Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 9, 2016 - 02:16 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF case, SFF, OEM, ODM, micro ATX, jonsbo, itx
Jonsbo, an OEM based in Hong Kong that also does ODM designs for other brands (such as Newegg’s house brand Rosewill) has announced a new Micro ATX chassis called the VR2. The upcoming small form factor case measures 14.9” x 9.4” x 15.8” and is constructed using an SGCC (cold rolled steel) frame along with 3mm thick aluminum-magnesium alloy body panels and 5mm tempered glass side panels on both the left and right sides. The case comes in black, silver, and red.
The SFF VR2 case uses a vertical motherboard design that places the rear IO, power supply input, and PCI slots at the top of the case. The cable clutter is hidden by the top panel of the case and cables are routed out of the back of the case. The vertical mounting design allows for larger graphics cards (up to 12.6" / 320mm) to be installed along with standard ATX power supplies up to 250mm long. Further, while we are on measurements, CPU coolers can be up to 190mm tall.
Further, the motherboard tray can hold either ITX or Micro ATX motherboards with four external PCI slots available for expansion cards.
Cooling is handled by two 120mm fans in the bottom and a single 120mm fan up top. Airflow is going to be restricted with this design, but according to Jonsbo the cooling setup will generate positive pressure and bring in enough cool air to keep things running smoothly even with the single exhaust fan that does not have a direct outside vent above it (we will have to see if reviews confirm these claims, of course!).
The outside of the case is kept simple with subtle curved edges, rounded case feet, and clean front and top panels sans vents. There are two USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen 1) ports and two 3.5mm audio jacks nestled in the bottom right corner and a single silver power button in the top left corner of the front panel. Other than that, even the vents are hidden from view. The red version in particular is quite attractive. The left and right sides of the case feature tempered glass to show off your components as well as your awesome cable management behind the motherboard tray (it's not a rat's nest back there right?? heh).
Internally, the Jonsbo VR2 has a motherboard tray with a very large CPU cutout and cable routing grommets along the bottom edge. This actually works out well except for perhaps the CPU power connector (the grommets are close to the bulky 24-pin and GPU inputs though). A modular power supply is a must though if you want a clean build though; there is no space to easily hide away unused cables.
The case has room for a total of four 2.5" drives and a single 3.5" drive with the 3.5" and two 2.5" SSDs in the main compartment and two SSD mounts behind the motherboard tray.
It is an interesting case from a company that I had not heard of before. More photos and specifications can be found on the company's website.
It is not clear whether we will see the Jonsbo branded version in the US soon or if we will have to wait for a US company to pick up the design and sell it under their own brand (or import it I suppose). Pricing and availability have not been announced yet, but hopefully more information will be released next month at CES.
Introduction and Case Exterior
The Define Mini C is the micro-ATX variant in Fractal Design's excellent Define series, and this compact chassis is nearly as small as some of the mini-ITX cases we've looked at in recent months. The advantages of micro-ATX for a small form-factor build are undeniable, including added expansion slots (and multi-GPU support), and more robust power delivery for greater CPU flexibility including AMD socket AM3/AM3+ support.
I freely admit to being a small form-factor enthusiast myself, and as much as I like mini-ITX, there are times when micro-ATX just makes sense. I mentioned AMD compatibility above, but even if you're building with Intel there are reasons to consider mATX. One of these is Intel's enthusiast platform, as X99 requires at least a micro-ATX board for quad-channel memory and greater PCIe flexibility. (Naturally, at least one mITX X99 board is available, but this is limited to a pair of memory slots and - of course - has just one PCIe slot.)
As soon as I unpacked the Define Mini C, I knew it would make a perfect home for the EVGA X99 Micro2 motherboard I had on hand. This micro-ATX board makes a compelling argument for the smaller form-factor, as very little is lost vs. full ATX. The Mini C (which sounds like the name of a mini-ITX product, but Fractal's mITX variant is the called Nano S - which I reviewed a few months back) should make a great home for a powerful compact system. Let's get started!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 6, 2016 - 09:28 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: antec, mini ITX, SFF, water cooling, razer, PAX
At PAX West, Antec, in a partnership with Razer, showed off a new small form factor case for Mini ITX systems called the Antec Cube – Designed By Razer. The new case is an angular forward leaning design with an all-black finish complemented by green LEDs and darkened acrylic windows on the sides and top. It sports a green power button, green triple snake Razer logo, front IO on the top edge of the front panel with green USB 3.0 ports, and green LED under-glow strips on the left and right bottom sides. Needless to say, this is the case for fans of the color green (heh).
