35 PM |
Tagged: msi, AERO ITX, gtx 1070, gtx 1060, gtx 1050, GTX 1050 Ti, SFF, itx

MSI have just release their new series of ITX compatible GPUs, covering NVIDIA's latest series of cards from the GTX 1050 through to the GTX 1070; the GTX 1080 is not available in this form factor.  The GTX 1070 and 1060 are available in both factory overclocked and standard versions.

ITX series.png

All models share a similar design, with a single TORX fan with 8mm Super Pipes and the Zero Frozr feature which stops the fan to give silent operation when temperatures are below 60C.  They are all compatible with the Afterburner Overclocking Utility, including recordings via Predator and wireless control from your phone. 

The overclocked cards run slightly over reference, from the GTX 1070 at 1721MHz boost, 1531MHz base with the GDDR5 at 8GHz to the GTX 1050 at 1518MHz boost, 1404MHz base and the GDDR5 at 7GHz.  The models which do not bear the OC moniker run at NVIDIA's reference clocks even if they are not quite fully grown.

Source: MSI

ASRock Announces H110-STX MXM Mini-STX Motherboard with MXM GPU Support

Subject: Motherboards | February 8, 2017 - 03:15 PM |
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.

H110_STX_MXM.jpg

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.

H110_STX_MXM_2.jpg

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.

Source: TechPowerUp
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Introduction

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).

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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.

DSC_0268.jpg

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!

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Continue reading our review of a mini-STX computer build featuring ECS and SilverStone!

MSI's tiny Trident 3 gaming system

Subject: Systems | January 31, 2017 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: gaming desktop, SFF, gtx 1060, i7-7700, msi, Trident 3

MSI's Trident 3 PC comes complete with Windows 10 Home, a DS4200 keyboard and a DS B1 gaming mouse.  The actual system is a mere 346.25x232.47x71.83mm (13.6x9.2x2.8") and hides a shrunken GTX 1060, a Core i7-7700, two 8GB sticks of DDR4-2400 and in the system that TechPowerUp reviewed, a 256GB Kingston SATA M.2 SSD and a 1TB Toshiba HDD.  It is easy to use for VR, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C and Type-A ports as well as HDMI on the front panel.  MSI did need to make some sacrifices to squeeze these components in, the system does not support overclocking nor XMP profiles.  The performance at 1080p is respectable for a fully configured system and it starts at $899, with upgrades available.

all_open.jpg

"MSI's Trident 3 is a compact SFF system that can provide a console-like gaming experience. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-7700, a custom mITX MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB GAMING, 16 GB of RAM, an M.2 SSD and a mechanical HDD for storage duties, it is small yet extremely capable."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Source: TechPowerUp

Gigabyte Shows Off Half Height GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 18, 2017 - 03:31 AM |
Tagged: SFF, pascal, low profile, GTX 1050 Ti, gtx 1050, gigabyte

Without much fanfare Gigabyte recently launched two new low profile half height graphics cards packing factory overclocked GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti GPUs. The new cards measure 6.6” x 2.7” x 1.5” (167mm long) and are cooled by a small shrouded single fan cooler. 
 
Gigabyte GTX 1050 OC Low Profile 2G.png
 
Around back, both the Gigabyte GTX 1050 OC Low Profile 2G and GTX 1050 Ti OC Low Profile 4G offer four display outputs in the form of two HDMI 2.0b, one DisplayPort 1.4, and one dual-link DVI-D. It appears that Gigabyte is using the same cooler for both cards. There is not much information on this cooler, but it utilizes an aluminum heatsink and what looks like a ~50mm fan. Note that while the cards are half-height, they use a dual slot design which may limit the cases it can be used in.
 
The GTX 1050 OC Low Profile 2G features 640 Pascal-based CUDA cores clocked at 1366 MHz base and 1468 MHz boost out of the box (1392 MHz base and 1506 MHz boost in OC Mode using Gigabyte’s software) and 2GB of GDDR5 memory at 7008 MHz (7GT/s). For comparison, the GTX 1050 reference clock speeds are 1354 MHz base and 1455 MHz boost.
 
