Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 4, 2017 - 11:04 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: water cooling, SFX-L, SFF, phanteks, mini ITX, htpc, evolv shift x, evolv shift
Phanteks Project 217 prototype case is finally official and will be known as the Evolv Shift and Evolv Shift X. Both are small form factor cases that feature a unique tower design that has the approximate footprint of a large graphics card, but manages to fit quite a bit of hardware inside by building up rather than out. The skyscraper style cases measure 6.7” wide and 10.63” deep. The Evplv Shift is the shorter of the two at 18.9” tall while the Evolv Shift X is 25.9”. The Mini ITX cases are constructed from a powder coated steel frame, aluminum cover panels, and tempered glass side panels.
HardwareCanucks shot video of the new SFF cases!
The Evolv Shift and Shift X both have black aluminum insides and a silver aluminum front panel. There are fam vents around the edges of the front panel and two USB 3.0 ports tucked away on the side. The top of the case covers the motherboard I/O and has a cutout in the back for routing the I/O cables out of the case - on the Shift X this piece is also aluminum but on the Shift it is plastic to cut costs. The two tempered glass side panels and front and back panels are held on by thumbscrews to allow for easy removal to work on the build. Being able to take all four sides off should make to easier to build in the small space.
Other case features include removable case feet that enables you to lay the case horizontally on one of its two sides (so you can show off the CPU side or GPU side), dust filters up front, and separation of the two front fans and compartments so that one can be an intake and the other exhaust if you wish. For such a small case there is quite a njt of cable management going o with rubber grommets and horizontal cable tracks (with a magnetic door for easy access) to hid away your cables and pass them from the PSU compartment to the motherboard compartment). Interestingly the GPU is mounted vertically and the bracket can be rotated and adjusted left and right so that you can choose to see the back of the graphics card or (finally!!) the front of the card with the artwork -- that’s right a case that lets you see and show off the stickers and cooler of your graphics card! (hehe, it has always irked me they put the artwork on the part of thr GPU you usually never see once it's in the case.)
Internally, the case is divided into two main areas with the power supply on bottom along with room for water cooling pumps and reservoirs and the motherboard, processor, and graphics cards stacked on top of the PSU area. The Evolv Shift and Evolv Shift X both support small form factor power supplies (SFX and SFX-L), Mini ITX motherboards, and even large graphics card thanks to the riser cable and vertical mounting. The larger Shift X can also hold ATX PSUs with the caveat that you have to give up the PSU shroud.
Cooling support includes air and water coolers with up to three 120mm or 140mm fans up front and one 120mm or 140mm fan in the bottom. The case will come with two 140mm fans out of the box.
As far as storage is concerned the case had room for two 2.5” drives and either one 3.5” drive on the Shift or two 3.5” drives on the Shift X.
Oh, and there is also an included RGB controller if you want to add a bit of bling to your dual windowed skyscraper PC.
The Evolv Shift and Evolv Shift X are coming later this year for $110 and $160 respectively.
These look to be very unique cases that will look good on a desk or even in the living room as a home theater PC. I am looking forward to the reviews on these as I am curious how well the case can keep high end components cool and how easy they are to build a system in.
Subject: Motherboards | June 3, 2017 - 02:50 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, ryzen, mini ITX, computex, asrock, amd, AM4
ASRock officially announced the Fatal1ty X370 Gaming-ITX/ac Mini ITXmotherboard at Computex. With the AMD AM4 socket and X370 chipset, the motherboard is ready for a Ryzen processor or Bristol Ridge APU (though at this point, it might be prudent to wait for Raven Ridge).
The new motherboard is powered by a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connector that drives a digital eight phase VRM setup. The AM4 CPU socket is surrounded by two DDR4 DIMM slots, a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, and four SATA 6Gbps ports. There is also one Ultra M.2 (PCI-E 3.0 x4) slot for solid state drives. ASRock includes 7.1 channel (Realtek ALC 1220) audio along with Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet. There is also support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.3 with two external antenna connectors on the back panel.
Speaking of rear I/O, the Fatal1ty X370 Gaming-ITX/ac includes:
- 1 x PS/2
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x HDMI
- 3 x USB 3.0 Type-A
- 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C
- 5 x Analog audio
- 1 x S/PDIF
- 2 x Wi-Fi antennas
Small form factor enthusiasts have been waiting for this board for awhile since it was first teased. Fortunately, they will not have long to wait with several websites reporting from Computex that the new Mini ITX motherboard will be available within the month for around $160 MSRP. (There is reportedly also going to be a B350-based variant which may come in a bit cheaper.)
I am looking forward to the reviews on this one! Are you planning a SFF Ryzen build?
- BIOSTAR Launches First Mini-ITX AM4 Motherboards
- BIOSTAR Shows Mini-ITX AM4 Motherboard for AMD Ryzen
- Computex 2017: ASRock Shows Mini-ITX Intel X299 with the X299E-ITX Motherboard
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 1, 2017 - 10:38 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFX-L, SFF, High Power, computex, be quiet!, 80+ gold
German PSU maker be quiet! Had several new power supplies on display at Computex. Perhaps the most interesting for small form factor enthusiasts are the two new SFX-L power supplies. The aptly named SFX-L-500W and SFX-L-600W are fully modular 80+ Gold rated power supplies that are not much bigger than the 120mm temperature controlled fan that cools it.
