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
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 14, 2017 - 08:42 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zotac, gtx 1080 ti, factory overclocked, gp102, SFF
Zotac recently unveiled a slimmed down GTX 1080 Ti graphics card that uses a dual slot and dual fan cooler with a short PCB. The aptly named Zotac GTX 1080 Ti Mini measures 8.3” (211mm) long and will be the smallest GTX 1080 Ti on the market. Despite the miniaturization, Zotac is still offering a decent factory overclock on the Pascal GPU (but not the memory) with a boost clock of 1620 MHz versus the reference boost clock of 1582.
Zotac uses two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors to drive the card with its GTX 1080 Ti GPU (3584 CUDA cores) and 11GB of GDDR5X memory clocked at 11 GHz. The slimmed down graphics card features a metal backplate, dual shrouded fans, and a heatsink with aluminum fins and five 6mm heat pipes. The card has three DisplayPort 1.4 ports, one HDMI 2.0b port, and one DL-DVI output with the card supporting up to four simultaneous displays.
The Zotac GTX 1080 Ti Mini should enable quite a bit of horsepower in small form factor systems. The graphics card is model number ZT-P10810G-10P and Zotac has it listed on its website. Unfortunately, Zotac is not yet talking pricing or availability for the shortened card.
It appears that overclocking is not out of the question, but I am curious just how far it could be pushed especially in a small case with tight quarters and less airflow.
Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2017 - 07:02 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vpro, SFF, sbc, modular computer, Intel, computex, compute card
Launched earlier this year at CES, Intel’s credit card sized Compute Cards will begin shipping in August. Intel and its partners used Computex to show off the Compute Card itself along with prototype and concept devices based around the new platform.
techtechtech opened up the Core M3-7Y30 equipped Compute Card at Computex.
As a quick refresher, the Compute Card is a full PC in a small card shaped form factor measuring 95mm x 55mm x 5mm that features an Intel SoC, DDR3 RAM, solid state storage, wireless connectivity, and standardized I/O (one USB-C and a proprietary Intel connector sit side by side on one edge of the card). The small cards are designed to slot into devices that will use the Compute Card as their brains for smart home automation, appliances, industrial applications, smart whiteboards, and consumer products such as tablets, notebooks, and smart TVs.
At its Computex press events, Intel revealed details on specifications. The initial launch will include four Compute Card SKUs with two lower end and two higher end models. All four of the cards are equipped with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and either 64GB of eMMC or 128GB SSD storage. The two lower end SKUs use Intel Wireless-AC 7265 while the more expensive models have Intel Wireless-AC 8265 (both are 2x2 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2). Processor options from top to bottom include the 7th generation Intel i5-7Y57, Core m3-7Y30, Pentium N4200, and Celeron N3450. Enterprise customers will appreciate the TPM support and security features. Reportedly, the Compute Cards will start at $199 for the low-end model and go up to $499+ for the higher end cards.
Intel partners Dell, HP, and Lenovo were reportedly not ready to show off any devices but will launch Compute Card compatible devices at some point. ECS, Foxconn, LG Display, NexDock, Sharp, and others did have prototype devices at Computex and have announced their support for the platform. The Compute Card concept devices shown off include tablets, laptops, All In Ones, digital signage, kiosks, and a monitor stand dock that lets the user add their own monitor and have an AIO powered by a Compute Card. Other uses include ATMs, smart whiteboards, mini PCs for desktop and HTCP uses, and docks that would allow business user sand students to have a single PC with storage that they could take anywhere and get work done. Students could plug their Compute Card into a laptop shell, computer lab PC, whiteboard for presentations, their home dock, and other devices..
(My opinions follow:)
It is an interesting concept that has been tried before with smartphones (and Samsung is currently trying with its S8 and docks) but never really caught on. The promise and idea of being able to easily upgrade a smart TV, computer, smart appliance, home security system, ect without having to replace the entire unit (just upgrading the brains) is a great one, but thus far has not really gained traction. Similarly, the idea of a single PC that you carry everywhere in your pocket and use whatever display you have handy has been promised before but never delivered. Perhaps Intel can drive this modular PC idea home and we could finally see it come to fruition. Unexpectedly absent from the list of partners is Asus and Samsung. Samsung I can understand since they are trying to do their own thing with the S8 but I was a bit surprised to see Asus was not out front with a Compute Card support as they were Intel's partner with its Zenfone and they seem like a company with a good balance of R&D and manufacturing power but nimble enough to test out new markets. The other big PC guys (Dell, HP, and Lenovo) aren't ready with their devices yet either though so I guess we will just have to see what happens in terms of support and adoption. The other thing that could hold the Compute Card back is that Intel will reportedly allow manufacturer lock-in where devices and Compute Cards can be made to only work with hardware from the same manufacturer. Restricting interoperability might hurt the platform, but it might aslo creat less confusion for consumers with the onus being on each manufacturer to actually support an upgrade path I guess.
What are your thoughts on the Compute Card?
Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 02:35 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, SFF, barebones, nuc, kaby lake, Intel, Optane, computex
MSI recently introduced a new member of its Cubi small form factor barebones PC lineup. The Cubi 3 is a fanless PC that is build around Intel’s Kaby Lake-U processors and will arrive sometime this fall.
The Cubi 3 is a bit larger than its predecessors, but with the larger enclosure MSI was able to achieve a fanless design for up to (U series) Core i7 processors. The SFF PC sports a brushed aluminum case that shows off the top of the CPU heatsink through vents that run around the top edge of the case. There are two flat antennas for Wi-Fi and Bluetooh integrated into the left and right sides of the case.
FanlessTech reports that the MSI Cubi 3 will sport 15W Kaby Lake-U processors from low end Celerons up to Core i7 models. These parts are dual core parts with HyperThreading (2c/4t) with 3 MB or 4 MB of L3 cache and either HD (615 or 620) or Iris Plus (640 or 650) integrated graphics. The processor is paired with two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots for up to 32 GB of 2133 MHz memory, an M.2 2280 SSD (there is even Intel Optane support), and a single 2.5” drive.
The Cubi 3 has an audio jack and two USB 3.0 ports up front, and what appears to be two USB 2.0 ports on the left side. Rear I/O includes one HDMI, one DisplayPort, two more USB 3.0, two Gigabit Ethernet, two COM ports, and one power jack for the 65W AC power adapter.
There is no word on pricing yet, but it is slated to begin production in August with availability this fall.
It is always nice to see more competition in this niche fanless SFF space, and the little box would not look out of place on a desk or even in the living room. What are your thoughts?
Introduction and First Impressions
The LIVA family of mini PCs has been refreshed regularly since its introduction in 2014, and the LIVA Z represents a change to sleek industrial design as well as the expected updates to the internal hardware.
The LIVA Z we have for review today is powered by an Intel Apollo Lake SoC, and the product family includes SKUs with both Celeron and Pentium processors. Our review unit is the entry-level model with a Celeron N3350 processor, 4GB memory, and 32GB storage. Memory and storage support are improved compared to past LIVAs, as this is really more of a mini-PC kit like an Intel NUC, as the LIVA Z includes an M.2 slot (SATA 6.0 Gbps) for storage expansion, and a pair of SODIMM slots support up to 8 GB of DDR3L memory (a single 4GB SODIMM is installed by default).
The LIVA Z is a very small device, just a bit bigger than your typical set-top streaming box, and like all LIVAs it is fanless; making it totally silent in operation. This is important for many people in applications such as media consumption in a living room, and like previous LIVA models the Z includes a VESA mount for installation on the back of a TV or monitor. So how does it perform? We will find out!
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.