Meanwhile, the GTX 1050 Ti OC Low Profile 4G has 768 cores clocked at 1303 MHz base and 1417 MHz boost by default and 1328 MHz base and 1442 MHz boost in OC Mode. The GPU is paired with 4GB of GDDR5 memory at 7GT/s. NVIDIA’s reference GPU clocks are 1290 MHz base and 1392 MHz boost.
 
The pint-sized graphics cards would certainly allow for gaming on your SFF home theater or other desktop PC as well as being an easy upgrade to make a tiny OEM PC gaming capable (think those thin towers HP, Lenovo, and Dell like to use). 
 
Of course, Gigabyte is not yet talking pricing and availability has only been narrowed down to a general Q1 2017 time frame. I would expect the cards to hit retailers within a month or so and be somewhere around $135 for their half height GTX 1050 OC LP 2G and approximately $155 for the faster GTX 1050 Ti variant. That is to say that the low profile cards should be available at a slight premium over the company's larger GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti graphics cards.
Source: Gigabyte
Manufacturer: Cooler Master

Introduction

Cooler Master's MasterLiquid Maker 92 is a unique liquid CPU cooler that fits all of its parts into one cluster atop the processor, and does it with a clever, hinged construction that allows it to be switched from an upright to a horizontal position at will. While the Maker 92 only occupies about as much space as a large tower air cooler in its upright position, the ability to fold it down provides both enhanced clearance and the option of directing airflow down to help cool motherboard components. But the big question for this cooler is just how effective can a closed-loop system be when it’s this compact? We’re about to find out!

Maker_92.jpg

Let's get part out if the way right off the bat: specialty small form-factor products generally don't offer competitive price/performance numbers, and critics are quick to point to this aspect of SFF computing. The small form-factor side of enthusiast PC building is a pretty small niche, and a product like the Maker 92 might not be for you; but what is important to consider when looking at a specialty product like this is the performance for its size, as designs of the most compact cooling components typically sacrifice something in this regard given their reduced surface area, smaller fan diameter, etc.

Most SFF solutions for processor cooling are of the air variety, with liquid being an option if a given enclosure supports your AiO (or custom loop) cooling of choice. Ultra low-profile CPU air coolers are popular for slim builds, and a product like the Maker 92 isn’t going to replace one of these if your enclosure of choice has a very low profile. Any system using a standard height PCI Express graphics card will work, though that top fan may have to come off depending on the case - which of course will affect cooling performance (in theory, anyway). But enough speculation! Let’s take a close look at this cooler and test out the fit and cooling prowess in both orientations.

DSC_0308.jpg

Continue reading our review of the Cooler Master MasterLiquid Maker 92 CPU cooler!!

Intel Announces Compute Card To Power Smart Devices

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | January 8, 2017 - 03:38 AM |
Tagged: vpro, SFF, kaby lake, iot, Intel, compute stick

Intel announced the Compute Card today, a modular small form factor compute system for smart appliances, home automation, industrial applications, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The Compute Card is a full PC in a card slightly longer than credit card at 95 x 55 x 5mm with an Intel SoC, memory, storage, wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), and standardized I/O built in. The compute card is designed the fit into an internal or external slot where it locks into place. According to Intel, the idea is to standardize the compute aspect of these smart devices so that manufacturers can reduce time to market and design costs as well as make them easier to repair. Manufacturers would design their devices with a slot for an Intel Compute Card and then choose a card that meets their performance and price requirements as the brains of the smart device whether that is your toaster, virtual assistant, IoT gateway, or security system. Outside of the home, Intel wants to sell cards to makers of digital signage, kiosks, and industrial control systems for machinery and factories.

compute-card-side-angled.png

One of the first things that came to mind for me was its usage in smart TVs and that may happen but the hope of an upgrade-able model where I could just slap a new Compute Card in to get new features and better performance I fear will never happen if only because while that model would be good for Intel the TV manufacturers that want to sell you new TVs every year would never go for it heh.

Unfortunately, Intel has not released full specifications on the Compute Card, only saying that they would utilize 7th Generation Core vPro processors. Looking around on their website, I would make an educated guess that Intel plans to use the 4.5 watt "7th Generation Intel® Core™ vPro™ Processors" intended for mobile devices. These chips range from 1.1 GHz to 1.3 GHz and are two core / four thread processors paired with Intel HD Graphics (515, 615, or 630). There are also 15W vPro processors with faster clockspeeds but they may not do well in such a small form factor where there is not guaranteed cooling. Still, even the lower power models should offer up quite a bit of computing power for connected devices that do basic tasks.