Internally, the Antec Cube – Designed By Razer (Why must this have such a long name?) can accommodate Mini ITX motherboards, ATX power supplies, three expansion slots, one 3.5” hard drive, and up to four 2.5” drives. It has decent component support with room for GPUs up to 350mm (~13.77”) with front intake fans removed and CPU coolers up to 190mm (~7.48”) tall. The motherboard is installed upside down so GPUs will be closest to the top of the case. The power supply is hidden in the bottom of the case by a shroud that allows you to hide your rats nest of cables (heh) as well.
As for cooling, the small form factor case has support for up to a 140mm rear exhaust fan and two 120mm intake fans in the front (or a 240mm water cooling radiator).
I think that this case would be a good fit for a custom water cooling loop as an air cooled GPU may have a hard time being up top with little ventilation, especially if it is not of the blower style design and is dumping heat out into the top of the case. Also, it would look cooler (heh). Actually, Antec showed off a water cooled system using the case at PAX West which you can see in this video thanks to Steve Burke over at Gamer’s Nexus who was at the show. It does have some nice features including a removable PSU dust filter and a new click system for the side panels that reportedly make them easy to remove and install.
The case will be sold individually as well as in pre-built systems in the US while in China it will be sold exclusively with pre-built PCs from OEMs. Production is slated to begin next month with availability by the end of the year. There is no word yet on pricing, unfortunately.
What do you think about the new SFF case? And those green LEDs?
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 6, 2016 - 05:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: corsair, Corsair H5 SF, AIO, water cooler, SFF
You can't judge a system by it's cover anymore, tiny systems that would appear to be an HTPC could in fact be a higher end gaming system thanks to the number of SFF enthusiast class boards released over the past year. Indeed one of the biggest hurdles system builders face is fitting appropriate cooling into the small cases. Corsair released their H5 SF all in one watercooler at the beginning of the year and we have seen several reviews of the uniquely shaped cooler. The H5 SF will cool your CPU but it does come with a noise penalty thanks to the fan. If you haven't seen this cooler before, or are just in need of a refresher you can pop by Techgage as they have just completed a review of this cooler.
"Cooling options for those building or upgrading an itty bitty mini-ITX system are few and far between, and even less so if liquid cooling is a must. Fear not small form factor lovers, Corsair is here to save the day with the H5 SF, the mightiest of all mini all-in-one liquid cool ers, so read on to see if it can keep up with today’s pint sized powerhouses."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Swiftech H240 X2 CPU Liquid Cooling System @ NikKTech
- Thermaltake Core G3 Case @ Kitguru
- SilverStone PM01 Gaming @ Modders-Inc
- Corsair Carbide Air 740 Cube Chassis @ Guru of 3D
Subject: Systems | August 17, 2016 - 04:37 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: UHD, SFF, IDF 2016, idf, gigabyte, gaming, brix
While wandering around the exhibit area at this year’s Intel Developers Forum, I ran into our friends at Gigabyte a brand new BRIX small form factor PC. The BRIX Gaming UHD takes the now-standard NUC/BRIX block shape and literally raises it up, extending the design vertically to allow for higher performance components and the added cooling capability to integrate them.
The design of the BRIX Gaming UHD combines a brushed aluminum housing with a rubber base and bordering plastic sections to create a particularly stunning design that is both simple and interesting. Up top is a fan that pulls air through the entire chassis, running over the heatsink for the CPU and GPU. This is similar in function to the Mac Pro, though this is a much more compact device with a very different price point and performance target.
Around the back you’ll find all the connections that the BRIX Gaming UHD supplies: three (!!) mini DisplayPort connections, a full size HDMI output, four USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.1 connection, two wireless antennae ports, Gigabit Ethernet and audio input and output. That is a HUGE amount of connectivity options and is more than many consumer’s current large-scale desktops.
The internals of the system are impressive and required some very custom design for cooling and layout.
The discrete NVIDIA graphics chip (in this case the GTX 950) is on the left chamber while the Core i7-6500HQ Skylake processor is on the left side along with the memory slot and wireless card.
Gigabyte measures the size of the BRIX Gaming UHD at 2.6 liters. Because of that compact space there is no room for hard drives: you get access to two M.2 2280 slots for storage instead. There are two SO-DIMM slots for DDR4 memory up to 2133 MHz, integrated 802.11ac support and support for quad displays.
Availability and pricing are still up in the air, though early reports are that starting cost will be $1300. Gigabyte updated me and tells me that the BRIX Gaming UHD will be available in October and that an accurage MSRP has not been set. It would not surprise me if this model never actually saw the light of day and instead Gigabyte waited for NVIDIA’s next low powered Pascal based GPU, likely dubbed the GTX 1050. We’ll keep an eye on the BRIX Gaming UHD from Gigabyte to see what else transpires, but it seems the trend of small form factor PCs that sacrifice less in terms of true gaming potential continues.