SFFNetwork examined the new PSUs at Computex.
According to AnandTech, be quiet! Is using High Power as the OEM for these power supplies rather than its usual partner FSP. The High Power platform offers up a single 12V rail design that supports multi GPU setups with the inclusion of 4 PCI-E power connectors. At least on the 600W variant (not sure on the 500W) the PSU is rated at 50A on the 12-volt rail, which is nice to see. The fan does not support spinning down to zero when under light load, but it does spin down to lower RPMs and has a temperature controlled fan curve that be quiet! claims is sufficient for even noise sensitive applications like HTPCs (hopefully Lee gets his hands on these soon and can confirm the advertised specs).
Both of the new small form factor (SFF) power supplies come with a three-year warranty which seems to be pretty standard for power supplies these days though five would be nice to see especially when they are going to be going into tiny cases with less airflow than the traditional ATX desktop. Speaking of ATX, the SFX-L PSUs come with an adapter that will allow you to install the SFF unit into a standard ATX power supply mount should you want to use it in a larger case.
The 500W and 600W PSUs have US MSRPs of $109 and $129 respectively.
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: Graphics Cards | May 13, 2017 - 11:46 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, pascal, nvidia, Inno3D, GP107
Hong Kong based Inno3D recently introduced a single slot graphics card using NVIDIA’s mid-range GTX 1050 Ti GPU. The aptly named Inno3D GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (1-Slot Edition) combines the reference clocked Pascal GPU, 4GB of GDDR5 memory, and a shrouded single fan cooler clad in red and black.
Around back, the card offers three display outputs including a HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, and DVI-D. The single slot cooler is a bit of an odd design with an thin axial fan rather than a centrifugal type that sits over a fake plastic fin array. Note that these fins do not actually cool anything, in fact the PCB of the card does not even extend out to where the fan is; presumably the fins are there primarily for aesthetics and secondarily to channel a bit of the air the fan pulls down. Air is pulled in and pushed over the actual GPU heatsink (under the shroud) and out the vent holes next to the display connectors. Air is circulated through the case and is not actually exhausted like traditional dual slot (and some single slot) designs. I am curious how the choice of fan and vents will affect cooling performance.
Overclocking is going to be limited on this card, and it comes out-of-the-box clocked at NVIDIA reference speeds of 1290 MHz base and 1392 MHz boost for the GPU’s 768 cores and 7 GT/s for the 4GB of GDDR5 memory. The card measures 211 mm (~8.3”) long and should fit in just about any case. Since it pulls all of its power from the slot, it might be a good option for those slim towers OEMs like to use these days to get a bit of gaming out of a retail PC.
Inno3D is not yet talking availability or pricing, but looking at there existing lineup I would expect a MSRP around $150.
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.
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!
Introduction: A Hybrid Approach
The Hex 2.0 from Phononic is not your typical CPU cooler. It functions as both a thermoelectric cooler (TEC) - which you may also know as a Peltier cooler - and as a standard heatsink/fan, depending on CPU load. It offers a small footprint for placement in all but the lowest-profile systems, yet it boasts cooling potential beyond other coolers of its size. Yes, it is expensive, but this is a far more complex device than a standard air or even all-in-one liquid cooler - and obviously much smaller than even the most compact AiO liquid coolers.
“The HEX 2.0 combines a proprietary state-of-the-art high performance thermoelectric module with an innovative heat exchanger. The small form factor CPU cooler pioneers a new category of cooling technology. The compact design comfortably fits in small chassis, including mini-ITX cases, while delivering cooling capacity beyond that of much larger coolers.”
Even though it does not always need to function as such, the Hex 2.0 is a thermoelectric cooling device, and that alone makes it interesting from a PC hardware enthusiast point of view (at least mine, anyway). The 'active-passive' approach taken by Phononic with the Hex 2.0 allows for greater performance potential that would otherwise be possible from a smaller TEC device, though our testing will of course reveal how effective it is in actual use.
HEX 2.0 features an Active-Passive design (Credit: Phononic)
The goal for the HEX 2.0 CPU cooler was to provide similar cooling performance to all-in-one (AIO) liquid coolers or the very largest fan-heat sinks in a package that could fit into the smallest PC form factors (like miniITX). The active-passive design is what makes this possible. By splitting the CPU heat into two paths, as shown in Figure 1 (Ed. the above image), the thermoelectric device can be sized at an optimal point where it can provide the most benefit for lowering CPU temperature without having to be large enough to pump the entire CPU thermal load. We also designed electronic controls to turn off the thermoelectric heat pump at times of low CPU load, making for an energy efficient cooler that provides adequate cooling with zero power draw at low CPU loads. However, when the CPU is stressed and the CPU heat load increases, the electronic controls energize the thermoelectric heat pump, lowering the temperature of the passive base plate and the CPU itself. The active-passive design has one further benefit – when used in conjunction with the electronic controls, this design virtually eliminates the risk of condensation for the HEX 2.0.
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).