Intel expects to release its Compute Cards in mid-2017 and has partnered with Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Sharp as well as regional partners Seneca, DTx, InFocus, tabletkiosk, and Pasuntech. I notice that Samsung is missing from this list but would be a good partner to have if only because of their appliance line. The chip giant is said to be expanding that partner list though so we may yet see more appliance and home automation manufacturers pop up on there. I think that standardizing the brains of IoT is a good plan and smart on Intel's part but I am a bit skeptical whether or not it will catch on and how well it will be adopted in the targeted markets.

What are your thoughts on Intel's Compute Card?

Source: Intel

CES 2017: ASUS Announces VivoMini PCs

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2017 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: vivomini, SFF, CES 2017, CES, asus

ASUS has just announced three mini PCs at CES. Each of them run Intel’s Kaby Lake processors, but they otherwise differ from one in terms of specifications, such as the number of drives, how they are connected, and so forth. Prices range from $275 up to $799, although that comparison ignores who each specific product targets, so read on for more detail below.

Asus-2017-ces-UN65.png

UN65U

The UN65U make up the cheapest units of the product stack, ranging from $275 to $449 USD and available in Q1 2017. Interestingly, it also allows for up-to 512GB of SSD to be connected through M.2 via PCIe Express, and that can be expanded upon with up to 1TB of 2.5-inch HDD. The design is based on their “spun metal” pattern, common for their laptops and smartphones, which I, personally, like the look of. The device can output 4K UHD via the integrated GPU, and it comes with 802.11ac WiFi built-in. ASUS has suggested using this machine as either a home theatre PC or as a small business terminal.

Asus-2017-ces-VM65_1 (1).jpg

VM65

The VM65 ups the graphics performance a little, including an NVIDIA GeForce 930M with Optimus technology. It apparently doesn’t have support for M.2 hard drives, but it can mount two, 2.5-inch drives, either SSD or HDD. It also has built-in WiFi and three USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. It is expected to cost $549 USD and it also ships in Q1 2017.

Asus-2017-ces-VC66.jpg

VC66

The VC66 apparently goes back to integrated graphics, but allows both M.2 and two 2.5-inch drives, either SSD or HDD, and they can be joined with built-in RAID. It also has quite a few connectivity options: DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort. It seems like they’re aiming this at businesses primarily, though, especially with the ability to remotely update its BIOS. Prices range from $499 to $799, and it ships in February 2017.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

CES 2017: ASUS Announces VivoPC X Compact VR-ready PC

Subject: Systems | January 4, 2017 - 03:48 AM |
Tagged: VR, small form factor, SFF, PC, gaming, desktop, CES 2017, CES, asus

ASUS has announced a compact, VR-ready desktop called the VivoPC X, and this small form-factor PC contains a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor and discrete NVIDIA graphics.

 VivoPC M80.jpg

“VivoPC X is powered by a 7th Generation Intel Core processor with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10 series graphics, and is fully compatible with the latest VR headsets. Its compact 5-liter chassis can be placed anywhere in the home, and has extensive connectivity features including four USB 3.1 Gen 1 and two USB 2.0 ports for VR peripherals and controllers. VivoPC X is designed for general consumers who are looking for a VR-ready PC that meets the hardware demands of VR tasks and entertainment.”

VivoPC X_M80 Thermal.jpg

A look at the cooling system within the VivoPC X

Here are the specifications from ASUS:


  • Processor: Intel Core i5-7300HQ
  • Chipset: Intel HM175
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
  • Memory: 8GB DDR4 2133MHz
  • Storage     
    • Up to 2TB SATA hard drive (7200RPM)
    • 512GB M.2 SATA SSD
  • Connectivity    
    • 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1
    • 2 x USB 2.0
    • 1 x 3-in-1 audio jack
    • 1 x RJ45 LAN (Gigabit)
    • 2 x HDMI
    • 1 x DisplayPort
  • Wireless: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Power supply: 230W adapter
  • Size: 2.99 x 10.23 x 11.02 inches