Subject: Systems | August 16, 2016 - 08:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, nvidia, Lenovo, Killer Networking, Intel, IdeaCentre Y710 Cube, GTX 1080, gaming, gamescom, cube
Lenovo has announced the IdeaCentre Y710 Cube; a small form-factor system designed for gaming regardless of available space, and it can be configured with some very high-end desktop components for serious performance.
"Ideal for gamers who want to stay competitive no matter where they play, the IdeaCentre Y710 Cube comes with a built-in carry handle for easy transport between gaming stations. Housed sleekly within a new, compact cube form factor, it features NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX graphics and 6th Gen Intel Core processors to handle today’s most resource-intensive releases."
The Y710 Cube offers NVIDIA GeForce graphics up to the GTX 1080, and up to a 6th-generation Core i7 processor. (Though a specific processor number was not mentioned, this is likely the non-K Core i7-6700 CPU given the 65W cooler specified below).
Lenovo offers a pre-installed XBox One controller receiver with the Y710 Cube to position the small desktop as a console alternative, and the machines are configured with SSD storage and feature Killer Double Shot Pro networking (where the NIC and wireless card are combined for better performance).
- Processor: Up to 6th Generation Intel Core i7 Processor
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home
- Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080; 8 GB
- Memory: Up to 32 GB DDR4
- Storage: Up to 2 TB HDD + 256 GB SSD
- Cooling: 65 W
- Networking: Killer LAN / WiFi 10/100/1000M
- Video: 1x HDMI, 1x VGA
- Rear Ports: 1x USB 2.0 1x USB 3.0
- Front Ports: 2x USB 3.0
- Dimensions (L x D x H): 393.3 x 252.3 x 314.5 mm (15.48 x 9.93 x 12.38 inches)
- Weight: Starting at 16.3 lbs (7.4 kg)
- Carry Handle: Yes
- Accessory: Xbox One Wireless Controller/Receiver (optional)
The IdeaCentre Y710 Cube is part of Lenovo's Gamescom 2016 annoucement, and will be available for purchase starting in October. Pricing starts at $1,299.99 for a version with the GTX 1070.
Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2016 - 10:04 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, mini-stx, mini-pc, H110M-STX, asrock
The motherboard within ASRock's DeskMini mini-PC kit has been released as a standalone product, and this H110M-STX motherboard offers Intel processor support up to 65W in its 5" x 5" Mini-STX form-factor.
Image credit: ASRock
Specifications from ASRock:
- Supports LGA 1151 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors up to 65W TDP
- Supports Dual-Channel DDR4 SO-DIMM 2133
- Graphics output: D-Sub, HDMI, DisplayPort
- ALC283 Audio Codec
- 2x SATA3, 1 M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4)
- 3x USB 3.0 (Type-A & Type-C from front I/O; 1 from rear I/O)
- 3x USB 2.0 (2 from onboard header; 1 from rear I/O)
- Intel Gigabit LAN
- 1x M.2 (Key E for WiFi + BT module)
Like thin-Mini-ITX motherboards the H110M-STX requires an external 19v power adapter. ASRock recommends a 120W adapter for 65W CPUs, while 35W Intel CPU builds can manage with a 90W adapter.
Image credit: ASRock
As to availability/price, this has yet to appear in the usual e-tail channels in the U.S., with no results currently on Amazon or Newegg. ASRock's larger H110-ITX board sells for $69.99, so this may give us an indication of where pricing might be - though the smaller STX form-factor could increase cost.
Image credit: ASRock
A sub-mITX form-factor might seem a bit unnecessary, but the smaller board does provide builders with a way to create their own mini-PC boxes with upgradable processors. Naturally, one would need an enclosure for this tiny motherboard, and the only one I have seen thus far came from SilverStone's booth at CES - though ready availability for all products in this newest form-factor is still an issue.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 9, 2016 - 05:57 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thermoelectric, SFF, air cooling, TEC, mini ITX, phononic
An interesting cooling option for small form factor systems popped up in my email recently that is a new twist on an old technology. A company called Phononic has developed the Hex 2.0 which is a compact heatsink that pairs a tower air cooler with a TEC baseplate. At 810 grams and measuring 125 mm tall, the Hex 2.0 is Mini ITX friendly and is claimed to be competitive with closed loop water coolers with up to 240mm radiators (more on that below).