VivoPC M80 1.jpg

The console-sized VivoPC X will be available in March with an MSRP of $799.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

ZOTAC AT CES 2017 - Thunderbolt 3 Zbox, TB3 external GPU dock

Subject: Shows and Expos | December 30, 2016 - 09:09 PM |
Tagged: zotac, ZBOX C, zbox, SFF, GTX 1080 Mini, external gpu, CES 2017

Zotac have hinted at three new products they will be showing off at CES this year.  The first is an updated ZBOX family which will feature Thunderbolt 3 connectivity for new monitors, high bandwidth external storage or perhaps even an external GPU.  It will be powered by a Kaby Lake processor and will be passively cooled, offering great performance in small and silent form factor.

ZBOX_CI549nano_Image06.jpg

The second offering will be an enclosure for an external GPU, offering 16x PCIe 3.0 bandwidth thanks to the TB3 connection to your machine.  It also provides three USB 3.0 ports and a Quick Charge 3.0 USB port for your mobile devices.  Inside is a 400W PSU which can be used to power your system

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Last up is a tiny version of a GTX 1080, which doesn't skimp on the power.  It has a base clock of 1620 MHz and Boost of 1759 MHz, with a full 8GB of memory running at 5GHz.  The PR does not give the measurements of the card but as you can see below it is about half again as long as the PCI slot it plugs into and remains a two slot card.

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HONG KONG – December 30, 2016 – ZOTAC International, a global manufacturer of innovation, is pleased to bring 10 years of design excellence to CES 2017 and showcase innovative VR and commercial solutions. A strong lineup including ZOTAC’s first Thunderbolt 3 Mini PC and External VGA box will be on show at One-Story Sky Villa, Palms Casino Resort. “We believe the future of computing should be flexible,” says Tony Wong, CEO, ZOTAC International. “Our next generation of computing products enables users to get the best of mobile and stationary experience.”

New Productivity Levels with new Mini PCs
The next generation of high speed and versatile connection has arrived on ZOTAC Mini PCs with next generation Intel Kaby Lake processors and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Thunderbolt 3 delivers more transfer speed, more charging power and more compatible protocols. Richer display colors, lightning data transfer speed and a wide range of expansions become available with this new protocol.

The new ZBOX Mini PCs also introduce greater productive functionality with Intel vPRO and UNITE features. UNITE is introduced for the first time in ZOTAC Mini PCs, enabling it to become a platform for secure conference connections. Furthermore, it retains the functions of Intel vPRO and AMT, providing the convenience of deep repairs and maintenance through a remote connection. Intel Kaby Lake processors and GeForce GTX graphics are paired for the first time to make gaming Mini PCs more powerful and even more power efficient.

Unlock Potential Performance with External Graphics Dock
The external graphics dock enables a device equipped with Thunderbolt 3 port to greatly enhance its graphical processing capabilities and expand its functionalities. The ZOTAC external graphics dock (tentative) comes with a PCIE 3.0 slot , 3 standard USB 3.0 ports and 1 Quick Charge 3.0 enabled USB 3.0 port. This enables users to take advantage of the latest in battery technology in their supported devices such as smartphones and tablets.

“Our goal is to turn low power and ultra-portable Windows devices such as notebooks and mini PCs into performance racecars,” says Danny Wong, Director of Product Management, ZOTAC International. “The external graphics dock enables any device equipped with Thunderbolt 3 ports to take full advantage of the transfer speed and bandwidth, potentially becoming exponentially more powerful.”

The external graphics dock also serves as a power source with a 400W power supply, meaning it can directly power a connected mini PC or supported system. Only a single Thunderbolt 3 type-C cable connection is needed for both power and data transfer on supported devices. All these features allow the dock to become a literal powerhouse for any notebooks or mini PCs. See it in action at ZOTAC’s suite.

Explore New Territories with VR GO
As the VR GO hits the shelves, there is no better time to demonstrate what VR GO does that makes the difference.

The ZOTAC VR GO is designed for a truly mobile VR experience. From hardware to comfort, every detail is considered. VR GO provides powerful yet efficient performance with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics and Intel Core i7 processor. Hardware and thermal design enable marathon playtime with comfort and minimal noise.

 

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

 

Source: Zotac