Hex 2.0 uses many of the same high quality components and design choices of traditional tower air coolers. A shrouded 92mm fan is sandwiched between two aluminum heatsinks with 40 fins each. There are eight 6mm heatpipes that pull heat from the hot side of the thermoelectric (TEC) cooler and dissipate the heat. The TEC (which has a copper baseplate) uses an electric current and two dissimilar conductors and the principle of electron transport to pull heat from the “cold side” of the cooler to the “hot side” of the cooler. That hot side then needs to be cooled, and Phononic has chosen to use a tower air cooler for the job (people in the past have also paired TECs with water loops). The TEC is the notable bit about the Hex 2.0, and is what allows the small heatsink to offer as much cooling performance as it does in such a small package.
Hex 2.0 has connections for a 4-pin CPU_Fan connector, Mini USB for software monitoring and control, and a 6-pin PCI-E power connector. The four pin controls the 92mm fan which typically idles at 1000 RPM but can max out at 2,650 RPM, 33 dBA, and 44 CFM. The Mini USB connects to the motherboard and users can use a dashboard application to monitor the cooler, choose a cooling mode (to balance noise and performance), and control the LEDs on the cooler. The 6-pin connector powers the TEC cooler which appears to be capable of drawing up to 35W of power. The fan is able to spin down to zero RPM when the processor is not under load as the TEC and heatsink is able to pull and dissipate enough heat without the fan though the exact point where it would need to turn on will depend on your case and its own airflow.
Interestingly, this product is already available and reviews have already been posted around the net. According to TweakTown, the Hex 2.0 does indeed compete with 120mm liquid coolers such as the Silverstone Tundra TD03 (which is a decent cooler that I’ve used before) and Antec Kuhler H20 1250 (I’ve not tested that one but Morry did a full review of it). When placed in “insane mode” and the fan is allowed to spin up to maximum RPMs, the Hex 2.0 thermoelectric cooler actually beats the 240mm Corsair H100i GTX in quiet mode. While it will be louder, that is pretty impressive to see a 92mm fan HSF up there in cooling performance with a much larger water cooler!
This cooler is nicely packaged in a silver aluminum and black nickel plated aesthetic. Cooling performance seems to make it a possible alternative cooling option for SFF builds that can give you similar cooling performance in a case where a pump and radiator would be difficult or impossible for fit. That’s the upside. The downside to this cooler is the price. At $149.99, this is going to be a tough sell though it is not entirely unexpected considering the niche nature of it. The 1 year warranty leaves a lot be desired as well, I would have liked to see something a bit longer especially at that premium price.
What are your thoughts on this pint sized TEC(h)?
Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 8, 2016 - 03:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Silverstone, TD03-SLIM, AIO, SFF
Silverstone's TD03-SLIM AIO cooler is designed to fit in anyone's case, and their budget as well. The radiator is a mere 153x120x22mm, a measurement which includes the fan and the tube is 310mm in length to allow you flexibility when placing it in your system. The size does mean that it cannot cool as effectively as larger AIO watercoolers and should not be used in overclocked systems, however it does operate more quietly than other coolers of similar size. Drop by Modders-Inc for a closer look.
"One of the good things about AIO CPU coolers is that you do not have to worry about component clearance for the most part on your motherboard. Since memory manufacturers have all but given up making sensibly sized RAM heatspreaders the standard, AIO's have become the cooler of choice for many."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- AIO Watercooler Challenge - 6 Way Round-up @ Kitguru
- Alphacool Eisbaer 240 Liquid CPU Cooler Review @ NikKTech
- Cryorig H5 Ultimate CPU Cooler Review: A Matter of Perspective @ Modders-Inc
- SilentiumPC Air Cooler Challenge – 6 Way Round-up @ Kitguru
- Cooler Master Hyper 212X @ techPowerUp
- Streacom FC10 Alpha Fanless Chassis Review @ NikKTech
- Cooler Master MasterBox 5 @ Benchmark Reviews
- Cooler Master MasterBox 5 Chassis Review @ Techgage
- be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 @ Kitguru
- BitFenix Pandora ATX @ techPowerUp
- Phanteks Evolv Tempered Glass Case @ Benchmark Reviews
Fractal Design has reduced their excellent Define S enclosure all the way down from ATX to mini-ITX, and the Define Nano S offers plenty of room for a small form-factor case.
Large mini-ITX cases have become the trend in the past year or so, with the NZXT Manta the most recent (and possibly the most extreme) example. Fractal Design's Nano S isn't quite as large as the Manta, but it is cavernous inside thanks to a completely open internal layout. There are no optical drive bays, no partitions for PSU or storage, and really not much of anything inside the main compartment at all as Fractal Design has essentially miniaturized the Define S enclosure.
We have the windowed version of the Define Nano S for review here, which adds some interest to a very understated design. There is still something very sophisticated about this sort of industrial design, and I must admit to liking it quite a bit myself. Details such as the side vents for front panel air intake do add some interest, and that big window helps add some style as well (and builders could always add some increasingly ubiquitous RGB lighting inside!).